In Myanmar, a Notable Burmese Family Quietly Equipped a Brutal Military

The family’s initial fortune came from jute, a natural fiber that is used to make rope and twine. The jute mill was nationalized during the military’s disastrous venture into socialism, after its first coup in 1962.

Burma, once lauded for its fine schools and polyglot cosmopolitanism, sank into penury. The ruling junta renamed the country Myanmar.

Mr. Jonathan Kyaw Thaung’s father was sent to Northern Ireland, where he escaped Myanmar’s privations. His siblings scattered to Thailand, Singapore, the United States and Britain. The family’s graceful villa in Yangon moldered, as did the rest of the country.

But even as many of them headed abroad, the family remained connected to Myanmar and traveled there to do business. Their path back was eased by the extended family tree, which included high-ranking Tatmadaw officers, cabinet ministers and confidants of junta chiefs.

A cousin married U Zeyar Aung, an urbane, English-speaking general who led the Northern Command and the 88th Light Infantry Division, both of which the United Nations has tied to decades of war crimes against Myanmar’s own people. He later was the railway minister, then the energy minister and subsequently led the national investment commission, over the time the Kyaw Thaungs were vying for military contracts.

Myanmar’s patronage networks are a tangle of roots that bind family trees. Generals’ children tend to marry within tight circles, perhaps to other military progeny or the offspring of business cronies.

As the Tatmadaw began loosening control over the economy, engaging in a fire sale of assets that had once been the military’s fief, that elite class of the well-connected swooped in to profit. Mr. Jonathan Kyaw Thaung, whose mother is Irish, returned to Myanmar, along with siblings and cousins who had also been raised overseas.

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Sudan’s Military Seizes Power, Casting Democratic Transition Into Chaos

The United States removed Sudan from a list of state sponsors of terrorism last year, and backed a $50 billion debt relief program announced in June. In recent weeks, the Biden administration loudly voiced its support for civilian rule in Sudan and, over the weekend, sent its top regional envoy, Jeffrey Feltman, to Khartoum to dissuade the military leadership from seizing power.

Three hours after Mr. Feltman had left, Sudan’s generals made their move.

The White House condemned Monday’s coup and suspended $700 million in emergency economic aid to Sudan, intended to support the democratic transition — a vital lifeline in a country laboring under a grinding economic crisis.

“We reject the actions by the military and call for the immediate release of the prime minister and others who have been placed under house arrest,” Karine Jean-Pierre, a spokeswoman for President Biden, told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Still, there was little sign that Sudan’s generals would relent.

Before dawn, they arrested Abdalla Hamdok, 65, a technocrat turned prime minister, along with his wife, then held him at an undisclosed location after he refused to endorse the coup. Other civilian leaders were also imprisoned.

Before becoming prime minister, Mr. Hamdok had worked for many years for the United Nations, most recently as deputy executive secretary of its Economic Commission for Africa from 2011 to 2018.

The arrests happened weeks before General al-Burhan, who leads the Sovereignty Council overseeing the democratic transition, was scheduled to surrender that position to a civilian — which would have put Sudan under full civilian control for the first time since 1989.

Credit…Sudan TV, via Associated Press

Instead, he dissolved the Sovereignty Council and effectively declared himself the country’s leader. He did, however, vow to press ahead with elections that he promised to hold in July 2023.

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Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok Is Detained in Apparent Coup

ImageA man wore Sudan’s flag as a pile of tires burned during a protest in Khartoum, Sudan, last week.
Credit…Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters

NAIROBI, Kenya — Military forces detained Sudan’s prime minister early on Monday in an apparent coup that endangered the northeast African nation’s fragile transition to democracy from authoritarian rule.

The Sudanese Ministry of Culture and Information said in a Facebook post that the joint military forces had placed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok under house arrest and pressured him to release a “pro-coup statement.” After refusing to “endorse the coup,” the ministry said, Mr. Hamdok was then moved to “an unknown location.”

The military also detained several top cabinet members and civilian members of the Transitional Sovereignty Council, the ministry said.

