Democracy in shadow: Myanmar coup escalates



Myanmar’s coup d’état stretches to its tenth day. It is the fifth day of protests in the street (at time of writing). As the sun rises tomorrow, tension will increase and questions will accumulate. What will be the outcome of these next few days? Will it be like 1988, or 2007? Will it usher in more endless years of SLORC/SPDC, long years of darkness and isolation?

Main image:  child runs alongside a military armored vehicle moving along a street on February 14, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar (Hkun Lat/Getty Images)

It is important to reflect together, to analyse what is happening and seek to understand our history. What do we see? How should we participate? What impact do these event have on our life and mission?

Some present this coup as a stalemate between two hard-headed leaders. Each had too much to lose. They failed to dialogue and failed to reach a compromise. Aung San Suu Kyi refused to concede ground to Min Aung Hlain. There may be some truth to that.

Soon after the coup, many rumours circulated. ‘ASSK was released, come out and celebrate’. Or ‘the long imprisoned Min Ko Naing will appear and address a rally, come and hear him’. Wisely, people waited. Were we being tricked to come out and create a stir? In 1988 and 2007, on the pretence of re-establishing law and order, a violent and bloody crackdown ensued. At first it seemed wise not to go on the streets. Was public disorder being provoked? There may have been some truth to that.

Now, for a few days it seems something new is happening. Can we name it? Thousands, even millions of people have come to the streets in almost a hundred townships and cities across Myanmar. They reject the coup. The young have glimpsed a new light. They want the dawn of democracy to grow to a full day. They refuse to go back to those too-familiar shadows. Education, a decent job, public health, to give their children a free future, all this was promised. That future was promised and is now stolen. Is this a widespread, deeply-felt movement? There is surely some truth to that.

People now know who is selling their birthright to our neighbours. They suspect the real agitators, the provocateurs of violence. They know when promises are empty. They know the proper role of the military is to protect, not to govern.


'Even the present constitution, faulty as it may be, does not permit what happened with the coup d’état. The people ask for what is rightfully theirs.'


Who has in fact broken the law? Even the present constitution, faulty as it may be, does not permit what happened with the coup d’état. The people ask for what is rightfully theirs.

What we see clearly on the streets of 360 towns and cities across Myanmar is that, as Pope Francis has said, ‘our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people — often forgotten people,’ who ‘without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time.’

To Myanmar, Pope Francis has said: release the imprisoned leaders, honour the votes of millions of people, return to democracy, support dignity and freedom. And pray for the people of Myanmar.

Yangon, February, 2021




This article has been left anonymous to protect the identity and safety of the author. 

Main image: Child runs alongside a military armored vehicle moving along a street on February 14, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar (Hkun Lat/Getty Images)

Topic tags: Myanmar, Min Ko Naing, coup, protest



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Interesting that the coup happened hot on the heels of Xi JingPing's visit to Myanmar on Jan 18 2021 and that the Democratic Government was taking a hard line on China's access and investments. China sees no advantage in a neighbor being democratic. "China’s interests in Myanmar range from the economic to the strategic. Myanmar is a rich source of natural resources like timber, jade, and natural gas. It also offers China access to the ocean on its southwestern flank, something Beijing has sought to develop through the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, linking Yunnan province in China to the Bay of Bengal. The return to military rule in Myanmar fueled the hypothesis that it will also bring a return to the old days, when Beijing was the country’s sole international backer. " The Diplomat Feb 3 2021.
Francis Armstrong | 17 February 2021

It is a dreadful time for the people of Myanmar/Burma.
Edward Fido | 18 February 2021

When God allowed Satan to be prince of the power of the air, he created the possibility that a messiah who stays too long would be gutted by the intrinsic and prudential evils of the world. Muhammad killed his Faith because of his perception that he had to kill in the name of it. Aung San Suu Kyi is damaged goods because, unlike Gandhi, she chose not to remain a symbol of a faith but to become a practical work of it, assuming an accountability risk which Mandela evaded by wisely vacating a presidency, which he was morally and practically obliged to occupy, after a term. The power of the air is a real thing. A messiah who is tasked to immerse him or herself in its miasma has to know when to go so as not to forfeit that legacy which was the only reason for being messiah. The legacy is a gift to the people for their good; to forfeit is to steal it back.
roy chen yee | 19 February 2021

I think Daw Su, as the Burmese would term her, accepted a poisoned chalice. There was never going to be a just solution to the problems the Rohingya and other minorities have with the Burmese government: the military would not allow it. Hence her stance on that problem. Ethno-religious minorities in Myanmar have no chance. The country is once again run by SLORC. God help Burma/Myanmar.
Edward Fido | 20 February 2021

Edward, Myanmar back in the hands of the Generals means the Rohinga are (like the Uighur minority and Falangong under Xi) doomed to death and exile just as the children of Zion were doomed under the third Reich. Well may you say God help Myanmar because he was notably absent during the Russian and German pogroms and holocaust.
Francis Armstrong | 22 February 2021

I'm not sure God is ever 'absent' Francis. It often seems so from our point of view. He is unknowable in that sense. But I am sure, far from our view, He is meting out His Justice on the perpetrators of the Holocaust and other atrocities. I would not like to be them. Meanwhile, I am sure the Righteous Among The Nations are sampling Paradise. This is Christian Doctrine 1. I believe Hell exists. Ditto Heaven.
Edward Fido | 23 February 2021


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