The competing hands behind Myanmar’s 2021 democratic movement

Introduction

On 1 February 2021, Myanmar’s military seized political power by detaining the leaders of the National League of Democracy (NLD) and accusing them of fraud in the 2020 election. Despite a decade-long military-monitored democracy, Myanmar had fallen into the hands of the military once again. The military started making formal accusations on 28 January 2021, when it claimed to have tangible evidence about fraud in the previous election (RFA 2021) and requested a national emergency meeting. At the time, a letter written by Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing was disseminated on Facebook. According to his letter, the military had serious doubts about the Union Election Committee of 2020 and demanded the creation of a new election committee to review the election results. The military also recommended that the activities of the new Hluttaw be halted during that time. An early warning of the military takeover was included in the letter, which stated that if the NLD ignored these requests, the military would take action as permitted under the 2008 constitution (Myanmar Now 2021).

Myanmar’s 2008 constitution included partial governance by the military to guarantee its participation in every aspect of the government’s administrative sector without much need for approval from the public. In 2011, General Than Shwe, the chairman of the ruling military junta’s State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), took control of all state power and suppressed all opposition with an iron fist but voluntarily dissolved his own SPDC and resigned from the army, as well as every other government position (Htut 2019). The NLD’s overwhelming victory in the 2015 election came as a shock to the military and its counterpart, the Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP), which had always believed it had strong support around the country. In truth, many opposition groups formed against the NLD government between 2015 and 2020, especially student unions, nationalists, Marxists, and ethnic political parties, as well as Buddhist extremists. There was even a “No Vote” movement before the 2020 election, which claimed that the NLD was just a lesser evil compared with the military. Surprisingly, amid this anti-NLD campaign and criticism, the NLD still won in a landslide in the 2020 election. This time, the military accused the NLD of cheating in the election.

The role of social media in Myanmar

The transition from military regime to elected democracy, which started in 2010, began to open up the formerly closed society in Myanmar. The most significant change was Internet access. While only 1 in 100 households had had access to a mobile connection under the military because of the cost of mobile cards, the price of SIM cards fell from 1,500,000 Myanmar kyats (about 1,000 dollars) to 1,500 Myanmar kyats (USD 1) under the USDP government. This allowed people to have unlimited access to the Internet, including social media. The most influential social media platform in Myanmar is Facebook, which has millions of users all around the country, from children to senior citizens. During this time, government officials also actively used Facebook and posted their daily activities on social media, where the public could interact with them directly without restrictions. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as individual blogs and groups, open pathways for the promotion of awareness and encourage advocacy (Surendran 2013).The most noticeable evidence that social media made a big impact on Myanmar society came in 2013, when TIME magazine profiled a Buddhist monk called Ashin Wirathu as the Buddhist 969 movement leader for advocating the social exclusion of the Muslim-minority population in the country (Hukil 2013). This increasing use of social media by the public brought a new platform for the politics of Myanmar, which is the use of social media as a political tool.

Starting on 1 February, several pages were created on Facebook with the popular trending theme of revolution against the military, a boycott of military products, and punishment for non-cooperators in the Civil Disobedience Movement by entertainment celebrities and social influencers. These people and pages fervently posted updates, links, images, videos, and comments about the situation in Myanmar every hour without checking the sources’ credibility. Moreover, they relentlessly spread news, information, and instructions via social media, which reached the public within hours on social media. The primacy of these tweets and Facebook pages initially aimed to promote the situation in Myanmar through regular postings of activities and events to achieve greater awareness from the international community.

The Civil Disobedience Movement

The most successful anti-military movement in Myanmar in 2021 was the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), which was a nonviolent campaign to protest the military coup. The movement was alleged to be a spontaneous event that arose from the rage of the people over the tyranny of the military and free from external control, but in fact it was a planned process to put pressure on the military. On 1 February, a picture of a letter allegedly written by Aung San Suu Kyi spread across social media. The letter posted on the NLD’s Facebook page was entitled “A request to the people of Myanmar.” Among others, the letter stated that the people of Myanmar must not accept the coup and must show their will against the military (Aung San Suu Kyi 2021). In an interview with Voice Journal, Win Htein, an influential voice within the NLD, swore the letter was authentic. Furthermore, he claimed the letter had been written by Aung San Suu Kyi herself on 29 January (Aung San Suu Kyi) and explained that Aung San Suu Kyi wanted people to show their resistance by participating in the CDM. Thus, the movement was launched by Win Htein, even though People still had their doubts about his words and the letter.

