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Tea Leaves

Hey soldier, mind your missus

Myanmar military wives remind us who commands the household

Su Thit and her husband Htet Myat, an ex-army captain, in happier days. “We were only able to meet three times in three years of marriage." (Courtesy Su Thit)  

"If a soldier is going to defect, the first thing he does is consult his wife," says Su Thit, a young and determined-looking Burmese woman. "If she agrees, then it will happen." She should know, having urged her husband, an army captain, to leave his unit in northern Myanmar after the Feb. 1, 2021, military takeover. The two traveled across the country to safety last August.

On a hot afternoon, she's sitting on the bare floor of a safe house near the Thai-Myanmar border, with her husband Htet Myat and three fellow defectors. She proudly displays smartphone photos of their wedding day and others of her husband in full military uniform -- a far cry from the smiling, long-haired man sitting beside her in a T-shirt and longyi sarong.

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