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Myanmar again under military boots

File photo of Aung San Suu Kyi and Gen Min Aung Hlaing (Courtesy: New York Times)

Hours before Myanmar's National League for Democracy - which had reaped 80% votes in Myanmar's elections in November 2020 - was to form the civilian government for the second time on February 1, the mother of democratic Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi and the President of the Republic were arrested. The military move to reclaim power has been condemned by the United Nations and nations worldwide, including the United States and Britain. Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), backed by the military, was defeated in the November elections. The party raised allegations of corruption and rigging in the polls, an allegation discarded by neutral political observers and the Election Commission. The coup by the military, in continuation of the electoral outcome, is to fulfil the military Commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing's autocratic ambitions. It is no secret that Hlaing wished to be President following the end of his term of the current post in July. Hence, he backed his political party crossing all boundaries. However, Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD won the elections with a larger-than-expected majority. Disappointed at the defeat, the commander threatened to ban the constitution. According to the constitution which came into being in 2008, 25 per cent seats in the parliament are reserved for the military.

Additionally, the administration of the ministries of home, defence, border protection is vested with the military. It was exercising these powers that the military brutally attacked Rakhine's eight lakh Rohingya Muslims in 2017, forcing 7,30,000 to migrate to neighbouring Bangladesh as refugees. Several drowned while fleeing for their lives. Several reached the coasts of Thailand and Malaysia after weeks of being deserted without drinking water on boats unfit for travel. A majority of Rohingyas continue to live in unlivable conditions and starvation in hamlets in Bangladesh. Suu Kyi's government lent a deaf ear to the United Nations' appeals and human rights organisations all over the world to retake and rehabilitate the Rohingya Muslims; the reason for this is the military's disagreement. However, Suu Kyi is now paying the price for being unable to sate Min Aung Hlaing's greed for power. Though the commander has declared a year of emergency in the country, there is little chance of this term being honoured. Hlaing claims that re-elections would be conducted in the meantime and the winners would then form a government. The hardships in store for Myanmar as he would attempt to ensure victory for his military party by hook or by crook, is a matter yet to be seen.

It is natural to feel grief and anguish at the loss of even the interim reprieve gained by our neighbouring country after 49 years of military dictatorship. Only steps of harsh sanctions can force Myanmar, the second biggest military power in south-east Asia, to a rethinking. However, neighbouring China, despite being Asia's superpower, is not ready for such a move. China might be rendered inactive by the realisation that Myanmar is employing the same weapons of hate against Rohingya Muslims as China has been using against its Uyghur Muslim minority. Moreover, for communist China which runs a constitutionally enabled authoritarian government, the coup in Myanmar is of little concern. Hence, China would back Myanmar, regardless of what happens on the domestic front. It cannot be lost sight of either that it is China and Russia together that prevent the UN Security Council from tightening sanctions against that country. As for India, probably wary of China's exploitation, the country would not take strict measures against the Myanmar government. The only ray of hope the resolve of the Burmese people, who effectively struggled for the reinstatement of democracy, albeit after about 50 years of dictatorship.

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TAGS:Myanmar military coup Aung San Suu Kyi Min Aung Hlaing 
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