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Myanmar’s Military Coup & the Fight for Democracy

What is Currently Happening in Myanmar?

Myanmar’s military has seized power and has declared a year-long state of emergency. The military claimed that there was election fraud. This took place after the National League for Democracy (NLD) Party’s landslide victory in the election that took place in November of 2020.


The founder of the NLD party, Aung San Suu Kyi, was detained in Myanmar’s capital of Nay Pyi Taw along with President Win Myint and her closest allies. This took place just hours before the first parliamentary session after the election, which would have enshrined Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory. In addition, the power has been transferred from Aung San Suu Kyi to the current leader of the country's military known as Min Aung Hlaing. Armed forces, as well as military vehicles and tanks, have been patrolling the roads of Myanmar’s main city, Yangon, and capital city, Nay Pyi Taw.


Current Restrictions & Bans

Communication networks across the entire country were disrupted on the first day of the event. Phone services, internet data, and Wifi connections were closed down. Furthermore, most news sources were blocked on television. Therefore, television news channels, media outlets, and broadcast services, and international broadcasters were shut down.


Businesses across the country are forced to close early. Banks and financial services were temporarily closed. There has also been a night-time curfew for all the citizens. Moreover, Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram have recently been banned across Myanmar, due to the military’s belief that citizens have been spreading “propaganda” and inaccurate news across these platforms. People in Myanmar have been required to use VPN to access these social media applications.


Brief History

Myanmar has historically had a long fight for democracy. After Myanmar’s independence from the British in 1948, the country’s political instability led to a military coup in 1962. Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Bogyoke Aung San, was the leading figure when Myanmar fought for independence and democracy. Known as the 8888 Uprising, the nationwide pro-democracy protests against the military dictatorship, most of which are student-led, took place in 1988. This military dictatorship in Myanmar lasted for approximately half a century until 2011 when democratic reforms were finally allowed to begin.


The Civil Disobedience Movement

Medical staff from 74 public hospitals have pledged to stop working so that they can protest against the coup. According to Myo Thet Oo, a doctor participating in the campaign, “We cannot accept dictators and an unelected government. They can arrest us anytime. We have decided to face it… All of us have decided not to go to the hospital.”


Social influencers and the general public have also been taking action and spreading awareness. Social media users have changed their profile pictures to the red insignia of the NLD. Additionally, people from Myanmar have been posting pictures of themselves posed with three-finger salutes to resist the military coup that ousted the members of NLD. Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, the people of Myanmar have been peacefully protesting from their homes without any violent means. These protests include the clanging of metal pots at 8.pm. every night. This is a traditional gesture that is believed by the Burmese people to drive away evil spirits and bad karma. Some car drivers even honk cars exactly at the same time as a sign of protest as well.


Involvement of the International Community

There have been several mass protests in countries other than Myanmar. There have been physical outdoor protests in the United States, Japan, Thailand, Australia, by both native Myanmar people and foreigners who are fighting for Myanmar’s rights.


The United States president, Joe Biden, has also made statements regarding this coup. In a recent speech, Joe Biden stated, “The Burmese military should relinquish the power they have seized and release the advocates and activists and officials they have detained, lift the restrictions on telecommunications and refrain from violence.”


Lastly, a statement from the United Nations Security Council has also been released. The members of the UN Security Council expressed deep concern at the military coup and the strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity, and unity of Myanmar.


Thant-Myint U

Thant Myint-U is a Burmese historian, writer, grandson of former United Nations Secretary-General U Thant, former UN official, and former special adviser to the president for the peace process.

  • “With a pandemic, tens of millions poor, severe economic downturn, climate change, million-plus refugees/IDPs, armed conflicts involving dozens of non-State armed groups, hundreds of militia: if there’s one country that really can’t afford a political crisis right now, it’s Myanmar.”

  • “The doors just opened to a very different future. I have a sinking feeling that no one will really be able to control what comes next. And remember Myanmar's a country awash in weapons, with deep divisions across ethnic & religious lines, where millions can barely feed themselves.”


What Can Be Done to Help Myanmar?


Sources: Cuddy, A. (2021, February 09). Myanmar coup: What is happening and why? Retrieved February 13, 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-55902070


Strangio, S. (2021, February 03). Civil disobedience movement gathers pace in post-coup Myanmar. Retrieved February 13, 2021, from https://thediplomat.com/2021/02/civil-disobedience-movement-gathers-pace-in-post-coup-myanmar/


Myanmar military should step Down, free DETAINEES, Biden says in a foreign policy speech. (2021, February 04). Retrieved February 13, 2021, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-politics-usa-biden/biden-says-myanmars-military-should-relinquish-power-after-coup-release-advocates-activists-and-officials-idUSKBN2A42QG


Myanmar bans FACEBOOK, TEMPORARILY. (2021, February 04). Retrieved February 13, 2021, from https://www.mmtimes.com/news/myanmar-bans-facebook-temporarily.html

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