Myanmar: Military coup, Civil Uprising, A lesson for democracy

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On Feb  1 2021, Aung San Suu Kyi along with her party members was detained once again. A country that managed to get elected government after a long struggle, again it is reversed by the military coup. This is not the first time it is happening, earlier too such Coups had taken place.

Let’s go back and try to understand Myanmar’s political development

So here I would like to begin after the Independence of Myanmar.

U NU’s regime in Myanmar

 His reign began in 1948 and ended in 1962. He was a prominent name in the independence movement of Myanmar who became Prime Minister of Myanmar after the assassination of Aung Sung in 1948. Earlier he had handled foreign ministry in Pro Japanese Braw’s Mose government.

He had founded the Non-Alignment along with the leaders of India, Indonesia, Yugoslavia, Egypt.

In 1960 he managed to win an election but his promotion of Buddhism as a state religion and his tolerance of separatism angered the military which led to the military coup and his arrest by Gen Ne Win

Gen Ne Win (Era of the beginning of Military Coup)

With the military coup led by Gen Ne Win, democracy was abolished and military rule was established. He had introduced the Burmese way of socialism by nationalizing the bank. He had banned independent media. In 1974 he brought a new constitution. He had abolished all other parties except the Burmese Socialist Program Party.

It was during his time an economy that was rich in timber oil, natural gas gems and minerals declined too much that they had to beg help from the United Nations.

Later in 1981, he gave up the presidency to San Yu, nonetheless, he continued to be the chairperson of the Socialist Program Party.

Civil Uprising (Struggle for democracy in Myanmar)

Now let us move to the chapter from where the citizens were frustrated with the long dictatorship and they started to revolt.

It started when the government had declared demonetization of several currencies and that led to run out of the savings of the middle class. Students had commented that they were hopeless seeing the condition of the economy and free speech. Student uprising was very much predicted.

A student was killed in an argument between a student and pro-government people. After that several student’s groups demonstrated against the government. Police had brutally suppressed the movement. Police attacked a group of students near the White Bridge on the banks of Ingus Lake. Many died, hundreds were imprisoned. This is known as Red Bridge.

Following such events, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country revolted against the government by organizing protest and strikes

So when citizens had come to the streets to protest against the dictator, a new face came into existence ad she is Aung San Suu Kyi. She made her first public speech during a rally in Rangoon.

This time a new leader had emerged and a new government. State Law and Order Restoration Committee was founded by the Burmese Armed Forces led by General Saw Maung. He made an intelligence force that kept an eye on the demonstration and leaders. Many had escaped by flying out if the country and went to exile.

SLORC had issued a law that had allowed the political party to register. After that NLD was formed.

In 1990 NLD won the election but SLORC  had refused to admit the victory of NLD. They had overturned the mandate of a free and fair election and sent Aung Sung Syu ki to house arrest.

Aung San Suu Kyi a fallen angel

Aung San Suu Kyi was given a Nobel peace prize for her fight for democracy. Now, who is she?

Aung San Suu ki was the daughter of the great leader of the independence movement Aung San. Her political career had started with the civil uprising that happened during the later 80s. However, she gained the attention of all when she had received the Nobel Prize. She was regarded as the fighter of democracy. The democratic government had endorsed her endurance for fighting for democracy.

But her reign also came up with the crisis, in her tenure there was a great population that fled out of the country fearing the killings and assault in women. This had made international communities to raise a concern about Human rights in the country. She was dragged to the International Court of Justice. Also, she had restricted news media.

She had disappointed those who considered her as the saviour of democracy.

With her arrest once again democracy is doomed in Myanmar, it is said that anyone who will participate in the demonstration against the government may face issues.

Reactions of Global leader on this Military Coup

Here I will quote comments that came from the country after the Military Coup 2021.

Australia

Payne said, “The Australian Government is deeply concerned at reports the Myanmar military is once again seeking to seize control of Myanmar and has detained State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint. We call on the military to respect the rule of law, to resolve disputes through lawful mechanisms and to release immediately all civilian leaders and others who have been detained unlawfully”. 

India

“We have noted the developments in Myanmar with deep concern. India has always been steadfast in its support to the process of democratic transition in Myanmar. We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld. We are monitoring the situation closely,” the ministry statement read.

United Nations

“The Secretary-General strongly condemns the detention of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and other political leaders on the eve of the opening session of Myanmar’s new Parliament.  He expresses his grave concern regarding the declaration of the transfer of all legislative, executive and judicial powers to the military.  These developments represent a serious blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar.” UN stated.

USA

The White House said, “The US opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition and will take action against those responsible if these steps aren’t reversed. We’re monitoring the situation closely and stand with the people of Burma.”

The USA had imposed sanction on Myanmar after the coup, New Zealand broke ties with Myanmar.

Democracy is always very precious it is always needed to be protected and defended as President Kennedy once stated in his speech in Berlin “Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect”.

Such a struggle teaches us about the value of democracy.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-12992883

https://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/burma-south-africa-1990s

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-how-burma-became-myanmar-after-a-military-coup-3-decades-ago-7173408/

https://thediplomat.com/2020/01/has-the-us-lost-myanmar-to-china/

https://www.nbr.org/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/publications/special_report_45_myanmar_march2014.pdf

https://longform.org/archive/tags/myanmar

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2020/country-chapters/myanmar-burma

https://www.npr.org/2013/08/08/209919791/as-myanmar-opens-up-a-look-back-on-a-1988-uprising

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/12/in-aung-san-suu-kyis-myanmar-free-press-hopes-wither

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