The detentions came about one month after the authorities said they had thwarted a coup attempt by loyalists of the deposed dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

As news of the arrests spread, protesters filled the streets of the capital, Khartoum, early Monday. Television stations showed people burning tires in Khartoum, with plumes of smoke filling the skies. The information ministry also said that internet connections had been cut and that the military had closed bridges.

The possibility of a coup has haunted the country’s transitional government since 2019, when Mr. al-Bashir was overthrown, and Sudan has been rocked by protests from two factions. One side had helped topple Mr. al-Bashir after widespread mass protests, and the other backs a military government.

On Monday, pro-democracy demonstrators chanted: “The people are stronger. Retreat is impossible.” Some clapped, and the procession of demonstrators grew larger.

Relations between the leaders of the transitional government, which is made up of civilian and military officials, have been strained. In recent days, pro-military protesters have demanded the dissolution of the transitional cabinet, a step many pro-democracy groups have denounced as setting the stage for a coup.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, the main pro-democratic political group, had warned on social media that the military was preparing to seize power. The association urged residents on Monday to take to the streets to resist what they called a “military coup.”

“The revolution is a revolution of the people,” the group, which is made up of doctors, engineers and lawyers organizations, said in a Facebook post. “Power and wealth belongs to the people. No to a military coup.”

Credit…Brittainy Newman/The New York Times

As the protests intensified on Monday, NetBlocks, an internet monitoring organization, said there had been a “significant disruption” to internet services affecting cellphone and some fixed lines in the country. That disruption, it said, “is likely to limit the free flow of information online and news coverage of incidents on the ground.”

For months, the country has been wracked by political uncertainty and the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic, and Sudan’s economy is in a precarious state, with growing unemployment and rising food and commodity prices nationwide.

The army chief of staff had been expected to hand over leadership of the transitional cabinet to Mr. Hamdok in November, which would have given him a largely ceremonial post, but one that would have signified full civilian control of Sudan for the first time in decades.

On Saturday local time, Jeffrey Feltman, the United States special envoy for the Horn of Africa, met with the Sudanese prime minister and reiterated the Biden administration’s support for a civilian democratic transition.

On Monday, Mr. Feltman said the United States was “deeply alarmed at reports of a military takeover of the transitional government.”

“This would contravene the Constitutional Declaration and the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people and is utterly unacceptable,” Mr. Feltman said in a statement. “As we have said repeatedly, any changes to the transitional government by force puts at risk U.S. assistance.”

After the detentions on Monday, state television played national patriotic songs, and local news reports said that Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the sovereignty council, was expected to make a statement about the unfolding events.

Credit…Brittainy Newman/The New York Times

After President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for nearly 30 years, was ousted in a coup in 2019, the country began taking tenuous steps toward democracy, but has been plagued with unrest and an attempted military takeover.

His government was replaced by an 11-member sovereign council consisting of six civilians and five military leaders, who were given the task of preparing the country for elections after a three-year transition period.

The council appointed Abdalla Hamdok, an economist who has held several United Nations positions, as prime minister, and his government immediately embarked on an ambitious program designed to placate pro-democracy demonstrators and rejoin the international community.

Mr. Hamdok’s government eased decades of strict Islamist policies, scrapping an apostasy law and abolishing the use of public flogging. It also undertook a political and economic overhaul. It revived talks with rebel groups, and began investigations into the bloody suppression of the Darfur region under Mr. al-Bashir, promising to prosecute and possibly hand over to the International Criminal Court those wanted for war crimes there.

But stubborn obstacles to progress remained, including the coronavirus pandemic, stagnant economic growth and continued violence in Darfur. Mr. Hamdok survived an assassination attempt, and concerns of a coup swirled when the country entered lockdown last year to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Last month Sudanese authorities said they had thwarted an attempted coup by loyalists of Mr. al-Bashir. Soldiers had tried to seize control of a state media building in the city of Omdurman, across the Nile from the capital, Khartoum, but they were stopped and arrested.

Mr. Hamdok blamed the failed coup on Bashir loyalists, both military and civilian, and described it as a near miss for the country’s fragile democratic transition.

The army chief of staff had been expected to hand over leadership of the sovereign council next month to Mr. Hamdok — a largely ceremonial post, but also one that signifies full civilian control of Sudan for the first time in decades.

