Written by Nolan Alisago (News Writer)
A nation-wide uprising threatens the newborn military junta of Myanmar, which is struggling to suppress the anti-coup protests across the nation. While pepper spray, rubber bullets, and water cannons are being used presently, the nation’s past military massacres and violent tactics hang thick in the air. The fate of Myanmar’s democracy remains uncertain as world leaders continue to react to the unrest.
The coup began with claims very familiar to an American audience. In what was otherwise a free and fair election, the largest opposition party, closely tied to the military and consisting of mostly ex-military officials, made claims of mass voter fraud which were deemed false and unsubstantiated by their national election commission. Upon alleging voter fraud, the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military, raided and arrested members of the victorious National League for Democracy (NLD), including their leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Aung San Suu Kyi was heralded as a shining example of resistance when she won a Nobel peace prize for resisting the rule of the Tatmadaw and protesting for and eventually bringing democratic reforms to Myanmar years prior. She fell from international grace when she failed to critically respond to the Genocidal behavior of the Tatmadaw. Despite her complacency with the military and their attempted genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim population, her democratic movement remained a barrier to power for the Tatmadaw.
Upon placing opposition under house arrest, the military declared a year-long state of emergency until another election could be held. The subversion of the widely popular democratic movement in Myanmar, which has been slowly chipping away at the residual political power of the previous military junta for the past 10 years, met near instant and massive resistance. For days on end now thousands have taken to protest. A departure from civilian rule and a return to military rule has acute disdain among the older generations in Myanmar, who remember the political repression of the previous military dictatorships. Teachers, students, lawyers, governments workers, and bankers, all have taken to protest as the push for a general strike to shut the country down grows louder and louder. Despite the Tatmadaw banning gatherings and instituting curfews to limit protest, protests remain and continue to grow.
In the typical paradoxical speech of an Orwellian authority, the military has claimed that its coup is a defense of democracy, and protests to its coup are threats to both democracy and law and order. The head of the military Min Aung Hlaing, who managed to maintain control of the military even as the country moved toward democracy, now sits at the seat of power in Myanmar. Min Aung Hlaing and what he stands for is responsible for the types of human rights violations that the United States originally sanctioned Myanmar for. Sanctions that were lifted because of Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratic movement, and sanctions Joe Biden is now considering restoring if the military continues their hostile take over. While other western nations have also condemned the coup, none have hinted towards any significant military intervention. Neighboring nations have also refused to intervene in what they deem as an internal matter. As the orchestrator of genocide, his rule threatens not only the destruction of democracy, but the destruction of entire ethnic minority groups.