Myanmar is witnessing protests daily now for a month and a half in towns and cities across the country. This stated post the military seized control of the Southeast Asian country in a coup on February 1.
Security forces, comprising police and military personnel and under the command of coup leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, have answered to protests with increasing brutality, hurling a systematic countrywide crackdown containing shooting at the peaceful protesters and imposed disappearances.
So far, at least 138 people, including children, have been killed since the coup, as per the United Nations Human Rights office. And more than 2,100 — comprising journalists, protesters, activists, government officials, trade unionists, writers, students and civilians — have been arrested, often in nighttime raids, as per the advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). The activists, however, claim both those figures as higher.
The seizing power, Min Aung Hlaing huse arrested democratically elected leaders — comprising civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi — expelled the ruling National League for Democracy government and funded a ruling junta known as the State Administration Council. The commander-in-chief announced a state of emergency for one year, after which he said an election would take place.
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About Myanmar military seizing the power
The military reasoned its takeover by asserting widespread voter fraud during the November 2020 general election, which provided Suu Kyi’s party with a great victory.
The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) did miserably in the poll, dashing hopes among some of its military supporters that it might take power democratically or get to choose the next president. The military then asserted — without proving that there were more than 10.5 million cases of “potential fraud, such as non-existent voters” and pointed out on the election commission to publicly share the final polling data.
The commission, however, rejected those claims of voter fraud.
It was just the second democratic vote since the previous junta started a series of reforms in 2011, leading to half a century of brutal military rule that plunged Myanmar, initially known as Burma, into poverty and separateness.
Analysts mention that the takeover was less about election anomalies and more about the military wanting to remain the country’s controller, which would see extra five years of reform underneath a second term of the NLD and Suu Kyi.
What leads to Myanmar protests?
Enraged with the earlier decade of reforms, which have witnessed political and economic liberalization and evolution into a hybrid democracy would be undone, masses of people of all ages and social backgrounds have come out onto the streets daily throughout the country.
Protesters ask the military to hand back power to civilian control and are holding it fully responsive. They are asking for the release of Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders. Myanmar’s different ethnic minority groups, which have long fought for greater independence for their lands, also demand the military-written 2008 constitution to be eliminated and a federal democracy be established.