Credit…Ashraf Shazly/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Three years ago Sudanese protesters protested against the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who had ruled the country for three decades since a 1989 coup.

Mr. al-Bashir had led his country through disastrous wars and famine, but it was anger over the rising price of bread that incited the first protests in December of 2018. After nearly four months of demonstrations and dozens of deaths at the hands of security forces, Mr. al-Bashir was forced from power in April 2019.

He had ruled Sudan longer than any other leader since the country gained independence in 1956, and was seen as a pariah in much of the world. He hosted Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, leading to American sanctions, and in 1998 an American cruise missile struck a factory in Khartoum for its alleged links to Al Qaeda.

Mr. al-Bashir presided over a ruinous 21-year war in southern Sudan, where his forces pushed barrel bombs from planes onto remote villages. The country ultimately divided into two parts in 2011, when South Sudan gained independence. But Mr. al-Bashir kept fighting brutal conflicts with rebels in other parts of Sudan.

In addition, he sent thousands of Sudanese soldiers to fight outside the country, including in the civil war in Yemen.

Mr. al-Bashir, 77, has been imprisoned since his ouster. He has been wanted by the international court in The Hague since 2009 over atrocities committed by his government in Darfur, where at least 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million displaced in a war from 2003 to 2008, the United Nations estimates.

The international court has been pressing Sudan’s transitional government, which took over after Mr. al-Bashir was deposed, to hand him over along with other leaders accused of crimes in Darfur.

Sudanese courts convicted Mr. al-Bashir of money laundering and corruption charges in late 2019 and sentenced him to two years in detention. He still faces charges related to the 1989 coup, and could be sentenced to death or life imprisonment if he is convicted.

Credit…Marwan Ali/Associated Press

The U.S. envoy for the Horn of Africa was in Sudan as recently as Saturday, urging the military and the civilian leadership to continue the country’s planned transition to democracy as protests broke out.

Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, met in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on Saturday. They were joined by other leaders, including Lt.-Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who heads the military and the sovereignty council, and Gen. Mohammed Hamadan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, another senior military member of the council.

Mr. Feltman “emphasized U.S. support for a civilian democratic transition in accordance with the expressed wishes of Sudan’s people,” the American Embassy in Khartoum said on Twitter. He called on all parties to stick by the constitutional declaration that the military and opposition signed after Mr. al-Bashir’s ouster and a peace agreement reached last year by the government and rebel groups.

Credit…Bryan Denton for The New York Times

Sudan spent the better part of three decades isolated from the world, as its former leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir housed terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, engaged in bloody wars with his own people and squandered revenue from oil production.

Since Mr. al-Bashir was ousted in 2019, the leadership of the nation, part civilian and part military, has made overtures to Israel, the United States and the international criminal court in The Hague, where its former leader is wanted. The country’s hope was that by normalizing relations with former antagonists it could lure badly needed investment.

In 2011, South Sudan split from Sudan and formed it own nation, taking with it claims to more than 90 percent of the region’s oil reserves. That was a blow to Sudan’s economy, already beleaguered by sanctions.

After the new government formed in 2019, it began taking steps to improve foreign ties.

The United States, which lifted many sanctions on Sudan in 2017, took the country off the list of nations that support terrorism last year. President Trump had announced the decision, saying the removal was made in exchange for a $335 million compensation payment to the victims of the 1998 Qaeda attacks on American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

That deal was made possible after Sudan agreed to recognize Israel, part of a Trump administration effort to pressure Arab nations to normalize relations with the country. Sudan’s move, however, appeared short of actually establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel.

Sudan’s cabinet also voted in August to ratify the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the criminal court, and said it had agreed to extradite Mr. al-Bashir.

But his extradition remains a contentious issue in Sudan, and could now be in serious doubt. Some of the country’s military leaders were implicated along with Mr. al-Bashir in the atrocities in Darfur, a western region. If he were to be extradited, he might give evidence that could expose Sudan’s military leaders to prosecution.

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Military Ousts Civilian Leaders in Mali

Military officials in Mali ousted the country’s interim civilian leaders on Tuesday, setting up a new crisis for the Western African nation, just nine months after the previous president was forced out in a military coup.

