In early hours today (1), the Myanmar military has taken over the control of the country, detaining the Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu kyi along with several other politicians.
The Myanmar military stated that it was handing power to the commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing, despite Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy (NLD) winning enough seats to form a government in last November, alleging “election fraud.”
The NLD won a majority of 83% of available seats in the 8th November election and many people believed that it’s a referendum on Suu Kyi’s civilian government.
Not long ago the military threatened to ‘take action,’ over alleged election fraud, even though the election commission of the country continued to decline such claims.
It is reported that after the military seizing the power, mobile internet data connections and some phone services have been disrupted in major cities. Banks too have halted all financial services. The United States has also responded condemning the coup by the Myanmar military,
“opposes any attempts to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition.”
Military Junta in Myanmar
After gaining independence from the British Empire in 1948, under the Burmese Independence Army as a democratic nation, a constitutional government was established and U Nu was nominated as the Prime Minister of Independent Myanmar.
The civilian government under U Nu failed to maintain the unity within the country, amid ethnic issues, corruption and several other difficulties. In 1958, a split within the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL), threatened to provoke a coup from military officers and therefore U Nu had to invite the military to form a caretaker government under General Ne Win and it continued until 1960.
The civilian government formed by U Nu after the election in 1960, could not resolve the prevailing issues which ultimately led to the coup on 2nd March 1962, under General Ne Win. This led to end the democratic ruling in Myanmar, commencing a direct military reign under General Ne Win.
Democracy ignored yet again!
Due to corruption, police brutality, military dictatorship along with many other severe issues, led to a series of nationwide protests in Myanmar, which Is also known as ‘8888 uprising’, since the movements’ key events took place on 8th August 1988 (8.8.88).
During this crisis, Ms Aung Sang Suu Kyi emerged as a national icon. When the military regime arranged an election in 1990 to resolve the situation, her party, National League for Democracy (NLD) won 392 seats out of a total of 492 (81%). However, the military junta did not accept the results, and continued to rule the country as the State Law and Order Restoration Council, denying the judgment of the public and Suu Kyi was put under house arrest.
In November 2010, the junta held elections and the military backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) claimed the victory. Many other parties including Ms Suu Kyi’s NLD did not take any part in that. A week later the elections, Suu Kyi was released after spending 16 years of her last 20 years under house arrest.
In 2011, the junta made a surprise move to relinquish the power to a quasi-civilian government, under former general Thein Sein. Many basic rights were restored, including lifting restrictions on assembly and expression.
Accused of ethnic cleansing!
In August 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled the country for their lives and the Myanmar’s military was held responsible for this genocide by the international organizations.
They repeatedly denied these allegations and stated that the military was fighting Rohingya militants and denied targeting civilians. Atleast 6700 Rohinghya, including 730 children at least died in this catastrophe.
Aung Sang Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1991, who once stood as a human rights icon, was too held responsible for this chaos as she was the leader of Myanmar during that time.
On 2nd October 2018, the honorary citizenship she had been granted by Canada was removed as she was accused of not standing up against the discriminations against the Rohingya Muslims and over alleged imprisonment of two Reuter journalists who revealed the discriminations that the Rohingya community was suffering under her reign.
A similar path to stratocracy?
In the annual report of the United Nations high Commissioner for Human Rights last week, it was specified that there’s a risk to secure reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, due to militarization of civilian government functions in the country.
The report also highlighted that the government bringing 31 entities 0n 29th December 2019, under the Ministry of Defense and appointing at least 28 serving or retired military and intelligence personnel to key administrative positions could be a red flag.