Myanmar: From anti-coup protests to a federal democratic union movement

On 1 February, the Myanmar military conducted a putsch in Yangon.

State Chancellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other National League for Democracy senior leaders were arrested. Parliament was suspended.

Predictably, widespread protests broke out.

However, with firepower at its disposal, the military expected to “wrap things up” by Armed Forces Day, three months after the coup.

In fact, the anti-military struggle has persisted until today.

Initially, when repression was heightened in mid-2021, the protesters resorted to all kinds of tactics to circumvent military restrictions: protests were moved to side streets; from day-time to night-time; from listening to speeches to banging away pots and pans.

As well, the struggle moved from the Bamar-majority cities to the rural hinterlands where the ethnic minorities resided. This struggle has even led to the formation of the Peoples’ Defence Forces to combat the military.

This talk explores why the 2021 struggle has persisted, whereas the 1988 student-led uprising petered out after six months.

And while the latter resulted in a majority of activists being pushed into exile, the 2021 struggle has transformed into a widespread movement that boasts a “National Unity Government” and a “National Unity Consultative Council”; has disseminated a “Federal Democratic Charter”, which is the basis of a new constitution; and is now building an administrative system from the bottom up (unlike the top-down General Administrative Department) and an educational system from the township level upwards to the state/region and union levels.

The talk discusses the critical significance of the 10 years of transition, 2011 to 2021.

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Speaker: Francis Loh, former professor of politics, Universiti Sains Malaysia

Organised by Penang Institute



AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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