Lights off in Myanmar

The energy sector has been a site of international investment in Myanmar, but, with foreign investors jittery and blackouts escalating, it is also a site of resistance against the military coup. Robert Bociaga reports.

For people in Myanmar the energy sector has become an important battleground as they try to bring the military junta to its knees. The country was forced back under military rule on 1 February 2021, sparking widespread protest and a violent crackdown from the military. Almost 1,200 people have been killed and over 7,000 detained since the coup.

Any form of campaigning has become illegal and environmental activists have gone into hiding. Thousands of staff from the Myanmar electricity ministry are on strike, hampering its capacity to conduct tenders, maintain the grid and collect electricity payments. Ordinary citizens have started refusing to pay electricity bills, while the anti-junta resistance fighters have destroyed power cables in some areas of the country. As a result, power outages have become more common and longer. Even before the coup, there was growing resistance against major energy developments in Myanmar. 

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Robert Bociaga