Publication Communication / Public - Southeast Asia Independent Media in Myanmar Since the Military Coup

Nine months after the elected government was overthrown, free and independent media is almost non-existent





Nwet Kay Khine,


November 2021

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Journalists take cover during a flash mob protest against the military coup near Sule Pagoda in central Yangon, Myanmar, 6 May 2021. Photo: picture alliance / NurPhoto | Myat Thu Kyaw

The resilience of Myanmar’s military regime since 1962 has largely been attributable to its institutional capacity to maintain control over repressive and ideological state apparatus (ISA). Since the coup of 1 February 2021, military leaders have been employing the usual tactics of fusing repressive and ideological state apparatus to suppress the social movement. Authoritarian survival in Myanmar has always been possible through the inherited legal and policy tools — tools which have never guaranteed an independent check on power nor the defence of human rights.

Nwet Kay Khine is a post-doctoral fellow in the International Research Group on Authoritarianism and Counter-Strategies sponsored by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

This paper argues that an insufficient willingness for media reform under the two previous governments has led to the institutional defect that undermines media resilience in the post-coup political crisis. Despite the people of Myanmar being able to enjoy advancements in communication technology that have provided an enabling environment for the flow of revolutionary ideas, the existing hegemony of the state in the media sector has almost eliminated independent and free media organizations.

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