Latest Myanmar updates
- Civil war could soon break out in Myanmar unless the international community puts more pressure on the military junta, a senior member of the pro-democracy movement’s shadow government told The Globe and Mail. He added that the movement is building an army out of ethnic militias and possible defectors from Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw.
- At least 570 people have been killed by security forces since Feb. 1′s coup, but demonstrators have continued to demand the restoration of the quasi-civilian government. Members of the Kachin ethnic group in the north and the Karen National Union in the east have vowed to protect anti-coup activists in areas they control and have come under fire from the military as a result.
The situation in Myanmar so far
Feb. 1′s coup in Myanmar
Myanmar’s military, which ruled the Southeast Asian country absolutely from the 1960s to the 2010s, is once again in charge after a coup on Feb. 1 against the quasi-civilian government. Soldiers arrested Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor (a role analogous to prime minister) and others in her party, the National League for Democracy. Feb. 1 would have been the first day of a new parliament after elections in November that gave Ms. Suu Kyi’s party 396 out of 476 seats. While the state Union Election Commission affirmed those results, the military claims, without evidence, that there was fraud that could have allowed voters to cast multiple ballots.
Protests and the general strike
A week after taking power, the military effectively outlawed peaceful political protests in the two biggest cities, Yangon and Mandalay. Gatherings of more than five people were forbidden and areas of those cities were put under an 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew. Street protests flared up anyway, with organizers borrowing strategies from Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement to continue the fight despite a government shutdown of Facebook and some internet and phone services.
What Myanmar’s constitution says
The military claims it has the right to seize power under Article 417 of a 2008 constitution that the military drafted itself, before the transition to quasi-civilian rule. That article allows the president to put the military’s commander-in-chief in charge in a state of emergency. The elected president, a Suu Kyi loyalist, was one of those arrested on Monday, replaced by a former military official who enacted the state of emergency for one year. At that point, the military says it will hold new elections.
Who’s who in Myanmar politics
Aung San Suu Kyi
The now detained 75-year-old leader of Myanmar. In the 1980s, she became an outspoken critic of Myanmar’s military rulers and spent years as a political prisoner, winning a Nobel Peace Price in 1991 while she was still in captivity. She was released in 2010 as the military transitioned to a quasi-civilian government, and became State Counsellor (a role created especially for her) in 2016 after the NLD swept national elections. Her international standing was damaged after she played down the military’s role in massacres of the Rohingya ethnic group in the northwestern state of Rakhine, but she remains popular at home.
Min Aung Hlaing
The 64-year-old who’s commanded Myanmar’s armed forces since 2011, and is now effectively Ms. Suu Kyi’s replacement. The U.S. government and international human rights groups have condemned him for his troops’ actions in Rakhine. Min Aung Hlaing is due to retire soon, which would allow him to run for civilian leadership in a year if the military allows elections to be held then.
A 69-year-old former military official who is now Myanmar’s acting president. He is a close ally of Than Shwe, former leader of the military junta that stepped aside for civilian rule in 2011. Myint Swe was chief minister of Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, and for years headed its regional military command.
U Win Myint
The 69-year-old civilian president of Myanmar arrested in the coup. On paper, U Win Myint was the de jure leader of Myanmar but deferred to Ms. Suu Kyi (who was deemed ineligible for the presidency under the 2008 constitution) as the de facto leader of the country.
The Burmese name for Myanmar’s armed forces. Under the 2008 constitution, it gets an unelected quota of 25 per cent of parliamentary seats and it controls the defence, interior and border ministries. It also exercised considerable power in Myanmar’s elected legislature through the civilian party it supports, Union Solidarity and Development Party, which governed until 2015 when the NLD unseated it.
West: The American, British, Australian and European Union governments have condemned Myanmar’s coup, calling variously for the release of civilian leaders and efforts to avoid violence. In Washington, the Biden administration reimposed sanctions on Myanmar’s top generals.
Asia: China’s Foreign Ministry has had a more muted reaction, saying initially that “we hope that all sides in Myanmar can appropriately handle their differences under the constitution and legal framework and safeguard political and social stability.” Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have condemned the takeover, while that country’s government called for “peace and stability” and said it hoped a process to repatriate the refugees could proceed.
Compiled by Globe staff
With reports from Reuters and The Associated Press
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