myanmar protest

Myanmar Nationals Protest Against Military Coup

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On the 1st of February, the military once again took control of Myanmar, declaring a year-long ‘state of emergency’ and detaining high-profile political figures, leaving citizens fearful of going ‘back to the dark age’.

The coup was triggered by Monday’s commencement of parliament. This would have been the first session since the November elections, where the National League for Democracy won by a landslide. 

The military-led party did not fare well in the election, and leaders have maintained strong opposition to the result, claiming significant voting irregularities, despite the lack of evidence.

The country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was amongst the detainees, with this arrest being her fourth time in imprisonment since 1990. This comes after the military had claimed irregularities in the November elections that brought Ms Suu Kyi’s party, the National League of Democracy (NLD), to power. Myanmar had been under military rule for 50 years until 2011, and in the last week at a news conference, the army’s spokesperson refused to rule out a coup.

Ms Suu Kyi issued a statement urging people to “respond and wholeheartedly protest against the coup by the military”. The NLD has called for her immediate release while asking the military to acknowledge the election results of the party’s landslide win. 

Anti-coup protests in Myanmar in acts of defiance against the military [Image: BDNews24]

Widespread Anti-Coup Protests

Protests have sparked across South Asia in the days since the coup. Myanmar migrants rallied together to protest in Thailand, outside their respective embassy in Bangkok. Ms Suu Kyi was the point of focus during the Thai rally, as protestors held up her image to show solidarity with the people of Myanmar. Footage also showed the crowd stamping on pictures of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces and the de facto leader of Myanmar. 

Riot police forcibly dispersed the anti-coup protest, using violence to end the event. The Thai government has been criticized for their aggressive action, which is another example of police brutality during protests in Asia

The military once again took control of Myanmar, declaring a year-long ‘state of emergency

Arranged protests took place in Kathmandu in Nepal, where crowds gathered with signs of support, stating ‘Restore people’s rights in Myanmar’ and ‘No to military coup in Myanmar’.

Citizens in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, showed their support for the National League for Democracy, banging drums and pots into the night.

Healthcare workers have also announced their refusal to work under military control, starting from Wednesday. Medical workers administering COVID-19 tests have also been pictured wearing PPE with solidarity slogans such as “Save Myanmar” and “NLD government only”.

Flag of Myanmar [Image: Creative Photo Corner]

International Sanctions

US officials have condemned the actions of the military coup in Myanmar, triggering the US government to review sanctions immediately. A US spokesperson stated ‘We’ll take action against those responsible, including through a careful review of our current sanctions posture, as it relates to Burma’s military leaders and companies associated with them’.

Myanmar citizens in Yangon, the country’s largest city, showed their support for the National League for Democracy, banging drums and pots into the night

The UK also claims to have sanctions in place which aim to target prominent individuals including the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar’s military. They also released a statement regarding their demand for a phone call with Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained since Monday.

The statement has been criticized by the Labour party and the Foreign Affairs spokesman, Stephen Kinnock, who discussed how the “statement falls short of what we need and what we expect.” He instead suggested that “The UK and the wider international community must act swiftly and effectively to prove the military wrong on this. The government must move from warm words of condemnation to tangible action.”

[Header Image: BDNews24]