Myanmar coup: 100 days of protests, blood and turmoil

  • On February 1, the military seized control of the government, arresting its leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ending the country’s decade-long democracy
  • The junta has attempted to block social media sites, such as Facebook, as people use it to express resistance to the new regime
Agence France-Presse |

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100 days have passed since the Myanmar military seized power, and more than 700 people have been killed and thousands detained by Myanmar’s armed forces, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). Photo: EPA-EFE

Myanmar’s military seized power on February 1 , ousting the civilian government and arresting its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The 100 days that have followed have seen mass street protests, bloody crackdowns by the junta, economic turmoil and growing international concern.

A recap of events:

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Back to the old days

The generals stage a coup on February 1, detaining Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi and her top allies in pre-dawn raids.

It ends Myanmar’s decade-long experiment with democracy after close to half a century of military rule.

The generals claim fraud in November’s elections, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.

The move draws global condemnation, from Pope Francis to US President Joe Biden.

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Two days later, 75-year-old Suu Kyi is charged with an obscure offence over unregistered walkie-talkies at her home.

Internet blocked

Resistance to the coup begins with people banging pots and pans - a tradition associated with driving out evil spirits.

The junta tries to block social media platforms, including Facebook, which is hugely popular in Myanmar. Nightly internet blackouts are later imposed.

Demonstrators flash the three-finger salute during an anti-military coup protest in Mandalay, Myanmar, on 11 May 2021. Photo: EPA-EFE

Bold defiance

Popular dissent surges over the weekend of February 6 and 7, with tens of thousands of people gathering on the streets calling for the release of Suu Kyi.

Workers begin a nationwide strike on February 8.

Police fire on protesters

A young woman named Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing is shot in the head and another person is wounded after police fire on crowds in Naypyidaw on February 9.

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International sanctions

The next day, Washington announces sanctions against several military officials, including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief now in charge.

More rounds of sanctions follow in the subsequent weeks from the United States, Britain and the European Union.

New Suu Kyi charge

On February 16, Suu Kyi’s lawyer says she has been hit with a second charge, this time under the natural disaster management law.

Myanmar nationals living in Thailand hold pictures of Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi and gesture with a three-fingers salute, a symbol of resistance, as they protest in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok. Photo: AP

First protester dies

Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, the woman shot 10 days earlier, dies on February 19, becoming a symbol of opposition to the junta.

More charges

Suu Kyi is hit with two new criminal charges on March 1. Her lawyer says she is now accused of inciting unrest and breaking telecommunications laws.

Ten days later, the military accuses her of accepting illegal payments of cash and gold.

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Atrocities alleged

On March 11, human rights group 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.

Junta defends coup

The junta defends seizing power on March 25 and says it will not tolerate “anarchy” from protesters.

In this photo from March 7, 2021, protesters take their positions behind a barricade as police gather in Yangon. The military takeover of Myanmar reversed the country's slow climb toward democracy after five decades of army rule, but its citizens were not shy about demanding it be restored. Photo: AP Photo

Bloodiest day

Armed Forces Day on March 27, the military’s annual show of strength, turns into a bloodbath with more than 100 civilians killed in protest crackdowns - the single deadliest day since the coup.

‘Civil war’ warning

Violence escalates in border areas between the military and Myanmar’s numerous ethnic rebel armies - several of which have declared their support for the protest movement.

On March 31, a UN envoy calls for Security Council action to stop the country from spiralling into civil war.

Secrets charge

On April 2, Suu Kyi’s lawyer announces the most serious charge laid against her: breaching the official secrets act.

Myanmar's Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing presides an army parade on Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. Photo: AP

Shadow government

Ousted civilian lawmakers, forced into hiding, announce the formation of a shadow “National Unity Government”.

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ASEAN summit

Leaders from regional bloc ASEAN hold a summit on the Myanmar crisis in Jakarta, and invite junta leader Min Aung Hlaing.

They agree on a five-point statement calling for dialogue, an end to violence and the appointment of an envoy.

But state media report days later the bloc’s “suggestions” will only be considered “when the situation returns to stability” in Myanmar.

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