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During a parade to mark Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day on March 27, General Min Aung Hlaing, military tunic festooned with medals, inspected thousands of soldiers from an open-top jeep. The display of pomp was a signal of the 66-year-old’s viselike grip over the nation of 54 million since his February 2021 coup d’état.

From his podium, he warned that the pro-democracy rebels he is embroiled in a blood-soaked campaign against would be “tackled for good and all.” Since the putsch, villages have been terrorized by artillery and air raids, leaving tens of thousands killed and more than a million displaced. Even before he seized power, the U.N. accused him of massacring Rohingya Muslims with “genocidal intent.”

Min Aung Hlaing has returned Myanmar to a pariah state and made it the world’s second most authoritarian regime, per the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2022 Democracy Index. Only Taliban-ruled Afghanistan ranked worse.

Campbell is a TIME correspondent

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