The leaders — Bah N’Daou, the president, and Moctar Ouane, the prime minister — were appointed last year to lead a transitional government to prepare for new elections. They were both detained by the military on Monday and taken to a base outside the capital, Bamako. On Tuesday, they were officially stripped of their duties, the military said.

The removal of the civilian leaders followed a government reshuffle announced by Mr. Ouane on Monday that sidelined some officers who had taken part in the coup that ousted the former president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, in August. It also comes as workers in important sectors of the economy, including bankers and civil servants, have been on strike since last week after failed salary negotiations with the previous government.

Col. Assimi Goïta, who led the coup and had been serving as a vice president to Mr. N’Daou, said on Tuesday in a statement read on public television by one of his advisers that Mr. N’Daou and Mr. Ouane had sought to “violate” the transition to a new civilian government.

weeks of protests against the government.

“attempted coup” and calling for the leaders’ release.

Nine days after the coup in August, Mr. Keïta, the former president, was released from the same military base where Mr. N’Daou and Mr. Ouane were taken and driven back to his home.

A delegation from Ecowas, the regional organization of West African states that negotiated the appointment of the transitional leaders last year, was headed to Bamako on Tuesday, according to the joint statement, which was released before the announcement of the ouster.

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Poets in Myanmar Are Killed After the Coup

On March 4, his sister received a police summons to the Monywa mortuary. She identified her brother’s body, Ms. Khin Sandar Win said. A bullet hole punctured his left temple. A long slash ran down his torso.

The family wondered whether the gash signaled that his internal organs had been removed, a desecration increasingly found among those killed by the military in Myanmar. But Mr. Chan Thar Swe was cremated before his relatives could find out more.

His mother now spends her days looking at photographs of him, her oldest child, on Facebook. Along with his ashes, it is all she has of him.

“My brother did not support us financially because he was a poet, but he protected us whenever we needed,” Ms. Khin Sandar Win said.

At Mr. Chan Thar Swe’s funeral, another poet, Ko Khet Thi, recited a poem he had written for those killed by the security forces, many with a single bullet to the head and some when they were not even protesting.

They began to burn the poets

When the smoke of burned books could

No longer choke the lungs heavy with dissent.

Weeks after the funeral, Mr. Khet Thi, a onetime engineer, was hauled into detention and later turned up dead, according to his family. His corpse also had an unexplained incision down his torso, the family said.

“I am also afraid that I will get arrested and killed, but I will keep fighting,” said Ko Kyi Zaw Aye, yet another poet from Monywa who was close to both men.

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Aung San Suu Kyi Makes First Court Appearance Since Coup

For the first time since Myanmar’s military locked her up in a pre-dawn raid as part of its coup on Feb. 1, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar’s ousted civilian government, was seen in person on Monday when she sat briefly at a court hearing.

The short appearance at a special court in Naypyidaw, the Southeast Asian country’s capital, was also the first time that most of her legal team had caught a glimpse of their famous client. They have been defending her against a raft of criminal charges that the United Nations and foreign governments say are clearly politically motivated. Most of the country’s elected leadership has been jailed.

In a 30-minute meeting with her lawyers before the hearing, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who had previously appeared by video link, seemed healthy and resolute, if unclear about just how Myanmar had changed since the coup, a member of her legal team said. Since the putsch, the military has imposed a reign of terror, isolating the country once more from the international community.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was determined to defend the integrity of her political party, the National League for Democracy, or N.L.D., her lawyers said.

importing walkie-talkies, breaching coronavirus regulations and contravening the Official Secrets Act, among other crimes. Military-linked forces have also accused her of accepting bags of cash and 25 pounds of gold, although she has not been formally charged on those counts.

If she is found guilty of the charges — and Myanmar’s courts have a record of delivering guilty verdicts in political cases — Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, could be imprisoned for the rest of her life.

Although Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was initially held at her villa in Naypyidaw, she was moved to an undisclosed location a week later, blindfolded while in transit, her lawyer said.

