Angel Lamung had been in the public spotlight since she was a teenager. In Myanmar, she won beauty pageants, appeared in commercials, acted in movies, and sang pop songs.
But last year, when news anchors read her name on the nightly broadcast and the state-run paper printed her photo alongside other popular celebrities’, the coverage was different.
The government had put her on a wanted list.
After the military overthrew the democratically elected leadership in Myanmar (also called Burma) in a coup in February 2021, the then-23-year-old Christian was among the crowd who took to the streets and social media in protest. It changed her career forever.
The new regime responded swiftly with escalating violence to quell demonstrators and harsh criminal penalties for those who voiced opposition, especially public figures. Lamung was among 20 celebrities charged under a new law outlawing dissenters. By the United Nations’ count, 1,500 people were killed in demonstrations and more than 10,000 were “unlawfully detained” in the first year after the coup.
Lamung managed to escape last spring, fleeing to the United States as a refugee. From the safety of a spare bedroom in a family friend’s house on the East Coast, she fundraises for humanitarian aid and speaks out in support of the largest civil disobedience movement in Myanmar’s history.
“I would rather leave everything that I love than give in to the dictatorship,” Lamung remarked in a clip on her YouTube channel.
Back in Myanmar, the government froze Lamung’s bank accounts and she faces arrest if she returns. Her friends and fellow activists send dispatches from the Thai and Indian borders, where they’re waiting to flee to safety, …
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