Doctors working at the 550-bed hospital in Mandalay were the first to take part and began the CDM on 2 February to show they were unwilling to accept the military coup (Irrawaddy 2021). The movement itself was inspired by the idea of Henry David Thoreau and his book On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, in which he argued that people need to let go of a government if its mechanisms turn with the oil of injustice. By letting it go, he meant the unjust government machinery will wear out and stop. The whole idea of civil disobedience is that if you have to be the agent of injustice to another, then it is better to break the law and be a counter-friction to stop the machine (Thoreau 1963).

The person who became the leading figure of Myanmar’s 2021 CDM was Min Ko Naing, a former student leader during the protests of 1988. On 5 February, he posted a letter on his Facebook account titled “Who is leading now?” In the letter, he made an analogy between the anti-military democratization movement in Myanmar and a train: Although the train is now without its engine, all the wagons have their own engine to move forward by themselves (Min Ko Naing 2021c). He posted his announcement under the name of the 88th Generation (Peace and Open Society), stating that the CDM of public servants can cripple and destroy the government bureaucracy, and the boycott of military products would decrease the military budget(Min Ko Naing 2021d). On 7 February, he posted a video of his speech to the public in which he encouraged public officers to take part in the CDM (Min Ko Naing 2021f). His idea was inspired by the nonviolent campaigns used by government officials worldwide such as stalling and obstruction, general administrative noncooperation, judicial noncooperation, deliberate inefficiency, and selective noncooperation (Albert Einstein Institution 2020).

Within a day of U Min Ko Naing’s post, almost all government offices emptied out, with most of the country taking part in the CDM. Another successful attempt to cripple the military was the boycott movement of military-related products. This also came from the theoretical explanation of Thoreau. Although Thoreau’s idea focused on government taxation, the boycott campaign targeted the products of military-related companies and later the small neighborhood shops that sold military products (Thoreau 1963). The purpose of the campaign was to shape the target’s action by heavily inflicting damage on its revenues (Albert Einstein Institution 2020). The idea that buying products from the military was the same as paying the military to kill and oppress the public spread across social media, and consumers refused to buy the boycotted goods.

Impact of the Civil Disobedient Movement

Despite the movement’s success, there were some major flaws in the concept of CDM in Myanmar. The first flaw was that there was no clear definition of which public servants should carry out the CDM. When U Min Ko Naing posted a letter to the public entitled “Anti-military coup nonviolent campaign” on 7 February, the second part of his letter mentioned an “All public servants boycott,” which would show their denial of the military’s rule by not going to work and resigning from their positions (Min Ko Naing 2021b). From his letter, it can be assumed that his definition of the CDM included all government officials, ranging from the managerial level to office clerks and even private bank employees.

The civil servants who were the most active participants in the CDM were teachers, doctors, and bank workers, whose duties were essential to the public in their day-to-day lives in an underdeveloped country like Myanmar. Although other sectors of government also joined the CDM, the education, healthcare, and banking sectors had more civil servants who took part by staying home. The CDM of these civil servants resulted in further damage being inflicted on the public rather than the military, as is clear from the case of physicians and medical workers’ participation in the CDM. For most of the impoverished citizens of Myanmar, the only healthcare system was the government hospitals, which have always been overpopulated with patients. With the instruction to leave work, the doctors decided to stop performing their duties and left the hospitals, claiming that they refused to work under the military regime. Normally, strikes by special groups (e.g., prisoners’ strikes, craft strikes, and professional strikes like public school teachers’ strike) are recognized as nonviolent and successful attempts to pressure the targets without harming the public (M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence 2020). But with doctors and physicians leaving hospitals in the middle of the third wave of COVID-19, the consequences were tragic.

