2021 Myanmar protests

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2021 Myanmar protests
Protesters riding Motorcycles in Mandalay after 2021 Myanmar coup.jpg
Protesters riding Motorcycles on 78th Road near Mandalay Central Railway Station
Date2 February 2021 – present
Location
Caused by2021 Myanmar coup d'état
Goals
MethodsDemonstrations, Strikes, Civil disobedience
StatusOngoing
Casualties
Arrested152+

Template:Campaignbox Myanmar conflict

The 2021 Myanmar protests are domestic civil resistance efforts in Myanmar in opposition to the 2021 Myanmar coup d'état, which was staged by Min Aung Hlaing, the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces on 1 February 2021.[1] As of 7 February 2021, 152 people were under detention in relation to the coup.[2] Protesters have adopted peaceful and nonviolent forms of protest,[3] which include acts of civil disobedience, labour strikes, a military boycott campaign, a pot-banging movement, a red ribbon campaign, public protests, and formal recognition of the election results by elected representatives.

The colour red, which is associated with the National League for Democracy (NLD), has been donned by many protesters.[4] "Kabar Ma Kyay Bu" (ကမ္ဘာမကျေဘူး), a song that was first popularized as the anthem of the 8888 Uprising, has been revitalized by the civil disobedience movement as a protest song.[5] The three-finger salute has been widely adopted by protesters as a protest symbol,[6] while netizens have joined the Milk Tea Alliance, an online democratic solidarity movement in Asia.[7]

Background[edit source | edit]

The 2021 Myanmar coup d'état began on the morning of 1 February 2021 when democratically elected members of Myanmar's ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), were deposed by the Tatmadaw — Myanmar's military — which vested power in a stratocracy, the State Administrative Council. The Tatmadaw declared a year-long state of emergency and declared power had been vested in Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Min Aung Hlaing. The coup d'état occurred the day before the Parliament of Myanmar was due to swear in the members elected at the November 2020 general election, thereby preventing this from occurring.[8][9][10] President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi were detained, along with ministers and their deputies and members of Parliament.[11][12]

Forms of civil resistance[edit source | edit]

Civil disobedience movement and labour strikes[edit source | edit]

On 2 February 2021, healthcare workers and civil servants across the country, including in the national capital, Naypyidaw launched a national civil disobedience movement (အာဏာဖီဆန်ရေးလှုပ်ရှားမှု), in opposition to the coup d'état.[13][14] A Facebook campaign group dubbed the "Civil Disobedience Movement" has attracted over 200,000 followers, since its initial launch on 2 February 2021.[15][16]

Healthcare workers from dozens of state-run hospitals and institutions initiated a labour strike starting 3 February 2021.[16][17] As of 3 February 2021, healthcare workers in over 110 hospitals and healthcare agencies[18] have participated in the movement.[15] Six of the 13 members of the Mandalay City Development Committee, including vice-mayor Ye Mon, resigned on 3 February 2021, in protest against the coup d'état.[19] Labor strike participants have faced intimidation and threats from superiors.[20]

The labor strikes have quickly spread to other sectors. Seven teacher organizations, including the 100,000-strong Myanmar Teachers' Federation, have pledged to join the labour strike.[15] Staff in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, formerly led by Suu Kyi, have also joined the strike.[18] On 4 February 2021, in Naypyidaw, civil servants employed at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation staged a protest.[21] On 5 February 2021, 300 copper miners at the Kyisintaung copper mines joined the strike campaign.[22] Miner Sithu Tun stated that the strike would continue until the "elected leaders receive[d] their power back".[22]

By 5 February 2021, the civil service strike included administrative, medical and educational sector staff and students at "91 government hospitals, 18 universities and colleges and 12 government departments in 79 townships".[23] Nan Nwe, a member of the psychology department at Yangon University stated, "As we teach students to question and understand justice, we can't accept this injustice. Our stand is not political. We only stand up for the justice". Lynn Letyar, a surgeon at Lashio General Hospital, stated that most doctors and nurses had been on strike since 3 February 2021. Staff from Myanmar National Airlines also joined the civil disobedience campaign.[24][25]

Min Ko Naing, an 8888 Uprising leader, has urged the public to adopt a "no recognition, no participation" stance to the military regime.[26]

Military boycott campaign[edit source | edit]

