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The crisis in Myanmar

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

Myanmar à Myanmar, aka Burma, is a neighboring country to Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh, China and India with a population of 54 million, mostly buddist citizens and abundant ethnic groups such as the Rohingya Muslims. The country gained independence from Britain in 1948 following decolonization. It was ruled by the armed forces led by Gen Ne Win from 1962 to 2011. The military leader formed a single party state with the Socialist program party and banned independent newspapers. In 2011 a new government endeavored the return to democracy though nonviolence.

In November 2020, an election was held, rendering victorious the party of Aung San Suu Kyi won. The democratic party beat pro-military candidates and the armed forces demanded a rerun of the vote, claiming widespread fraud. However the election commission decided there was no evidence to support these claims. On February 1st the military took over the government for a year due to a national emergency. Following the coup the military personnel placed the prime minister ,Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest as well as many other leaders of the opposing party. The leader of the elected party has been charged with possessing illegally imported walkie-talkies.

Commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlain, a prominent political figure, has assumed power. Gen Hlaing justified the coup by supporting that the military is on the side of the people and will form a "true and disciplined democracy". The military says it will hold a "free and fair" election once the state of emergency is over.

On February 2nd teachers, lawyers, students, bank officers and government workers organised one of the largest protests in the past decades. Security forces fired rubber bullets, water canons and tear gas at the crowd. Myanmar’s junta tried to combat the protest by imposing a curfew and banning gatherings of more than five people in the country’s two biggest cities, Yangon and Mandalay, after. The military will be conducting day and night security for the public to sleep peacefully. Multiple western nations urged the military to “refrain from violence against demonstrators and civilians, who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government”. However, a woman was shot in the head while protesting and the military is continuing to fire and “hit back” the crowd.

UK, EU, USA, Australia and the UN have condemned the coup and threatened to take action. China,conversely, blocked a UN Security Council statement that the coup was a “serious blow to democratic reforms”and urged all sides to “resolve differences”. Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines have remained inert.


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