Another error of the CDM is that there was no specific timeframe was set for the public servants to carry out their actions. Although in the announcement of 88th Generation’s (Peace and Open Society), which Min Ko Naing posted on his Facebook account on 8th February, stated that the public servants’ CDM would start on 8 February and to continue to 21 days (Min Ko Naing 2021h), the instigations and encouragements to perform CDM still continued till this day. Ignoring the fact that the peaceful movement was already destroyed by the assassinations of non-CDM public servants, the key players in the anti-military movement continued to force public servants to join the CDM even now. Following the example of Min Ko Naing, the newly established Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hlttaw (CRPH) made announcement 1/2021 on 8 February by supporting the CDM with the slogan “Not quitting, just skipping.” With the idea of wielding the CDM as the primary tool against the military, people were convinced the CDM was the key to success for their anti-military campaign. Unintentionally or not, Min Ko Naing placed the whole burden of resisting the military on the shoulders of the public servants.

From then on, the whole democratic revolution was focused on the CDM. On 14 February, Min Ko Naing again said the revolution would be successful if the public servants’ CDM held out for another two months (Min Ko Naing 2021e). While pushing for the CDM, all of the responsibilities of the revolution were pushed onto low-ranking public servants who received very low wages. They were having difficulty deciding whether to participate in the CDM while putting their families at risk. When some of these public servants decided not to join the movement, they were targeted as traitors and later persecuted by the local People’s Defense Forces.

End of the nonviolent Civil Disobedient Movement

The main issue that corrupted the anti-military movement was the uncontrollable spread of social punishment culture on social media. It all started when Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing, a young female activist in Mandalay, was shot and killed during the protests (Tun 2021). The increasing rage of the public was satisfied by social media influencers’ exhortations to punish the suspects, as well as their families and relatives (McMichael 2021). At first, the punishment included minor actions like reporting their Facebook accounts. But social media users also inflicted harsher punishment through unethical means, such as spreading false pornography of the female members of the family. While the ostracism of persons (e.g., excommunication and social boycott) was a valid way to carry out the nonviolent campaign, these actions of the keyboard fighters (those who actively use social media such as Facebook, Twitter etc. for the purpose of spreading awareness and information) far exceeded the nonviolent ones (M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence 2020).

The CRPH also began to face a lot of criticism from university students for continuing the nonviolent movement despite the military’s brutality. When the General Strike Committee (GSC) increasingly gained popular support, the CRPH announced it was also taking up armed struggle against the military. The ‘Suu, Yway, Hlutt’ faction, which had come to dominate the National Unity Government (NUG), continued to hold onto the CDM of public servants as their source of influence. Their reasoning is that since those who joined the CDM were the supporters of NLD victory in the 2020 election, those who did not participate were supporters of military. Then they planned to force the civil servants to join the movement by using threats and social punishments. This intention can be seen in the announcement of CRPH on 7th March, 2021. In the announcement, the CRPH clearly stated their will that the civil servants who did not participate in the CDM were breaking the laws of the only legitimate government of Myanmar, National Unity Government (NUG) (CRPH 2021c). This announcement indirectly implied that the civil servants who did not join in the CDM were criminals and supporters of military.

With the CRPH officially announced on 21 March 2021 and signed into being by Lwin Ko Latt, the resentment and hostility toward the non-CDM increased further (CRPH 2021b). In the announcement, the CRPH declared the final chance for the public servants to join the CDM would be on 31 March, and those who had participated in CDM would be rewarded while those who did not would be severely punished. Although the intention of the announcement may have been planned to draw more public servants to participate in CDM, it had a brutal impact on non-CDM public servants. Social media influencers and celebrities from the entertainment industry spread beliefs, for example that non-CDM were supporters of the military and “traitors.” A similar type of issue was found in the clearing of spies during the 1988 revolution (Lintner 1989).

Nevertheless, these justifications led to the local PDF, which were under the influence of social media, targeting non-CDM public servants and their family members for assassination. The whole country became an open war zone when President Du Wah La Shee of the NUG declared an emergency on 7 September (CRPH 2021c). The announcement contained 14 points, which called on public servants appointed by the military to resign and continue CDM and also sought to encourage the military and police to join the CDM.

