In depth: What’s happening in Myanmar?
The military took over the government of Myanmar, after removing the country’s elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi. President Win Myint has also been detained. Sui Kyi held the post of state counselor, a position like prime minister, in Myanmar. She’s the leader of political party National League for Democracy (NLD).
The recent developments
Myanmar’s military (also called junta) announced that the country would be under a state of emergency for one year. The army’s leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, has been made the de facto ruler now. The military said it would hold new elections when the state of emergency ends. Apparently, the Burmese army was unhappy with the November 2020 election results, and alleged that they were fudged. The army says that almost 9 million votes couldn’t be accounted for. The elections were a huge victory for Suu Kyi’s NLD party, which won 396 out of 476 seats in Parliament.
Earlier a part of British India
The name of the country was changed from Burma to Myanmar in 1989 by the army. The British imperialists annexed Burma during the 19th century and called it so due to its dominant Burman (Bamar) ethnic group. The country was administered as a province of colonial India. Later in 1937, Burma was separated from British India and changed into a separate colony. Finally, in 1948 the country got independence from the British rule. However, unlike India, Burma couldn’t stay democratically independent for too long.
The history of coup d’etat
It’s not the first time that the army has taken over the country. In 1962, the military first took control of Myanmar and remained in power for 49 years. Several attempts by political parties, activists and civilians to bring democracy in the country were brutally crushed by the junta. However, under the military rule, there was not much economic progress and the military generals had to open the country for international markets. Since 2010, the military started trying to appease the democracy activists and finally held the first elections in 2015 which were steeped by Suu Kyi’s party.
Suu Kyi, the popular leader
Aung San Suu Kyi appeared as a formidable force against the junta. She refused to bow down to the army threats. So much so, she wasn’t allowed to leave her home for 15 years. Her efforts and struggles made her an international figure. In 1991, she won the Nobel Peace Prize for her peaceful struggle against the military. However, after coming to power, Suu Kyi was criticised for the conditions of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Many died, and millions had to flee. Many Rohingya even crossed the India border.
The present situation
As the military seized power in Myanmar, the world has come down heavily on the junta. Many countries, including the US, the UK and members of the European Union, have condemned the coup. General Min Aung Hlaing’s time as army leader was going to end this summer. Now, with the military in charge of the government, he will remain in power.