Myanmar's Dictatorship Cycle
By M. Gonçalves
All seemed well for the residents of Myanmar before February 1st, when the Burmese army staged a coup and took over the streets of Naypyidaw, which is the country’s capital, and Yangon, its largest city. The coup was caused because of army retaliation after the National League for Democracy (NLD) won the general election against the party that was favoured by the military. This coup caused airports to close; the internet is down and hundreds of NLD politicians have been placed under house arrest. In Myanmar (also known as Burma), it is illegal to run for any post in the government if you have prior crimes, therefore, the army is accusing NLD politicians of criminal offenses, making them unable to candidate themselves politically.
The residents of Myanmar have taken their anger to the streets with protests and riots in an attempt to force the army to back out from the coup.
Only very recently has Myanmar become a democratic country. From 1962 to 2008, the country was under military rule after a coup took place in 1962. Myanmar gained its independence from Britain in 1948 and became a democratic country, but, after the coup, its first dictator was a socialist politician and military leader named Ne Win. He was responsible for fostering the country’s isolation and misleading Myanmar’s economy. Ne Win was Myanmar’s dictator for 19 years until he eventually resigned, as of when his post was filled by his former army co-worker and general San Yu. Although Yu was the country’s leader, it is believed that Ne Win was still in command as he remained the leader of the Burma Socialist Program Party. Yu’s command over the military led to a repressive regime that imprisoned anyone who voiced their disagreement. In 1988, many manifestations took place in the city of Yangon, at the time known as Rangoon. Despite measures taken by the police to detain them, the people of Myanmar continued to express their anger through riots, throughout which around 5,000 people were killed, and Aung Sang Suu Kyi founded the NLD. These constant anti-government demonstrations led to the resignation of several state and party leaders, among them San Yu and Ne Win. This worsened the already incoherent economic system the country was following, and the government began to lose its power over the population.
Later that year, the military’s violent crackdown regained the government’s power. Myanmar continued to be a dictatorship led by military generals until 1990, when, due to pressure by other countries, the country was forced to take an election. The NLD received far more votes than the military. However, the military refused to give up their power and placed Aung Sang Suu Kyi under house arrest for five years. In 2000, Europe was looking to sanction Myanmar, which once again led to the house arrest of Suu Kyi. After two years, she was released. A year later, she was placed under house arrest once more, supposedly for her own protection after she was attacked in her car. Seventy of her supporters were beaten to death as they manifested for her release. In 2008, Myanmar gained its independence after thousands were killed during a protest. In 2010, the NLD boycotted the election and the USDP won, meanwhile Suu Kyi was released from house arrest. In 2015, Suu Kyi wins the election and became leader of the country. The country is completely unsafe causing thousands of people to move to neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia. The country continues to be extremely dangerous and a large amount of people live in poverty.
As mentioned before, the NLD won the past election which led the military to retaliate and stage a coup. A couple days ago, the first person was killed. A 19-year-old woman was killed after the military shot her during a protest. After a brief turnaround in the country’s government, they have once again returned to what they once were. Myanmar’s coup is showing no sign of ending and as every day goes by it becomes more likely of returning to its original regime.
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