The leading person in the effort to inflict social punishment on non-CDM civil servants was Zaw Wai Soe, an orthopedic surgeon and the rector of the University of Medicine (1) in Yangon. On 20 February, he posted on Facebook that he would abandon all his oaths, honor, and dignity as a doctor to fight the military (Zaw Wai Soe 2021a). His dedication was praised by many people, and he became the leading figure in the CDM. He theorizes the CDM as a three-step movement and claims the current step of CDM must move to the final stage of CDM: “Total CDM.” He pointed out that the continued survival of the military was because of the non-CDM civil servants. On 23 February, he posted a letter on Facebook and declared the non-CDM public servants are also killers, and they would be severely punished (Zaw Wai Soe 2021b). Thus, the peaceful CDM began to take a vengeful path toward those who did not follow the CDM.

While Henry David Thoreau, the father of the Civil Disobedience Movement, said “this is no reason why I should do as they do or permit others to suffer much greater pain of a different kind,” (Thoreau 1963) the keyboard fighters took the social punishment so far that it downgraded the whole nonviolent movement to a dehumanizing movement that later justified the killings of non-CDM public servants by the People’s Defense Forces (PDF). The armed groups that were formed in the cities were directed by the social media influencers to perform the missions called the “Clearing of Dalan,” in which the PDF assassinated non-CDM civil servants under the instructions of social media influencers.

Political divide between democratic groups in Myanmar politics

Without a constitutional amendment, the military will always have the power to control the politics of the country, and the pro-democratic forces faced a dilemma of whether to accept the undesirable constitutional arrangement of 2008. There were two factions within the NLD on the issue. The hardcore faction, inspired by Marxism and communism, favored rejecting the 2008 constitution and taking up arms to defend democracy. By contrast, the soft faction planned to achieve full-fledged democracy through constitutional reforms after accepting the 2008 constitution (Bhattacherjee 2014: 34). Ultimately, the NLD decided to take the path of constitutional reform and entered the election. But the political elites have always had in mind that the military can take back what they give anytime, and to remove the military’s iron grip on the country’s future, the most important task for the pro-democratic groups is to amend the constitution, which reserved 25 percent of seats in the Hluttaw for the military (Gupta 2014). The public mocked and ignored the early warnings from the military, as well as political elites, and many even dared the military by spreading slogans on social media like “If you want to take it, take the garbage,” etc. when there were rumors about possible military coup. By contrast, there were several meetings happening between the military and the NLD in Nay Pyi Taw, as well as in Yangon, from 28 to 31 January, where the military asked the NLD leadership to postpone the forming of the Hluttaw and to check ballots from the previous election under a new Union Election Committee (Reuters 2021). Thus, the NLD leadership already took notice of the possible military takeover while the public was not aware of it.

The military takeover on 1 February shocked the public, and after the coup, people were waiting for news from Aung San Suu Kyi to decide whether to protest. Even after the widespread increase in anti-military coup campaigns, there was no systematically unified anti-military group with a leadership position. Major conflict erupted between the Marxist and the democratic factions among the political elites. The age-old Marxist faction had once been the most influential in Myanmar politics and was still trying to recapture its prestigious position from the democratic faction (which they called opportunists) that had joined hands with the military. The democratic faction, however, viewed the Marxist faction as an aggressive and dangerous group that could destroy the harmony they had built by reaching out to the military. These two groups constantly clashed with each other whenever a decision had to be made. The entire anti-military movement, which began in February, was led by a competition between these two factions.

When the CDM movement was discussed, many claimed it would be an invisible movement looking like the product of someone’s intentional design but not produced by anyone in particular. However, the facts laid out above clearly show the whole movement was designed to strangle the military by using the public as a mean. In other word, NLD decided to abandon their political duties of negotiations and instead shoved everything on the shoulder of the public. And the general public had to pay the price of lives, families and occupations. Therefore, instead of an invisible hand, the CDM is a process of invisible hands: it looks disconnected on the surface but is the product of an individual’s or a group’s intentional design (Nozick 1974).

