Myanmar has faced military control, civil strife, isolation from world affairs, and extreme poverty during its decades of independence. The military junta was deposed in 2011, paving the door for a military-installed transitional administration and ushering in what many hoped would be a new beginning for the Southeast Asian country. In 2015, Myanmar’s long-time opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won majorities in both chambers of parliament, and some foreign governments and companies that had earlier boycotted the country began to seek ties with it. However, the military, identified as the Tatmadaw, continues to exert control over many sectors of domestic affairs. International condemnation has also been levelled at military and civilian authorities, including Suu Kyi, for continuous human rights violations and deadly violence towards Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine, which a UN investigation stated were committed with “genocidal intent.” The military attempted a coup and formally retook control in February 2021. Almost a year after the military took power, it has yet to establish control. The economy is failing, educational and health services are failing, poverty levels are rising, and the violence is intensifying. The junta is up against civil unrest as well as armed opposition from the People’s Defense Forces and ethnic armed groups.
II. AN OVERVIEW OF MYNAMARR’S POLITICAL HISTORY
It all began in 1948, when the country was granted independence from British colonial rule. Ne Win, a military leader, led a coup in 1962 and ruled the country as a junta for many years. Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of an independence hero, returned to her birthplace in 1988, just as pro-democracy demonstrations against the regime were bursting, after four decades of freedom. She was put under house arrest in the next year. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in elections two years later. Despite the military’s opposition to giving up power, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent resistance. Suu Kyi was then released from prison in 2010, and two years later, she won a by-election to take her seat in Parliament, becoming her Myanmar’s first female politician. In 2015, the NLD won a resounding victory in the first publicly fought general elections in 25 years. The military wielded enormous power thanks to a constitution that barred Suu Kyi from running for president. To lead the government, she was given the post of state counsellor. Shortly after the government began its democratic transition, rohingya insurgents launched attacks across Rakhine state. In retaliation, the military launched a massive assault on Rohingya Muslims, who began fleeing in droves to Bangladesh. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) charged Suu Kyi with genocide over the deportation of Rohingya Muslims, which Suu Kyi defended in December 2019. The disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas, according to Thomas Andrews, the UN human rights investigator in Myanmar, will cause the November 2020 elections to fall short of international norms. Min Aung Hlaing, the army’s top commander, also warned that the civilian administration was making “unacceptable blunders” in the run-up to the election, the second such warning in as many days. However, the election was held, and the NLD was elected to Parliament with an overall majority.
III. WHAT LED TO THE MILITARY COUP IN MYANMAR?
The country’s Parliament was scheduled to accept the future administration and endorse recent election results in early 2021. As previously stated, Myanmar’s leading civilian party, the NLD, had secured 83 percent of the body’s seats. The military refused to acknowledge the results of the election, which was generally interpreted as a referendum on Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s popularity. Since her appointment as leader of the NLD in 2015, she had been the de facto civilian leader. The military, which had tried in the country’s Supreme Court to claim that the election results were rigged, threatened to “take action” and encircled the houses of Parliament with soldiers, raising the potential of a coup. The electoral commission disregarded the military’s allegations of election fraud, claiming that there was no evidence to support their claims. On February 1, Myanmar’s military took control of the country and announced a one-year state of emergency, citing the government’s incapacity to act on claims of fraud. Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and several senior members of the ruling party were apprehended in the early morning raid.
IV. WHAT HAS BEEN THE INTERNATIONAL REACTION?
Several major foreign leaders swiftly criticised the coup, demanding that Myanmar’s military promptly release Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and other jailed government officials, as well as honour the election results of November. However, it was not immediately clear what, if any, actual actions other countries might take. In late March, the Biden administration, which has worked to raise human rights as a foreign policy priority, imposed penalties in collaboration with the European Union, naming military personnel and other institutions in Myanmar for their violence against democracy activists. The coup developments, according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, are a major blow to democratic processes in Myanmar. In a tweet, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the people’s vote must be honoured, and civilian leaders must be released. Thomas Vajda, the US ambassador to Myanmar, described the killing on 27th March as “horrifying.”
V. WHAT HAS BEEN THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE COUP?
Myanmar has long been poorer than most of its neighbours as a result of the military junta’s isolationist policies, economic mismanagement, and ongoing war. Economic developments, such as the opening of the economy to trade and investment in 2011, did, however, result in some minor rises. Myanmar’s GDP is expected to fall as a result of extensive rallies, strikes, and sanctions following the coup, according to the World Bank. As part of their civil disobedience movement to protest the military’s actions, Myanmar’s citizens have targeted the economy, causing financial harm. Foreign investors are also being encouraged to leave, according to the demonstrators, until the democratically elected government is restored. Meanwhile, in an attempt to quell protests, the junta has shut down the internet on a regular basis, greatly restricting economic activity.
VI. CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTIONS
India voiced its disappointment with the decisions in the trials of Myanmar’s deposed leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and others, stating that the rule of law and democratic process must be maintained. The MEA statement is critical, and it is more straightforward this time than past statements. The order in which the observations are made is quite educational. After the military took control in a coup on February 1 this year, massive protests erupted in Myanmar. Hundreds of people, including children, were killed in the onslaught on protestors. Following the coup, the military imprisoned NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Only hours after the coup, the MEA expressed significant concern about the situation in Myanmar. The Indian embassy in Yangon after a few weeks tweeted, “Embassy of India is deeply saddened by loss of lives in Yangon and other cities of Myanmar today”. New Delhi, on the other hand, has refrained from criticising Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, due to Beijing’s growing clout and the high stakes involved in maintaining peace and security along the India-Myanmar border. India’s comments have been realistic in light of the instability in its neighbour. The deteriorating situation on the ground will have an impact on New Delhi’s political options in Myanmar. The military’s ability to maintain control in the face of public opposition remains to be seen. The partnership between the Tatmadaw and China will be essential. If India’s armed leadership were more reliant on Beijing, it would have a tremendous influence on the country’s security. India, on the other side, must maintain contact with the Tatmadaw. Myanmar, in addition to the civil-military conflict, is a hotbed of ethnic struggle.
Minority ethnic groups are battling against the majority bamar community in a civil war. India will be forced to deal with the ramifications of a protracted civil war in the country’s north-eastern provinces if the country slides into chaos. It will be vital to assess the implications for national security and counter- insurgency while dealing with the concerns of bordering countries. The unfair conviction of Aung San Suu Kyi by Myanmar’s military rule, as well as the prosecution of other democratically elected politicians, are further affronts to Myanmar’s democracy and justice. The regime’s ongoing disrespect for the rule of law, as well as its extensive application of violence against the Burmese people, highlight the need to return Burma to a democratic path. The international community must demand the regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all others wrongfully detained, including other democratically elected officials, and engage in constructive dialogue with all parties to find a peaceful solution. The international community should unite and support Myanmar’s pursuit for freedom and democracy and urge the government to avoid resorting to violence, respect people’s decision, and complete Myanmar’s democratic transition.
- https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-steers-clear-of-criticising- myanmar-military-7216479/
- https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/myanmar-history-coup-military-rule-ethnic- conflict-rohingya
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