Pro-democracy protesters chant and give the three-finger salute – a symbol of resistance – during an anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar. The protest came four days after 114 civilians were killed by armed forces, the deadliest day thus far.
2022 Photo Contest, Southeast Asia and Oceania, Honorable Mention

Uprising in Myanmar

Photographer

Ta Mwe

Sacca Photo
31 March, 2021

Pro-democracy protesters chant and give the three-finger salute – a symbol of resistance – during an anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar. The protest came four days after 114 civilians were killed by armed forces, the deadliest day thus far.

This project documents the first month of protest in Yangon, Myanmar’s former capital and largest city. The photographer is using an alias for protection.

On 1 February 2021, Myanmar’s military leaders carried out a coup deposing its democratically elected government and shattered a decade of political and social development. Over the course of the first week under this new military junta, protests grew from small acts of defiance to a nationwide peaceful uprising that protesters referred to as the Spring Revolution. The military met protests with deadly force and mass detention. International media organizations and a UN official reported that the military were firing live ammunition at civilian protesters and into people’s homes. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reports more than 9,400 people arrested and 1,500 killed by junta forces in the months following the coup. Journalists attempting to cover the situation faced intimidation, harassment and violence from military authorities. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), 115 journalists were arrested in Myanmar in 2021 while covering protests or after being tracked down by the intelligence services, and three have been killed. By the end of the year, the military was still in power, although a parallel opposition government and its armed division prevented the military from consolidating complete control over the country, and resistance continued.

About the photographer

Ta Mwe is a Myanmarese photojournalist and documentary photographer with experience covering a wide range of political and social stories and events throughout Myanmar. After many years working for national and international publications and organizations as a photographer, videographer and video editor, Ta Mwe'...

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Jury comment

The jury awarded honorable mention to this project in solidarity with both the photographers working tirelessly in Myanmar, and also photojournalists at large across the region who are battling the rise of autocracy that is eroding press freedom and people’s rightful access to democracy. Alongside the members of civil democratic movements, the photographers who are committed to creating intentional and universal works in hostile situations, should be recognized for the role they play in bringing regional challenges to the global public.