Myanmar’s Immortal Heroes & People of 2022

By The Irrawaddy 23 December 2022

Myanmar endured a second year under the military dictatorship of Min Aung Hlaing in 2022, a year marked by worsening atrocities by the junta, but also by an increasingly organized and successful resistance against it, as the civilian National Unity Government and its armed wing, the People’s Defense Force, went on the diplomatic and military offensive, with help on the battlefield from of a number of the country’s oldest ethnic armed organizations. The people of Myanmar continued to draw inspiration from the courage displayed by the country’s thousands of striking civil servants and political prisoners—including four martyred activists hanged by the regime—as well as detained elected leaders U Win Myint and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the latter having been moved by the regime to solitary confinement in prison in June. While the last month of the year offered a few rays of hope in the international arena with stepped up action by the US and UN, for the most part, in 2022 the international community continued to do little more than pay lip service to the need for a return to democracy in Myanmar, as the regime continued to thumb its nose at regional bloc ASEAN while drawing practical support from India, China and, in particular, Russia.

Here, The Irrawaddy looks at some of the individuals and groups who shaped the events of 2022.

Immortal heroes who gave their flesh, bones and lives

The events of July 23, 2022 are a dark mystery. Many Myanmar people wonder how the country’s respected and devoted democracy fighters Ko Jimmy and Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw reacted as they were led up to the gallows at Insein Prison, how they responded when the ropes were placed around their necks, and what their last words were before they were hanged. The next day, two more anti-regime protesters, Ko Hla Myo Aung and Ko Aung Thura Zaw, faced the same fate on the same gallows.

They were killed. But they will never die. General Aung San is still alive; the 32-year-old independence leader’s assassination in 1947 ensured that he will be remembered always. Win Maw Oo is also alive, though the 16-year-old girl was shot dead by military troops during the 1988 pro-democracy uprising. Salai Tin Maung Oo lives on, though the 25-year-old ethnic Chin student leader was hanged in 1976. They are just a few of a long list of heroes who put their flesh, bones and lives in the hands of successive regimes in the interest of their country and compatriots.

Such stories of sacrifice are not new in Myanmar. Successive military regimes have openly or secretly killed countless people since their first coup in 1962. Before and after the second coup in 1988, about 3,000 pro-democracy protesters and students were killed. Since the latest putsch last year, the regime has killed more than 2,600 people, including young students, politicians and members of various professions, to date, on streets, in schools, in their own homes, in torture chambers and also in prisons. They are all national heroes, as they died great deaths.

Among these great deaths, those of veteran 88 Generation pro-democracy activist Ko Jimmy (Kyaw Min Yu), 53, former National League for Democracy lawmaker and hip-hop star Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw, 41, and anti-coup protesters Ko Hla Myo Aung and Ko Aung Thura Zaw stand out, as they were killed by hanging in the first such executions in more than 30 years. The hangings showed once and for all that coup leader Min Aung Hlaing is even more evil than his predecessors—they, at least, refrained from hanging political activists after the execution of Salai Tin Maung Oo in 1976.

Min Aung Hlaing’s decision to execute the four activists was intended to extinguish the flame of the people’s democracy. But the act was counterproductive; their deaths have emboldened the spirit and strength of the Myanmar people to fight the military dictatorship, and those he killed have become heroes of the country. No one really died at the hands of the most evil man. They gave their flesh, bones and spirits to help build a beautiful, peaceful and prosperous country. They are all immortal.

Min Aung Hlaing: The face of evil

If you want to know what evil looks like, look closely at Myanmar military junta chief Min Aung Hlaing. Since his coup last year, he has commissioned his troops to kill thousands of his countrymen simply because they reject his rule. As of December this year, troops acting on his orders have killed more than 2,600 civilians, including schoolchildren and elderly people, in artillery and air strikes. His subordinates enjoy immunity to commit extrajudicial killings of dissidents in torture chambers while locking up thousands of others. It is not just that his regime does nothing good for the country; Min Aung Hlaing is the most devious and bloodthirsty man in Myanmar today.

