Images from Frontier’s photographers capture the brutality of the military regime and the defiance of the people during a year marked by protests, bloodshed and revolution.
The military coup on February 1 prompted nationwide resistance that became known as the Spring Revolution. Millions marched to demand their freedom from military rule, only to be met with a series of brutal crackdowns on peaceful protesters that left hundreds of civilians dead.
The military arrested Myanmar’s elected civilian government leaders, including President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, on the day of the coup, but new political leadership arose in the form of the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, the National Unity Government, and the National Unity Consultative Council. People also organised massive strike and boycott campaigns, most notably through the Civil Disobedience Movement.
In one year of military rule, a deadly wave of COVID-19 swept through the nation killing thousands. Nearly 12,000 people have been arrested and more than 1,500 civilians have been killed, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).
Many came to the conclusion that non-violent means alone were not going to be enough to rid the country of military rule. Young people around the country began to fight back. Some formed urban guerrilla groups that carry out assassinations in the cities; others formed militias known as People’s Defence Forces, often allying with more established ethnic armed organisations that have been fighting for greater political rights for decades.
The coup has united people in a fractured country, bringing together different ethnic and religious groups, with many determined to fight until democracy prevails. “We’ll never kneel down under military boots,” has emerged as one of the defiant slogans of the revolution.