Dear readers, it’s been a while!
In today’s article I am going to be presenting to you, as briefly and clearly as possible, the difficulties Myanmar has been facing lately.
Myanmar (also known as Burma) is located in Southeast Asia; it’s bordered by India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. Because of its diversity, it has more than 130 ethnic groups. The country declared its independence on January 4th 1948, and since then the military has always made sure that Burmans represented the majority between the various ethnicities. In 2008 the military stated in the new Constitution that it had to be guaranteed the 25% of the seats in Parliament, and it kept control of defence, interior ministries and key roles in the cabinet. So, the military has always been in power, and eventually it was willing to create some sort of democracy. And there we get to the point: the coup is basically about the rivalry between the military and Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD).
People in Myanmar were put through almost 50 years of military rule; while extremely violent protests occurred, Aung San Suu Kyi made a name for herself as the face of the opposition, she even won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. In 2015 there was the first experiment of Myanmar with democracy: the NLD party won successfully. In the past November, there was another election, and again the NLD won with 80% of the votes. But this time the military claimed there had been a fraud, it was triggered as it realised its interests wouldn’t have been met. Some people had started to convince themselves that Suu Kyi was just a puppet as she never really criticised the military, not even the genocide campaign against the Rohingya minority, an operation led indeed by the military itself. The Rohingya people are a stateless Indo-Aryan ethnic group and it’s also one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
Numerous people still support the Tatmadaw (which is the official name of the armed forces of Myanmar), which is considered to be not just a defender of the nation but also a defender of Buddhism. Still, Aung San Suu Kyi is by far the most popular, and her supporters are protesting. On February 1st the man who gave the order to declare the coup was Senior General Min Aung Hlang. The NLD had tried in the past to modify the constitution in order to diminish Tatmadaw “privileges” (still, it would have failed since the military holds one quarter of the seats in Parliament, as we underlined before) and this might have terribly angered the armed forces. Min Aung Hlang has declared that the military will remain in power for one year, but with good negotiation skills Burmans might be able to restore democracy.
Be aware of the fact that the virus isn’t the only issue people have had to fight against during the past year: COVID-19 has taken over our lives so much that we are risking to forget about other critical situations that diverse countries have been protagonists of. Still, stay safe everyone, things can just get better.
Costanza Caramore, II Lcs