Some N.L.D. leaders are trying to tap the public’s indignation for their own ends, it seems, and have urged demonstrators to fly N.L.D. flags at the front lines of the marches. But the protests are largely organic and leaderless; the demonstrators are running on outrage, for the most part with no clear political agenda — not about democratisation or the country’s main problems, like decades-old ethnic conflicts. Many young protesters I have talked to say the military takeover will lead the country into “a dark age” and destroy their future, much as the 1988 coup did to my generation. The Tatmadaw, they say, didn’t only stage a coup; it also declared war against the youth of Myanmar. They see the current face-off as the final battle between democracy and dictatorship. Last Monday, outside the central fire station in downtown Yangon, I also saw several young protesters from various ethnic minorities — Rakhine, Karen, Kachin — dressed in ethnic outfits and holding ethnic flags. I was struck by some of their slogans: “To achieve federal democracy union is our cause, our cause!”; “To achieve ethnic equality is our cause, our cause!”; “Civil War — No, No. We Don’t Want Civil War!” Those demands were more precise and pointed than most. But that only seemed to confuse a group of young people from the ethnic-Bamar majority next to me. One girl asked the others, “They are rebels, aren’t they?” The coup makers’ immediate objective seems to be to prove voting fraud, or improprieties on the part of the N.L.D. government, in order to invalidate the results of the November election, as well as to crack down only modestly on protesters. The idea is to simultaneously quiet and quell political unrest, and to ride it out. That may be difficult to achieve given public sentiment, but the Tatmadaw knows that a widespread crackdown, especially if it brought bloodshed, would be costly for it, too.