August 28, 2023, Comment off

The journey of Spring Revolution and CDM Policy


Salai Kurbungbel


The Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) and Its Role in the Myanmar Spring Revolution

Following the overthrow of Myanmar’s democratically elected government by the Military Junta on February 1, 2021, and its seizure of power through arbitrary force, widespread public protests erupted across the country. Amidst this opposition, the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) unexpectedly gained significant traction and participation, catching the Military Junta off guard.

“Do Not attend office, break away”

The CDM’s rallying cry, “Do Not attend office, break away,” stands in stark contrast to the Military Junta’s campaign of “Attend office with a smile.” Government operations rely on the efforts of civil servants, analogous to the various components of a complex machine. If pivotal elements of this mechanism, such as gears, wheels, nuts, and hinges, cease to function, the entire governmental apparatus grinds to a halt. In this analogy, employees are akin to these essential components, playing a critical role in the government’s functioning.

Non-cooperation by employees disrupts the government’s ability to manage the country. When administrative functions falter, effective governance becomes unattainable. Consequently, the Military Junta employs diverse tactics—issuing orders, enacting laws, making statements, and employing threats—to entice CDM participants back to their roles within the government. Propaganda outlets controlled by the military council, such as Myanmar TV (MR TV), Myawady TV(MWD), newspapers, broadcasted or published the junta’s propagandas, songs and poems to cajole CDM participants into rejoining their positions.

The Military Junta and CDM movement

The nonviolent Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) swiftly emerged in response to the attempted coup by Myanmar’s military. Within a matter of days, hundreds of thousands of civil service employees joined the strike, abstaining from their roles in public management and administration and actively participating in nationwide street protests.

Internationally, even ambassadors and many foreign department personnel joined the CDM movement. U Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, openly supported the CDM movement. During a speech at the General Assembly in New York, he vehemently denounced the coup attempt and called for global action against the Myanmar military junta. In March 2021, the junta recalled over 100 staff members from embassies worldwide due to their involvement in the CDM.

The Evolution of CDM movement

As the military junta escalated its violent suppression of the CDM, resources for sustaining non-cooperation within the public service sectors—under the junta’s control—began to dwindle. Consequently, the CDM underwent an inevitable evolution. Faced with extreme threats and challenges, sustained mass protests became unfeasible. Consequently, some CDM participants opted to return to their duties. Nonetheless, a contingent of dedicated CDM members persists, not only encouraging their peers to resume their movement, but also resolutely advancing the cause of establishing a new Myanmar society.

As the revolution entered its third year, public administrative entities established CDM/Non-CDM investigation groups in response to the military junta’s actions against CDM participants. In Chin State, on July 4th, the Kanpalet Township Public Administration took action against 322 education employees aligned with the junta, designating them as blacklist employees. Additionally, the Kanpalet Township Public Administration issued a statement cautioning non-CDMs against involvement in private schools, tuition provision, and teaching activities. The administration vowed to take decisive measures against non-CDM employees who disregarded these directives. (Source: Zalen News)

It is evident that the CDM has emerged as a pivotal driving force in the pursuit of a new Myanmar government, standing in direct opposition to the military junta. It is imperative that the people need to rally behind the CDM movement and its participants, who have arisen from the Myanmar Spring Revolution. At the same time, the NUG government must assume responsibility and earn trust by making and executing CDM policies effectively. Only through an active and enthusiastic commitment to governing as a people’s government can the revolution gather momentum and expedite victory for the people.