Two years since the military coup in Burma 

On 1 February 2021, the military seized power over Burma by overturning the election results and detaining State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. The military is still controlling power by force and uses brutal violence against human rights defenders, civil society groups, and journalists in order to silence all forms of protest and dissent. More than 2,900 people have been killed by the military and over 17,500 people have been arrested. 
During the November 2020 elections in Burma, the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won a landslide victory. This triggered a reaction from the military, which claimed that there had been widespread election fraud. This claim, however, was turned down by the election commission. On 1 February, as the parliament was scheduled to hold its first session since the elections, the military launched a coup and took control over the country.  

The coup prompted mass protests and more than 2,900 people have been killed by the military. Over 17,500 people have been arrested in the harsh crackdowns. In a series of charges, Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to 33 years in prison, including three years of hard labour.  

Despite the military’s brutal response, people have come together to fight the dictatorship. Nationwide protests, boycotts, strikes, and coordinated civil disobedience movements have taken place. Journalists across the country have continued their work despite severe attacks by the military.   

Junta accused of war crimes 

As of 9 December 2022, there were at least 18,636 armed clashes and attacks, displacing 1,225,100 people since the military coup in February 2021. The junta’s troops have tortured and killed civilians and torched villages.  

The military’s indiscriminate use of airstrikes against civilians has intensified across the country. On 23 Oct 2022, regime jets bombed a music concert in Kachin State, killing up to 80 people.  

The military junta has been accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and has been condemned by the UN. 

Attacks on civil society have also increased. On 25 July 2022, four democracy activists were executed by the ruling military. This is the first time executions have been carried out in Burma since the late 1980’s.  

“For two years now, the military junta in Burma has cracked down violently on civilians, democracy activists, human rights defenders, and peaceful protesters. The situation for human rights is appalling. The junta needs to stop the atrocities and be held accountable for their actions. The international community must continue to support human rights defenders and the democracy movement in Burma. It is more important than ever,” said Rosanna Ocampo, Director Asia Department at Civil Rights Defenders.  

What we do 

Civil Rights Defenders continues to monitor the situation in the country.  

We are also working to let the international community know what is happening in Burma, and to support the efforts to reinstate democracy.  

Civil Rights Defenders has been providing flexible and emergency funds to human rights defenders and activists that improve their security. Since the coup, a total of 700 Burmese activists and human rights defenders from various regional and ethnic backgrounds have received support from Civil Rights Defenders emergency fund. We clearly saw their commitment to upholding democracy in their country and initial requests were about safe ways of doing that work. In Burma, most of the support has been to provide safe accommodation for human rights defenders. We have also offered secure office spaces and communication tools. The need for assistance is extensive. 

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