New risk: Coup d’etat in Myanmar
2020 has been a rollercoaster, a very unstable year with some unexpected events. 2021 has also started with major risk events at the international level. Of course, the assault on the United States Capitol on 06 January and the commencement of vaccinations against Covid-19 in many countries have been significant. Also of renewed importance in Myanmar, since a new military coup took place in the country on 01 February 2021.
Myanmar, or Burma as it was called before 1989, proclaimed its independence from the British Government in 1948 and had been under a repressive dictatorship until the year 2011. The country had always been ruled by the military, who severely repressed the Burmese people, in a very little industrialized country and with great isolation from the global market and globalization. Political persecution was also committed by the old military regime in Myanmar. Auung San Suu Kyi, who was the country’s president until this recent coup, spent 15 years under house arrest by the country’s military might.
After serving her sentence of house arrest for fighting against the government, she was released and in addition, the military government granted an election in 2011, where Auung San Suu Kyi and her party won. Although, Auung San Suu Kyi could not serve as real president since the Burmese constitution prohibits presiding over people whose relatives have another nationality and their children have the British. Instead, she served as the President in the shadow until recent days. Auung San Suu Kyi has been awarded with plenty of different recognitions to its extensive career in the fight for human rights and political development, such as the Nobel Peace Prize or the Presidential Medal of the Liberty from the US, due to its efforts to the democratization of its own country, Myanmar. However, her denial to admit the worldwide known genocide that her country was committing against the Rohingya population, plus her backing up to the military government, has caused it to lose legitimacy and popularity internationally, despite having great awards.
Moreover, the little security guarantee that the president offered to the military, plus the problem with the Rohingya in the north of the country and the lack of democracy in the region, are probably the main causes for the military to regain control of the country last month. Auun San Suu Kyi was incarcerated again. This coup comes along with the Covid-19 situation, which, of course, has also reached Myanmar with catastrophic effects on the economy and population.
After this coup, the population of Yangon and many other cities in the country came out to protest in the streets. Democracy only lasted 10 years until military force reestablished a new, but not so new, dictatorship. The people of Myanmar, tired of this regime, have been protesting in the streets since the coup took place. This situation, plus the police brutality towards the protesters and immunization of police forces regarding their actions, is doing nothing but adding more fire to this national conflict. Due to the current rising tensions in the country, riots may reign in its territory in the long term, putting the country’s already unstable economy on hold and being a continuous threat to the new government, that he would not hesitate to act brutally. After several days of continued rioting across the country, the military has established a curfew between 1:00 am and 9:00 am local time, in order to control the population as much as they can. During these hours, local nightly kidnappings and arrests of civilians that have been involved in these recent massive protests have been reported. Locals have started to take control of this situation by creating neighbourhood watch groups, in order to monitor the illegal detentions of their neighbours and try to keep their loved ones safe.
The military have even started shooting the rioters and have already killed some of them, although the government will not punish these acts. Other actors are starting to take a side in this new chessboard that the country of Southwest Asia has become. This problem, as much as it only occurs at the national level of Myanmar, is in the spotlight internationally.
Since 2017, Myanmar has been denounced by millions of organizations and governments for being one of the countries that fail to respect human rights due to the genocide they are committing against the Rohingya population. Myanmar, apart from actually causing the annual deaths of thousands of Rohingya’s, has also been causing thousands of political refugees who must now be welcomed in refugee camps in other nearby territories. In this recent time, along with the coup, illegal detentions and shooting at protesters, Myanmar is violating the rights of its own citizens, causing further international uproar.
It is difficult to think of something like this happening in the rest of the countries but the truth is that 2020 has created greater political instability in many other countries, which could end in the same way. Political revolts, instability and coups are some of the possible risks that 2020 has left us for this new year 2021 due to the great economic downturn worldwide and the generalized discontent with certain politicians about their management of the pandemic.
In any case, the fact that Myanmar has already attacked even those it recognizes as its legitimate citizens may definitely awaken the international legal machinery, causing the courts to penalize the country or for other governments to seize it as a way of reprimanding its citizens. actions against human rights.
Read more about 2021 risks here