Abby Seiff is an award-winning editor and journalist with 15 years of experience, primarily in Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in publications like Time, Columbia Journalism Review, Pacific Standard, and many more. Read more >>
Will Protests against China Push Beijing to Intervene in Myanmar?
Among the earliest images to go viral at the start of Myanmar’s anti-coup protests was a photo of an airplane unloading cargo. Source unknown, the picture was often paired with a second showing workers moving long army-green boxes from what appeared to be the inside of a plane. Netizens found evidence of nightly flights between the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming and Myanmar’s former capital Yangon and insisted the photos, therefore, had to be proof that Beijing was supplying Myanmar’s military, or Tatmadaw, with arms and ammunition. When the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar released a statement saying the planes were delivering seafood, it was met with widespread mockery.
The first time I go to meet the activist Ei Thinzar Maung, she is nowhere to be found. It is the middle of March, six weeks after Myanmar’s military seized power from the civilian government, arrested its leaders and began a merciless campaign against ordinary citizens demanding a return to democratic rule. We are to speak virtually—she in a city unknown, me in New York—on an encrypted video platform favoured by those trying to evade detection by their governments. But just before we log on, the mobile data networks go dark across Myanmar. An intermediary who has helped arrange the interview cannot reach Ei Thinzar Maung; the mobile lines are down as well. Is she moving to a new safe house, one with internet connection? Or has she been quietly taken away in the middle of the night, like so many others?
A Young Democracy Comes to an Abrupt End
Early last Monday, Myanmar’s nascent democracy came to a shuddering halt. After two relatively free and fair elections, and a decade of reforms, the military abruptly turned back the clock—arresting dozens of senior leaders, activists, and others, including state counsellor and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. At 8 a.m., military-owned TV stations announced that a state of emergency had been declared, with the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s armed forces, taking power for one year.
A PARTIAL SELECTION OF CLIPS
Abby Seiff is an award-winning editor and journalist with nearly a decade of international experience, primarily in Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Newsweek, Time, the Associated Press, Al Jazeera, Pacific Standard, and many more publications. She served as an editor for several years at The Cambodia Daily and The Phnom Penh Post, and has worked as an editor for Foreign Policy, Mekong Review, Devex, New Humanitarian, and Asia Society, among others.
In recent years, she has reported on Thailand’s southern insurgency, food security in the Mekong region, and migration in Nepal. Her work has garnered several awards and grants, including an International Reporting Project fellowship, a Logan Nonfiction fellowship, and a residency at Yaddo. She is currently writing a book about Cambodia's imperiled Tonle Sap lake and the fate of the millions who live off its fisheries, forthcoming from Potomac Books.
To view a CV, click here.