Hundreds of thousands turn out to protest against the coup at Sule Square in downtown Yangon on February 17, 2021.

Myanmar’s Spring Revolution: a year in photos

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.

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Support our independent journalism and get exclusive behind-the-scenes content and analysis

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters.

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar