On 16 March 2023, Mrs. Sophia Sarkis was awarded the International Humanitarian of the Year 2023 Award by the Australian Golden Sash Awards (AGSA). Mrs. Sarkis is a former Myanmar citizen who is now an Australian citizen living in Sydney with her family. She is a representative of the Burmese community in Sydney and has been actively involved in various activities to bring attention to the military coup in Myanmar.
Sophia has attended meetings with Australian politicians, including the Honourable Mr Jason Clare, Mr Peter Khalil, and many others, to express concerns about the situation in Myanmar. She has also participated in media interviews and spoken at rallies in Sydney and Canberra. Her aim is to discuss the Myanmar Coup Resistance and the Struggle for Democracy as much as possible in order to try and influence Australian foreign policy against the Junta in Myanmar.
The military coup in Myanmar occurred because the military Junta alleged that the government had not acted on claims of voter fraud in the November 8 elections, which resulted in a landslide victory for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party. The military claimed they would hold new elections in a year’s time and hand over power to the winners. However, no date has been set for the elections yet.
The regional reactions to the coup in Myanmar have been mixed, with Indonesian President Joko Widodo calling for a special ASEAN leaders’ summit to discuss the situation in Myanmar. China said it was merely a cabinet reshuffle, while India expressed concern.
Australia can support the return to stability and democracy by condemning the regime publicly and internationally, imposing and supporting targeted sanctions on military leaders, their economic entities, and immediate family who have benefited from the coup, including immediate family members in Australia. They can also recognize and support the National Unity Government (NUG). This is what Sophia aims to achieve as a start.
A few weeks ago, Mrs. Sarkis went on an expedition to the border between Thailand and Myanmar in order to witness and document the struggle of Burmese refugees living in the jungle in Thailand. On May 19, at the Oz Arab Media gala dinner, Sophia has partnered with the Lions Club of Canterbury Bankstown to fundraise in order to buy basic necessities for these refugees.
The situation in Myanmar has garnered attention from around the world, with women in Myanmar using fashion to reveal the ugly truth of military rule. The use of fashion as a form of protest has gained momentum in recent years, with people around the world using it as a tool to express their political views. It is inspiring to see individuals like Sophia Sarkis using their platform and influence to make a positive impact and bring attention to important issues like the military coup in Myanmar. It is a reminder that we can all make a difference in the world by sharing, caring, and offering kindness to others.