As mentioned previously, Min Ko Naing presented a strategy to the public which is designed to remove Military control and the release of Aung Sann Suu Kyi on 5th of February. His strategy is comprised of two parts. The first was to place the general public as the driving force of the whole movement (Min Ko Naing 2021c) and the second is placing the CDM of civil servants as the most important above other actions (Min Ko Naing 2021d). In sum, his plan was to use the CDM of civil servants to cripple and destroy the bureaucratic system as a whole to pressure the military. Therefore, the CDM of the civil servants became the center of the whole movement later on. The events after February 5th were aftermaths of Min Ko Naing’s strategy. Since then, he began to instigate the young generations to increase the movement’s momentum by utilizing social media as political tool (e.g., Facebook and Twitter). This led to the forming of an online society dubbed the “Keyboard fighters” who stood electronically against the military without participating in street protests. They included youths from abroad, as well as domestic youths from universities and colleges in Yangon. They became most powerful force since then as they created Facebook pages and interrogated the people close to them if they were supporters of the military. Although their judgment were based on whether the suspects posted or shared any anti-military posts and photos on social media, they were feared by general public for their brutal social punishments on social media. For instance, people had to show them their photos of participating in protests as evidence of not being related to military personnel. And if someone is decided as guilty of not supporting CDM, they and their whole family is socially punished by the general public who followed these keyboard fighters.

The Suu, Yway, Hlutt faction and the General Strike Committee

“Suu, Yway, Hlutt” is a synonym for “Release Aung San Suu Kyi, Accept the results of 2020 election and call for Hluttaw to be made up of the NLD.” Prominent figures from this faction included Min Ko Naing, Myoe Yan Naung Thein, Zaw Wai Soe, Pencello, and other social media influencers. The “Suu, Yway, Hlutt” faction encouraged civil servants to engage in the CDM to force the military into accepting their three demands. The CDM was the most important tool for the “Suu, Yway, Hlutt” faction to build up its influence in the anti-military movement. The faction was also supported by members of the NLD. For instance, the people’s representatives who were staying in government housing in Nay Pyi Taw made announcement 1/2021, in which they claimed themselves as the only legitimate representatives following the 2008 constitution, and they demanded the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint on 3 February 2021 (Chair NLD 2021). The very first formal statement of the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) on 8 February gave full support to the CDM and asked that all people encourage public servants to take part in the movement (CRPH 2021e).

The most influential actor in the “Suu, Yway, Hlutt” faction was Min Ko Naing. His famous letter to the people of Myanmar was entitled the “anti-military coup nonviolent campaign.” In the letter, released to the public on 7 February, he stated that CRPH was the only organization that has the “mandate” and “legitimacy” to be the government of Myanmar and that the CRPH was in motion to face against the military, which had seized power illegitimately (Min Ko Naing 2021b). He asked the public to encourage public servants to take part in the CDM because it was the most lethal tool against the military. On 14 February, he again posted a video of his speech on Facebook social media, in which he stated that it was the most important week of the CDM and that this movements would be the military’s Achilles’ heel (Min Ko Naing 2021g). From his speeches, it is clear that the “Suu, Yway, Hlutt” faction planned to pressure the military by utilizing the public servants and their participation in the CDM.

On 24 February, Min Ko Naing again posted a letter on his Facebook profile, this time entitled “CDM of the people or another strategic play.” He introduced the CRPH to the public by declaring it was working to form a legitimate government that would be another strategic part of the CDM (Min Ko Naing 2021a). The “Suu, Yway, Hlutt” faction planned to use the CDM as a foundation for the CRPH by creating the Union government, which could be claimed to have legitimacy because it was part of the CDM. They continued to spread the idea that civil servants had the duty to continue with the CDM so that the Union government could show that the public does not want to be under military rule.

While the idea of public officials performing the CDM came from Thoreau’s suggestion that such officials should resign their office if they really want to do something against the injustice of the government, the original instruction only suggested that the revolution will finish when people refused allegiance and the public officers resigned their offices (Thoreau 1963). The instructions about what to do next if the targeted government was not hampered by the movement were not mentioned in his book. Nevertheless, Zaw Wai Soe, who took the leading role in the CDM after Min Ko Naing, used it as a tool to shift the blame to non-CDM public servants.

