The 2021 Myanmar coup explained in 30 seconds

Country’s military has deployed brutal violence to crush dissent since taking power in a 2021 coup but resistance is growing

On 1 February 2021, Myanmar’s military took power in a coup, abruptly halting the country’s fragile transition towards democracy.

It justified the coup by alleging widespread fraud in the 2020 election – which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won by a landslide. Independent observers have rejected such claims.

In the weeks following the coup, huge numbers of people took to the streets for mass protests. The military responded with deadly violence and imposed a campaign of terror, raiding homes and arresting anyone suspected of supporting democracy.

More than 15,500 people have been arrested as of September 2022 – a number that continues to rise. Reports of torture in prisons are common.

Many resorted to taking up arms to oppose the military, forming people’s defence forces. In some cases anti-coup groups are supported by established ethnic armed organisations that have fought against the military for decades.

Faced with defiant and widespread resistance, the military has been unable to consolidate its control of the country. It has deployed increasing brutal violence to try to crush dissent.

The UN’s human rights office said earlier this year that the military’s actions might amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Almost 700,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict since the coup, meaning more than 1.2 million are currently displaced. The economy is in crisis, and public services have collapsed.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained since the coup and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Further cases against her, which could lead to decades more prison time, are ongoing.


Rebecca Ratcliffe South-east Asia correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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