Mass Movements and State Violence in Myanmar

On April 14, 2021, the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, hosted a special edition of its “Beyond the Headlines” (BtH) series exploring the military coup in Myanmar as well as the mass protests and resistance that have arisen in its wake.

The discussion was led by Jeremy Menchik, Associate Professor of International Relations at the Pardee School, and featured Professor Mary Callahan, Associate Professor of International Studies at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. The two explored key questions surrounding the events in Myanmar, such as: why did the military leadership throw away a stable, hybrid government in favor of military authoritarianism?, who is the resistance composed of, and have protests served to unite the country’s population?, and who is being targeted by the military government?

Professor Callahan outlined the state of affairs in Myanmar as well as the tactics used by both the resistance – improvised weaponry and utilizing societal taboos against military personnel – and the government – using random night raids and social media to identify dissenters – in combatting each other. She emphasized that while there needs to be a huge humanitarian intervention, the international community is ill suited to address the situation. In addition, neighboring China, Russia, and Thailand do not have the political will to intervene in Myanmar. The event concluded with Professor Callahan outlining ways the public can stay informed on the violence and help Myanmar’s citizens.

Beyond the Headlines is a regular series at the Pardee School which seeks to cultivate informed conversations among experts and practitioners on issues that are currently in the news headlines, but to do so with a focus on intellectual analysis and on longer-range trends. Recent Beyond the Headlines discussions have focused on topics including global perception of U.S. presidential elections, civil-military relations, BrexitInternational Women’s Day, and the crisis in Kashmir.