Even before the world shifted its focus to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it was paying scant attention to the increasingly gruesome conflict unfolding in Myanmar. After the country’s military seized power in a February 2021 coup, supporters of democracy vowed they would not give up their efforts to return the country to a democratic path. When the military responded to peaceful demonstrations with a bloody crackdown, the opposition began resorting to armed resistance.
In recent months, the conflict has been escalating, and the ruthlessness of Myanmar’s military, which is now on its back foot, has greatly intensified. Still mostly below the world’s radar, Myanmar’s civil war is raging.
The military, known as the Tatmadaw, is facing not only the pro-democracy activists who have taken up arms, but also a number of ethnic minorities that have long been fighting for autonomy in their regions. The political opposition has established the National Unity Government, or NUG, a government-in-exile that it considers to be Myanmar’s legitimate government. The main grouping of rebel militias aligned with the NUG, the People’s Defense Force, is said to count some 65,000 armed fighters.