BANGKOK – The prospect of peace in Myanmar. Much less a return to democracy, appears dimmer than. It has been two years since the military seized. Power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, experts say.
On Wednesday, soldiers of opposition to the military regime responded.
The stay-at-home call of protest organizers in what they called. A “silent strike” to show their strength and solidarity.
The opposition’s general strike coordination body, formed shortly. After the 2021 takeover, urged people to stay inside their homes or workplaces from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Photos posted. On social media showed empty streets in the busy downtown area of Yangon. The country’s largest city, with only a few vehicles on the road. And similar scenes were reported elsewhere.
Small peaceful protests are an almost daily occurrence across the country. But on the anniversary of February 1, 2021, the seizure of power by the military, two points stand out. The level of violence, especially in the countryside, has reached civil war levels. And the grassroots movement opposed to military rule has defied expectations by reining in the ruling generals.
The violence extends beyond rural battlefields. Where the army is burning and bombing villages. Displacing millions of people in what is a neglected humanitarian crisis. It also occurs in cities, where activists are arrested and tortured. And urban guerrillas retaliate by bombing and killing targets linked to the military. The military, after a closed trial. Executed the activists accused of “terrorism” by hanging.
According to the Independent Help Association for Political Prisoners. A watchdog group that monitors killings and arrests, 2,940 civilians have been killed. By authorities since the army took over and another 17,572 have been arrested – 13,763 of whom are being held. The actual death toll may be much higher because the group generally does not include deaths. By the military government and cannot verify cases in remote areas.
“The level of violence involving both armed combatants.
And civilians is alarming and unpredictable. Said Min Zaw O, a veteran political activist in exile who founded. The Myanmar Institute for Peace and Security.
“The level of civilian killing and damage is devastating. And unlike anything we have seen in the country in recent memory,” he said.
When the military ousted Suu Kyi in 2021. It arrested her and top members of her ruling National League for Democracy party. Which won a landslide second term in the November 2020 general election. The military claimed it acted because there had been widespread electoral fraud. A claim not supported by aim election observers. Suu Kyi, 77, is serving a total of 33 years in prison after being found guilty in a tainted case brought by the military.
Shortly after the military seized power. And quashed nonviolent protests with lethal force, thousands of young people moved. To remote rural areas to become guerrilla fighters.
Operating in a decentralized “People’s Defense Force,” or PDF.
They are proving to be effective fighters, adept at ambushes. And overrunning isolated army and police posts. They have benefited from supplies and training provided. By some of the country’s ethnic minority rebels – the Ethnic Armed Organizations. Or EAOs – who have been battling the army for decades for greater autonomy.
“It’s not only a very brave thing to do, it’s a very difficult thing to do,” Richard Horsey. An independent analyst and adviser to the International Crisis Group. Told The Associated Press. “You know, a military that’s been fighting a counterinsurgency. Its entire existence, that’s a very challenging task to take on.”
David Matheson, another independent. Analyst with more than 20 years of experience in Myanmar. Said the opposition’s fighting capacity is “a mixed picture battlefield performance. Organization and cohesion among them.”
“But it’s also important to remember that two years ago no one would have predicted. That they were going to be as effective as they are now. And in some areas, the PDFs are taking on the Myanmar military. And often have bested them on the battlefield, ambushes and pitch wars, taking over bases.”
He says the military’s heavy weaponry and air power push the situation into a stalemate. Where the PDFs are not occupying large areas, but fighting and prevailing.
“So nobody’s winning right now,” Matheson said.