Myanmar, also known as Burma, is a country in South East Asia and has a population of about 54 million.
The majority of their population speak Burmese. Myanmar’s capital is Nay Pyi Taw, however, the biggest city is Yangon(Rangoon). The main religion is Buddhism, however, there are many ethnic groups in Myanmar including Rohingya Muslims. Myanmar became independent in 1948 as it gained its independence from Britain in 1948. The country was under the rule of armed forces from 1962 to 2011.
On 1 February 2021, when Ms. Suu Kyi’s NLD party won the general election by a wide margin, the military has taken the charge once again and a year-long state of emergency has been declared as the armed forces supported the opposition for demanding a rerun of the vote. However, the election commission said there was no evidence to support these claims.
The coup happened when a new session of parliament was set to open.
Ms. Suu Kyi has been held at an unknown location since the coup. Kyi is facing various charges, like violating the country’s official secrets act, possessing illegal walkie-talkies, and publishing information that may “cause fear or alarm”. The leader of MPs has urged protesters to defend themselves against the crackdown. However, NLD MPs who managed to escape arrest formed a new group of hiding.
Presently, the power is in the hands of military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing. Hlaing has successfully maintained the power of Tatmadaw even as the country moved towards democracy.
Since the Saffron revolution in 2007, no other protests had been this much large. Teachers, lawyers, students, bank officers, and government workers are part of these protests. Restrictions have been imposed by the military including curfews and limit gatherings. Water cannon, rubber bullets, and live ammunition have been used by security forces to disperse protesters.
On 26 March, an announcement was aired by the state TV telling people “should learn from the tragedy of earlier ugly deaths that you can be in danger of getting shot to the head and back”. Protesters outnumbered security forces trying to prevent rallies.
According to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group, more than 90 people died, including children. Reuters news agency reported that a resident Thu Ya Naw of the central town of Myingan told them that “They are killing us like birds or chickens, even in our homes”.
On the annual Armed Forces Day, protesters confronted the warnings and took on the streets which gave rise to the lethal crackdown. According to AAPP, the death toll was continuing to rise. Since 1 February, more than 400 people died in coup. Pictures shared on social media revealed the gunshot wounds and families’ mourning.
Yangon and Mandalay shared the same fate. In Mandalay, protesters carried the flag of the NLD and gave their now traditional anti-authoritarian three-finger salute.
All these unfortunate deaths and the ongoing coup have been condemned at the international level.
“New Low” is the term devised by Dominic Raab, the British Foreign Secretary. US and UK also condemned the violence.
According to BBC, the director of the UK-based Burma Human Rights Network told their channel that the military has shown it had “no limits, no principles”. “It’s a massacre, it’s not a crackdown anymore”, Kyaw Win said.
The US embassy stated that security forces were “murdering unarmed civilians” while the EU delegation to Burma said the 76th Armed Forces Day would “stay engraved as a day of terror and dishonor”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “deeply shocked”.
For the deputy director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Asia Phil Robertson’s scenes were “shocking, horrible, barbaric and unacceptable”.
Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing stated that the army wanted to “join hands with the entire nation to safeguard democracy”. “Violent acts that affect stability and security to make demands are inappropriate,” he said.
He added that the army had to seize power because of “unlawful acts” by democratically-elected leader Ms. Suu Kyi and her party. However, the military has not commented on the killings.