“She doesn’t know where she is living now,” Ms. Min Min Soe said. “She doesn’t know anything about what is happening outside.”

internet blackouts imposed by the junta. With Covid-19 restrictions in place, some of the hearings were supposed to occur by video link.

Her next scheduled court date is June 7.

trounced the military’s proxy political party in nationwide elections. The lopsided result seemed to blindside some members of the military, even though the league had done the same five years before when it began sharing power with the army.

When the military, known as the Tatmadaw, staged its coup in February, it promised to hold elections within a year. The timetable was then extended to two years. Now, the country is facing the prospect of an election at an indeterminate point in the future without the party that won the most votes from citizens.

The military says that the elections last year were fraudulent, a charge dismissed by international observers and by a national election commission that was disbanded after the coup.

“The N.L.D. cannot be dissolved by force and orders because it is already the party in the hearts of the people,” said U Aung Kyi Nyunt, a spokesman for the party. “Abolition through illegal power will not succeed. The N.L.D. will survive and remain strong in Myanmar’s political history.”

ethnic armed groups claimed that they had killed dozens of Tatmadaw soldiers in offensives, even as the army’s shelling claimed lives of civilians sheltering in a church in eastern Myanmar. In the big cities, including Yangon and Mandalay, protesters organized flash mobs of dissent, scattering quickly as security forces drew near.

More than 800 people have been killed by security forces since the coup, according to a monitoring group, many shot in the head while peacefully protesting. More than 4,200 have been detained.

Among them is U Thein Hlaing Tun, a lawyer representing another of Myanmar’s jailed elected leaders. He was arrested on Monday as he tried to meet with his client at the same special court in Naypyidaw where Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi appeared.

Mr. Thein Hlaing Tun was charged with violating a section of the penal code criminalizing perceived slights against the Tatmadaw.

“That’s all we know about his arrest,” Ms. Min Min Soe said.

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Miss Universe Myanmar Arrives in Florida With a Message for the Junta

As a girl, Ma Thuzar Wint Lwin would watch the Miss Universe pageant and wish that she could be the one onstage representing her country, Myanmar. She entered her first two contests last year, nervous and excited about what to expect. But she ultimately walked away crowned Miss Universe Myanmar, and this week is competing at the global pageant in Florida.

But now representing her country has new meaning. With the military seizing power in a Feb. 1 coup and killing hundreds of protesters, she hopes to use her platform to call attention to Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement and to appeal for international help in freeing elected leaders who have been detained.

“They are killing our people like animals,” she said in an interview before leaving Myanmar for the competition. “Where is the humanity? Please help us. We are helpless here.”

In a dramatic moment on Thursday during the pageant’s national costume show, she walked to the front of the stage and held up a sign saying, “Pray for Myanmar.” The final competition will be held on Sunday.

responded with a brutal crackdown, killing more than 780 people and detaining more than 3,900, according to a rights group that tracks political prisoners.

In the early weeks of the protest movement, Ms. Thuzar Wint Lwin, 22, joined the demonstrations, where she held signs with slogans such as “We do not want military government,” and called for the release of the country’s civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest since the coup.

black-and-white photos of herself blindfolded, with tape over her mouth and her hands bound.

The military’s onslaught has left the country living in fear, she said.

“The soldiers patrol the city every day and sometimes they set up roadblocks to harass the people coming through,” said Ms. Thuzar Wint Lwin, who also goes by the name Candy. “In some cases, they fire without hesitation. We are scared of our own soldiers. Whenever we see one, all we feel is anger and fear.”

giving up his dream of going to the Olympics and would not compete under the Myanmar flag until the regime’s leader, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, was removed from power. And the mixed martial arts fighter U Aung La Nsang, an American citizen and one of Myanmar’s most famous athletes, has urged President Biden to help end the suffering of Myanmar’s people.

Ms. Thuzar Wint Lwin says she believes that it will not be safe for her to return to Myanmar after speaking out against the regime; she does not know where she will go after the pageant ends.

An English major at East Yangon University, her path to the pro-democracy movement can perhaps be traced back to her childhood. She grew up in a middle-class household. Like many parents, her father, a businessman, and her mother, a housewife, dared not discuss the military government that was then in power.