Under his rule, Myanmar, whose return to prosperity had been gaining momentum in the years before he seized power, has made a dramatic U-turn and is now on its way to becoming a failed state. Young people have joined the country’s established ethnic armed groups in droves to topple his regime, while others have left Myanmar in search of greener pastures. The country is now backsliding socially and economically into the sorry state it endured in the late 1990s, when people had electricity for a few hours a day. Lawlessness is rampant, even in the major cities including commercial hub Yangon.

Internationally—his increasingly cozy relations with Russia notwithstanding—Min Aung Hlaing is mostly an outcast. Even the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, refuses to invite him to its summits due to his failure to cooperate with the bloc’s efforts to mediate the crisis. Under his rule, several Western democracies including the US and UK have downgraded their diplomatic relations with Myanmar.

In the coming years, historians of Myanmar will unanimously depict him as the leader of a failed coup, one whose brutality is matched only by his stupidity. He is clearly the most inept dictator the country has ever known, having failed to assert control nearly two years after the takeover, unable to contain an unwavering and unprecedented popular armed resistance against him. In desperation he has resorted to air strikes and a scorched earth policy against civilians, especially in resistance strongholds, hoping to rule through fear. Rather than forcing Myanmar’s people into submission, however, his atrocities have only turned them into more committed revolutionaries, who are dying to see him hang at any cost. In their view, there can be no sympathy for a man as devious as Min Aung Hlaing. He deserves only the worst!

People’s Defense Force: Myanmar’s ‘People’s Army’ evolves

There has been little or no progress in people’s lives after 21 months of military rule in Myanmar, but the People’s Defense Force (PDF) offers a rare ray of light. The young and energetic folks who traded their comfortable lives to join the armed struggle against the regime have proven themselves on the battlefield—in stark contrast to their pre-coup image as a generation largely obsessed with online video games and Korean dramas—successfully engaging the Myanmar military while fighting alongside the country’s seasoned ethnic armies.

In contrast to the homemade hunting rifles they wielded in the summer of 2021, many but not all are now properly equipped with automatic assault rifles thanks to the Myanmar people’s crowdfunding support. It’s encouraging for the people to see the young PDF members, whom they affectionately call “our boys and girls,” cradling M-16s—though some are dressed in their favorite football team jersey and dusty sandals to supplement their insufficient uniforms.

One thing that hasn’t changed is their steely determination to topple the regime and fight for democracy—a quality that moved the country’s detained democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to express her pride in them.

Furthermore, they have earned respect from international observers who initially thought the PDF’s armed struggle against the regime, with its superior firepower, wouldn’t last long. The PDF groups across the country are now more organized, united under the command of the parallel National Unity Government (NUG), and using more creative tactics, such as the deployment of commercial drones for combat purposes. They are now inflicting heavy losses on junta forces daily.

As there are now over 300 PDF battalions nationwide, supplemented by township-level defense forces in 250 of the 330 townships across the country, the PDF groups in 2022 took on a more offensive role, increasingly raiding and occupying—sometimes in collaboration with ethnic armed groups—army outposts and police stations in resistance strongholds.

But this has required considerable sacrifice on the PDFs’ side. Some fighters have lost their lives in action, and others have been maimed by explosions while testing or producing improvised weapons, too impatient to wait for arms from the NUG, which has been struggling to keep all PDF members supplied.

There have been some missteps. Some PDF groups have admitted involvement in extrajudicial killings when dealing with accused junta informants. Those responsible have been severely criticized by their peers, who associate such actions with the regime. The NUG announced that those found guilty would be punished.

National Unity Government: Progress on multiple fronts despite shortcomings

Heavy blows struck this year by the civilian National Unity Government (NUG) against the brutal military regime of Min Aung Hlaing—including creative and successful fundraising schemes for the revolution; battleground victories of its armed wing, the People’s Defense Force (PDF), and allied ethnic armed groups (EAOs); and increased diplomatic presence, engagement and recognition on the international front—have heartened the people of Myanmar amid the ongoing shocking news stories and images of the junta’s atrocities.

