01 February 2022 marks the first anniversary of the military coup. Last year on this day the Myanmar military took over the power in the country and arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and the elected leaders of the National League of Democracy. In the past year following the coup, the military has faced widespread protests and discontent because of its actions. The military has used force and various other tactics to curb the resistance. However, the opposition and resistance continue. Internationally, as the military coup and atrocities continue, countries like the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom have imposed further sanctions. The Russian actions against Ukraine received mixed responses in Myanmar, which are discussed in the latter part of the article.
Domestic and Political Situation
On the eve of the first anniversary of the military coup, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing proposed to extend the military rule for another six months, which Myint Swe, the military-appointed president, approved. On 01 February, the country witnessed large scale protests and rallies. A nationwide strike marked the first anniversary of the military seizure of power. The photos and videos of ‘silent strike’ were all over the social media. The streets were emptied and businesses were shut in a show of opposition to the military rule. The people also raised the three fingers resistance salute. At places, bombings were carried out targeting a police station and homes of military officers and other sites. Opposition militants carry out daily hit-and-run guerrilla attacks, while the military generally engages in larger-scale assaults that are blamed for many civilian casualties. 
To counter these protests and rallies, the military regime organised more than 170 pro-military rallies a week preceding the coup anniversary in 140 towns across Myanmar. The regime also organised sports events, forced shops to open and required people to receive COVID-19 jabs. The regime had earlier warned that anyone who closed their business or shop on the day could face charges carrying sentences of up to life imprisonment, including confiscation of their properties. The military also arrested a few shop owners who notified customers that they would close their businesses on 01 February.
On the anniversary of the coup, Min Aung Hlaing justified the coup for the protection and promotion of Buddhism. He argued that Buddhism declined under the NLD government and criticised the NLD for banning the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion. The group is under attack internationally for its hate speech and was banned by the NLD in 2017. They are known internationally for its hate speech against non-Buddhists. Recently, Min Aung Hlaing visited former chair, Ashin Tilawkar Biwonsa and even conferred a religious title on him. He also criticised the NLD government for prohibiting visits to pagodas and religious buildings, which he re-opened recently. The buildings were closed due to COVID-19 restrictions to prevent crowds.
The following day, Min Aung Hlaing held the first cabinet meeting of the year and highlighted the three sectors that would be prioritised in 2022. These are – to improve the economy; set up a genuine, disciplined multi-party democracy through the general election scheduled for 2023; and form an all-inclusive defence system.
There was also news to dismantle six departments under Myanmar’s police and incorporate the officers into the military to strengthen its fight against the anti-coup resistance movement. These police departments are under the “special departments” of maritime, aviation, tourist, oil field, forestry and highway police forces. The police battalions are combat-trained, and since last year’s coup, they have been involved in crackdowns on protests and clashes with the armed resistance movement. As an institution, Myanmar’s police is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs and under military control as per the 2008 Constitution.
On 08 February, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, U Wunna Maung Lwin, gave a diplomatic briefing on the recent developments in Myanmar. The Union Minister briefed regarding the formation of the State Administration Council (SAC), transferring three branches of state to the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services and scrutinizing the 2020 electoral process and the SAC’s endeavours to implement a five-point roadmap. He also emphasised establishing friendly relations with foreign nations, Myanmar’s cooperation with the ASEAN countries and Myanmar’s cooperation with the United Nations.
In addition to these, issues regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the incidents of killings and damages of public buildings and infrastructure by PDF, the seizures of arms and ammunition and notifying of NUG and PDF as terrorist groups to UNCTED, ACCT, ASEANAPOL and INTERPOL, positive cooperation in the fight against terrorism, and implementation of democracy and federalism in the country were discussed. Similar issues were discussed by U Khin Maung Oo, member of the Union Election Commission (UEC), Dr Yin Yin Nwe, Member of Advisory Board of the Chairman of the SAC, Dr Salai Ngun Cung Lian, and Police Brig. Gen. Aung Htay Myint of Myanmar Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs.
