What’s Happening in Myanmar

Understanding the military coup in Myanmar

SOPA Images Limited / Alamy
SOPA Images Limited / Alamy

On February 1st, the Burmese military detained high-ranking officials of the National League for Democracy and the leader of the country, Aung San Suu Kyi. It was a coup, haunted by memories of past coups: 1962, when the military first seized power, and then 1988, when student-led protests against that government led to another coup that killed at least 6,000 people. In 2007, hundreds of thousands of monks protested in what became known as the Saffron Revolution, and the military cracked down again, arresting hundreds of people, some of whom still remain in prison. Despite that bloody history, today tens of thousands of people are returning to the streets as part of the so-called Civil Disobedience Movement. It feels like we’re all waiting to see what will happen next. Is this the end of Myanmar’s decade-long experiment with democracy, or could it be the catalyst for a new movement? To give us a better picture of where things stand, and how they’ve gotten to this point, we’re joined by Columbia University anthropologist Geoff Aung, who has spent years working in Burma and has written about the country for more than a decade.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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