In Myanmar, Burma’s armed forces took full control of the government after arresting Aung San Suu Kyi who is the nation’s civilian leader top members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party in a raid. Hence the military ended the decade-long democracy by launching a coup against the most popular political party of the country. Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese politician, diplomat, author, and a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate who served as State Counsellor of Myanmar from 2016 to 2021.
The army then declared on a local television station that it will remain in control for one year, with the supreme authority resting with Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. It’s not sure what’s going to happen after 12 months, while some believe the army will remain in control after that.
Burma History of Military Rule
The Burmese military has ruled the country for decades until 2011 when pro-democracy reforms were very modest. And it gave way to some influence after years of political and economic pressure from the United States and other nations.
But the democratic structure was no longer seems to be working for the army generals who feared their absolute power would be limited. So instead of encouraging the flourishing democracy of Myanmar to continue to expand, the armed forces have opted to put an end to the democracy.
What People of Myanmar Think
The people of Myanmar seem to be concerned, but not panic. Although they are facing a nationwide communications blockage which in fact is not new for them as the nation has already experienced two coups earlier in 1962 and 1988 and so many took the same precautions as in the past, by buying extra groceries and withdrawing cash from ATMs. Yet they also have to deal with the striking attitude of the deployed troops that are continuously roaming on the streets and the sudden absence of National League for Democracy flags.
Some worry that violence may erupt in defense of Suu Kyi, who enjoys a “godlike” status in Myanmar
Historic Struggle between democracy and military
To understand Myanmar’s latest coup, we have to look back into the country’s decades-long struggle between democracy and military rule, and, more recently, the National League for Democracy rise under Suu Kyi. Myanmar has struggled between military and civilian leadership since 1948, while the country’s armed forces that are termed as Tatmadaw have remained the most powerful institution. At the end of the 1980s, the civil pro-democracy movement gathered momentum with Suu Kyi as its leader.
It was Suu Kyi efforts that resulted in the ruling military junta placed her under house arrest in 1989. The Nobel committee awarded her the Peace Prize in 1991 for her fight for democracy and emphasis on nonviolence.
International Sanctions on Mynamar
The international community wasn’t happy with Myanmar’s autocratic leadership. The US placed sanctions on the country for decades hoping those punishments would compel the army generals to make pro-democracy reforms and stop abusing human rights. Before it was adopted in 2008, the Tatmadaw spent five years writing a constitution. The most remarkable amendment provided the army at least 25% of the seats in the legislature, no matter what. That was important since no modifications to the current constitution could be made without more than 75% of the legislature voting for them. For more exciting stuff please subscribe to our Facebook Page
The military, in effect, could veto any attempts to change the game. That gave Myanmar’s government a window dressing of democracy — the party in power could run the day-to-day aspects of domestic and foreign policy while never actually threatening the Tatmadaw’s hold on power.
With those rules in place, the junta released Suu Kyi from house arrest in 2010 under the condition that she could never be president
Suu Kyi as State Counselor
In 2015, in Myanmar’s first acknowledged, free and fair election in 25 years, the Suu Kyi-led NLD captured 77 percent of the seats in Parliament. The following year, the position of “state counselor” was granted to Suu Kyi, a function created expressly for her, effectively enabling her to rule by an allied president by proxy. Moreover, the US also lifted its sanctions on the country that had been in place for two decades.
Suu Kyi Support for Tatmadaw
Most prominently, she sponsored the 2017 Tatmadaw mass murder and gang rape movement of the Rohingya Muslim community in the country and also defended the generals involved at the International Court of Justice. United Nations termed this act genocidal intent, that brutally killed thousands of Rohingya and forced a million more to flee their homes, most to neighboring Bangladesh, as their villages were burned.
But Suu Kyi not only defended the Tatmadaw also refused to condemn the military action against the poor Rohingya Muslims, that act severely damaged the reputation of Suu Kyi globally. Although she still has her Nobel, she has rescinded many other international honors and recognitions she has won for her pro-democracy efforts, including the Envoy of Conscience Award she received from Amnesty International in 2018, the highest decoration of the human rights organization. For more exciting stuff please subscribe to our Facebook Page
Myanmar’s Constitution Amendment
On the other hand, Suu Kyi in 2020 initiated some major changes in Myanmar’s Constitution including reducing the number of allocated seats for military officers in Parliament received majority support but were blocked by the Tatmadaw’s veto power. In November 2020, the nation seemingly gave them the mandate to pursue constitutional reforms after voting to give the NLD 396 of 476 seats in parliament.
Myanmar’s military launched the coup
In reaction, Immediately, the military and its political arm said the polls were illegitimate, while international observers and the electoral commission of the nation reported that there were no major problems. They went as far as seeking a new, military-supervised referendum, lodged 200 complaints with local election authorities, and carried their case to the Supreme Court of the country. This looks like a straightforward story: Suu Kyi and the NLD were getting a lot of support, resulting in growing democratical liking. Instead of letting the pro-democracy movement gain even more strength, the Tatmadaw decided to shut it before things go out of their reach.
Myanmar’s armed forces live in separate areas from everyday citizens and have their own school system, TV station, and even hospitals
The military always has the most power in Myanmar. But through the electoral process what they can gain is legitimacy. If its political arm could win elections, then its full control of the country would have national, democratic support. It was a very smart move in terms of timing as all the world leaders are busy due to the Covid-19 pandemic the military sought this as an ideal time to take over with minimum criticism internationally. For more exciting stuff please subscribe to our Facebook Page
As far as the Suu Kyi and NDU are concerned, the innocent bloodshed of Rohingya Muslims seems to have cursed the democracy and all those who not only defended the Tatmadaw cruel act but also provided room for them to do so. In short, as you sow, so shall you reap.