If you haven’t heard, Myanmar’s military recently staged a coup and overthrew the nation’s sitting government, effectively threatening democracy for its citizens. Protests and political unrest have ravaged the country and made headlines around the world.
If you want a quick rundown of what’s been happening, have a read.
Southeast Asian country Myanmar, or formerly Burma, has struggled with the question of democracy for the past century. Originally a colony under Great Britain and subject to military rule shortly after that, the young nation finally eased into democracy in 2011 when the military allowed pro-democracy reforms.
Now, after popular vote Aung San Suu Kyi won the recent November elections by a landslide, the military has declared the results to be fraudulent and staged a coup to take power from the civilian leader.
On February 1, the military, under the command of Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, seized control of the government and put forth a communications block on all social media channels. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were not available at the time as the country went dark.
The military then declared a one-year state of emergency, with ultimate authority being placed in Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. Their goal: to host a new election after their self-imposed rule.
The current elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is under house arrest while many in her party have been detained.
What’s happening now
Protests of unprecedented size and a nationwide strike have been ongoing for the past week. Among the crowd are a mix of regular people and professionals. Doctors, professors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, students and even monks have shown up in droves to protest the military government’s leadership.
Younger protestors have been particularly active in the fight for democracy. They can be seen holding up signs with witty phrases like “I don’t want dictatorship, I just want boyfriend” as well as holding up three fingers, a popular hand signal that pays homage to The Hunger Games. The hand signal symbolizes solidarity and resistance against oppressors.
The protestors are demanding for the military government to honor the election results and step down from power. They are outraged at the threat to their freedom and freedom to vote.
Currently, curfews have been established in key cities and police have been present in the streets, leading to a few violent clashes with protestors.
As of now, the future of Myanmar remains murky in this latest threat to their democracy. What we can do is raise awareness on the issue and stand in solidarity with our fellow Asian nation.