Myanmar Military Coup Threatens End of Newly Democratic Nation

Military+forces+that+ran+Myanmar+seized+power+in+a+coup+on+Monday%2C+Feb+1.+Photo+courtesy+of+Long+Pyles.

Photo By Long Pyles

Military forces that ran Myanmar seized power in a coup on Monday, Feb 1. Photo courtesy of Long Pyles.

By Amy Simon, Reporter

After Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy party won the 2015 election in Myanmar, it seemed as though the country was finally able to shift from a military dictatorship to a democracy. The support only continued when Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was re-elected in December 2020. However, on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, the military forces that ran Myanmar for nearly five decades seized power again in a coup, resulting in Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratic government being shut down. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was detained in a pre-dawn raid, along with her top ministers and a few of her pro-democracy supporters.

With Ms. Aung San See Kyi out of office, the nation split into two sides. By allowing Min Aung Hlaing, the senior military general of Myanmar, to extend his term at the helm of the military for five more years, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi had lost the military’s support. And by defending Myanmar against accusations of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, she lost the trust of the international community, which acted as a key ally during her election and reelection. 

She failed a great moral test by covering up the military’s atrocities against the Rohingya. But the détente with the military never materialized, and her landslide election victory is now undone by a coup.”

— Phil Robertson

“Aung San Suu Kyi rebuffed international critics by claiming she was not a human-rights activist but rather a politician. But the sad part is she hasn’t been very good at either,” Deputy Asia Director for Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson said to the New York Times. “She failed a great moral test by covering up the military’s atrocities against the Rohingya. But the détente with the military never materialized, and her landslide election victory is now undone by a coup.”

The military took full power on Monday and declared a one-year state of emergency. Although billboards were seen with Ms. Aung San See Kyi’s face on it, there was a new leader in charge, Chairman of the State Administrative Council Min Aung Hlaing, whose goal was to promote a dictatorship. On Monday night, the nation’s telecommunications networks suffered constant interruptions, courtesy of the new government. Individuals were seen taking down their National League for Democracy flags and speaking in code, their old fears prompting them to resort to survival tactics from an earlier time. 

“Waking up to learn your world has been completely turned upside down overnight was not a new feeling, but a feeling that I thought that we had moved on from, and one that I never thought we’d be forced to feel again,” A 25-year-old Myanmar resident said, speaking to the BBC. They asked not to be named.

In support of the once democratic nation, many democratic leaders, including President Joe Biden and United Nations Ambassador of Britain Barbara Woodward, have said that they will speak to the security council on the matter.

“The United States removed sanctions on [Myanmar] over the past decade based on progress toward democracy,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action. The United States will stand up for democracy wherever it is under attack.”

Tens of thousands of people have rallied to demand the release of Ms. San Suu Kyi. Protestors were seen with signs that said “Respect our vote.” Myanmar’s military did not comment on the protests and have stayed silent during the growing opposition to the coup. The U.S. and the U.N. have repeatedly denounced the takeover of Myanmar, however, no change has been made so far in the nation.

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