A long and chaotic year has been passed since the military Junta took over the country of Myanmar. The military’s takeover on 1st Feb 2021 ousted the people’s elected government of Suu Kyi of the National League for Democracy party. The party was eyeing another five-year term in office after winning a landslide victory in the November 2020 elections. However, the military of the country had different plans. The military junta in its testament of reasons behind the coup asserted that the ruling government had to be ousted as there was widespread voter fraud in polls. Although, independent election observers have refuted the accusations as they have seen no serious evidence with respect to fraud or corruption during voting. The army’s takeover was followed by extensive non-violent demonstrations. However, the peaceful protests were soon replaced by armed resistance as the protests were put down with lethal force at the hands of the military junta. About 1500 civilians have been killed rendering the United Nations declaring the armed insurgency as a civil war.
The one-year anniversary was observed by a nationwide shutdown imposed by the army in power. The busiest streets were deserted and shops were abandoned across many chief towns and cities as the resilient public defied threats of the military junta and stayed in their respective homes and performed a ‘Silent Strike’ to show their strength, unity, and solidarity amid the terrifying atmosphere. The pictures from the largest city of the country, Yangon, showed normally busy streets almost empty.
The public resilience and administerial chaos have managed to gain very serious global attention, especially from the West. The US as of 31st January imposed new sanctions on Myanmar officials. In addition, the US authorities have also ascertained that they shall freeze any assets which fall under U.S. jurisdiction and also have barred Americans from doing business with the Myanmar government, symbolizing a boycott. Britain and Canada have also announced similar measures. President Joe Biden, issued a public statement, calling the military junta to reverse its actions and free the country’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi who is currently detained along with many other detainees. The President has further advised the army-in-power to engage in meaningful dialogue and restore a functional democracy.
Noeleen Heyzer, a former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific, told a virtual news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York that the situation of Myanmar is increasingly unstable and the aggressive stance of the army government have raised concerns about the protection of civilians. The sorry state of affairs in the country has rendered about 320,000 people displaced (almost half of the population) seeking refuge in neighboring countries in Thailand and India.
The oppressive nature of the military junta has knocked the already dwindling economy due to Covid to freefall as millions of people lost their job. Prices of essential food items have jacked up and power supply along with public services have deteriorated, resulting in more and more people plunging into poverty and food insecurity.