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Revolution in Myanmar

Ta Mwe (Myanmar)

On 1st February 2021 Myanmar’s military carried out a coup which deposed the democratically elected government and shattered a decade of political and social development overnight. Many of the country’s elected officials were detained and Myanmar returned to military rule – something that the vast majority of the population had hoped they would never see again.

Protests against the coup quickly began to grow, from small acts of defiance to a nationwide uprising which protestors began referring to as the ‘Spring Revolution’. In order to suppress the growing protest movement the military soon turned to the use of deadly force and mass detention. In the first months of resistance, hundreds of peaceful protestors were murdered, thousands were imprisoned and virtually every town and city in the country was subjected to a brutal campaign of terror by state security forces.

As the majority of urban protests were quashed by the military crackdown, many young Burmese retreated into the jungles and mountains of Myanmar’s rugged periphery to join the People’s Defence Force (PDF), the military wing of the National Unity Government (NUG), a body of democratically-elected legislators and officials that is widely accepted by the civilian populace to be the legitimate government of Myanmar. Large swathes of Myanmar’s border regions have been embroiled in civil war for decades and local ethnic populations have long suffered under military repression. The resultant patchwork of self-administered regions protected by mountains, jungles and well established ethnic armed groups is the perfect training ground for a new generation of Burmese freedom fighters.

This work is supported by grants from The VII Foundation and The Frontline Club.


Ta Mwe is a Burmese photojournalist and documentary photographer with experience covering a wide range of political and social stories and events throughout Myanmar. After many years working for national and international publications and organisations as a photographer, videographer and video editor, Ta Mwe’s recent work has focused on analogue stills photography, covering first the COVID-19 crisis and then the country’s anti-coup protests on medium-format black and white film stock. Due to the political situation in Myanmar the name Ta Mwe is an alias and this bio has been heavily redacted to remove any identifying information.

IG: @tamwephoto