For years, South America suffered at the hands of the military, those who were responsible for coups around the continent and its consequences: the annihilation of the democratic system and the crush of human rights. Although this historical phase has landed in the past, unfortunately, that’s not the reality in many countries nowadays. On February 1st, Myanmar made history by being the most recent state to be forced to have the dictatorial system as their current one. If you want to understand what happened to come to this point, keep following these 4 facts below.
- Myanmar’s Dictatorial Record
After its independence from Britain in 1948, Myanmar, once called Burma, faced 49 years of military command. According to Dan Slater, director of the Weiser Center For Emerging Democracies, the army was and still is so powerful because: “In the first 10 to 15 years of independence there were a series of regional rebellions. The military believed it was the only force that could take care of it to hold the country together and make sure that the ethnic Burman majority is on top“, he said. During this period, the country was closed off to the world and international sanctions were imposed. But there was a light at the end of the tunnel called Aung San Suu Kyi. She made a name for herself as the face of the opposition while recurring protests were blowing against the oppressor regime, and for that, she ended up being arrested for 15 years. Her fight gave her a Nobel Prize in 1991. By coercion, a Referendum was taken in 2008, attempts of free elections happened and foreign investment increased.
- The Elections Of 2015
Myanmar’s road to democracy seemed to be achieved. After the mass pressure against the army’s power over the country, Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD party, which stands for National League for Democracy, had finally won a democratic election. But, the military system wouldn’t give the power without winning an important slice of it. During their half-century command, they prepared the ground for a possible surrender situation like this one. According to the 2008 Myanmar’s Constitution, the military would hold 25% of the seats in the parliament. A “Government above a Government”, defined Dan Slater. However, Aung San Suu Kyi made herself and her government so popular that in November of 2020 she was re-elected. And that disappointed the military.
- The Elections Of 2020 Lands For Another Coup
NDL won last year’s election in another landslide. More than 80% of the votes believed in Aung San Suu Kyi rather than the dictatorial way of government of the army. For the conservative crew, that wasn’t acceptable at all. On the First of February 2021, while filming her morning routine, a fitness instructor accidentally captured the beginning of a new military coup. The vehicles in the background were on their way to arrest the former president and her political partners because, in their argument, the election was frauded, and in Aung San Suu Kyi’s house walkie-talkies were found, a “clear symbol of betrayal”.
- But What Is Happening Right Now?
After the coup happened, the military announced a one-year state of emergency, soldiers took the streets, the internet was cut in large parts of the country and social media platforms were blocked. But Myanmar’s society didn’t accept this quietly. There have been widespread protests and locals have found some creative ways to get their messages across the world: banging pots and pans, singing in the streets. With that, the resistance has made it clear: Myanmar will not be governed by the army.
The article above was edited by Julia Queiroz.
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