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Flashbacks: Three Months of Protest Against Myanmar's Military Regime

By The Irrawaddy 30 April 2021

Myanmar’s ongoing “Spring Revolution” against the country’s military regime will be three months old next week.

Since a predawn military coup in the capital Naypyitaw on Feb. 1, the country of 54 million people has been plunged into uncertainty, despair, oppression, bloodshed and chaos.

Soldiers and armored personnel carriers are deployed in Naypyitaw on Feb. 2, one day after the coup. / The Irrawaddy

The uniformed coup makers claimed they staged the takeover in response to mass electoral fraud in last year’s general election, in which the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory. Furious about the military’s worthless claim, millions of people—the majority of whom voted for the NLD—took to the streets across the country to demand the regime “respect our votes.” The protesters have unanimously rejected military rule in the country and called for the restoration of their stolen democracy. They baptized their movement the “Spring Revolution” as it took place in February, when the weather is beginning to warm up in Myanmar.”

Myanmar’s first anti-regime protest takes place in Mandalay on Feb. 4, three days after the takeover. / The Irrawaddy

During the revolution, Myanmar has seen a unity among its people that the country last experienced 33 years ago during the ’88 Uprising, which toppled the then socialist regime. Since the first week of February, streets of the major cities in the country have reverberated with anti-regime slogans. At the same time, doctors at government hospitals have stopped going to work; bank tellers have stayed at home and trains haven’t left the stations as most civil servants refused to work under the regime—rendering the junta barely functional.

Anti-regime protesters march in Yangon’s Hledan on Feb. 5 for the first time since the coup. / The Irrawaddy

The regime’s early veneer of tolerance for the protests shattered in late February when it started cracking down on demonstrators with lethal force. Over the course of three months, more than 700 protesters and bystanders have been slain, including children—many of them shot in the head. Unsurprisingly, the killing spree has attracted international condemnation and sanctions against the coup leaders.

Three months on, following the regime’s fatal crackdowns and mounting arrests, it’s true that the streets are no longer packed with protesters, as was seen in February and early March.

Anti-regime protesters gather in Hledan, Yangon on Feb. 6. / The Irrawaddy

However, Myanmar is unwavering and unbowed. While large-scale protests have fizzled out in the large cities, residents of provincial towns and villages have kept the Spring Revolution alive by pouring out into the streets. Even in the cities, young people still stage sporadic guerrilla-style protests to avoid crackdowns. With some protesters taking up arms with homemade weapons, the regime still struggles to maintain law and order. In the country’s hilly northwest, residents killed regime troops with rudimentary hunting rifles as they came to crush protesters in the towns. In other words, Myanmar’s civilian resistance against the junta is still in full bloom as its Spring Revolution continues.

Doctors at Yangon General Hospital flash three-finger salutes of defiance on Feb. 3 as part of their campaign against military rule. / The Irrawaddy

On the eve of the revolution’s 90-day mark next week, here are images of moments of defiance from the past three months—testaments to the Myanmar people’s unyielding rejection of military rule.

Yangon residents bang pots and pans on the night of Feb. 4 to show their opposition to the regime. Three months on, it remains a nightly ritual for democracy supporters across the country. / The Irrawaddy

Commuters raise three-finger salutes of defiance against the regime in downtown Yangon on Feb. 6. / The Irrawaddy

Riot police cordon off some parts of downtown Yangon on Feb. 6. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters in downtown Yangon on Feb. 8. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters in downtown Yangon on Feb. 8. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters gather in Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw on Feb. 8.

Anti-regime protesters confront security forces in Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw on Feb. 8. / The Irrawaddy

Security forces disperse anti-regime protesters with a water canon in Naypyitaw on Feb. 8. / The Irrawaddy


Anti-regime protesters confront security forces at Hledan Junction in Yangon on Feb. 9. / The Irrawaddy


Anti-regime protesters gather at Hledan Junction in Yangon on Feb. 9. / The Irrawaddy

An anti-regime protester in Yangon on Feb. 10. / The Irrawaddy

 Anti-regime protesters step on coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing’s picture in Yangon on Feb. 12. / The Irrawaddy


Myanmar people stage a protest outside the Russian Embassy in Yangon on Feb. 14 to denounce Moscow’s warm relations with the military. / The Irrawaddy


Anti-regime protesters gather in front of the US Embassy in Yangon on Feb. 14 to call for intervention against the junta by the US and UN. / The Irrawaddy


Yangon people stage a protest against the regime amid a heavy presence of security forces on Feb. 15. / The Irrawaddy


An anti-regime protester in Batman attire flashes a three-finger salute of defiance in Yangon on Feb. 15. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters urge staff from the Central Bank of Myanmar’s Yangon office to join the civil disobedience movement amid a heavy presence of security forces in Yangon on Feb. 15. / The Irrawaddy


Staff of the government-owned Myanma Railways join an anti-regime protest in Mandalay on Feb. 15. / The Irrawaddy


People in Mandalay call on civil servants to join the civil disobedience movement on Feb. 15. / The Irrawaddy


Young people stage a protest against China in front of the Chinese Embassy in Yangon on Feb. 11 to denounce Beijing’s silence on the Myanmar coup. / The Irrawaddy


People gather outside the government-owned Myanmar Economic Bank in Mandalay to urge staff to join the civil disobedience movement. / The Irrawaddy

 Anti-regime protesters gather in downtown Yangon on Feb. 17. / The Irrawaddy


An anti-regime protester in downtown Yangon on Feb. 17. / The Irrawaddy


Members of Myanmar’s various ethnicities stage a protest against the junta in downtown Yangon on Feb. 18. / The Irrawaddy

Police and soldiers attack protesters with slingshots in Mandalay on Feb. 15. / The Irrawaddy


