Solidarity statement | Democracy Must Stand in Myanmar

published 10 February 2021 updated 10 October 2023

Education International strongly condemns the military coup and the unconstitutional arrests of democratically elected leaders in Myanmar. EI also supports the civil disobedience movement and stands with its affiliate, the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation (MTF) in their general strike for freedom and democracy.

President Dr Sai Khaing Myo Tun of the MTF issued a statement that condemned the “trampling of democracy” and the unconstitutional arrest of President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and other leaders. The MTF called for the release of all those detained and urged the military to recognise and implement the results of the November 2020 elections.

“We support the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation and its efforts, with other trade unions and civil society allies, to have the election results respected. We stand with the courageous leaders of the MTF in their fight for freedom and democracy,” stated Education International General Secretary David Edwards.

“The people of Myanmar should never be forced to return to the isolation, fear and desperation of military rule. We stand in solidarity with the teachers, workers, young people and engaged citizens who with great courage are raising their voices.” David Edwards added.

Education International calls on the United Nations and national governments to condemn the military coup in Myanmar and to press for the release of all those detained since the 1st of February, the respect of the election outcomes and to allow the process of democratisation of Myanmar to continue.

Education International also calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Australian academic Sean Turnell. Professor at the Macquarie University and member of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), Turnell is the director of the Myanmar Development Institute and an economic adviser to Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi. He was arrested in the wake of the military coup of 1 February and has been detained since.


The National League for Democracy (NLD) Party of Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide victory in the November 2020 elections, against the military-led USD Party. The seating of the newly elected Parliament was prevented by a military coup on 1 February.

The President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and more than a hundred NLD elected lawmakers were arrested. Claiming that the election was fraudulent, the military established a military government and declared the state of emergency for a year. The baseless claims of fraud came even though the election results were certified by an independent election commission and validated by international election observers.

United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, described the coup as a “serious blow to democratic reforms” and the UN Security Council is considering action. Strong calls for the reversal of the military takeover and for the restoration of democracy have come from many governments. Some governments are examining the imposition of targeted economic sanctions against Myanmar. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Global Union Federations have called for strong condemnation by governments as have many national trade union organisations.