On 3 February 2021, a domestic boycott movement called the "Stop Buying Junta Business" campaign emerged, calling for the boycott of products and services linked to the Myanmar military.[27] Among the targeted goods and services in the Burmese military's significant business portfolio include Mytel, a national telecoms carrier, Myanmar, Mandalay, and Dagon Beer, several coffee and tea brands, 7th Sense Creation, which was co-founded by Min Aung Hlaing's daughter,[28] and bus lines.[27] 71 engineers working for Mytel in Sagaing Region resigned in protest.[15]

Pot-banging movement[edit source | edit]

Since the onset of the coup d'état, residents in urban centers such as Yangon staged cacerolazos, striking pots and pans in unison every evening as a symbolic act to drive away evil, as a method of expressing their opposition to the coup d'état.[29][30][31] On 5 February 2021, 30 people in Mandalay were charged under section 47 of the Police Act for banging pots and kitchenware.[32]

Public protests[edit source | edit]

On 2 February 2021, some Yangonites staged a brief 15-minute protest rally at 20:00 local hour, calling for the overthrow of the dictatorship and Suu Kyi's release.[33] On 4 February 2021, 30 citizens protested against the coup d'état, in front of the University of Medicine in Mandalay, an act that led to four arrests.[34][35]

On 6 February 2021, the first large-scale protests were organized in Myanmar.[36] 20,000 protestors took part in a street protest in Yangon against the coup d'état, calling for Aung San Suu Kyi to be released. Chants included, "Military dictator, fail, fail; Democracy, win, win". Drivers honked their horns in support. Police cordoned off the protestors at the Insein Road–Hledan junction, preventing them moving further.[37] Workers from 14 trade unions participated in the protests. Livestreaming of the protests was attempted by mainstream media and citizen journalists, but was limited by internet restrictions, estimated to have dropped to 16% by 14:00 local hour. Police water cannon trucks were set up in Hledan and police barricades were prepared in Sule.[24] Protests spread to Mandalay and to the Pyinmana township of Naypyidaw on the afternoon of 6 February 2021. The Mandalay marches started at 13:00 local hour. Protestors continued on motorbikes at 16:00 in reaction to police restrictions. Police were in control by 18:00 local hour.[24]

On 7 February, public protests had grown in size and spread to other cities across the country. The largest protests in Yangon attracted at least 150,000 protesters, gathering at the Hledan junction and around Sule Pagoda in Downtown Yangon.[38][39] Protesters have demanded the immediate release of Suu Kyi and Win Myint, chanting the slogan "our cause" (ဒို့အရေး), and calling for the fall of the dictatorship.[40] Public protests were also organized across Upper Myanmar, including the cities of Naypyidaw, Mandalay, Bagan, Hpakhant, Lashio, Magwe, Mogok, and Pyin Oo Lwin, Taunggyi as well as Lower Myanmar, including the cities of Mawlamyaing, Dawei, Pathein, and Myaungmya, and Myawaddy.[39][41][38]

Recognition of election outcomes[edit source | edit]

Representatives elected in the November 2020 elections have not officially recognized the legitimacy of the coup d'état. On 4 February 2021, around 70 MP-elects from the NLD took an oath of office in Naypyidaw, pledging to abide by the people's mandate, and serve as lawmakers for a five-year term.[42] The following day, 300 NLD politicians formed a committee to conduct parliamentary affairs.[43] On 6 February 2021, several political parties, including the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), the Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), the Karen National Party, and Asho Chin National Party, announced they had rejected the military's offer to participate in the State Administrative Council.[44]

Red ribbon campaign[edit source | edit]

On 3 February 2021, healthcare workers in Myanmar launched the red ribbon campaign (ဖဲကြိုးနီလှုပ်ရှားမှု).[45] The colour red is associated with the National League for Democracy (NLD), the incumbent political party that won the 2020 elections.[46] Ni Ni Khin Zaw, a popularly Burmese singer and medical school graduate, publicly endorsed the campaign.[45] Civil servants and workers across Myanmar, including union-level ministries, have adopted the red ribbon as a symbol of opposition to the military regime.[47] On 5 February 2021, copper miners at Kyinsintaung mines unable to join the labour strike joined the red ribbon campaign.[22] On 6 February 2021, factory garment workers in Thaketa Industrial Zone joined the red ribbon campaign.[48]

Social media[edit source | edit]

Burmese celebrities and politicians, including Paing Takhon and Daung, have publicly supported civil resistance efforts, posing with the three-finger salute in social media posts.[49][50] Burmese netizens have popularised trending hashtags like #SayNototheCoup, #RespectOurVotes, #HearTheVoiceofMyanmar, #SaveMyanmar, and #CivilDisobedience.[51][49] Within a day after the coup d'état, the #SaveMyanmar hashtag had been used by over 325,000 Facebook users.[52] Social media users had also changed their profile pictures to black to show their sorrow or red in support of the NLD, often with a portrait of Suu Kyi.[52] On 7 February, Nay Soe Maung, son-in-law of Myanmar's former dictator Than Shwe, posted a Facebook photo demonstrating support for the protests.[53]

Military regime's countermeasures[edit source | edit]

Internet blackout[edit source | edit]

On 4 February 2021, telecom operators and internet providers across Myanmar were ordered to block Facebook until 7 February 2021, to ensure the "country's stability".[54] Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), a state-owned carrier, also blocked Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp services, while Telenor Myanmar blocked only Facebook.[55][54] Facebook had been used to organize the civil disobedience campaign's labour strikes and the emerging boycott movement.[54] Facebook is used by half of Myanmar's population.[54] Following the Facebook ban, Burmese users had begun flocking to Twitter.[51] The following day, the government extended the social media access ban to include Instagram and Twitter.[56][57] On the morning of 6 February 2021, the military authorities initiated an internet outage nationwide.[58] That same day, Facebook urged authorities to unblock social media services.[59] Internet access was partially restored the following day, although social media platforms remained blocked.[60]

Arrests and charges[edit source | edit]

Law enforcement authorities have acted swiftly in quelling opposition to the coup. As of 7 February 2021, 152 people were under detention in relation to the coup d'état.[2]

The military regime has begun initiating criminal proceedings against detainees. On 3 February 2021, Thawbita, a Buddhist monk was sentenced to 2 years in prison under Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, for defamation of the military.[61] On 4 February 2021, three university students, Zu Zu Zan, Aung Myo Ko, and Htoo Khant Thaw, were charged under Section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for protesting in Mandalay.[2] On 5 February 2021, Maung Gyi, chair of the United Nationalities Democratic Party, was arrested, charged and sentenced to two years under Penal Code Section 505(b) for staging a protest in Hpa-an Township, Kayin State.[2] Cho Yu Mon, a school principal, was also arrested and charged under Penal Code Section 505(b) for taking part in a "red ribbon" campaign at her school in Hpa-an.[62] Win Htein was charged under Section 124(a) of Myanmar's legal code for sedition.[62] On 6 February, Sean Turnell, the Australian economic policy advisor to the NLD-led civilian government and a Macquarie University professor, was detained, becoming the first known foreign national to be arrested in relation to the coup.[63]

Inclusion of opposition political parties[edit source | edit]

The military has made overtures to competing political parties in the aftermath of the coup d'état.[44] On 2 February 2021, it formed the State Administrative Council, as Myanmar's interim governing body. The Council's membership included several civilian politicians, including Mahn Nyein Maung, a former member of the Karen National Union, Thein Nyunt, and Khin Maung Swe, co-founders of the National Democratic Force, a splinter group from the NLD.[64] On 3 February 2021, five additional civilian members were added to the Council, including Aye Nu Sein, vice-chair of the Arakan National Party.[44][65] On 6 February, the Mon Unity Party had announced it had accepted the military's offer to join the Council.[66]

Spread of misinformation[edit source | edit]

The internet blackout has fueled the spread of misinformation, including unsubstantiated rumours of Suu Kyi's release, the death of high-profile NLD leaders, and the fall of Min Aung Hlaing.[67][68] The rumour surrounding Suu Kyi's release, which was attributed to the military-run Myawaddy TV, triggered street celebrations and fireworks.[69]