Meanwhile, a challenge to the influence of “Suu, Yway, Hlutt” faction was raised by the General Strike Committee (GSC), which formed on 20 February when 25 different organizations from different fields, including political groups, joined together to promote the idea that people should not be happy with just “Suu, Yway, Hlutt,” which would only mean returning to life with military involvement. They proposed that everyone fight for full democracy without the military by any means necessary. They explained that the nonviolent path could not take the revolution forward and pointed out that the NLD’s acts of reconciliation were never successful. Therefore, they adopted a strict rule of never negotiating with the military and spread their idea to the public. Their visions were threefold: (1) to work for the end of military dictatorship, (2) to abolish the 2008 constitution, and (3) to establish a federal democratic union (GSC 2021c). The GSC became a challenge to the “Suu, Yway, Hlutt” faction because the GSC indirectly implied that if the 2008 constitution was rejected as undemocratic, the “legitimacy” and “mandate” of CRPH, which was derived from the results of the 2020 election under the constitution, would be lost.

Although the GSC in its founding statement declared its position that it accepted the election results of 2020, it took the anti-military revolution further than “Suu, Yway, Hlutt.” However, it was bitterly opposed by the public, which saw the faction as competing with the leading position of CRPH. Many negative comments can be seen on the GSC’s Facebook page on 20 February 2021 (GSC 2021b). One reason the “Suu, Yway, Hlutt” faction did not associate with the GSC was because it saw the latter as a group of communists influenced by the Marxist faction. Their worries were justified because the members of the GSC were mostly from student unions around the country and Marxist political groups. They were unpopular in Myanmar politics because they constantly criticized the NLD for conceding too much to the military in the past and instigated anti-government campaigns under the NLD government.

When the GSC stated that the public was united in its hatred for the military and the time was ripe to remove it from Myanmar politics, people started to reconsider their support for the “Suu, Yway, Hlutt” faction. The GSC gained a momentous upper hand when members of the prestigious Yangon University Student Union marched onto the campus of the University of Yangon on 25 February and delivered a speech at the old Student Union building. This demonstration without violence pressured the “Suu, Yway, Hlutt” faction to give up its demands and showed the military the strength of the university students (Albert Einstein Institution 2021). The movement that day brought the GSC into the spotlight when student unions from all around the country announced they would fight (1) to bring an end to the military dictatorship, (2) to abolish the 2008 constitution, and 3) to establish a federal democratic union (GSC 2021b). The GSC had planned and strategized psychological interventions for nonviolent harassment better than the ruthless social media influencers were able to accomplish. For example, pictures of Myanmar military soldiers were displayed with the words “I suffered when you are enjoying luxury” in public places. This was a satirical comment that the soldiers of low ranks have to do the dirty work under the command of generals who are living in opulence (M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence 2020). The GSC also successfully encouraged the students to withdraw from government educational institutions. Through literature and speeches, they peacefully advocated resistance to the military (Albert Einstein Institution 2021).

Given the public’s criticism directed at them, the “Suu, Yway, Hlutt” faction changed their goals on 5 March, stating they too now aimed (1) to bring an end to the military dictatorship, (2) to ensure the unconditional release of all unlawful detainees, including President U Win Myint and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, (3) to achieve full-fledged democracy, and (4) to rescind the 2008 constitution and write a new constitution based on the federal system (CRPH 2021a). The GSC also announced that it agreed with the CRPH announcement to join forces to work together for their goals on 6 March 2021 (GSC 2021a). Although the “Suu, Yway, Hlutt” faction agreed with the GSC, rumors spread that the CRPH still wanted to follow the path of reconciliation with the military. The GSC’s influence grew to such an extent that the CRPH eventually had to announce the abolition of the 2008 constitution on 31 March 2021 to satisfy the public (CRPH 2021a). Since then, the anti-military movement of Myanmar has taken the path of armed struggle to the extent that the National Unity Government (NUG), which was established on 16 April 2021, created the People’s Defense Force (PDF) on 5 May 2021 (CRPH 2021d). This led to the creation of multiple local PDFs that did not fall under the command of the NUG and waged their battles in their own way. According to the MIPS report, there were 380 PDFs in Myanmar. The peaceful nonviolent movement ended, and the brutal path of armed struggle had begun.

