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  • 16 May, 2021

  • 15 Min Read

Everything about: Myanmar military coup

Everything about: Myanmar military coup

About Myanmar

  • Myanmar, aka Burma, is a country in South East Asia. It neighbours Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh, China and India.
  • Myanmar is a diverse country, with the state recognizing more than one hundred ethnic groups.
  • Forming roughly two-thirds of the population, ethnic Burmans, known as the Bamar, have enjoyed a privileged position in society and hold a majority of government and military positions.
  • Many ethnic minority groups, on the other hand, have faced systemic discrimination, a lack of economic opportunities and development in their regions, minimal representation in government, and abuses at the hands of the military.
  • Since independence, discrimination has been ingrained in Myanmar’s laws and political system.
  • Anti-Muslim sentiment has also been on the rise in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. (Rohingya crisis)
  • Buddhist extremists, who promote the supremacy of Buddhism, have attacked Muslims and spread hate speech.

Historical Background for Myanmar

  • The country gained independence from Britain in 1948. Since then, Myanmar has been ruled by a military junta.
  • The Union of Burma began as a parliamentary democracy, like most of its newly independent neighbours on the Indian subcontinent. But representative democracy only lasted until 1962, when General U Ne Win led a military coup and held power for the next 26 years.
  • By 1988, widespread corruption, rapid shifts in economic policy related to Myanmar’s currency, and food shortages led to massive student-led protests. But it was crushed by the army. In the aftermath of the 1988 crackdown, Ne Win resigned as chairman of his party, although he remained active behind the scenes as another military junta took power.
  • The new ruling military changed the country's name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989. In 2005, the military government moved the administrative capital to Nay Pyi Taw, a city it built-in central Myanmar.
  • In 2007, the Saffron Revolution, widespread anti-government protests that were sparked by fuel price hikes and named after the saffron-coloured robes worn by participating Buddhist monks—and international pressure prompted shifts in Myanmar.
  • The junta pushed forward a new constitution in 2008, which is still in place today, that gave the military widespread powers even under civilian rule. The military junta unexpectedly officially dissolved in 2011 and established a civilian parliament for a transitional period, during which former army bureaucrat and Prime Minister Thein Sein were appointed president.
  • In 2015, Myanmar held its first nationwide, multiparty elections—considered to be the freest and fairest elections in decades—since the country’s transition away from military rule.
  • Suu Kyi became Myanmar’s de facto leader in 2015.

What is the news?

  • General Min Aung Hlaing led a Military coup in February 2021.
  • By arresting President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and the rest of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) leadership, and declaring military rule under a state of emergency for at least a year, General Min Aung Hlaing has made it clear that it is the military that is in charge, and he is not particularly concerned about the opposition to or condemnation of the move.

What led to the 2021 Military coup?

  • In 2020, Myanmar held its second national elections under civilian rule, which Ms Suu Kyi’s NLD party overwhelmingly won.
  • The military suffered a major blow in the elections: the USDP won just 33 of 476 available seats, while the NLD won 396.
  • The immediate reason for the coup was that the newly elected National Assembly was due to meet in Naypyidaw, despite the Tatmadaw’s (Army’s) claims that the November general elections had several irregularities and its contestation of the NLD’s landslide victory.
  • Ms Suu Kyi had refused to bow to Gen. Hlaing’s demand that the results, which also saw the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party with reduced strength in Parliament, be set aside.
  • Clearly, the Army, which still nominates a fourth of the parliamentary seats and retains the important Defence, Borders and Interior portfolios, felt it was better to dismiss the NLD government before it increased its clout.
  • Gen. Hlaing is due to retire this year, and it is possible that the move was meant to extend his longevity in power.
  • Backed by a silent Beijing, the junta leadership may also have gambled that it was better to take drastic action against the democratic leaders before the new U.S. administration finds its feet.
  • Role of Aung Suu Kyi
  1. The return to Army rule was also helped to some extent by Ms Suu Kyi, who came to office in 2015, but has lost opportunities to put her country more firmly on the road to democracy. She has accepted a dual power system in the state.
  2. Daw Suu, as she is known, has also failed to bring democracy to her party, and been criticised for her autocratic style.
  3. Her refusal to rein in the Generals when the Tatmadaw unleashed a pogrom on the Rohingya between 2016-17, had lost the Nobel Peace laureate much international support.

Impact on India

  • The crisis had its spillover impacts on the borders as well.
  • At least 300 Myanmarese, including police officers, are estimated to have since crossed into India.
  • Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga took up the issue with the Foreign Minister and India has shut the border for now, but it would be difficult for New Delhi to turn a blind eye to the border if the situation in Myanmar turns worse.

PT Pointers for India- Myanmar

  • Biggest Ethnic Population- Bamar people
  • Has been ravaged by Extremely Severe Cyclone Nargis in the past
  • Kyaukphyu port in Myanmar is being developed by China as part of the Belt & Road Initiative
  • India & Myanmar are doing a multimodal Kaladan project that connects India's North East border with Myanmar's Sittwe Port.

India’s Stand

  • India had cultivated a careful balance, between nudging along the democratic process by supporting Ms Suu Kyi, and working with the military to ensure its strategic interests in the North East and deny China a monopoly on Myanmar’s infrastructure and resources, the developments are unwelcome.
  • India expressed “deep concern” over the reports of an unfolding military coup in Myanmar.
  • India has always been steadfast in its support to the process of democratic transition in Myanmar.
  • The country believes that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld.
  • India had shown a commitment to building robust relationships with Myanmar over the past two decades which intensified after the democratic process began in 2011.
  • India has sealed its border with Myanmar: click here for further news.

Click here for the Jakarta Summit – Myanmar and ASEAN after the coup

Source: TH

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