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Hard stats on Myanmar’s revolutionary psyche

What do people in Myanmar really think of the political climate of repressive, incompetent military rule and the direction the country is headed? There is an industry of supposition, specious reasoning and sophistry that often masquerades as insight into the country’s political dynamics.

A just-released report, “Citizens’ perceptions of current political and armed conflicts”, provides some much-needed rigor in measuring what Myanmar’s diverse and embattled communities think of the crisis.

The Blue Shirt Initiative is a research collective that has produced one of the most credible surveys of public opinion in the three years since the military coup of February 2021. It may not provide any solutions but it is an arresting array of findings of a society in distress.

The researchers surveyed 2,892 people in a total of 233 townships, out of 330 country-wide, between late February to early March. The report has five main sections: “perceptions of democracy and democratic values; perception of the current conflicts; trust in institutions; perception of Operation 1027; (and) information source of political news.”

Along with gender and age breakdowns, the survey incorporates geographical differences between ethnic states, predominantly Bamar Buddhist regions and the commercial capital Yangon, which at some points suggests interesting regional variations.

Due to the widespread conflict, there is an uneven spread of respondents, especially in northern Shan state (where the Operation 1027 offensive occurred in late October), many parts of Sagaing Region, most of Rakhine state and much of Karen state.

This undoubtedly presents limitations on the findings but it’s important to reflect on just how many locations in Myanmar were able