Along with homework and exams, Myanmar international students regularly change phone numbers and fear that family members back home will be arrested by a hostile army.
Speaking on condition of anonymity for his own safety, an Australian university student said his country was at risk of civil war following the February 1 military coup.
“There is no day without bombing, without arrests, without people being killed,” he said, explaining the contrast with typical university life.
“Your family is going through a horrible situation, over 50 million people are suffering, people are dying and losing their loved ones… and you are the only one studying… trying to complete an assignment.”
Steps to avoid surveillance are seen as a necessary precaution when communicating with people in Myanmar, where the death toll has exceeded 1,000, according to an activist group, the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners.
This is why the students change their phone number.
The prospect of returning home after the scholarships expire adds to the stress of studying abroad.
The student said a number of people in this situation have already graduated.
“According to their visa, they can no longer stay here,” he said.
“We don’t want to stay here forever, we just want to stay here until we feel safe to come back.”
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced in May that Myanmar nationals in Australia on temporary visas could “apply for an extension of their stay until they can return home safely.”
“Although the Australian government is unable to extend the timelines for visas currently held, there are a range of visa options, both permanent and temporary, that Myanmar citizens in Australia can consider,” he said. said a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry.
“In May 2021, the Interior Ministry wrote to Burmese nationals holding temporary visas, urging them to apply for a new visa if their current visa expires.
“Myanmar citizens, like all other nationalities, can apply under the migration and temporary entry programs.”
The situation in Myanmar worsened on February 7 when a shadow government made up of democratically elected politicians ousted by the military called for a citizens’ revolt.
In a video posted on Facebook, the head of the national unity government Duwa Lashi La launched “a popular defensive war against the military junta”.
“After the coup, the people did not spend a day in joy,” he said.
In addition to offering a temporary home, the student said countries like Australia can help through measures taken by the UN.
He wants to see UN diplomat U Kyaw Moe Tun and the government of national unity recognized in preference to a military representative.
U Kyaw Moe Tun has publicly opposed military rule at the UN and represents “civilian government”.
Without his voice, some fear that the pro-democracy movement will be silenced.
On Tuesday, the General Assembly’s powers committee is due to make a recommendation on who to recognize, with member states able to either accept or vote.
Australia has previously expressed “serious concerns” over the escalation of violence and rising death tolls in Myanmar.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne in March condemned the use of lethal force and violence against civilians.
“Australia will continue to play a constructive role, including in consultation with international partners, in particular ASEAN, in supporting the people of Myanmar,” he added.
Associated Australian Press