One of her early memories was walking with her mother near Sule Pagoda in downtown Yangon in 2007, when monks led nationwide protests against military rule. She was 7. As they neared the pagoda, soldiers broke up the protest by shooting their guns in the air. People started running. She and her mother ran, too.

began sharing power with civilian leaders and opening the country, allowing cellphones and affordable internet access to flood in.

Ms. Thuzar Wint Lwin is part of the first generation in Myanmar to grow up fully connected to the outside world, and for whom a free society seemed normal. In 2015, the country seated democratically elected officials for the first time in more than half a century. “We have been living in freedom for five years,” she said. “Do not take us back. We know all about the world. We have the internet.”

November was the first time she was old enough to vote, and she cast her ballot for the National League for Democracy, the party of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, which won in a landslide only to have the military overturn the results by seizing power.

Before the coup, Ms. Thuzar Wint Lwin’s biggest ordeal came when she was 19 and had surgery to remove precancerous tumors from each breast, leaving permanent scars. She decided against having laser treatment to improve their appearance as a reminder of her success in preventing cancer.

“It’s just a scar and I’m still me,” she wrote in a recent post with photographs of the scars. “I met self-acceptance realizing nothing changed who I am and the values I set for myself. Now, when I see those scars, I feel empowered.”

autobiographical video on Facebook that would be unusual for any beauty pageant contestant: It shows her wearing formal gowns mixed with scenes of people fleeing tear gas and a soldier shooting a man who rode by on a motorbike.

“Myanmar deserves democracy,” she says in the video. “We will keep fighting and I also hope that international communities will give us help that we desperately need.”

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Three Months After Coup, Myanmar Returns to the ‘Bad Old Days’

Every night at 8, the stern-faced newscaster on Myanmar military T.V. announces the day’s hunted. The mug shots of those charged with political crimes appear onscreen. Among them are doctors, students, beauty queens, actors, reporters, even a pair of makeup bloggers.

Some of the faces look puffy and bruised, the likely result of interrogations. They are a warning not to oppose the military junta that seized power in a Feb. 1 coup and imprisoned the country’s civilian leaders.

As the midnight insects trill, the hunt intensifies. Military censors sever the internet across most of Myanmar, matching the darkness outside with an information blackout. Soldiers sweep through the cities, arresting, abducting and assaulting with slingshots and rifles.

The nightly banging on doors, as arbitrary as it is dreaded, galvanizes a frenzy of self-preservation. Residents delete their Facebook accounts, destroy incriminating mobile phone cards and erase traces of support for Myanmar’s elected government. As sleep proves elusive, it’s as if much of the nation is suffering a collective insomnia.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi or an unregistered cellphone or a single note of foreign currency — could mean a prison sentence. Some of the military’s Orwellian diktats rivaled those of North Korea.

among them dozens of children.

rule by fear, it is also holding hostage a changed country. The groundswell of opposition to the coup, which has sustained protests in hundreds of cities and towns, was surely not in the military’s game plan, making its crackdown all the riskier. Neither the outcome of the putsch nor the fate of the resistance is preordained.

Myanmar’s full emergence from isolation — economic, political and social — only came five years ago when the military began sharing power with an elected government headed by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi. A population that barely had any connection to the internet quickly made up for lost time. Today, its citizenry is well versed in social media and the power of protests tethered to global movements. They know how to spot a good political meme on the internet.

Their resistance to the coup has included a national strike and a civil disobedience movement, which have paralyzed the economy and roiled the government. Banks and hospitals are all but shut. Although the United Nations has warned that half the country could be living in poverty by next year because of the pandemic and the political crisis, the democratic opposition’s resolve shows no sign of weakening.

National Unity Government, a civilian authority set up after the elected leadership was expelled by the military. A popular tactic is to affix an image of Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the coup leader, on the sole of a shoe, smashing his face into the ground with each step. During spot checks, the police now demand that people show their soles.

Ms. Thuzar Nwe says she wears her hair down to cover her tattoo, hoping the police won’t be too inquisitive.

“In Myanmar culture, if a woman has a tattoo, she’s a bad girl,” she said. “I broke the rules of culture. This revolution is a rare chance to eradicate dictatorship from the country.”

