Tuesday, February 16, 2021
CHIANG MAI – As Myanmar’s anti-coup civil disobedience movement heads into a third defiant week, the potential for violence is rising as the new military regime’s orders and bans on protests are widely ignored despite the deployment of armored vehicles equipped with machine guns in the old capital of Yangon and other cities and towns.
Heavily armed soldiers in uniform are now taking over the task of defending the new dictatorship and suppressing the protests from the ineffectual or unwilling police.
But even if the generals manage to suppress the movement via brute force, it is becoming increasingly clear that they will be ruling over a population that is vastly more defiant from when coups were staged in the past.
The coup is also bound to put an end to old timeworn notions of the military being the only force that can hold the country together, a national mythology the military has perpetuated in rhetoric and even museums. But the military’s state within a state and its recent democracy-suspending coup is just as much about economics as nationalism.