Vox Pop: Arakanese Voices on International Youth Day

DMG interviewed young people in Arakan State on International Youth Day about their hopes and the challenges facing them.

By Admin 12 Aug 2023

Vox Pop: Arakanese Voices on International Youth Day

DMG Newsroom
12 August 2023, Sittwe

The United Nations’ International Youth Day is celebrated annually on August 12 to recognise efforts of the world’s youth in enhancing global society.

First observed in 2000 after being endorsed by the UN General Assembly a year earlier, the day aims to promote ways to engage them in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions to their communities. The UN defines the worlds’ youth as the age group between 15 and 24 years old.

DMG interviewed young people in Arakan State on International Youth Day about their hopes and the challenges facing them.

Ko Oo Than Naing || Arakan Students Union

Myanmar is under military dictatorship. We young people are very restricted when it comes to engaging in politics and social work. Previously, under the quasi-civilian government, we could engage in certain activities freely. But now, we have to suspend our activities on the ground. 

Under the military dictatorship, restrictions on the freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of movement and press freedom have had impacts on youths. Young people have little room to play their role since the coup.
Ko Kyaw Aye Maung || Maungdaw Resident

There is a need [for their seniors] to take the youths by the hand in the health, education and social sectors. The role of young people has diminished since the coup. They have not been able to engage in social work freely. They have been living in fear. They even fear working online. They feel unsafe as the [regime] imposes legal restrictions online.

Young people are concerned that [the regime would use] this or that law to prosecute them if they do something. So, they feel restricted. On International Youth Day, I want the government to allow people to make their voices heard, and give priority to the young people.

Ma Tin Htay || Pauktaw Resident

IDPs are facing financial difficulties and economic hardships as the cyclonic storm hit Arakan State on May 14. The IDPs are not able to do what they want to do and become hopeless due to the consequences of the storm. As for young people, they are facing difficulties such as the scarcity of job opportunities in Arakan State.

When schools are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and political instability, young people lose a lot of [classroom] time. As a young person, if something happens, I don’t want the junta to close road transportation. I don’t want schools to be closed due to political instability. As a young person, I would like to ask the junta not to close the roads for a long time.

Ko Zaw Myo Naing || Rathedaung Region Development Association (RRDA)

Recently, the people of Arakan State suffered from natural disasters. Therefore, we would like to tell young people to do a lot in environmental protection. There are many IDPs in Rathedaung Township and the young people in these displacement camps are not allowed to do what they want to do. There are many situations where young people cannot continue their education when they are struggling to support their families. Young people are facing difficulties to complete their education because they cannot afford the money for education. 

We don’t want fighting to happen at all when people are suffering from health, education, social and economic problems. Regardless of the situation, we need to discuss peace around the table regarding the future of young people’s lives, capacity-building, and improving their lives. I think the stakeholders need to consider the roles of young people. In any case, it is necessary to bring young people together and give them their rights openly.
Ma Cho Cho Win || Ann Resident

Activities to mark International Youth Day are not seen in Ann. Young people are finding it difficult to continue their education due to the military coup. Job opportunities are scarce and commodity prices have doubled.