On January 6th, 2021, The United States experienced an attempted coup, largely committed by a group of Trump Supporters, protesting the results of the election and demanding a new government be instituted, which would be led by former president Donald Trump. The coup was shortly squashed, and the protesters were dispersed from the building. However, on February 1st, a small country called Myanmar experienced a coup, with opposite results.
Myanmar is located in Asia, neighboring India and China, and also known as Burma (its name up to 1998). The main language spoken in the country is Burmese, with a population of 54 million people who are mostly Buddhist. The country has only been free from British rule since 1948, but it was soon overtaken by political turmoil. In 1962, the country went under military control, and was ruled through armed forces under the Burma Socialist Programme Party. The party ruled in a totalitarian dictatorship, and was consistently criticized by the United Nations for human rights violations and unacceptable treatment of ethnic minorities. In 1988, the 8888 Uprising began, started by students on August 8th, 1988 in the city of Rangoon, and led mass protests against the totalitarian government. The uprising ended in September of that year, when the State Law and Order Restoration Council, another military party that assumed power till 2011, denied the results of an election in 1990 where the National League for Democracy party had won. The council was dissolved in 2011, and a more democratic government was formed. In 2015, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of the National League for Democracy who had been on house arrest for 25 years by the former government, led her party to victory.
On November 8th of 2021, the National League of Democracy won the international election. However, the military didn’t accept these results. On February 1st, the military entered government buildings, detaining Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi along with President U Win Myint. They detained many others, such as cabinet members, writers, activists, chief ministers, and opposition politicians. To declare the coup to the public, the military broadcasted on the Myawaddy TV Station, stating their 2008 constitutional right to take over and declare a state of emergency for a year, and citing apparent “voter fraud” in the November election. “-In order to perform scrutiny of the voter lists and to take action, the authority of the nation’s law making, governance and jurisdiction is handed over to the commander in chief in accordance with the 2008 constitution Article 418, sub article (a). The state of emergency is effective nationwide and the duration of the state of emergency is set for one year, starting from the date this order is announced in line with Article 417 of the 2008 constitution.” –From the Broadcast on Myawaddy TV Station, February 1st, 2021. They then canceled flights, internally and internationally, suspended television broadcasts, suspended internet and television access in major cities, and closed stock markets and banks. Power was handed over to Senior General Min Aung Hlaung, an army chief.
In response to this, millions of citizens in Myanmar went on strike and took to the streets to protest. However, their actions have been met with government force and over 18 people have been shot and killed so far. Across the world, The Biden Administration and the United Nations have promised an unspecified form of resistance against the coup, while many of Myanmar’s neighbors, such as China, had stated they will not get involved. A new era in Myanmar’s history has begun, and now all most of the world can do is see whether the people of Myanmar will successfully resist, or the country will enter more decades of military rule.