Myanmar underwent a coup d’etat at the hands of the military earlier this year beginning on Feb. 1. Military leaders, who held control in Myanmar (formerly Burma) until 2011, ousted democratically elected Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League of Democracy.
Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League of Democracy claimed their victory back in the 2020 elections. They won 346 seats, which is a landslide win compared to their win in the 2015 elections. This has been disputed by the military, which claims the elections were fraudulently pushing them to start a coup.
The liberal democrats who make up the NLD have had support from governments around the world, with many countries also condemning the military coup. Aung San Suu Kyi advised her supporters to protest the coup.
Workers have been organizing strikes and protests since before the coup to better their material conditions. According to Left Voice, worker-organizer Moe Sandar Myint stated, “Workers are ready for this fight. We know that the situation will only deteriorate under military dictatorship, so we will fight as one, united, until the end.”
The military coup is a regression in the fight for better working conditions, even though the conditions under the NLD were not much better. According to Myanmar labor expert Stephen Campbell, “It is a struggle grounded in their immediate material concerns, and in many ways it points beyond a simple return of the NLD to government, since the situation for workers under the NLD was also very precarious and very restrictive.”
Under the military rule, workers organizing faced tougher conditions. For example, since the Feb. 1 coup, thousands of protesters have been brutalized, over 500 have been killed, and March 27 was the deadliest day of the protests. The military opened fire on crowds gathered for funerals, even killing children.
The situation has gotten so overwhelming that armed groups are beginning to fight back against the military suppression.