Two Years of Turmoil: Key Events Since Myanmar’s Coup

By AFP 31 January 2023

YANGON—Myanmar’s military seized power on Feb. 1, 2021, ousting the civilian government and arresting its de facto leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

More than 2,800 people have since been killed in the junta’s bloody crackdown on dissent, according to the UN, while thousands more have been arrested.

Here is a look back at the two years since the coup, which ended a decade-long experiment with democracy after half a century of military rule.

Pre-dawn raids

Soldiers detain Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her top allies during pre-dawn raids on Feb. 1 ahead of the opening of the new parliament.

The generals claim fraud in the November 2020 election, which Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won by a landslide.

Their actions spark global condemnation, from Pope Francis to US President Joe Biden, and soon the United States, European Union and others announce sanctions.

Growing crackdown

Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, a young woman shot on Feb. 9, dies 10 days later after becoming a national symbol of opposition to the junta.

Violent crackdowns on street protests escalate, and by March 11, Amnesty International says it has documented atrocities by the junta including the use of battlefield weapons on unarmed protesters.

A day later, a UN rights expert on Myanmar accuses the military of crimes against humanity.

Deadliest day

More than 100 civilians are killed in protest crackdowns on March 27, 2021—Armed Forces Day, the military’s annual show of strength. It is the deadliest day since the coup.

The next month, ousted civilian lawmakers forced into hiding announce the formation of the shadow National Unity Government.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyis trial begins

In June, more than four months after she was detained, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi goes on trial in a closed junta court.

She faces an eclectic mix of charges, including illegally importing walkie-talkies and flouting COVID-19 restrictions during the 2020 elections.

Election results canceled

In late July, the junta cancels the results of the 2020 polls, claiming more than 11 million instances of voter fraud.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi jailed

On Dec. 6, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi receives her first jail sentence — four years for incitement against the military and breaching Covid-19 regulations. The sentence is then cut to two years.


In July 2022, the junta announces it has executed a former lawmaker from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s party along with a prominent activist over allegations of “terrorism”—the country’s first use of capital punishment in decades.

The news sparks renewed outrage. A junta spokesman later says the pair, along with two others who were executed for allegedly killing an informer, “deserved many deaths”.

Lavrov visits

Days later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits and says Moscow backs the junta’s efforts to “stabilize” the country and hold elections in 2023.

Ex-ambassador arrested

In August 2022, authorities arrest former British ambassador Vicky Bowman for allegedly breaching immigration rules.

The arrest came as Britain announced new sanctions on firms it said had helped raise funds for the military during its 2017 crackdown on the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority.

Bowman and her husband, prominent artist U Htein Lin, are later jailed for a year.

In November, they are freed in a mass amnesty, along with a Japanese journalist arrested at an anti-coup protest and an Australian former adviser to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi detained since the early days of the coup.

Air strikes

In September, at least 11 schoolchildren are killed in a junta air strike on a school in the northern Sagaing region as the military ramps up the use of its air power.

In October, air strikes on a concert held by a major ethnic rebel group kill about 50 people and wound 70, according to the Kachin Independence Army, which has clashed regularly with the junta since the coup.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi trials finish

After 18 months, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial wraps up on Dec. 30 with a final jail term of seven years for corruption, taking her total sentence to 33 years.

The junta gives no details on whether she will be allowed to serve her sentences under house arrest.


In January 2023, the junta gives political parties two months to re-register under a strict new electoral law in the latest sign it is planning fresh polls this year.

The United States has said any elections would be a “sham”. Close ally Moscow says it supports holding polls.