Under its command, PDF groups across the country are becoming more sophisticated and organized, undergoing advanced military training and launching offensives against regime troops. NUG Minister of Planning and Finance U Tin Tun Naing has also developed a reputation as a fundraising genius, introducing innovative projects such as lotteries, bond issuances, online auctions of houses and properties acquired by regime leaderssales of land plots, and digital payments. While some of his plans didn’t impress some observers at first, he has proven his ability to successfully reach targets within a few days with the help of his teammates across the world. To date, his ministry has raised about US$100 million, around 95 percent of which has been used for the armed struggle.

NUG Foreign Minister Daw Zin Mar Aung has also earned well-deserved praise for her diplomatic victories over the junta. The passage of the Burma Act by the US Congressthe UN Security Council’s adoption of its first-ever resolution on Myanmar, the UN’s retention of NUG-backed U Kyaw Moe Tun as the permanent representative to the world body, the increasing treatment by ASEAN and the international community of the junta as an outcast, and fresh sanctions on the generals and related businesses are among the latest welcome developments in the international arena.

International online news magazine The Diplomat wrote in September that with the NUG increasingly acting as the government of Myanmar and providing a viable plan for Myanmar’s future, the world is fast running out of excuses for not recognizing it. However, it is still not perfect, and challenges abound, as it is still struggling to work with ethnic armed groups and collaborate effectively on building a federal union—something both the NUG and all ethnicities of Myanmar have dreamed of. Its inability to distribute arms to all of its PDF groups has also drawn complaints. Furthermore, reckless comments from some wayward ministers to the effect that victory is just around the corner have given people false hope.

Overall, the revolutionary government led by ethnic Kachin former lawyer and community leader Duwa Lashi La and comprising democratically elected lawmakers, civil society leaders and activists of various ethnicities commands loyalty and support from the vast majority of Myanmar people and international friends, and is trying its best to lead the people’s revolution to uproot the dictatorship, one of the most notorious and ruthless regimes on this planet.

The people of Myanmar

When it comes to democracy, Myanmar people don’t compromise. The nationwide popular demonstrations against military rule that erupted in the wake of the coup last year and the ongoing anti-regime resistance movement are the best examples of this focused determination to wipe out the military dictatorship. The regime has still not been able to crush the movement, and to keep it going Myanmar people contribute whatever they can, from arming the resistance forces to joining silent strikes against the regime to funding the National Unity Government (NUG), which they take as their rightful government. In other words, so far, the revolution against the regime has been sustained solely by the Myanmar people, without outside help.

However, supporting a revolution is not easy, especially when your enemy is as ruthless as the Myanmar military regime. The junta shuts down individual bank accounts of those inside the country who are accused of financing the resistance forces or who are arrested for anti-regime activities. To bypass the restrictions, resistance supporters have turned to crowdfunding with the help of likeminded Myanmar people in other countries. Among other achievements, early this year, a US$2.2-million project to arm resistance forces met its target within a few days, much to organizers’ surprise. When resistance forces continued to launch offensives, Myanmar people at home and abroad were motivated to donate more to purchase ammunition and other necessities for the front lines, and those engaged in fundraising abroad have had little sleep, as they struggle to cope with a surge in transactions.

Clearly viewing the armed struggle as the only means to root out the military dictatorship, Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have worked extra shifts and taken additional jobs to contribute to the revolution. In resistance strongholds upcountry where the regime’s atrocities are rampant, grandmothers in their 80s have handed their golden earrings and bracelets to resistance members, saying, “Take this and fight till they [the regime] are gone.”

The Myanmar people’s solidarity and self-reliance developed of necessity after their calls for international help to topple the regime were ignored, as all eyes have been on the Ukraine war. Whenever they learn about military assistance from other countries for Ukraine, all Myanmar people can do is look on and murmur, “What we could do with just a fraction of that support!” Rather than dwelling on their disappointment, however, they have kept the revolution moving forward on their own for nearly two years. However, the passage of the so-called Burma Act (a component of the National Defense Authorization Act) by the US Congress to support Myanmar’s anti-regime movement offers some reason to be positive. Hopefully it is the light at the end of the tunnel.

The international community

Since Myanmar people embarked on their fight against the military dictatorship nearly two years ago, they have been on their own, as the international community has been good for nothing except expressing concern as the regime kills its own people, including schoolchildren, despite the people’s repeated calls for tangible assistance.

