Cost of war: Myanmar rebels crowdfund resistance to military coup


From a small city in Japan, the woman known only as Burmese Beast is crowdfunding the resistance to the Myanmar military government.

Working on her iPad while listening to podcasts like the BBC’s You’re Dead to Me, the assistant professor in her 30s organises fundraising campaigns on social media, offering to draw portraits in exchange for money she then donates to the cause of opposing the military government.

“It’s quiet, peaceful, and safe here – everything Myanmar is not at the moment,” the woman, who requested that her identity and exact location not be identified, told Al Jazeera.

Burmese Beast, who left Myanmar more than a decade ago, has sent funds to humanitarian aid workers, striking civil servants and, more recently, the People’s Defence Force (PDF), the armed wing of the National Unity Government (NUG), the parallel administration formed by politicians removed from power in February’s military coup. Both groups have been labelled terrorist organisations by the military regime in Naypyidaw, which is officially known as the State Administration Council (SAC).

“As a fundraiser, I have been in touch with a lot of young people who joined the PDF and they are doing it because they feel hopeless about their futures, not because they are violent or have thirst for blood,” said Burmese Beast, who insists people have been left with no choice but to take up arms against the coup leaders and the forces backing them up.

“I do not condone violence, nor do I feel happiness when I read news about SAC soldiers dying.”

The initial opposition to the coup, which saw Senior General Min Aung Hlaing depose Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically-elected government, was overwhelmingly peaceful, with millions taking to the streets to protest or going on strike at state-run firms.

When the military responded by violently cracking down on protesters, killing more than 1,300 civilians, the resistance movement embraced armed rebellion.