The Coup Culture

Unhappy with the coup, thousands of protesters are in the streets of major cities of Myanmar in the hope of restoring democracy.


Photo credits: bbc.com

Akash Umesh Khandke

Bengaluru: On the pretext of a fraudulent election as the background, the military of Myanmar, officially known as the Tatmadaw, has once again staged a coup. The military has acquired all the powers and imposed a curfew in the country. Unhappy with the coup, thousands of protesters are in the streets of major cities of Myanmar in the hope of restoring democracy.

The academics and university staff members across Myanmar have jumped into the protest by calling for a strike against the ongoing military rule. In response, the army has suspended more than 11,000 professors and staff members. Students too have extended their support to the protest.

"I feel upset to give up a job that I adored so much, but I feel proud to stand against injustice," says a 37-year-old University professor. In its attempts to crush the protest, the army has killed more than 750 people till now.

The rift between the military and the government gained momentum after the massive victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party in consecutive general elections in 2015 and 2020. Soon after the November 8 general elections, the military alleged that the election process was manipulated benefiting the ruling party. According to it, underage people and non-citizens too voted in the election. The military demanded that an investigation be held by the Election Commission (EC). In response, the EC stated that no malpractice was observed during the voting and ruled out the possibility of fraud.

In a press conference held on January 28, 2021, the military spokesperson was questioned about the possibility of another coup. In response, he declined to rule out such a possibility. On February 1, 2021, the armed forces deployed troops throughout the country and arrested the top leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD) including Aung San Suu Kyi, the most popular political leader, and Nobel Peace Prize winner; and the President. The internet was cut off and curfew imposed. In an official statement, they asserted that there was no one above national interest, neither individual nor organisation.

Myanmar gained independence from British rule in 1948. However, a civil war broke out, owing to the different interpretations of an independent nation, by the Communist and the Nationalists even after independence, formed the base for the first military coup in the country. On May 2, 1962, the military abolished the Constitution, dissolved Parliament, and arrested several politicians. The move was justified on the ground that it was carried out to stop the possible disintegration of Myanmar.

A series of protests followed the coup in the hope of re-establishing democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi emerged as a leader in the 1988 protest. Considering the people's opposition to the non-democratic rule, the army agreed to a multi-party election in 1990. However, the outcome of the election in which the NLD won a landslide victory was rejected by the military. A new Constitution was drafted in 2008 which reserved 25% seats for non-elected military representatives.

In 2015 the NLD gained the popular vote and ruled Myanmar for the next five years. However, Aung San Suu Kyi’s silence on the state of Rohingya Muslims and sidelining of the military ended her tenure on a controversial note.

The current situation in Myanmar portrays the repercussions of the excessive role of the military in governance. The vehement protests in the streets by all sections of society are an alarm bell for the military. The United States of America and other major governments have condemned the military action and have directed the army to release the leaders. The internal matter of Myanmar may soon witness external interference.

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