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The Guardian view on Myanmar’s military: in power but not in control | Editorial

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Despite the Tatmadaw’s increasing viciousness, it appears unable to suppress resistance

In February 2021, Myanmar’s army ended its decade-long, grudging tolerance of limited democracy by launching a coup, detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected civilian politicians. Since then, its ruthlessness has only increased. The number of political prisoners has soared to more than 13,000. The junta has resumed executions for the first time in decades. The UN human rights chief, Volker Türk, said last Friday that the regime was using the death penalty to crush political opposition, expressing shock that 130 people have been sentenced to death by military courts behind closed doors. Many of the 1,700 people who have stood trial have been denied access to lawyers or relatives. Not one has been acquitted.

The pandemic, war in Ukraine and uprisings elsewhere have meant that the world has largely stopped paying attention to events in Myanmar, where the military is literally pursuing a scorched earth policy. It has razed villages that it accuses of supporting the opposition and has bombed hospitals, schools and even a concert. An estimated 1.3 million people are displaced and living in horrific conditions. It continues to add to the raft of convictions and prison terms for Aung San Suu Kyi. Rights groups report extrajudicial killings by soldiers and militias.

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