See also[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. "Anti-Coup Protest on Streets of Myanmar's Second City". US News. 3 February 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Daily Briefing in Relation to the Military Coup". aappb.org | Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. 7 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  3. "Myanmar adopts nonviolent approach to resist army coup". Arab News. 3 February 2021. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  4. CNN, Carly Walsh and Akanksha Sharma. "Protests break out in Myanmar in defiance of military coup". cnn.com. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  5. "Songwriter Who Provided "Theme Song" to 8888 Uprising Finally Honored". The Irrawaddy. 9 August 2018. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  6. AP; ABC News (Australia) (5 February 2021). "Myanmar blocks Facebook as resistance grows to military coup". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  7. "#MilkTeaAlliance has a new target brewing: Myanmar's military". South China Morning Post. 4 February 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  8. "Myanmar military seizes power, detains elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi". news.trust.org. Reuters. 1 February 2021. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  9. "Myanmar gov't declares 1-year state of emergency: President's Office". Xinhua News Agency. 1 February 2021. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  10. "Myanmar Leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Others Detained by Military". voanews.com. VOA (Voice of America). 1 February 2021. Archived from the original on 3 February 2021. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  11. Beech, Hannah (31 January 2021). "Myanmar's Leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Is Detained Amid Coup". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 31 January 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  12. Mahtani, Shibani; Kyaw Ye Lynn (1 February 2021). "Myanmar military seizes power in coup after detaining Aung San Suu Kyi". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  13. "Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay healthcare staff to join "Civil Disobedience Campaign"". The Myanmar Times. 2 February 2021. Archived from the original on 3 February 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  14. "Myanmar Medics Prepare Civil Disobedience Against Military Rule". The Irrawaddy. 2 February 2021. Archived from the original on 3 February 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 "Teachers, students join anti-coup campaign as hospital staff stop work". Frontier Myanmar. 3 February 2021. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "After coup, medical workers spearhead civil disobedience campaign". frontiermyanmar.net. 2 February 2021. Archived from the original on 3 February 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  17. Matthew Tostevin; Grant McCool; Stephen Coates (3 February 2021). "Myanmar doctors stop work to protest coup as UN considers response". Financial Review. Archived from the original on 3 February 2021. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
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  21. "စစ်အစိုးရကို နေပြည်တော်က နိုင်ငံ့ဝန်ထမ်းတွေ ကန့်ကွက်ဆန္ဒပြ" (in Burmese). Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Htwe, Zaw Zaw (6 February 2021). "Myanmar Copper Miners Join Anti-Coup Strike". The Irrawaddy. Archived from the original on 6 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  23. Htwe, Zaw Zaw (5 February 2021). "Thousands Join Peaceful Protests Against Myanmar Military". The Irrawaddy. Archived from the original on 6 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 "Thousands Take to Streets of Myanmar to Protest Military Takeover". The Irrawaddy. 6 February 2021. Archived from the original on 6 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
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  26. "Veteran activist calls for civil disobedience in wake of coup". Myanmar NOW. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  27. 27.0 27.1 "Myanmar calls for boycott of Tatmadaw linked products and services". The Myanmar Times. 3 February 2021. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  28. "Military Chief's Family Members Spend Big on Blockbuster Movies, Beauty Pageants". Myanmar NOW. Archived from the original on 15 December 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  29. "Myanmar coup: army blocks Facebook access as civil disobedience grows". The Guardian. 4 February 2021. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
