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Myanmar Challenges Military Coup

From the United States to Hong Kong and Thailand to India, protests have become the voice of the people in the last year. Many who feel they have no influence over the workings of the government take their causes to the streets. It seems like Myanmar is no different. Despite a cruel history of violence against pro-democracy protestors, thousands in Myanmar have spoken out in response to the recent military coup. 

In the early morning on February 1st, 2021, the news spread quickly that the military had taken over Myanmar in a swift coup d’état. The military T.V. station reported that commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing had taken over the government, and important figures in the National League for Democracy were arrested in a series of raids that followed. In the days that followed, little information leaked outside as the brand new government shut off internet and phone services, blocked roads, imposed a curfew, stopped flights, and closed banks. A year-long state of emergency was declared, and many top government officials were replaced. The takeover came in response to the parliamentary elections in which Aung San Suu Kyi and the Democratic party won overwhelmingly. The military claims that voter fraud caused her to win and demands a rerun of the election. Currently, Ms. Suu Kyi is under arrest, held at an unknown location. The military government claims to be helping form a “true and disciplined democracy,” yet neither the people of Myanmar nor most foreign countries have sided with the coup leaders.

In the three weeks following the protests, tens of thousands have flooded the streets, defying both a chilling history of brutality towards dissidents and brewing rumors of a violent crackdown. Many protestors left “broken down” vehicles littering the roads in an attempt to keep the military away from major protesting sights. Hundreds of thousands of government employees, from doctors to garbage collectors, have refused to go to work under the military government, undermining the military’s ability to stay in control. Estimates say that out of the country’s one million civil servants, three-quarters had walked off their jobs. Many civilians continue to protest and seek ways to defy the military government as well, such as pitching in to do necessary jobs like trash removal or boycotting military-owned brands.

In response, the coup leaders have urged workers to return to their jobs and set aside their “emotion.” But these announcements did nothing to curb the protests, and tensions rose as the government resorted to more ominous methods. The army put many armored vehicles out onto the streets, set up barricades around key areas in the big cities, and continued to cut off the internet for hours at a time. Although at first there were no official reports of major violence against protestors, the army used many methods such as water cannons, rubber bullets, and intimidation to try to quell the protests. Several reports of gunshots and aggression, along with reports of many soldiers being moved into Yangon, caused Tom Andrews of the U.N. to warn that a bloody crackdown might soon follow. In the week after his statement, seven protestors were killed and dozens injured as police opened fire on demonstrators. In addition, over eight hundred and fifty people had been arrested. Despite this terrifying from the Burmese military government, the Burmese people bravely continue to stand up to the government. 

Works Cited

Cuddy, Alice. “Myanmar Coup: What Is Happening and Why?” BBC News, BBC, 9 Feb. 2021, www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-55902070.

Goodman, Jack. “Myanmar Coup: Does the Army Have Evidence of Voter Fraud?” BBC News, BBC, 5 Feb. 2021, www.bbc.com/news/55918746.

“Mass Anti-Coup Protests in Myanmar as UN Warns of Crackdown.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 17 Feb. 2021, apnews.com/article/world-news-yangon-myanmar-crime-united-nations-3fcd3719c775d4085aa468ad816d29d4.

“Myanmar Coup: Aung San Suu Kyi Detained as Military Seizes Control.” BBC News, BBC, 1 Feb. 2021, www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-55882489.

Paddock, Richard C. “’We Can Bring Down the Regime’: Myanmar’s Protesting Workers Are Unbowed.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 Feb. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/02/15/world/asia/myanmar-workers-coup.html. 

Regan, Helen. “Myanmar Police Shoot Dead Four Protesters in Bloodiest Day since the Coup.” CNN, Cable News Network, 28 Feb. 2021, edition.cnn.com/2021/02/27/asia/myanmar-un-ambassador-fired-intl-hnk/index.html. 

Photo Credits:

Regan, Helen. “Myanmar Police Shoot Dead Four Protesters in Bloodiest Day since the Coup.” CNN, Cable News Network, 28 Feb. 2021, edition.cnn.com/2021/02/27/asia/myanmar-un-ambassador-fired-intl-hnk/index.html. 

2 Comments

  1. Well done! I’m glad someone finally did an article on this!
    Also they have been turning the internet off every morning from 1 a.m. til 9 a.m. for like 3 weeks so i had to miss classes uggg lol
    You did a good job!

    • Thank you! I’m glad it was accurate, though unfortunately even more violence has happened since I submitted this for publication. I hope you stay safe!