In December, the passage of the Burma Act by the US Congress to provide non-lethal support to Myanmar regime opponents, and the UN Security Council’s adoption of a resolution on Myanmar calling for an end to the military regime’s escalating repression and violence against civilians, provided some hope. Both actions are just first steps, however, and much work needs to be done if they are to bear fruit.

Regionally, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, has been completely ineffective, including its adoption of a peace plan for Myanmar, which the junta has completely ignored. The bloc has yet to even unanimously condemn the regime, as some members have ties to the junta.

China, India and Russia have consistently engaged with the regime militarily, diplomatically and economically, providing breathing space for the junta, which has been largely shunned by Western democracies. Its warming ties with China and Russia have also enabled the regime to access military assistance to use in crushing anti-regime resistance forces in Myanmar.

All in all, it’s undeniable that Myanmar’s suffering under the military regime has been made worse by the international community’s divided approach to the country, which has emboldened the regime to commit more atrocities. It’s likely that if there had been earlier and more concerted international action taken against the regime, we would be closer to the restoration of democracy in Myanmar and there would have been fewer air strikes on civilians. Such action would also have prevented the junta’s hangings of Ko Jimmy, Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw and two other democracy activists. The hell hound that is the Myanmar regime remains loose in the absence of any genuine international effort to bring it to heel.

International friends of Myanmar

While countries like Russia, China and India have made the most of their ties with Myanmar under military rule and ignored the people’s suffering, some individuals have stood along with the people of Myanmar in their fight against the regime.

The most remarkable is Sean Turnell. When he was released by the regime after 650 days in captvity, mainly for being deposed leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s adviser on economic reform in Myanmar, the Australian economist didn’t complain about having been locked up. Instead, he said bluntly, “It is a tragic and terrible thing that the nicest people I have encountered anywhere are ruled over by such knaves and fools.”

In media interviews, he warned that the coup has severely damaged Myanmar’s economy and that the regime wouldn’t give up power easily. He revealed the inhumane treatment he experienced in prison along with other political detainees such as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, whom he met during their trial proceedings and who urged him to tell everyone the truth about Myanmar.

Toru Kubota, a Japanese filmmaker who was released after nearly four months of detention by the regime, urged his government to take a strong proactive approach to human rights violations in Myanmar by protecting people who flee authoritarian rule. He warned the world not to be fooled by the junta’s mass amnesty in which he was released, dismissing it as a mere propaganda stunt and pointing out that some 10,000 political prisoners remain locked up.

And there are others, like former US ambassador to Myanmar Scot Maricel and European human rights campaigner Igor Blazevic. With their unique understanding of the complexity of Myanmar’s politics, they have spoken the truth on behalf of the people of Myanmar. Their assessments of the country’s ongoing issues have turned out to be far closer to reality than those of some so-called native Myanmar scholars who blame the people for the country’s instability while kowtowing to the regime.

EAOs: Myanmar’s divided ethnic armed groups

Arguably, one benefit of the military coup for the Myanmar people is that it has allowed them to draw distinctions between the various ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) in the country.

Some of the oldest EAOs, including the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Chin National Front (CNF), have shown their support for the anti-regime movement since the coup. They have not only provided shelter for those fleeing the junta’s persecution, but also provided military training and armed those fighting the regime. The KIA alone has trained more than 4,000 members of the anti-regime People Defense Force.

Furious, the regime has retaliated against the KIA with numerous air strikes, including one on an open-air concert celebrating the Kachin Independence Organization’s anniversary, killing several KIA officials and scores of civilians.

On the other hand, 10 EAOs—seven signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and three non-signatories—declined to join the anti-regime movement and agreed to attend so-called peace talks with the regime in an effort to promote their own interests.

Among the signatories are the Restoration Council of Shan State, the New Mon State Party, the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council, the Arakan Liberation Party, the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, the Pa-O National Liberation Organization, and the Lahu Democratic Union.

The three non-signatories that joined the peace talks were the United Wa State Army, the National Democratic Alliance Army (also known as the Mongla Group), and the Shan State Progress Party.

Unlike other EAOs, the 10 groups have no tensions with the Myanmar military.

