By: MICHAEL DELGADO
The country of Myanmar (Burma) is not often thought of in the United States but it’s recent troubled history is nothing to ignore. The country has been embroiled in a series of ethnic insurgencies since 1995. As a result, the country’s military has always had the final say on most issues in the country. These powers include automatic veto power on all bills and a guaranteed number of seats in the nation’s government. But so far their power has been behind the curtains of bureaucracy, until now.
On Monday the Burmese military occupies the country’s capital Naypyidaw and its largest city Yangon. They also arrested Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s State Councilor (Prime Minister) and other members of her party. This comes after her party the National League for Democracy (NLD) won a plurality of seats in the recent election. While not directly challenging the military’s power, Kyi promised more power to the civilian population.
The military alleges the results of the election were fraudulent and have promised to reinstate democracy following a 12 month transition period. Though hopes of this promise being fulfilled are minimal among the international community. The coup comes in the midst of the ongoing Rohingya Genocide being conducted by the countries military against the Muslim Rohingya population. The UN has condemned Myanmar for extrajudicial killings, summary execution, gang rapes, and arson in Rohingya villages. And has called the genocide a form of ethnic cleansing. While Kyi has denied any genocide is occuring in the country, the hopes for the Rohingya people seem dimmer under a direct military junta.
The international community is already reacting. President Joe Biden has threatened to sanction the country if the military does not immediately relinquish power. The Chinese government has been supportive of the country thus far with close ties to its military and was one of the few countries to support it in the face of accusations of ethnic cleansing. The country has been looking to expand its influence in the region and a pro Chinese military coup would be the perfect opportunity to do so.
While Kyi and her cabinet remain in house arrest, the international community holds its breath waiting for the new government’s next move. From ethnic cleansing to mass insurgency to sanctions and mass protests in response to the coup the new military government has plenty on it’s plate. And plenty of ways things could go wrong.