Abandoned streets and protests in Myanmar two years after the coup

A silent protest against the brutal two-year coup in Myanmar that led the military to overthrow the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, arrest her and plunge the country into chaos. after ten years of difficult and contradictory democratic openings. Burmese took to the streets in the big cities of Myanmar, a Southeast Asian country that was seized by the army on February 1, 2021, against what they called the “illegal usurpation of power”. Protesters urged people to stay at home and close their businesses.

The reaction of the international community

The call for mobilization was accompanied by new Western sanctions against the military junta by Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia, including measures aimed at cutting off the supply of aviation fuel accused of indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas.

And even though “thousands of civilians were displaced or killed” after the coup, as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, doubts are growing that the military junta will honor its commitment to hold elections in August. The military said the country was facing “extraordinary circumstances”. Also, as renowned activist Tayzar San explained on Facebook, today’s strike shows the “popular disapproval” of the military’s planned “fraudulent elections” in a country heavily stricken with civil war.

Streets in Yangon city emptied in response to protesters' demands (Source Ansa, February 1, 2023)

where were you Aung San Suu Kyi?

What worries the international community is the lengthy detention of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. The 76-year-old voice of Burmese democracy has been sentenced to a total of 30 years in prison for various crimes, including fraud, violation of the country’s anti-COVID measures, and illegal import and possession of radios. The 76-year-old politician had spent fifteen years under house arrest since his first arrest in 1989 and was finally released in 2010. In 1990, Sakharov was awarded the prize for freedom of thought (but suspended in 2020 due to disagreements over the Rohingya genocide) and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

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Daughter of General Aung San (killed by some political dissidents in 1947 after negotiating the nation’s independence from the United Kingdom), also Nobel laureate Leader of the National League for Democracy (Lnd), which for years led the popular resistance against the military dictatorship. In Myanmar, power was in the hands of the military from the late 1950s until 2015, the year of the first free elections, when the NLD won. This success was repeated in the November 2020 election round, which secured broad popular support for the Nobel Peace Prize-winning party and secured 920 seats out of 1170 lawmakers.

After the elections, Suu Kyi and the NLD should rule the country for a second time. But on February 1, 2021, there was a new coup that restored power to the junta led by Min Aung Hlaing. This resulted in mass protests across the country that were violently suppressed by the military.

The data of an endless war

The message of the “silent” strike is to pay homage to the citizens imprisoned and killed by the military. Two years after the coup, more than 2,900 people were killed during the military junta’s crackdown on the opposition, according to the Political Prisoners Aid Association. But if you widen your eyes, the picture is much worse. According to the United Nations, 1.5 million people have been displaced, 40,000 homes burned, eight million children are no longer in school, and 15 million are at risk of famine.

Much of the country is in the midst of a brutal civil war with armed conflict between rebels and military forces. Yet the military still refuses to negotiate with its rivals, as promised in its meeting with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states immediately after the coup.

But the junta is in a stalemate, and two years later it still has not managed to stabilize the warm domestic situation. It’s a situation that could prolong the state of instability that Myanmar is stuck in, by forcing the military to delay elections – originally scheduled for August this year – and extend the state of emergency.

Source: Today IT