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Tahira Akbar: What the military coup in Myanmar entails.

Written by Tahira Akbar
Edited by Bhromor Rahman

Credit: CBC

Early Monday morning, a coup d’etat was carried out by the Myanmar military against the Myanmar government. Recently elected Ms.Aung San Suu Kyi was detained and arrested during the raids as the military seized power and declared the country was in a state of emergency for one year.

As a consequence of the coup, the party’s top ministers and pro-democracy figures were arrested. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing now commands the country as a military dictator. 

General Ming Aung Hlaing, Myanmar’s new ”President”
Credit: Aljazeera

The military has also enforced a curfew alongside the state of emergency. The country’s citizens are forbidden to leave their homes between  8p.m. and 6a.m. every night as soldiers and military troops patrol the streets. It is uncertain how long the curfew will be in place. 

For the moment, internet and phone services are being disrupted and are unreliable in some places, as banks claimed that they were forced to close under orders from the authorities. All the roads to the capital are also being blocked by soldiers. Since then, the military has announced a new cabinet of 24 ministers as many of Aung San Suu Kyi’s officials have been removed with 11 new replacements announced. The replacements will be for the departments of Finances, Health, Interior, and Foreign Affairs. 

NLD partisans protest against the coup
Credit: The Guardian

The opposition has demanded new elections, as many fear the country will fall back into tyranny or a dictatorship. The country is currently in chaos since this was the first coup d’etat against the civilian government since 1962. People are in dismay as they feel that their fight for democracy in the country has been lost. The country had fallen behind in economic development, educational advancement, and health when previously under military rule.  In addition, the pandemic further lowered the country’s economic condition. The military has violated constitutional promises it made recently in the face of actions they performed.

According to Aung San Suu Kyi, the country will revert back to a dictatorship due to the military action that is taking place. Especially with an uneasy past when the military had taken over and controlled and ruled the country until 2011 when  Aung San Suu Kyi had helped bring democracy into Myanmar. The democratic advocate had already been in detention from 1989 until 2010 because she was a human rights activist, Nobel peace prize winner in 1991, the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and state counselor of Myanmar.  In 2015, she won the majority in parliament in the first democratic vote in the country in over 25 years.

Detained former President Aung San Suu Kyi
Credit: Yahoo News

Many former supporters of hers are claiming that she is now unworthy of the Nobel peace prize that she had won in 1991, as she had not condemned the military for cracking down on minority Muslim Rohingya in the country. Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh claim that they do not feel bad for Suu Kyi, as she did nothing to help them. The refugees have been waiting for help to return to their homes in Myanmar for four years, and have not received any. She also did not meet the expectations of her supporters, who also expected her to find a balance of power between the government and the military. However, in a statement released on Monday, she urged citizens to resist the coup.  In addition, the extent of military control is unclear, as the country has overwhelmingly supported her, with more than 70 percent of the ballots going in her favor in the recent November 2020 elections. The military has claimed that she had won through electoral fraud, which gave the prior grounds for her detainment.

Rohingya refugees gather to mark the second anniversary of the exodus at the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, August 25, 2019.
Credit: REUTERS/Rafiqur Rahman

The reason the army took over at this particular time was planned because the first parliament sitting was planned to take place just hours before the coup. It would have the first parliament sitting since the elections in November, with the majority being Suu Kyi’s party. This would have made the results of the election official by gaining approval as the next government. However, due to the coup, this will not be happening. The military claimed that the coup was necessary since the elections were (allegedly) won through fraud.

Myanmar’s army
Credit: New York Times

The coup was condemned by the US, EU, and UN. The Biden administration in the United-States is threatening to impose sanctions on Myanmar to pressure the military out of power. The US President qualified the coup as a  “direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy and the rule of law.” The UN is concerned that Rohingya Muslims in the country are in a worse situation than before, as they have limited access to basic health, education, and even freedom. Some leaders in the Asia-Pacific region have expressed concern with the Japanese government even issuing safety advisories to their people as their citizens prepare for possible clashes between the Japanese Self-Defense Force and Myanmar’s army.

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