World in View: Resistance in Myanmar

May 19, 2022

From the May-June 2022 issue of News & Letters

by Eugene Walker

Anti-regime march in Kachin state, one of thousands since the Feb. 1, 2021, military coup

Aung San Suu Kyi, the elected civilian leader of Myanmar (Burma) who was detained in a military coup last year, was sentenced to five years in prison in a corruption trial that was closed to the public. The military junta that seized power 14 months ago is detaining 10,000 political prisoners. More political prisoners are now being held in Myanmar than were imprisoned throughout the half century of military rule that ended in 2010.

Medical workers have been a special target of the junta. Some 140 doctors who participated in the national protest movement have been arrested. At least 30 doctors have been killed. The country’s health system has collapsed, obliterated by the military.

At the same time there is a growing resistance movement. Tens of thousands of young people from the cities—including university students and factory workers, especially young women—have left for the countryside to join the hundreds of civilian militias across Myanmar, organized loosely into what are called the People’s Defense Forces.

They have been joined by deserters from the military’s armed forces, the Tatmadaw. These groups often go to areas controlled by the many ethnic armed groups that have been fighting for autonomy for decades. A new unity is being forged.

For more information see “Driven From City Life to Jungle Insurgency” by Hannah Beech, The New York Times, March 30, 2022.

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