Civil servants in Naypyitaw join the civil disobedience movement on Feb. 10. / The Irrawaddy

The body of Mya Thwet Thwet Khine is taken from a hospital in Naypyitaw on Feb. 19 after she was pronounced dead. The 19-year-old woman was shot by security forces and suffered a critical head injury amid a crackdown on anti-regime protesters in the capital 10 days earlier. She was the first casualty of the junta’s crackdown on anti-regime protests. / The Irrawaddy


An anti-regime protester holds a portrait of Mya Thwet Thwet Khine, the first anti-regime protester killed by security forces, at a memorial in Naypyitaw on Feb. 20, one day after her death. / The Irrawaddy

People carry a wounded man after police and soldiers open fire on civilians at a shipyard in Mandalay on Feb. 20. / The Irrawaddy

A man shows a bullet casing collected after police and soldiers open fire on civilians at a shipyard in Mandalay on Feb. 20. / The Irrawaddy

People hold a candlelight vigil in Yangon on Feb. 21 for those killed by regime troops. / The Irrawaddy


Anti-regime protesters gather in Mandalay on Feb. 22.


Anti-regime protesters gather in Mandalay on Feb. 22. / The Irrawaddy

People stage a protest in front of the Indonesian Embassy in Yangon on Feb. 23 over Jakarta’s reported push for ASEAN member states to agree to a rerun of the election by the Myanmar junta. The report was later denied by Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry. / The Irrawaddy

Riot police threaten a pregnant woman in Yangon amid their crackdown on anti-regime protesters on Feb. 27. / The Irrawaddy


Riot police prepare to crack down on anti-regime protesters in Yangon on Feb. 27. / The Irrawaddy

Riot police fire teargas to disperse anti-regime protesters in Yangon on Feb. 27. / The Irrawaddy

Despite security forces’ use of violence in previous days, anti-regime protesters take to the streets in Yangon on Feb. 28. / The Irrawaddy

Despite security forces’ use of violence in previous days, anti-regime protesters take to the streets in Yangon on Feb. 28. / The Irrawaddy

A civilian wounded amid security forces’ crackdown receives treatments at a hospital in Mandalay on Feb. 28. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters run for shelter after being teargassed in Yangon on March 2. / The Irrawaddy

Amid escalating crackdowns on anti-regime protesters, fully equipped soldiers are deployed in Yangon on Mar. 2. / The Irrawaddy

People stage a protest against the regime behind makeshift barricades in Yangon on Mar. 3. Following police’s use of violence in late February, demonstrators place roadblocks to deter security forces’ advance. / The Irrawaddy


A policeman kicks a man who is detained amid a crackdown on protesters in Mandalay on Mar. 3. / The Irrawaddy

A family member mourns over the body of Kyal Sin, 19, who was shot in the head when police and soldiers launched a crackdown on anti-regime protesters in Mandalay on Mar. 3. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters resist a crackdown by police and soldiers in Mandalay on Mar. 3. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters in Mandalay show solidarity with the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CPRH), a shadow government formed by deposed NLD lawmakers, on Mar. 6. / The Irrawaddy


Members of the Buddhist Monk Union in Mandalay take to the streets to protest against the regime on Mar. 6. / The Irrawaddy

Due to security forces’ use of violence against them, anti-regime protesters use protective gear and makeshift shields in order to protect themselves from tear gas and rubber bullets in Mandalay on Mar. 6. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters take cover behind makeshift barricades in Yangon on Mar. 7. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters in Mandalay on Mar. 7. / The Irrawaddy

An anti-regime protester rests behind roadblocks in Yangon on Mar. 13. / The Irrawaddy

Medical professionals and students stage a protest against the regime in Yangon on Mar. 13. / KH

An anti-regime protester walks past a heap of burning tires on a flyover in Yangon on Mar. 16. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters respond to regime troops’ crackdown on a flyover in Yangon on Mar. 16. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters in Yangon on Mar. 17. / The Irrawaddy

Riot police challenge protesters in Yangon on Mar. 17. / The Irrawaddy

A demonstrator reaches out to a fellow protester who was shot by security forces in Yangon on Mar. 17. / The Irrawaddy


Anti-regime protesters hold flaming torches in defense against regime troops in Yangon on Mar. 19. / The Irrawaddy


The funeral of a young protester who was shot dead by security forces on March 20. / The Irrawaddy


Mourners flash three-finger salutes at the funeral of a young protester shot dead by security forces on March 20. / The Irrawaddy


People stage a nighttime protest against the regime on Mar. 13 in Yangon. / The Irrawaddy


Downtown Yangon is nearly deserted on Mar. 24 as people across Myanmar observe a Silent Strike against the regime. / The Irrawaddy


Residents of Ye U in Sagaing Region stage a protest against the regime on Mar. 25. / Phyo Min Ko


Residents of the UNESCO World Heritage town Bagan stage a protest against the regime on Mar. 26.


People set copies of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution alight on April 1 after the CRPH, the shadow government, announced the charter’s abolition.


Young people stage guerilla-style anti-regime protest in Yangon on Apr. 2 to avoid crackdowns. / The Irrawaddy


Downtown Mandalay is deserted on Apr. 13, the eve of Myanmar’s traditional water festival, answering the nationwide call to boycott the festival to honor those slain by the regime.People stage a guerrilla-style protest against the regime in downtown Yangon on Apr. 23. / The Irrawaddy


People stage a guerrilla-style protest against the regime in downtown Yangon on Apr. 23. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters in Yangon on March 23. / The Irrawaddy

An anti-regime protester resists junta forces during a crackdown in Yangon on Mar. 23./The Irrawaddy

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