Beyond the Mekong

An American Artist Who Stayed Behind in Myanmar

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Beyond the Mekong | Politics | Southeast Asia

An American Artist Who Stayed Behind in Myanmar

A conversation with David Richards about life under the junta.

An American Artist Who Stayed Behind in Myanmar
Credit: Photo Supplied

American artist David Richards has a hard won reputation for his work depicting British colonial architecture in Myanmar, where he has spent most of his last 10 years, witnessing the transition to democracy and then the coup that ended it.

For the last two years he has taught and ridden a bike across the country, where a long running ethnic-based civil war has erupted, again, as the military junta and its leader Min Aung Hlaing ignores international pressure and continues to pursue and prosecute all forms of opposition.

Richards has returned to Phnom Penh, where he lived previously, and spoke with The Diplomat’s Luke Hunt about life in Myanmar post-coup, the tragedies of the military takeover, and the difficulties confronting ordinary people when the tanks rolled onto the streets of Yangon more than a year ago.

He says their hopes for international help in ousting the junta and restoring democracy have been dashed by apathy in the West and that the only answer to Myanmar’s brutal problems remains an intervention capable of extracting the junta’s leaders and putting them before the courts.