During the month, attacks and conflicts were noted across the country. For instance, hundreds of houses were burned down by the military in the northwestern Sagaing region. However, the state-run Myanmar Alinn Daily newspaper claimed that houses were burned by members of the opposite resistance defence force.  The allied KIA and Putao PDF seized a base belonging to a military-aligned militia in Putao, and in response, the military opened fire on the area with helicopters.  The informal ceasefire between Arakan Army and the military also came under attack as a clash broke out in Arakan State’s Maungdaw Township on 04 February.
According to a United Nations Spokesperson, around 114 children have been killed by the Myanmar military since the 2021 coup. Recently, the military took a group of civilians, including at least 80 children, in the Sagaing region, hostage for two days. The National Unity Government (NUG) accused the army of a “grave violation” of international law.  Following the participation of children against the military forces, several parents have posted notices cutting ties with their children. The military has claimed that it would take over the properties of its opponents and arrest people giving shelter to protesters.
In order to help the local economy, the military is planning to release a digital currency. According to a report from Bloomberg, Major General Zaw Min Tun said rolling out a digital currency would “help improve financial activities in Myanmar”. The digital currency is aimed at supporting payments within Myanmar as well as improving the economy. The country’s shadow government announced in December 2021 that it would recognise Tether (USDT) as an official currency.
The United States imposed new sanctions on Myanmar officials. The measures freeze any assets the listed officials may have in US jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them. Britain and Canada announced similar measures. At the anniversary of the military coup, several Church leaders have renewed their calls on the UK Government to use diplomacy to ensure that democracy is restored in Myanmar. Further, Myanmar’s shadow government, NUG, stated that it accepted the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hear allegations that the country committed genocide against Rohingya. However, it urged the ICJ to deal with Myanmar’s permanent representative to the UN, Kyaw Moe Tun. 
In a move to take down the makeshift tents, Thailand deported the refugees back to the Myanmar side. As a result, more than 3,000 Myanmar refugees are now stranded on the Myanmar side of the Thaung Yin River and are residing in temporary huts. Though many have returned home, some of the 20,000 refugees remain on the Thai side and have received support from residents.
Australia’s Foreign Minister called for the “immediate release” of economics Professor Sean Turnell, who was detained by Myanmar’s military in February 2021. He was working as an adviser to civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The Australian economist has been charged with violating Myanmar’s official secrets law and faces a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison if found guilty. 
During the month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called upon the Japan-based Yokogawa Bridge Corporation to end its partnership with Myanmar military-owned conglomerate, Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC). In March 2014, Yokogawa Bridge Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japanese Yokogawa Bridge Holdings Corp., signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MEC. MEC is owned by Myanmar’s Defence Ministry and is a “direct source of revenue” for Myanmar’s military. However, in April 2021, Yokogawa Bridge Holdings Corp. stated that construction of the bridge had been halted due to the “situation on the ground” and that it would “conduct business that respects human rights.” But the documents for the same have not been revealed.
Russian actions against Ukraine received mixed responses in the country. The military leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, praised Russia for its actions in a “desire to consolidate Russian sovereignty” and depicted Russia as a force to ensure the balance of power. He also expressed support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, the pro-democracy protestors in Myanmar raised slogans against the Russian actions. In Yangon, activists staged a flash mob protest, shouting anti-regime slogans and waving placards with slogans like “In Solidarity with Ukraine.” In Kachin State, a rally to show their support for Ukraine was held. Further, the NUG said that it condemned the Russian war against Ukraine and its people, adding “Myanmar stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”
Over the past year, there have been mass protests and armed resistance in the country. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners verified that the military has killed around 1500 people. In addition, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 320,000 people have been internally displaced because of the continued conflict over the last year. The solution to the current crises is bringing all the stakeholders together and holding the military accountable first for its actions.
The group, known as Ma Ba Tha, was formed in 2012 out of the 969 movement, a nationalist campaign that called for a boycott of Muslim-owned businesses, and was rebranded as Ma Ba Tha the following year.