But the Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar military is known, has built an entire infrastructure dedicated to one purpose: perpetuating its power for power’s sake.

Its bureaucracy of oppression is formidable. An army of informers, known as “dalan,” has reappeared, monitoring whispers and neighbors’ movements.

The blandly named General Administration Department, a vast apparatus that remained under military control even after the army had started sharing authority with the civilian government, is once again pressuring administrators to keep tabs on everyone’s political views. And local officials have taken to banging on doors and peering in homes, as a dreaded system of household registration is reintroduced.

revoked the publishing licenses of major private newspapers. Democracy will return soon, the military’s headlines insist. Banking services are running “as usual.” Health care with “modern machinery” is available. Government ministries are enjoying English-proficiency courses. Soft-shell crab cultivation is “thriving” and penetrating the foreign market.

acquiring Chinese-made weapons and Russian fighter jets. But its propaganda is stuck in a time warp from back when few challenged its narrative. There is no mention in its media of the military’s killing spree, the broken economy or the growing armed resistance. On Wednesday, the State Administration Council, as the junta calls itself, banned satellite T.V.

For all the fear percolating in Myanmar, the resistance has only hardened. On Wednesday, the National Unity Government said it was forming a “people’s defense force” to counter the Tatmadaw. Two days before, ethnic insurgents fighting in the borderlands shot down a Tatmadaw helicopter.

convince the military ranks that the coup was necessary, Tatmadaw insiders said. Sequestered in military compounds without good internet access, soldiers have little ability to tap into the outrage of fellow citizens. Their information diet is composed of military T.V., military newspapers and the echo chambers of military-dominated Facebook on the rare occasions they can get online.

Still, news does filter in, and some officers have broken rank. In recent weeks, about 80 Myanmar Air Force officers have deserted and are now in hiding, according to fellow military personnel.

“Politics are not the business of soldiers,” said an air force captain who is now in hiding and does not want his name used because his family might be punished for his desertion. “Now the Tatmadaw have become the terrorists, and I don’t want to be part of it.”

In the cities, almost everyone seems to know someone who has been arrested or beaten or forced to pay a bribe to the security forces in exchange for freedom.

Last month, Ma May Thaw Zin, a 19-year-old law student, joined a flash mob protest in Yangon, the country’s biggest city. The police, she said, detained several young women and crammed them into an interrogation center cell so small they barely had room to sit on the floor.

For a whole day, there was no food. Ms. May Thaw Zin said she resorted to drinking from the toilet. The interrogations were just her and a clutch of men. They rubbed against her and kicked her breasts and face with their boots, she said. On the fourth day, after men shoved the barrel of a pistol against the black hood over her head, she was released. The bruises remain.

Since she returned home, some family members have refused to have anything to do with her because she was caught protesting, Ms. May Thaw Zin said. Even if they hate the coup, even if they know their futures have been blunted, the instincts of survival have kicked in.

“They are afraid,” she said, but “I can’t accept that my country will go back to the old dark age.”

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‘Now We Are United’: Myanmar’s Ethnic Divisions Soften After Coup

The Myanmar military’s disinformation was crude but effective.

Army propagandists claimed an ethnic group called the Rohingya was burning down its own villages and wanted to swamp Buddhist-majority Myanmar with Islamic hordes. The Rohingya were spinning tall tales, the military said in 2017, about soldiers committing mass rape and murder.

The truth — that troops were waging genocidal operations against Myanmar’s ethnic minorities — was perhaps too shocking for some members of the country’s Bamar ethnic majority to contemplate.

But as Myanmar’s military seized power this year and killed more than 750 civilians, Daw Sandar Myo, an elementary-school teacher, realized that the decades of persecution suffered by the Rohingya and other minorities was real, after all.

“After the coup, I saw soldiers and police killing and torturing people in the cities,” she said. “Then I started to feel empathy for Rohingya and ethnic people who have been suffering worse than us for many years.”

mass protests, civil disobedience, worker strikes and even the tentative beginnings of an armed struggle.

