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02.08.2021 13:26 News >> Myanmar Remains Mired In Chaos Since February Coup

Myanmar Remains Mired In Chaos Since February Coup

In 6 months, country plunges into political instability, division.

Despite the passing of six months since a military coup and the incarceration of elected members of the government in Myanmar, the situation in the Southeast Asian country has not improved.
Developments such as mass public protests against the coup, casualties caused by the Myanmar military's intervention against protestors, armed clashes between protestors and the army, and anti-coup politicians forming a "civilian government" to oppose the junta rule have led to instability and division in the country.
Allegations of election fraud precede coup
Signs of a military coup appeared at the beginning of the year, with allegations that vote counts were rigged in a general election held on Nov. 8, 2020, won by the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of the country's former de facto leader and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.
On January 28, after consecutive statements by opposition parties alleging election fraud and marches by army supporters demanding "justice in elections," armed forces chief General Min Aung Hlaing called on the NLD government to clarify the allegations.
Days after Hlaing's announcement, news broke that Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other senior government officials had been detained on the morning of Feb. 1, when the first parliamentary session would be held after the elections.
Myanmar's military later confirmed the reports, declaring that they had seized power over allegations of election fraud, installed Hlaing as head of state, imposed a state of emergency and pledged that general elections would be held again within a year.
After the coup, the cabinet was terminated, while the parliament and senate were dissolved.
Protests, armed violence, casualties of army
After the military's takeover, to which many countries around the world reacted, especially Turkey, Suu Kyi called on the public to "revolt against the coup."
On Feb. 6 and 7, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in different parts places including the capital Naypyidaw, Yangon, Mandalay, Bago and Sagaing, sparking months of anti-coup protests and rallies.
In addition, the vast majority of health workers, teachers, and civil servants across the country quit their jobs and started a civil disobedience movement.
Despite the military administration's actions, such as detentions, declaring martial law in some cities, and banning internet access to mobile phones and social media platforms, widespread protests have grown.
Myanmar's military has been on the streets since Feb. 15, when Myanmar police were ordered to intervene against protesters, resulting in bloody clashes.
While the first civilian death occurred on Feb. 19 amid security force interventions, most of the casualties were reported in March and April.
The bloodiest day was April 9, when 83 protesters died in a single day. Since the coup, at least 939 people have been killed as a result of security forces' intervention.
Arming of protesters, internal conflicts
Opponents of the coup, particularly ethnic armed groups in the country, were outraged by the deaths of civilians even during nonviolent demonstrations in March and April
The NLD MPs elected in November formed the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a 17-member legislative body in exile, a week after the coup, refusing to recognize the military regime's government. On April 16, they formed the National Unity Government (NUG), which consisted of elected members of parliament. They declared the NUG to be the civilian government, notifying UN diplomats and international parliaments that they should be contacted to discuss government matters rather than the military regime.
Protests around the country have escalated into armed clashes since demonstrators formed the People's Defense Force (PDF) on May 5.
According to the UN, 230,000 people have been displaced since the conflict began, and continuous violence around the country has had a severe impact on daily living.
Accusations against Suu Kyi, government officials
Suu Kyi and her accompanying government officials, who were detained in the country's Feb. 1 coup, have been charged in different cases and currently being tried in military courts.
Suu Kyi was charged with embezzlement, inciting public activity, violating the state secrets act, violating import and export laws, violating the telecommunications act, and violating national disaster laws, while former President Myint was charged with violating national disaster laws.
Suu Kyi's trial begins on June 14, and if the charges against her are upheld, she may face up to 39 years in prison.
International sanctions, condemnations
After the coup, international organizations, especially the UN and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), made statements to resolve the political instability in the country, while some countries tried to force Myanmar's military to step back with sanctions.
The US, UK, and Canada have imposed sanctions on top generals from Myanmar's military and firms linked to the military, while firms from Japan, Singapore and some European countries have withdrawn their investments.
The fact that China and Russia support Myanmar's military administration, while ASEAN countries remain neutral in the face of the political crisis, has weakened the prospect that the military junta will back down.
Since the coup, Russia has advanced military agreements with Myanmar, while China and ASEAN countries have blocked a UN Security Council resolution imposing an arms embargo on the military regime.
Coup impacts fight against COVID-19
The military coup has hampered the campaign against the coronavirus, which was carried out successfully during the Suu Kyi government.
Due to the participation of many health workers in civil disobedience against the coup, virus tests and patient treatment were insufficient, and the displacement of many people as a result of clashes between the army and anti-coup opponents in May triggered the third wave of the virus.
Since June 28, the country's number of virus-related cases has surpassed four digits and virus-related fatalities are on the rise.
Owing to a shortage of oxygen cylinders in hospitals, treating COVID-19 patients is challenging, and it is known that there are many unregistered infection cases in the country due to a lack of diagnostics.
Economic balance sheet
The economy has also shown signs of downfall and trade imbalance in the first six months after the coup.
Myanmar's imports and exports have largely declined following international sanctions, while the World Bank has projected that the country's economy will shrink by 18% this year.
*Writing by Merve Berker​​​​​​​ -

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