Myanmar is once again under military rule. The military staged a coup this week, detaining the country’s democratically elected and Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials, including the President. A year-long state of emergency was declared and internet and mobile communications were restricted. With Suu Kyi detained, former general Myint Swe will take the helm for a year, the military said.
The coup comes after the National League for Democracy, led by Suu Kyi, won the November 2020 elections, something that the military believes was achieved through fraud.
The Southeast Asian country has seen two previous coups since gaining independence from Britain in 1948, AFP reported. The November 2020 election was only the SECOND democratic election in the country, thanks to a 49-year long military grip on the country that ended in 2011, in large part thanks to Suu Kyi’s efforts, BBC reported.
Suu Kyi spent the better part of two decades under house arrest during the previous military dictatorship, and when she was released in at the end of 2010, she was lauded a world hero: “Lauded with prizes – the Nobel, the Sakharov, the US presidential medal of freedom – she represented grace and dignity in the face of brutal repression”, The Guardian reported.
But her heroship slowly sunk as she refused to condemn the killings and brutalisation of the minority Rohingya people, who lived in the Rakhine state in Myanmar. They became the subject of ethnic cleansing by the military back in 2017. The 75-year old Suu Kyi did nothing about it, and even defended the military at The Hague, according to The New York Times. So she might be popular among her people – as election results show – but among the international community, not so much.
Even so, the US, the UK and many European countries have rejected the coup and called for Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders to be released immediately. It’s a sad moment for a country and a leader, which were once beacons of democracy.
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