Here is What You Need to Know About the Coup in Myanmar

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Samir Tusneem, Staff Writer

These past few weeks, the world has observed a number of political riots and protests that have symbolically represented political chaos. One of these protests created history when a large number of protesters invaded the Capitol building in Washington D.C in January. This unprecedented attack sparked attention from all around the globe and led to the question of whether or not our country was slowly falling apart. However, on February 1 of 2021, the country of Myanmar observed severe political turbulence when it experienced a coup, a french word that refers to the overthrowing of the government. 


The movement started when the Myanmar military detained and captured the democratically elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, declaring a one-year state of emergency. The members of the military justified their actions by suggesting that Aung San Suu Kyi won as a result of voter fraud in the November general election. 


The coup certainly did not receive approval from other global powers. The United Nations, for example, called the coup a serious blow to democratic reforms in the country. Along with Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, the military also detained President U Win Myint as well as cabinet ministers, opposition politicians, writers and activists, and the chief ministers of several regions. 


“The Secretary-General urges the military leadership to respect the will of the people of Myanmar and adhere to democratic norms, with any differences to be resolved through peaceful dialogue,” stated UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ spokesman, Stephanie Dujarric.


As for Aung San Suu Kyi, several charges have been filed against her which include failing to observe important and export laws as well as possession of unlawful communication devices. With Suu Kyi being overthrown, the power has been given to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, who has had a record of significant political influence as seen through his success in maintaining the power of the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military).


During the coup, the military quickly took control of the country’s infrastructure, and it successfully suspended most television broadcasts and canceled international flights, as stated by reports. In addition, telephone and internet access was disabled in major cities, along with the stock market and commercial banks. As a result, some residents ran to markets to take as much food and supplies as they could find.

So why exactly does Aung San Suu Kyi have a bad reputation? Well, the origins of her notorious actions date back to when the country was accused of ethnic cleansing when they inhumanely attacked Rohingya militants, burning down houses and causing hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children being displaced. Instead of condemning these actions and taking initiative towards resolving this conflict, Aung San Suu Kyi avoided acknowledging the idea that the Muslims had been subjected to this form of ethnic cleansing. This in turn caused substantial disapproval of her status as a leader.


However, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was previously seen as a figure of peace. Being subjected to house arrests and prison multiple times, she successfully founded the National League of Democracy, which strived to use nonviolence and civil disobedience to change the government after Burma’s army had killed thousands of peaceful protestors. As a result of her efforts and success, she was given the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize but was not able to accept the award in person as she was under house arrest. 


These past few months, a number of countries are experiencing political turmoil, which makes us question whether or not we are heading in the right direction. The strive for political reformation is certainly being highlighted right now given the attempts to overthrow the political authority in countries like the United States and Myanmar. Regardless, there is no say in whether or not these efforts for political reformation will end on a good note; only time will tell.