Written by Skum Kultureshock
I’m a 37 year old Burmese punk vetran and vocalist for Myanmar-based D-beat Crust Punk band, kultüreshock. I have been in the game for more than two decades and am one of the oldest guys in the scene. I have a lot of experience as a punk in the world’s least developed police state. Though punk established itself in Myanmar back in the 90’s, it was mainly focused around the fashion of punk rock. Most of those who started to dress up as punks only wore those clothes during certain events, but I was amongst one of the first to be a punk 24/7.
Talking about oppression here in Myanmar, younger punks have never endured the things guys my age had to deal with…especially those who were born after the 1988 uprisings. The hardships of being a punk here in Myanmar was far worse in the 90’s, so the kids who’re only familiar with the scene here in the 00’s have no clue what it’s like to be truly oppressed. Back in those days it was common for punks to get arrested on the streets without breaking any laws…I have seen friends forcibly get their heads shaved and thrown into jail for no reason. Even the every day “normal” citizens liked to pick on punks and beat the shit out of them for what they considered “weird” attire. As for me, I’ve been in and out of jail for minor drug offenses and assaults, and have also been beat up several times by various groups of conservative assholes! This was an age where you could literally get beaten to death on the streets for just being a punk. I’m glad the younger generation of punks don’t have to suffer through what we did.
Sure, there’s been a recent resurgence of Buddhist extremism and blind patriotism, but if you live here you oughta know that not all Buddhist citizens are like these bigots. You should know there are many people here who are against the hate-mongering agenda of these extremists.
Regarding the Rebel Riots: I’d never agree with their meddling in religious bullshit…I’d say all organized religions are evil and hypocritical and think punk has nothing to do with any of these religions…obviously it was Rebel Riot’s choice and I don’t want to judge them for their actions but you need to think of all the consequences before you do anything. I already foresaw what was going to happen after that photo was released, but if you don’t have the guts to face the consequences then don’t mess with those Buddhist supremacist organisations! Also, when the band publicly paid homage to those bigoted monks grovelling on their knees begging for forgiveness, it turned punk rock in Myanmar into the biggest joke. Following their public display a lot of other punks were mocked and jeered on the streets here all because of these cowards. I know the kids from Rebel Riot personally and can say they have no real interest in punk music and its ideologies (this is obvious if you’ve actually listened to their songs). They only dress in punk fashion to draw attention to themselves. Punk isn’t a tool for self-promotion or a means to gain popularity.
I hope this scandal teaches a lesson to a lot of younger punks here in Myanmar not to meddle in some serious shit unless you have real guts to face the situation! Punk is passion, not fashion. Stop shaming punk for real punks all over the world!
EDITOR’S NOTE: To gain a background to what Skum is discussing here read this post: https://uniteasia.org/myanmar-punk-band-rebel-riot-hold-press-conference-apologize-insulting-religion/