Dr. Miemie Byrd’s latest article “Women on the Front Lines in Myanmar’s Fight for Democracy,” was published by the Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, on Aug. 26.

In this article, Byrd illustrates how the coup staged in Myanmar led to a brutal military crackdown, particularly against women. She states “The very first fatality of the military’s ruthless suppression was a 19-year-old woman named Mya Thwet Khine. A sniper fatally shot her in the head while she participated in a rally near Nay Pyi Taw, the country’s capital city. Since her death, many more female protesters have been killed, arrested, and assaulted by the military as they demonstrated against the coup. The military raided homes in the middle of the night, dragged the women off to jail, and locked them up without due process. Once in captivity, many of them were subjected to tortured interrogations and sexual assaults.”

Byrd’s article continues to detail how women are more innovative in their methods of resistance against the new regime, and have formed the backbone of the revolution. “The women are utilizing feminine qualities and newly acquired capabilities gained since the opening to counter the military junta. The capabilities are bringing innovative tactics to the fight. Women protesters hoisted traditional women’s sarongs and undergarments over the streets to stop the advancing troops. They are creatively utilizing the deep-rooted belief that men’s masculine superiority, hpone, will vanish if the women’s sarongs and undergarments soar directly above the men’s heads. This tactic stopped the advancing armed troops in their tracks. They did not dare to cross the clotheslines, and the women were able to save lives that day. Since then, the regime has made such tactics illegal and brutally raided homes of the women who had engineered them.”

Read the full article

Miemie Byrd is a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.  The views expressed in this article are her own and do not reflect those of DKI APCSS, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.