Conclusion

The CDM in Myanmar has failed as a nonviolent movement but has had a successful strategy of utilizing coercion and threats to push the whole burden of the revolution onto the shoulders of public servants. Like the anti-Muslim 969 movement was formed by the military, which was the real power behind it, the CDM movement was a movement driven by a group of politicians who changed public opinion through social media (Facebook, in particular) (Routray 2014). The movement was not formed spontaneously. Although the anti-military revolution in 2021 was rooted in public hatred over military rule, the CDM, social punishments, and Dalanizations were the products of profit-seeking politicians and people who sought to make public servants the ones to shoulder all the burden. To quote Kant, it is immoral to use people as a means to achieve one’s goal. Whoever took part in the process that simply treats people’s lives as a means to an end has no right to claim justice on their side.

When US President Bill Clinton apologized for the United States and the world community not doing enough to try to limit the violence and genocide in Rwanda, it was too late because lives had already been lost (Power, 2001). Currently, there are many groups of the People’s Defense Force (PDF) in cities whose leaders are anonymous, and their priority is to remove the “dalans” (Spies or Informers). By contrast, the military with its most brutal means is trying to suppress the public. All of this is happening in full view of the world community, which is not raising their voices to stop the fighting. It is becoming more and more dangerous for those who openly say that the situation in Myanmar is deteriorating. Anyone who talks about peace and negotiation is treated as a traitor by the anti-military groups and ignored by the military.

In the future, the only possible scenario for Myanmar to achieve peace and democracy is for the military to continue to play a role until an election is held and political power is given to their favorite political party. Therefore it is impossible that the detained public leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be released in the coming years. One unexpected factor is the increase in the political power of anti-military armed groups, which are not allied with the NUG. There is also the possibility of having new leadership led by communists and socialists, since a lot of youths are heavily influenced by Marxism. Lastly, the path of peaceful reconciliation left by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be completely abandoned if there is no liberal political thought in Myanmar, which is a difficult issue because most people have no understanding of liberal thought, and the public views liberalism as a weak political ideology. However, if there is an alternate solution for the future of Myanmar, spreading liberalism to the public through education and media is the only method for democracy because democracy cannot survive in a completely illiberal society.


References

 

— (2021b), “Announcement regarding the final day for the civil servants to join the civil disobedient movement,” Facebook post, 21 March. Available online at: https://www.facebook.com/crph.official.mm/posts/13827536163177.

— (2021c), “Announcement regarding the civil disobedient movement of the civil servants,” Facebook post, 7 March. Available online at: https://www.facebook.com/crph.official.mm/posts/129911482468165.

— (2021d), “Announcement on the creation of the People’s Defense Force,” Facebook post, 5 March. Available online at: https://www.facebook.com/170293668429946.

— (2021e), “The Announcement of the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw on February 8th,” Facebook post, 8 February. Available online at: https://www.facebook.com/crph.official.mm/posts/104320808360566.

— (2021b), Facebook post, 24 February. Available online at: https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStrikeCommittee/posts/120528980073580.

— (2021b),“Anti-military coup; non-violent movement”, Facebook post, 7 February.

Available online at: https://www.facebook.com/artistminkonaing/posts/269370857881575.

— (2021c), “A speech to the public: Who is leading now?,” Facebook post, 5 February. Available online at: https://www.facebook.com/artistminkonaing/posts/267694701382524 .

— (2021d), “A request to people,” Facebook post, 5 February. Available online at: https://www.facebook.com/artistminkonaing/posts/267765904708737.

— (2021e), “CDM, a lethal strike against the military,” Facebook post. Available online at: https://fb.watch/aKwrXCplkI.

— (2021f), “Live Speech on the Civil Disobedience movement,” Facebook post. Available online at: https://www.fb.watch/aKvVYhN18C/ .

— (2021g), “Speech on an important week of CDM,” Facebook post. Available online at: https://fb.watch/aKwrXCplkI/.

— (2021h), “Speech on CDM,” Facebook post. Available online at: https://www.fb.watch/aKwlegA2yJ/.

- (2021b), “To all the civil servants who did not join the CDM,” Facebook post, 20 February. Available online at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1k-gOlRe6epkxlucbCwTSEQXbZXdmj_T/view?usp=drivesdk.


 

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