World

The mass protests in Myanmar, explained

The small Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar has been roiled by mass protest following a coup executed by the nation’s military under the pretext of unfounded claims of massive election fraud.

According to the BBC, starting in the very early morning of February 1, the military raided and arrested many leaders of the National League of Democracy (NLD), the ruling political party within Myanmar’s parliament. Many leaders are now under house arrest. The army’s TV network, Myawaddy, declared that power has been handed to the commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing via a state of emergency. Following these actions Min Ko Naing, a democracy activist in Myanmar, called for civil disobedience and to reject the military’s claim to power. According to The Irrawaddy, an independent publication that covers Myanmar and its region, this sparked massive protests in the country, spanning from Yangon and spreading into Mandalay and the capital of Naypyidaw. Common chants are: “Let the military dictatorship fall!”, “Restore democracy!”, “Abolish the 2008 Constitution!,” and singing the national anthem. All these protests seem to have remained peaceful.

Since its independence in 1948, Myanmar has struggled to form a stable democracy. Starting in 1962, a military dictatorship ruled the nation. In 2008, a semi-democratic constitution was adopted and in 2015 longtime democracy activist and dissident Aang Sang Kyi became Prime Minister, winning the parliamentary elections in a landslide. However, in 2017 and 2018, the government was accused of ethnic cleansing due to its targeted attacks on the minority Muslim Rohingya ethnic group. When the military took control of the government, they cut power and shut down the internet in order to silence online dissent.

Experts disagree on how these protests will play out in the coming weeks and months. Some believe that the military will retain power through force despite the protests. Others believe that the protests could devolve into violence. Still others believe that an international intervention of some type will restore democracy. According to Reuters, the Biden administration has called for new sanctions on those responsible for the military coup in Myanmar. 

ARTICLE: ERIC OTT

WORLD NEWS EDITOR: LUKE LEBAR

PHOTO CREDITS: CP24

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