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  31. "Myanmar coup latest: UN Security Council stops short of issuing statement". Nikkei Asia. Archived from the original on 3 February 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  32. "30 arrested in Mandalay for pot-banging movement in protest against military coup". Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  33. "စစ်အာဏာသိမ်းမှုကို အနုနည်းအာဏာဖီဆန်မှု တချို့ရှိလာခြင်း". ဗွီအိုအေ (in Burmese). Archived from the original on 3 February 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  34. "Mandalay citizens protest against Tatmadaw rule". The Myanmar Times. 4 February 2021. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  35. "Four arrested in Mandalay after street protest against military coup". Myanmar NOW. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  36. CNN, Carly Walsh and Akanksha Sharma. "Protests break out in Myanmar in defiance of military coup". CNN. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  37. "Thousands of Myanmar protesters in standoff with police in Yangon". Al Jazeera English. 6 February 2021. Archived from the original on 6 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  38. 38.0 38.1 "စစ်အာဏာသိမ်းဆန့်ကျင်မှု ရန်ကုန်မြို့ခံသိန်းနဲ့ချီ စုဝေး". ဗွီအိုအေ (in Burmese). 7 February 2021. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  39. 39.0 39.1 "Anti-coup mass protests take place in cities across Myanmar". Myanmar NOW. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  40. "စစ်အာဏာသိမ်းဆန့်ကျင်မှု ဒုတိယနေ့လူထုဆန္ဒပြပွဲများ". ဗွီအိုအေ (in Burmese). Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  41. "Tens of Thousands Take to Streets in Myanmar to Protest Military Regime". The Irrawaddy. 7 February 2021. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  42. "NLD lawmakers in Nay Pyi Taw defy military, take oath of office". Frontier Myanmar. 4 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  43. "Myanmar politicians defy coup, say they are true government". AP NEWS. 5 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 "SNLD, DPNS reject offer to participate in new government". Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  45. 45.0 45.1 ""ဖဲကြိုးနီ လှုပ်ရှားမှု"ကို ထောက်ခံကြောင်း ပြသခဲ့တဲ့ နီနီခင်ဇော်". ဧရာဝတီ (in Burmese). 3 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  46. "Myanmar medics lead sprouting civil disobedience calls after coup". CNA. 3 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  47. "NLD backs anti-coup campaign as civil servants rally in Nay Pyi Taw". Frontier Myanmar. 5 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  48. "Workers from JEWOO Garment Factory launch red ribbon campaign". Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  49. 49.0 49.1 "Here's who is standing up against Myanmar's coup | Coconuts Yangon". Coconuts. 3 February 2021. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  50. "Myanmar celebs and artists stand against the military coup". The Myanmar Times. 3 February 2021. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  51. 51.0 51.1 Potkin, Fanny (5 February 2021). "After Facebook ban, thousands in Myanmar take to Twitter to plead #RespectOurVotes". Reuters. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  52. 52.0 52.1 "Coup sparks outcry on Myanmar social media as West ponders next step". The Japan Times. 2 February 2021. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  53. "Anti-coup mass protests take place in cities across Myanmar". Myanmar NOW. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  54. 54.0 54.1 54.2 54.3 "Myanmar internet providers block Facebook services after government order". Reuters. 3 February 2021. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  55. "Directive to block social media service". Telenor Group. 3 February 2021. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  56. "Myanmar's new military government is now blocking Twitter and Instagram". TechCrunch. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  57. "Directive to block social media services Twitter and Instagram in Myanmar". Telenor Group. 5 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  58. "Myanmar junta blocks internet access as coup protests expand". AP NEWS. 6 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  59. "Facebook urges unblocking of Myanmar social media". Reuters. 6 February 2021. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  60. "Internet access partially restored in Myanmar as protests grow against military coup". CNA. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  61. "Statement on Recent Detainees in Relation to the Military Coup". aappb.org | Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. 4 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  62. 62.0 62.1 "Statement on Recent Detainees in Relation to the Military Coup News Updated on 5 February 2021". aappb.org | Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. 5 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  63. "Myanmar detains Australian adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi; first known arrest of foreign national since coup". CNA. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  64. "မန်းငြိမ်းမောင်၊ ဦးသိန်းညွန့်နဲ့ ဦးခင်မောင်ဆွေတို့ကို တပ်မတော်နေရာပေး" (in Burmese). Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  65. "ပြည်ထောင်စုသမ္မတမြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော် နိုင်ငံတော်စီမံအုပ်ချုပ်ရေးကောင်စီ အမိန့်အမှတ် ( ၁၄ / ၂၀၂၁) ၁၃၈၂ ခုနှစ်၊ ပြာသိုလပြည့်ကျော် ၇ ရက် ၂၀၂၁ ခုနှစ်၊ ဖေဖော်ဝါရီလ ၃ ရက်" (in Burmese). Tatmadaw Information Team. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  66. "အုပ်ချုပ်ရေးကောင်စီမှာ ပါဝင်ဖို့ စစ်အစိုးရကမ်းလှမ်းချက် မွန်ညီညွတ်ရေးပါတီ လက်ခံ". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  67. "ဒေါ်အောင်ဆန်းစုကြည် လွတ်ပြီဆိုသည့်သတင်းမှား ပျံ့နှံ့နေ". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  68. "After a decade of change in Myanmar, fear of the past drives anti-coup protests". Reuters. 7 February 2021. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  69. "Myanmar coup: Tens of thousands protest and call for Aung San Suu Kyi's release despite internet being cut off". Sky News. Retrieved 7 February 2021.

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