Myanmar’s Coup D’Etat

Mudabbir Latifi

The phrase Coup D’Etat comes from the French language meaning a “blow against the state”. Myanmar recently made headlines after its semi-civilian Government headed by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was overthrown by Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Myanmar. He has often been described as a true Machiavellian man. He was set to retire next year, experts suggest that a possible threat of actions by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) after his term as Army Chief is over for his alleged war crimes could have been the reason behind this prompt and unexpected move. The arrest of the Counselor was followed by the declaration of a year-long state of emergency.
The coup unfolded right before the Parliament was scheduled to convene, it is symbolic in many ways, depicting the various issues and concerns the army had about its eroding authority over the Government. The opposition had claimed widespread voter fraud in the 2020 General Elections after the National League for Democracy(NLD) won a landslide victory. However, the election commission had found no proof to support these claims. The constitution ensures a 25 percent reservation of the total seats in the parliament for members of the armed forces but the landslide victory of the NLD in the 2020 elections undermined the army’s authority and control over the Government.“As of now, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged for alleged possession of “illegally imported radio communication devices”. Legally, she can be held till the 15th of February, 2021 and a sentence of 2 years can be awarded for breaching the import and export laws. These charges have been claimed to be bogus and are meant to give sufficient time for a successful transfer of power while the de facto head of the state is under house arrest.“Ms. Aung San’s spectacular fall from the hall of fame to the hall of shame is like no other. She was awarded the Ambassador of Conscience Award by Amnesty International which was later revoked for her alleged role in the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims as defined by the United Nations(UN). The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has faced house arrests, assassination attempts, and The International Court of Justice. She has been accused of giving a carte blanche to the armed forces which acted sine qua non in the persecution of the minority Rohingya communities.“With the de facto leader of the nation detained, an ongoing transition of power to an army general who was all set to retire next year from service, the future of the nation seems uncertain.“Myanmar remains one of the poorest countries in the region. The ongoing coup could be a potentially fatal blow to the economy of the country.
Some companies like Yoma Strategic Holdings have issued a trading halt, others remain fairly optimistic about the ongoing situation. The atmosphere is tense but the real impact would be caused by the western sanctions that can be anticipated following the worldwide criticisms and concerns. However, China could be a potential major future investor as Myanmar moves closer to its Asian ally and further away from the west.“On a lighter note, a video of a PE teacher named Khing Hnin Wai went viral. The dancer was recording herself while the first Coup D’Etat of the decade was going on. The video provided an insight into the planning and efficient co-ordination that made this untimely and unprecedented change of power possible.“The international community has reacted strongly to this blatant suppression of democratic values. President Joe Biden has warned the state with a threat of sanctions. A UN statement condemning the actions of the military was blocked by China. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc has maintained that the issue is an “internal matter” in alliance with its no engagement and discussion policy. On the other hand, China doesn’t seem particularly concerned by the recent developments. After the blocking of the UN statement by China, some experts have suggested that the new administration wouldn’t really mean any drastic changes for China while maintaining that the emerging global power would have preferred National League for Democracy. These recent political changes have been described as a “cabinet reshuffle” by Xinhua, the official news agency of China.“The military claims it will hold “free and fair” elections after the state of emergency is over. General Min’s conquest for power and his struggle to cling on to it has just started. The streets of Myanmar are witnessing acts of civil disobedience. There have been mass walkouts in hospitals and other public offices. The people of Myanmar are keen to protect their democratic establishments. While the party leader encouraged the people to come out on the streets to protest and fight for their rights, the streets remain empty with a lot of suppressed emotions. Myanmar is no stranger to the suppression of dissidents and the wrath of the Tatmadaw (Armed forces of Myanmar) requires no proof or introduction.
“Widespread measures to censor the media are in place. Only time will decide the fate of this recently formed Republic. The decades of struggle for a democratic government could have been overturned in a day. The Coup D’Etat is surely going to affect Myanmar’s future, the fate of its people, the political atmosphere of the country, and the region, especially the ASEAN bloc.”
(The author is a student of Jodhamal Public School, Jammu)