Exclusive: Myanmar’s young people take up arms against junta

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Our reporter Constantin Simon managed to secretly enter Myanmar, where he filmed the fighting between the rebels and the ruling junta. He also followed a rebel commander. FRANCE 24 brings you his exclusive 25-minute report.


Three years ago in Myanmar, on February 1, 2021, the military staged a surprise coup and threw the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her civilian government in prison. They thereby put an end to the country’s decade of quasi-democracy, which had begun in 2011. The Burmese population demonstrated against the power grab, but the crackdown by the Burmese army and police left thousands dead. In December 2022, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi, aged 77 at the time, was sentenced to 33 years in jail.

Three years after the coup, a civil disobedience movement, which has since grown into an armed resistance, has emerged among young Burmese. They have joined the many ethnic armies that already existed in Myanmar. These rebels began training in the jungle, but are now doing so in cities, and are battling to bring down a military regime that is as hated as it is feared.

Read more‘A real blow for the junta’: Myanmar’s ethnic groups launch unprecedented armed resistance

On the front line

Since the end of October, against all the odds, ethnic armies and pro-democracy fighters have managed to seize more than 400 Burmese army bases and around 30 towns. The junta is threatened like never before. On January 31, the eve of the anniversary of the coup, it once again extended the country’s state of emergency for six months.

Our reporter Constantin Simon, FRANCE 24’s Asia correspondent, is one of the few journalists who have managed to enter Myanmar. He was able to film the fighting between the Burmese rebels and the ruling junta in the centre of the country, and was given exclusive access to Commander Maui, one of the rebel leaders in charge of the popular uprising.

Filmed on the front line, 200 kilometres from Naypyidaw, the Burmese capital, this report also shows the lives of the men and women in their twenties, now fighters or nurses, who are battling to re-establish democracy in Myanmar. Torn apart by violence and cut off from the rest of the world, the country is sinking deeper than ever into civil war and chaos.

A report by Constantin Simon, Aruna Popuri and Philip Bahardu

Special thanks to Jérémy André, Karenni Army and Karenni Nationalities Defence Force

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Source: Thanks france24