Former Myanmar beauty queen joins armed struggle against military regime

A former Myanmar beauty queen has joined the ranks of ethnic insurgents opposing the ruling junta, posting photos of herself on Facebook in a jungle setting with an assault rifle.

A military takeover and the ousting of the civilian government on February 1 plunged the Southeast Asian country into crisis, and close to 800 people have been killed by security forces in a violent post-coup crackdown.

“Today marks 100 days since we lost everything,” wrote Htar Htet Htet, 32, in her social media post. “The time has come to fight back.”

The coup ended the country’s decade-long experiment with democracy after half a century of military rule.

There have been several reports of young activists fleeing a military manhunt and taking refuge in the restive border homelands of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities.

Others are believed to have chosen voluntarily to take up arms training alongside rebels who have waged insurgencies against the military for decades as they seek to secure more autonomy for their communities.

In 2013, Htar Htet Htet represented Myanmar in the first Miss Grand International beauty pageant in Thailand.

Before swapping into black combat fatigues, and heading to the jungle, she also worked as a gymnastics instructor.

“I will fight back as much as I can. I am ready and prepared to give up everything. I am even ready to pay with my life,” she wrote.

Anti-coup street protests are continuing across Myanmar, despite the risk of injury or death at the hands of junta forces.

The civil disobedience movement, which has seen many workers in multiple professions strike against the military regime, is also ongoing.

More than 11,000 academics and other university staff opposed to the junta have been suspended after going on strike in protest against military rule, a teachers’ group said this week.

The suspensions come as the resumption of universities after a year closed due to the coronavirus epidemic prompts a new confrontation between the army and the staff and students, who are calling for boycotts.

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