Silence Strikes Again: People’s Defiance Continues Undefeated

February 10th, 2023  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  9 minute read
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After two years of the illegal attempted coup, the Silent Strike has proved that the people’s defiance against the military junta remains strong, and it has led to the failure of the military junta’s coup attempt.

On 1 February, the people of Myanmar marked the two-year anniversary of the revolution with a strong resounding rejection of the Myanmar military by holding a Silent Strike. The streets of major cities and towns in Myanmar fell silent with defiance as people of Myanmar, demonstrating that even after two years, they continue to oppose the junta. The movement again shows the failure of the junta’s illegal power grab. The National Defense and Security Council (NDSC), led by Min Aung Hlaing, which is supposed to be the security affairs body of Myanmar, has extended the state of emergency for another six months, indicating that he is using any means he can to succeed in his ongoing attempt to seize power. Given the intransigence of the military junta, it is vital the international community make concerted efforts to stop their violence and provide support to the people’s resistance. In this regard, international governments must impose further targeted sanctions against the military-controlled businesses and cut the supply of jet fuel that it is using to bomb the people of Myanmar.

Commemorating the two year anniversary of the people’s resistance against the illegal failed coup, cities and towns nationwide participated in the silent strike. Many roads and streets were deserted including in Yangon, Mandalay, Monywa, Dawei, and others despite being threatened by the junta. For example, shops and street vendors in Yangon were warned by the junta-controlled municipalities to open on 1 February. If they did not open, the shop and vendor owners’ licenses would be revoked. On 31 January in Mandalay the junta soldiers and traffic police set up many checkpoints and seized motorbikes and vehicles, but necessitated settling the fine only by travelling to the police station on 1 February as part of their efforts to stop the Silent Strike. Despite such intimidation, images posted on social media and media outlets such as RFA Burmese showed empty streets and roads. As Nan Lin of the Yangon Strike Force, a protest group, said, “Today’s silent strike has clearly proved that the people haven’t lost their heart, nor will they let a bunch of these thugs rule the country.” In solidarity with the people Myanmar, rallies and demonstrations took place in countries like Thailand, Philippines, Korea, Japan and others.

Meanwhile, the junta-controlled NDSC announced that it has extended the state of emergency for another six months after their meeting was held on 31 January 2023. This extension indicates Min Aung Hlaing’s failure in his attempt to take over the country. In his report to the NDSC meeting, he stated that they continue to face the revolutionary forces in many areas across the country, particularly in People’s Defence Forces’ (PDFs’) and Ethnic Revolutionary Organizations’ (EROs’) stronghold areas. To put it simply, they are  unable to hold the planned elections as only 198 out of 330 townships are controlled by the junta. This is an admission that the junta does not have full territorial control in many areas as the presence of resistance forces remains strong and is increasing. A statement released on 1 February by the Special Advisory Council Myanmar (SAC-M) also stated “the Myanmar military junta has failed to impose its political agenda on Myanmar.” In their briefing paper, they indicated that in reality the junta only has “stable control” of 17% of Myanmar’s territory.

On 2 February 2023, the junta also declared martial law in 37 townships in Sagaing, Magwe, Tanintharyi and Bago Regions and Karen, Karenni, Mon and Chin States, in addition to the seven townships in Yangon Region and Chin State in which it has been already in place since 2021. These areas are under local administrative control of the anti-junta resistance forces and are stronghold areas of PDFs and EROs – showing again that the military junta forces have been losing control of territory and administrations throughout the country. Thus, this martial law could be interpreted that they will target civilians and armed and non-armed revolutionary forces in those areas. The junta’s use of excessive force including airstrikes and the destruction of people’s homes and livelihoods will increase in those areas as they do anything to try to succeed.

The junta’s desperate need for power means it will commit more atrocity crimes against the people. More innocent lives of Myanmar people will be destroyed. There must be a stronger response by the international community through coordinated sanctions and disengagement with the junta. While the recent sanctions against the Myanmar military junta by Australia, Canada, UK and US are welcome, it is important to take further coordinated actions against the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE). MOGE and other state-owned enterprises that are now illegally being controlled by the junta are the main source of the junta’s revenue, enabling it to continue committing atrocity crimes against the people of Myanmar.

After two years of the illegal attempted coup, the Silent Strike has proved that the people’s defiance against the military junta remains strong, and it has led to the failure of the military junta’s coup attempt. To prevent the military junta from committing further atrocities against the resilient people of Myanmar, the international community must step up and impose more coordinated targeted sanctions, such as a global arms embargo and sanctions against the MOGE to stop revenue flow, as well as strengthening its efforts to prevent the junta from gaining legitimacy. 


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

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Press Statement by the Chair of the 32nd ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) Meeting and ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat

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Joint Statement by International Election Experts and Organizations on Myanmar

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BHRN Welcomes Sanctions Against the Military Junta, Calls for a Governments to Impose Increased Measures to End the Atrocities

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New Report Shines Light on Flaws in International Use of Sanctions in Response to Myanmar Coup

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UK sanctions Myanmar aviation fuel businesses marking 2 years since coup

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“Reject Fascist Election, March towards Federal”: A Revolutionary Message from General Strike Committee of Nationalities (GSCN)

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On the Second Anniversary of the Failed Coup, the Human Rights Foundation of Monland Calls for International Action and Intervention

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JFM welcomes targeted sanctions imposed on Myanmar junta two years after illegal coup attempt

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Over 20 international oilfield services companies active in Myanmar since coup attempt

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Criminal Complaint Filed in Germany Against Burma Army Generals for Crimes Committed Against the Karen and Other Ethnic Groups

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Australian sanctions step in the right direction, with more Myanmar sanctions required

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Statement on the 2nd Anniversary of the Spring Revolution

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Statement of commendations and acclamations to be made to the People’s and the Nation’s heroes who have steadfastly and resolutely taken part in Civil Disobedience Movement for two years

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Statement on the second anniversary of the people’s Spring Revolution

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The second anniversary of the Myanmar’s Spring Revolution

By National Unity Government (Ministry of International Cooperation Myanmar)

The NUG welcomes the new sanctions imposed by the Australian, the US, UK and Canadian governments

By National Unity Government (Ministry of International Cooperation Myanmar)

The Military Junta Cannot Succeed: Time to Step-Up Support for Myanmar’s Democratic Movement

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

Humanitarian aid: EU releases over €43 million for Myanmar and Bangladesh

By The European Union

Myanmar: UN expert’s report highlights junta’s fraudulent claim to legitimacy, urges States to denounce 2023 ‘sham’ elections

By UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

Treasury Sanctions Officials and Military-Affiliated Cronies in Burma Two Years after Military Coup

By United States Department of the Treasury

Joint Statement on Marking Two Years Since the Military Coup in Myanmar

By United States Department of State

The Burma Military Regime’s Extension of State of Emergency

By United States Department of State

Notice on the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to the Situation in and in Relation to Burma

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Missed Opportunities: The need for a better approach to sanctions in response to Myanmar’s military coup

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A summary review report on the military regime’s human rights violations during one year in 2022

By Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma

Myanmar: Tanintharyi Region Monthly Situation Update (31 January 2023)

By Southern Monitor

Illegal and Illegitimate: Examining the Myanmar military’s claim as the Government of Myanmar and the international response

By UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”