Min Aung Hlaing invited EAOs to peace talks in April 2022. Observers said he organized the talks to give his regime, which has been overwhelmed by resistance forces in many parts of the country, some breathing space and to sow discord among EAOs.

The KNU, KIA, KNPP and CNF refused to attend the junta-organized peace talks, dismissing them as a sham and not inclusive. The Arakan Army and its allies the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army also stayed away.

Min Aung Hlaing has urged ethnic leaders to stand for election in an already discredited vote he plans to organize in 2023, and to press their demands in the parliament instead of fighting. He suggested EAOs could transform into Border Guard Forces if they want to keep their arms. He also promised separate legislative power for parliaments in ethnic states, to make the so-called election more attractive.

In the 1990s, the previous regime offered incentives to some EAOs to drive a wedge between them and other ethnic armed groups. Certain EAOs exchanged their arms for lucrative concessions to run businesses, legal and otherwise, including logging, drug running and mining.

However, the Myanmar military broke its promises in 2009, reviving the vicious circle of armed conflicts.

Civil Disobedience Movement: Peaceful but strong blow to the junta

Like the civilian National Unity Government (NUG) and the People’s Defense Force groups (PDFs), Myanmar’s Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) poses a serious challenge to the regime, which is still reeling from its impact nearly two years on. While the NUG and PDF wage an armed struggle, CDM participants utilize the power of peaceful resistance. Formerly employed in the state’s medical, education, administrative and defense sectors, their refusal to work under military rule had an immediate impact from the moment the movement was launched two days after the coup, bringing the government administration to a halt.

Almost two years on, the CDM is recognized as the longest-running movement of its kind in the world, and was nominated for the 2022 Nobel Peace prize. It has turned out to be one of the pillars of the revolution against the junta, as participants continue to defy the regime while coping with many hardships as the junta targets them with threats and arrests. Some have even been beheaded and had their limbs cut off.

Striking civil servants who try to flee abroad are frequently arrested at airports. CDM teachers have been sentenced to up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a CDM police officer was sentenced to a maximum of 26 years. To evade the junta’s atrocities against them, many CDMers have gone into hiding or fled to border areas, taking jobs completely unrelated to their previous careers. Amid such hardships, they still refuse to go back to work for the government.

While some have gone back to work after facing threats from the regime, others, notably in the health and education sectors, have kept their anti-regime mission alive by joining the relevant operations of the NUG. Some run online classes for students refusing to study under the regime while others now work at community schools operating in resistance stronghold areas.

CDM health workers have also joined resistance groups as medics. When they are not at the front line, they treat internally displaced people and other civilians who need medical assistance, strongly supporting the goal of removing the junta. The same determination keeps their detained comrades, who have been unjustly thrown into jails for their anti-regime activism, alive.

Political prisoners: Jailed but unbowed

Another force that we mustn’t forget to honor for their bravery, sacrifice and commitment to the cause of democracy is Myanmar’s unbowed political prisoners. Myanmar now has the largest number of political prisoners in its history, as the junta has detained more than 16,500 people in less than two years during its harsh crackdowns against those who oppose its rule. Among the junta’s prisoners are elected leaders, state and regional chief ministers, prominent protest leaders, lawmakers, activists, students, doctors, nurses, health workers, teachers, professors, lawyers, engineers, reporters, writers, charity volunteers, company workers, filmmakers, actors and other citizens.

Despite being thrown into the junta’s deadly prisons and facing inhumane conditions, brutal punishments, torture and horrific human rights violations behind bars, brave and resilient political prisoners across the country are unbroken and their revolutionary spirit remains strong.

They continue to stage protests against the junta and maintain their defiance, despite knowing that they will be crushed brutally and face severe punishment in the form of beatings, torture, additional sentences or being put into solitary confinement, being banned from receiving family visits—their only source of food and other supplies from outside—being moved to remote prisons, or even death.

Despite these threats, they never fail to mark important political dates such as the silent strikes, the anniversaries of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising or the start of the ongoing revolution against the regime, and detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday, and to show solidarity with fellow anti-junta activists who are still free in denouncing the junta’s execution of political prisoners, handing down death penalties to student activists and other actions. They yell anti-regime slogans and sing revolutionary songs from behind bars, risking their lives. Political prisoners are often referred to as “chickens in the coop” by the generals. But they have proved that while the regime may imprison them physically, it is impossible to lock up their spirit, determination and bravery. And most importantly, that the regime can’t impose its rule at all, even inside prisons.

Tayzar San—‘Tayzar the extraordinary’

Among prominent individuals resisting the regime, one figure comes to mind immediately: Tayzar San—the man who led the first anti-coup protest in Mandalay three days after the coup and has since become a prominent revolutionary—is the face of the Myanmar people’s anti-regime movement and resistance. The skinny, bespectacled doctor and librarian intimidates the ruthless regime like few others. The generals have been hunting him for months for his leading role in anti-regime activities and have even offered a reward of 10 million kyats (nearly US$5,000) for information leading to his arrest.

Despite being in hiding, the physician-turned-democracy activist continues to carry out his mission of eliminating the military dictatorship from Myanmar. He challenges the junta leaders on social media almost daily, organizes protests and encourages citizens to continue the fight against military rule. He has also been traveling extensively to meet resistance groups and civilians on the ground. Last month, he even led a street protest against the military dictatorship in Upper Myanmar, marching at the front of the protest column holding a megaphone—the device has come to symbolize him since the coup—and openly defying the junta and the arrest warrant it has issued for him on an incitement charge.

Tayzar San is also involved in the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), an anti-regime coalition that offers policy guidance to the parallel National Unity Government (NUG), which is leading efforts to lay the groundwork for the creation of a federal democratic union.

His most exquisite characteristic is his friendly and cheerful smile, which never leaves his face, a reflection of his faith in the prospects of the people’s revolution.

In a personal manifesto on his Facebook account, the protest leader declared: “Whatever I need to sacrifice, including my life and body [in the revolution], I believe it is worth it. Because what we get back from this revolution is a new era, new system and new state that we wish for.”

The people’s legitimate leaders—yet again, prisoners of a regime

They are as immoveable as a rocky mountain when it comes to their dedication to their convictions, their commitment to the mandate entrusted to them by the people, their loyalty to the people of Myanmar, their defiant defense of the truth and their resilience in the face of persecution by the ruling generals.

They are the legitimate leaders—State Counselor and President—of Myanmar. They were democratically elected by a majority of Myanmar voters, twice. The party they have dedicated most of their lives to has won every election it has contested over the past three decades, since 1990. Currently, they are prisoners of the ruthless regime—one in solitary confinement inside a prison, the other held in an unknown location, like a hostage.

The harshness of the conditions in prison and the brutality of their captors would be life threatening for anyone, let alone people of advanced age such as 77-year-old Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and 70-year-old U Win Myint. To date, the former has been sentenced to 26 years’ imprisonment and the latter to five years. The two leaders are the oldest of the 16,500 political prisoners the regime has incarcerated since its coup.

Surviving in prison is tough—physically, mentally, intellectually, even ideologically. They are not first-time prisoners. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was a long-term prisoner of the previous regime, kept under house arrest for 15 years, while U Win Myint spent several years as a political prisoner in the 1990s.

Their strong spirit and resilience in the face of their lengthy imprisonment by the regime since the coup last year shows us yet again who they are, and the strength of their commitment to the country and its citizens—to a genuine democratic federal nation.

Three days after her 77th birthday on June 19, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was transferred from house arrest in Naypyitaw to solitary confinement in a prison in the city. It’s a tougher punishment than she was subjected to in the past; she was mostly kept under house arrest under the previous regime. The new regime is harsher, but she is still the Iron Lady of Myanmar.

The people of Myanmar hailed U Win Myint when they learned of his reaction to his captors on the first day of the coup. After he refused their request that he step down as President, one of the generals asked U Win Myint to reconsider, saying he could be harmed. He said he would rather die than resign.

Recently released Australian economist and adviser to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s government Sean Turnell said, “She’s strong; she remains as she always was.” A court source who saw the hostage President recently said that U Win Myint is “as fit as a fiddle.”

The regime’s harsher punishments this year have done nothing at all to diminish their mettle, their principles and their spirit. They may be beaten, but they do not bow; they do not take, but give. These are the virtues of a leader.