But another transformation is quietly underway: a growing acceptance of the nation’s ethnic diversity, something that was notably absent during an earlier political transition. With the military’s violence unleashed once again, some are acknowledging that democracy cannot flourish without respecting the ethnic minorities who have endured decades of persecution.

More than a third of Myanmar’s population is composed of ethnic minorities, who inhabit a vast frontier where the country’s natural resources are concentrated. Their insurgencies against the Myanmar military, which has ruled the country for most of the past six decades, rank among the world’s most enduring civil conflicts.

Tatmadaw, as the military is known. And they say they know better than the Bamar just how unstable Myanmar can be when its armed forces act as an occupying force rather than the people’s protector.

landslide re-election in November, more than a million members of ethnic minorities were disenfranchised during the vote.

During their five years of power-sharing with the Tatmadaw, the N.L.D.’s civilian leaders defended the military’s continuing atrocities against ethnic minorities. Decades ago, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for her nonviolent struggle for democracy. Yet she called the 2017 forced exodus of three-quarters of a million Rohingya the byproduct of “clearance operations” against a terrorist insurgency. The Rohingya were, in fact, victims of a well-documented ethnic cleansing campaign.

But the military’s seizure of power has led to soul-searching.

“The blood that has been shed in the aftermath of the coup has brought about a sea change in public views on federalism and inclusion,” said U Khin Zaw Win, a political analyst and former political prisoner who has long pushed for the rights of ethnic groups in Myanmar.

“While the N.L.D. does remain popular, the country has moved on” since the coup, he added. “It isn’t about an N.L.D. restoration any longer.”

So far, the new unity government is little more than a compendium of policy statements sent by encrypted apps. It has no army or international recognition.

an armed resistance to the Tatmadaw. Recent explosions at urban government offices and military-linked businesses signal their intent.

Joining forces with ethnic minorities involves other tactical considerations. Around the time of the coup, many of Myanmar’s most fearsome infantry divisions were transferred from remote bases to cities. Since then, security forces have killed dozens of children with single gunshots. Pro-democracy figures have turned up dead, some with signs of torture.

With the Tatmadaw preoccupied in the cities, ethnic armed groups have launched their own coordinated offensives in the borderlands. Scores of Tatmadaw soldiers were killed in recent fighting when insurgents overran their outposts, according to the ethnic armed organizations and local residents.

The hope is that with ethnic militias pushing in the borderlands and an armed resistance rising in the cities, the Tatmadaw will be forced to battle on multiple fronts.

“If the ethnic armed organizations fight together against the Myanmar military, then it will have better results for the country,” said Colonel Mai Aik Kyaw of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.

But unity is fleeting among the ethnic armed groups, some of which have reserved as much firepower for each other as they have for the Tatmadaw. Many of the major ethnic groups, such as the Shan and Karen, have more than one armed organization purporting to represent them. Control of these borderlands means access to lucrative mines, forests and illicit drugmaking facilities.

Myanmar is a crossroads culture, squeezed between India and China. Even the notion of Bamar purity is contested. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is part Karen. Other Bamar have Indian or Chinese ancestry. The British, who colonized what was then known as Burma, called the country “a zone of racial instability,” according to Thant Myint-U, a historian and author of “The Hidden Histories of Burma.”

“Myanmar was never a place of neatly packaged racial and ethnic categories,” he said. “Ending Bamar political domination of minority communities may be helped by a more decentralized system of government. But what’s equally important is a radical program to end discrimination in all forms and a reimagining of the country as a place that’s always been home to many different peoples.”

This week, soldiers from the Karen National Liberation Army overran a Tatmadaw outpost across the river from Thailand. Karen forces captured another base in eastern Myanmar last month, prompting the military’s first airstrikes against Karen villages in 20 years. Tatmadaw reprisals in areas populated by ethnic minorities have killed dozens.

As fighting intensifies, tens of thousands have been displaced nationwide, particularly in Karen territory and in the north, where the Kachin Independence Army is making inroads against the Tatmadaw.

For the first time, the Karen National Union has received donations from Bamar people for civilian victims of the Tatmadaw, said Padoh Saw Man Man, a spokesman for the group. “Now we are united with the Bamar people, and I strongly believe that we will win when we fight together against the Tatmadaw,” he said.

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