Soldier defections since the military coup in Myanmar

The ANU Myanmar Research Centre presents: ANU MRC Dialogue Shorts - Soldier Defections in Myanmar since the 2021 coup.

These 15-minute videos contain the highlights of talks delivered in the Myanmar Dialogue Series, a platform enabling public debate about the pressing political and social conditions in Myanmar since the 2021 military coup. Where Dialogue Series speakers give their permission, we will create a Dialogue Short which condenses the core points of their presentation.

The Shorts are perfect for undergraduate classes and other educational settings where students need concise information on current pressing political and social issues in Myanmar. Policymakers and people working in settings with a lot of time constraints might also find that they usefully summarize issues about which they need to be abreast in order do plan and make decisions on Myanmar — and that they draw attention to the many promising new scholars of Myanmar emerging both from within the country and abroad.

Title: Soldier Defections in Myanmar since the 2021 coup.

Date: Fri 9 September 2022

Speaker: Helene Maria Kyed, senior researcher and research unit leader, DIIS, Copenhagen

Anthropologist by training, Helene Maria Kyed has done research on security and justice related issues in Mozambique, Swaziland, and Myanmar, focusing on theoretical questions of violence, sovereignty and legal pluralism.

Chair: Samuel Hmung

Since Myanmar's military leaders staged a coup on 1 February 2021, an estimated 10,000 soldiers and police officers have defected by joining the 'people's side' in opposing military rule. These defectors refuse to be complicit in the violent crackdowns and killings of civilians by the military. Arguably, the number of defectors is low compared to the estimated 300-350,000 strong Myanmar military, and so far, there are no signs that the defections have changed the military leaders' course of action. Nonetheless, defections constitute a significant symbolic blow to the military's internal coherence and legitimacy. Also, the degree to which defectors have organised themselves and aligned with the anti-coup, pro-democracy opposition to the military is unprecedented in Myanmar's long history of military rule. Based on online sources, interviews and historical analysis of the Myanmar military, this presentation discusses the motivations behind as well as the obstacles to defections.