On 22 February, more than one million people joined the call for a general strike and marched in the largest nationwide mobilisation since resistance to the coup began. In Yangon, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators descended upon Sule Pagoda Road, Hledan Junction and Myaynigone, reclaiming these gathering points after they had been barricaded with barbed wire and filled with riot police the preceding weekend. In Mandalay, tens of thousands of demonstrators shut down the central business district, making it impossible for the police and armed forces to carry out repression.
The creation of strike committees provides an alternative source of power to the Tatmadaw through which the movement can coordinate itself on a national scale. But to truly challenge the Tatmadaw’s economic and political power, the strike committees will need to become rooted in workplaces under the leadership of striking workers. In the coming days and weeks, the ability of Myanmar’s powerful working class to impose its will on the situation—through more strikes that paralyse the economy—will be crucial.
Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.