The History of Myanmar and Their Coup
By Cody Sung
Volume 1 Issue 6
March 18, 2021
Image provided by AP News
The date is November 8, 2020. The Myanmar elections saw the leading party, National League for Democracy (NLD) win by a landslide. The military said there was widespread fraud as its party was blown away in the landslide. Fast-forward almost three months, and we arrive at February 1st, the day of the coup. The military arrested Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically-elected leader, and other government officials, and installed the commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing, into power. What led up to this, and what’s in store for the future of Myanmar?
Let’s rewind to 1948. Myanmar was a British colony, pushing out any native people before colonization. Then, it gained its independence from the British Empire, which by now was rapidly falling apart. Named Burma at the time, the country elected its leaders under a democracy, though its stability was weak. The military, angry at the weak civilian government, performed a coup in 1962, starting off 49 years of military rule.
The military dictatorship was socialist, and like other socialist military dictatorships, brutally suppressed protests and opposition to its regime. The dictator tried to do so during a peaceful revolution in 1988. They ended up succeeding, but Ne Win, the leader at the time, resigned, and elections were held. The NLD swept the election with 80% of the seats awarded to them, but the military refused to give up power, and so the military dictatorship continued, up until 2011.
In 2011, the military dictatorship was dissolved, after the dictatorship tried to move toward democracy in 2008, and held elections in 2010, but the election is widely considered to be fraudulent. With the military dictatorship at its end, the country transitioned towards true democracy and a mixed economy.
This leaves us to where we are right now. The military has taken control over a country that just became a democracy. The military declared a 1-year state of emergency, but it must now deal with protests against their regime. Even with these protests, civil liberties are being restricted, with curfews being put in place for major cities. Will these protests be successful? Will democracy prevail?
Council on Foreign Relations Myanmar’s Troubled History: Coups, Military Rule, and Ethnic Conflict | Council on Foreign Relations (cfr.org)
Wikipedia (to use as a starting point for my research) Myanmar - Wikipedia
Myanmar coup: What is happening and why?
People across Myanmar are taking to the streets after a military coup that saw its leaders detained.