This week, the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar was subject to a military coup. This came following a general election, which saw the state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party win by a landslide.
Accusing the party of election fraud, the opposing party, backed by the military, staged the coup and gave power to the commander in chief Min Aung Hlaing. According to them, this is to be done for a year until a new election is held.
Myanmar has had a chaotic history leading up to this coup. From 1962 to 2011, the country was controlled by the military. Until 1989, the country was actually named Burma, having been changed to save international face following the suppression of a democratic uprising. Ms. Suu Kyi, an advocate for democracy during this uprising, was on and off house arrest between 1989 and 2010, for a total of 15 years.
In 1991, while still under house arrest, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2011, the country had a change in government with more emphasis on democratic rule, with the Ms. Suu Kyi’s party winning the first election in 2015.
Since then, she and the Myanmar government as a whole have got the flak for their treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority group within the country. Already having been considered illegal immigrants and denied citizenship, the military performed a genocide in 2017 where thousands of Rohingya were killed, and hundreds of thousands were forced to leave the country.
Following the coup, Ms. Suu Kyi has been placed under house arrest and was also charged with illegally importing at least ten walkie talkies. Since then, she has encouraged her supporters to protest the coup, though few have listened.
Despite this, there has been growing opposition within Myanmar’s civilian population and beyond. Dozens of hospitals have seen their medical workers go on strike. Others have also begun wearing ribbons to show their disapproval of the coup, and social media platforms have seen some of their users change their profile pictures to pure red.