The Golden Land Ablaze

Coups, Insurgents and the State in Myanmar

September 2024 9781911723684 280pp
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Available as an eBook
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Myanmar’s generals didn’t expect the nation to rise up against the coup they staged in February 2021. But after decades of stifling, direct military rule, the Burmese people had become used to another way of life during the relative openness of 2011–21. The army has been unable to suppress anti-coup protests as it did in 1962 and 1988; and, three years after sending tanks into Yangon, Naypyitaw and other cities, the army has yet to establish a functioning administration.

For the first time since the 1970s, armed resistance is not confined to traditionally strife-torn frontier areas, where ethnic insurgents like the Karen National Union and Kachin Independence Army have been active for decades—it has spread to the majority-Burmese heartland, in the shape of the People’s Defence Forces. But the anti-junta forces are insufficiently well-equipped to defeat the much more heavily armed Myanmar army, which itself is stretched too thin, on several fronts, to crush the resistance. And, despite foreign observers’ assurances, there is no unity, common command or synchronised strategy among the various ethnic-minority and ethnic-Burmese resistance groups.

This is a war that neither side can win. Caught in the middle, and bound to suffer most, are civilians.


Bertil Lintner is an acclaimed journalist and expert on contemporary South-East Asia, especially Myanmar. Formerly the Far Eastern Economic Review’s Burma correspondent, and Asia correspondent for the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, he is the author of, among others, The Costliest Pearl and The Golden Land Ablaze (both published by Hurst).

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