<p>Protesters use slingshots and other homemade weapons in a clash with security forces in Yangon, Myanmar.</p>
2022 Photo Contest, Southeast Asia and Oceania, Singles




for The New York Times
28 March, 2021

Protesters use slingshots and other homemade weapons in a clash with security forces in Yangon, Myanmar.

On 1 February 2021, military leaders staged a coup in Myanmar, hours before a newly elected parliament was to have been sworn in. The military’s proxy party had lost to the civilian National League for Democracy (NLD), headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, putting the NLD in office for the second time since Myanmar’s first nationwide multiparty elections in 2015. Following the coup, the military junta arrested Suu Kyi alongside other lawmakers and activists. Huge protests erupted nationwide, and were met with a harsh military crackdown. International media organizations and a UN official reported that the military were firing live ammunition at civilian protesters and into people’s homes.

The photographer remains anonymous for reasons of personal safety. The day before this photograph was taken saw 114 civilians reported killed. 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. In April, ousted NLD lawmakers and other activists established a parallel government. By the end of the year, the military was still in power, although the parallel opposition government and its armed division prevented the military from consolidating complete control over the country, and resistance continued.

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.

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About the photographer

The photographer remains anonymous for reasons of personal safety.  World Press Photo Involvement:  2022 World Press Photo Contest winner

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Technical information
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Canon EOS 6D

Jury comment

The image highlights an emerging culture of protest in Southeast Asia, where people have historically faced high consequences for speaking out. The Myanmarese people shooting slingshots against a heavily armed military is highly symbolic and illustrate the determination of the people, who will continue to protect their democracy with whatever means available. By capturing the image from within the group, the image communicates that the photojournalist stands committed to sharing the struggle of these protestors. This visual of resistance is important and uplifting for people throughout the subregion, it encourages them to maintain hope as they engage in the daily task of fighting for democracy.