Burmese MMA champion Aung La N Sang calls for reversal of ‘unlawful’ Myanmar coup

Nick Atkin, South China Morning Post

Posted at Feb 18 2021 01:20 PM

ONE Championship light heavyweight champ Aung La N Sang has voiced his support for Myanmar's people as protests continue following a military coup this month.

The 35-year-old "Burmese Python" (26-11, one no contest), who trains in Florida having moved to the US to study in 2004, returns to the MMA cage in April for a trilogy bout against Vitaly Bigdash (10-2) in the headliner of the ONE on TNT 3 card.

N Sang took the Russian's middleweight title at Yangon's Thuwanna National Indoor Stadium in June 2017, becoming Myanmar's first world champion in any mainstream sport, and has amassed more than 2.8 million Facebook followers from his home country. The social media platform has been blocked by the junta, but N Sang's post has attracted more than 137,000 likes and more than 24,000 shares.

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"To my international friends and family, it has been 16 days (since) the military has seized power in my home country," N Sang wrote in a social media post. "The people of Myanmar have responded immediately in the masses with peaceful demonstrations and a nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) that involves government agencies, teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers and even the police across the country.

"Unfortunately in the past few days, the military government escalated their assault on the citizens by firing at protesters in Mandalay and Naypyidaw. Last night, in Myitkyina (Kachin state), my hometown, the military fired their weapons and arrested journalists.

"They have passed new laws that will allow them to arrest anyone without a warrant if they feel they are a threat to their regime. Already many citizens have been abducted in the middle of the night without reason.

"They have restricted internet usage, especially social media, and now shutting connection down during the night. They have released over 20,000 prisoners who now pose a threat to local neighbourhoods and disturbing the peace. As of now, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Win Myint together with their party members are still detained. We still have not heard from them.

"Myanmar has enjoyed only a few years of democracy which came about in a peaceful transition after decades of dictatorship. However, our future remains bleak under the current circumstance."

Myanmar's military said it would hold new elections after a year-long state of emergency and return power to the winner of the poll, after staging a coup against the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.

The military had earlier declared a state of emergency and handed power to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, to take control of the country for one year, following its allegations of fraud in the November general election, which Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.

N Sang said the people of Myanmar "all want the same thing", calling for a reversal of the "unlawful" coup, the release of elected leaders, and the restoration of democracy.

"I kindly request the world to hear Myanmar's voice at this hour and show their support for a peaceful and transformative resolution. We need to pave a better future for our children and all the generations to come," he said.

"I support the Myanmar people with what is happening and what everyone is doing to bring about a positive change. Finally, I urge the Myanmar citizens to remain civil and to keep the protest peaceful. Violence incites violence and we can only overcome our challenge by being calm, determined and focused.

"I will continue to pray for you and the safety of everyone going through these difficult times. Stay strong and God bless the people of Myanmar."

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