Anti-coup demonstrators in Yangon, Myanmar, April 2021 The New York Times / Redux
Myanmar is at a point of no return. The army’s February coup, meant to surgically shift power within the existing constitutional framework, has instead unleashed a revolutionary energy that will be nearly impossible to contain.
Over the past four months, protests and strikes have continued despite the killing of more than 800 people and the arrest of nearly 5,000 more. On April 1, elected members of parliament from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), together with leaders from other political parties and organizations, declared a “national unity government” to challenge the authority of the recently established military junta. And through April and May, as fighting flared between the junta and ethnic minority armies, a new generation of pro-democracy fighters attacked military positions and administrative offices across the country.
The junta could partially consolidate its rule over the coming year, but that would not lead to stability. Myanmar’s pressing economic and social challenges are too complex, and the depth of animosity toward the military too great, for an isolated and anachronistic institution to manage. At the same time, the revolutionaries will not be able to deal a knockout blow anytime soon.
As the stalemate continues, the economy will
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