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April 17, 2021

Myanmar situation

Editorial

 
April 17, 2021

With over 700 people killed since the military coup in Myanmar on Feb 1, 2021, the situation is getting bleaker in the country. Though the protesters overall have remained peaceful with their ‘silent strikes’ using balloons and flowers, the crackdown appears to be severe and disproportionate. People are either staying home or going out wearing black. There have been marches in several cities and towns in protest against the military rule which has established itself after dislodging the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Though she was not formally allowed to become head of government or head of state, she – as the leader of the party holding the largest number of seats in parliament – held the reins of the government in Myanmar. Suu Kyi even tried her best to curry favour with the powerful generals by defending atrocities committed against the Rohingya Muslims in eastern Myanmar. But all her efforts were in vain as the results of the last election held in November 2020 were cancelled by the new junta that is now ruling the country.

The return of military rule has infuriated the citizens of Myanmar who wanted a continuation of the civilian rule which was just five years old and that too highly controlled with many constraints on its independent working. Suu Kyi had already tainted her image internationally after her blatant attempts to defend her generals; but, at least she was a civilian face to serve as a democratic facade. The people of Myanmar have refused to accept this coup and have been taking to the streets day after day. The five-day traditional Buddhist New Year holiday this past week has been particularly somber and grim for the people of Myanmar as they shunned the usual festivities and focused on their campaign against the coup.

Suu Kyi and her political peers are all behind bars as are nearly all newly elected members of parliament. As the violence is subsiding, and the people are not subdued, there is a need for an immediate restoration of the democratic dispensation in the country. The junta must stop rounding up its critics. If the junta fails to restore the elected government, there is a possibility of even more protests. There has to be some more international pressure especially from the Western governments. With sanctions being imposed, the junta will find it much more difficult to control the situation and manage the country as it did in the past.