About the Project
On February 1st, 2021, Myanmar experienced its third coup in just under six decades. After the country’s largest opposition party to the military government, the National League for Democracy, won 930 of 1117 seats in the parliament, the highest number of seats ever achieved by the political party, the country’s leading General, Min Aung Hlaing, sent in his troops. In pre-dawn raids, the military fanned out across the country, rounding up the newly elected parliamentarians a day before they were to take their seats. After weeks of countrywide demonstrations and general strikes, civilians began to travel to border regions in search of military training from the ethnic armed organizations fighting the government for over seven decades. What was born out of this mass exodus is now known as the People’s Defence Force, a grassroots conglomerate of people’s militias tied together to oust the military government and reinstall democracy in their country.
The photographer Bryan Dickie and Aung Myat Phone will discuss the recent events in Myanmar and Bryan's recently published photo book covering Myanmar’s ongoing civil war. The book focuses on civilians who joined together to form an opposition army dubbed the ‘People’s Defence Force’ who are actively fighting an entrenched military regime that forcibly took control of the country in February 2021.
For new and emerging perspectives on Burma/Myanmar during its current period of political and economic transition, please visit the Tea Circle forum.
Bryan Dickie is a Canadian-based editorial photographer interested in exploring humanity’s enigmas. Using his camera as a portal into people’s lives, Bryan has used photography as a tool to understand the world around him. In 2010, on a whim, Bryan decided to travel to Myanmar and serendipitously stumbled upon a historical moment that saw Aung San Suu Kyi released from house arrest after fifteen years of sporadic detention. The people’s excitement at their country’s transition resonated with Bryan on an extremely ephemeral level and sparked a relationship with the people of the South Asian Nation. Over the next decade, Bryan would be lucky enough to travel to the far reaches of Myanmar to photograph and interview refugees, child soldiers, warlords and various leaders of the many ethnic armed organizations that are still active throughout Myanmar today.Website
Aung Myat Phone
Aung Myat Phone is a Burmese refugee living in Yangon when the military took control of his country. He was one of the early protesters out on the streets and witnessed first-hand the military’s brutal crackdown on demonstrations that saw scores of civilians gunned down in cold blood. As the only member of his family who escaped during the coup, Aung Myat has many friends and family who had to stay and fight for their country's democracy. His cousin was at the same training camp as photographer Bryan Dickie when documenting the People’s Defence Force.
U of T Myanmar Culture Club