Defying a threat by the ruling generals to use lethal force to disperse them, anti-coup protesters again turned up across Myanmar on Monday to demand a return to democracy. The country's political crisis remains in flux since the military siezed power three weeks ago: a nationwide strike has ground the economy to a halt, while hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested, and at least four have been shot dead. But — to the surprise of many observers — the junta has yet to crack down as hard as it did against unruly students in 1988 and rebellious Buddhist monks in 2007.
It's a chicken-and-egg scenario: as the military shows more (unprecedented) restraint, its opponents feel emboldened to flock to the streets. Why is this happening, and what does it mean? Part of the answer lies in how Myanmar itself has changed over the past decade.