In its latest attempt to stifle workers’ protests, the military regime has given striking workers in several cities an ultimatum: return to work or face eviction from their state-provided housing.
On Saturday, the regime issued a letter warning striking railway workers in the country’s second-biggest city, Mandalay, that they would have to move out of their government housing within five days unless they resumed work on Monday.
Unbowed, thousands of railway workers moved out of their homes rather than give up their protest against the regime.
Myanmar government employees—including doctors, nurses, teachers, railway workers, engineers, garbage collectors, electricity workers, administrative staff, bankers and employees of a range of government ministries—have been taking part in the civil disobedience movement (CDM), a widespread protest movement against the regime, since a few days after the Feb. 1 coup, refusing to work under the men in uniform in an effort to make the country impossible for them to govern.
Furious at the collective resistance that has paralyzed the government mechanism for over a month, the regime has attempted to intimidate striking workers by, among other things, firing weapons during nighttime patrols of residential areas, arresting people, and dismissing or suspending workers from their positions. However, the eviction warnings and other threats have failed to deter the protesting workers.
“We were in tears as we left our homes. Not because we are sad or scared of them. But because we are indignant at being bullied and abused by those armed with weapons,” a 50-year-old woman said. Her family moved out of the largest railway staff housing complex in Mandalay Region, where they lived for more than 10 years, on Sunday.
“We have nothing to fight back with—not even a toothpick. But we will fight [the junta] with the CDM until they fall,” she said.
Around 450 households in the housing complex—more than 1,000 people—moved out over the weekend. Other housing centers for railway workers in Mandalay also saw striking workers leave to continue their protest.
“All of us are poor. But we don’t care, even if we don’t have any place to relocate to, or face hunger. No matter what, we will continue the strike.”
For her, the fight against the junta is a fight for the future of her young son. She said she doesn’t want him to experience a repeat of the suffering she faced under the previous military dictatorship after the coup in 1988.
Mandalay residents and charity groups helped the workers move out, carrying furniture and other household items and providing free trucks, vans, pickup trucks, meals and temporary shelter.
A volunteer group assisting the workers said support will be required to meet the evicted workers’ basic needs, including shelter and food supplies, in the long term, adding that it is important that all who need such assistance receive it.
The evictions compound the hardship for the striking workers, who have already forgone their salaries.
A son of a 59-year-old railway worker at the Mahlwagone Railway station in Yangon Region said many families of station employees who had been evicted from staff housing were struggling to find shelter and feed themselves.
Around 1,000 workers and their families living at the station’s staff quarters fled their homes on March 10 after security forces raided their neighborhood.
Original Source – Irrawaddy News ( https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/made-homeless-junta-myanmar-govt-workers-vow-continue-strike-till-regime-falls.html )