Myanmar Military Coup 2021 Explained: Who is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi & Why’s She Detained?

  • AUTHOR: admin
  • POSTED ON: February 1, 2021

The dawn of the first day of February 2021 brought a whole new world for the citizens of Myanmar. The country woke up to closed banks, no internet, blackouts, and soldiers patrolling the streets like it was a scene from a Hollywood movie.

The people of Myanmar got the news from a military-owned channel that the country’s democratically elected Myanmar’s leaders have been detained and the power has been handed over to Army Chief, Min Aung Hlaing. The news broke only hours before the first session of the new parliament was about to open.

When the military addressed the nation, it was revealed that it had detained Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and a number of other high-ranking leaders from the National League for Democracy.

What’s really happening in Myanmar, who is Aung San Suu Kyi, and why is she detained?

Here’s what we know.

Who is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi?

Born on June 19th, 1945, Suu Kyi is a Burmese politician and diplomat, and the daughter of the country’s independence hero General Aung San. Chances are you’ve heard of her before, as Suu Kyi became a Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1991.

While she lived most of her early life overseas, getting an education from the University of Delhi and then the University of Oxford, she returned to Myanmar in 1988 and has served as the State Counsellor of Myanmar since 2016.

When Suu Kyi returned to Myanmar, the country was going through a politically unstable time with protestors demanding democratic reforms. Suu Kyi joined the movement and quickly became one of the most prominent figures in the rallies around the country.

She was seen as a candidate to lead. However, the protests didn’t last long and she was detained by the military for the first time for nearly 15 years between 1989 and 2010.

Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest, but she never stopped pushing for reforms. Her efforts were recognized by the international community, and this is when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

After being released from detention, Suu Kyi was elected as an MP in 2012. Three years later, in 2015, her efforts led her party to a landslide victory and they established the first civilian government in Myanmar after more than half a century.

Suu Kyi isn’t technically the President of the country. The fact that she has foreign family members keeps her from getting the position based on a constitution clause. Instead, she is referred to as the de facto ruler of Myanmar. Her government is often questioned by the international community for its treatment of the Muslim Rohingya community, but within Myanmar, she remains extremely popular.

Why Is She Detained?

In November 2020, Myanmar had its second election since the military relinquished its control back in 2011. Suu Kyi’s party, the National League of Democracy, won by an overwhelming majority, securing 83% of parliamentary seats. On the other hand, the Union Solidarity and Development Party— that is considered to be highly influenced by the military— won only 33 seats.

This led to claims by the military that there have been widespread voting irregularities in the elections. However, the election commission of Myanmar states that there’s no evidence to support these claims. These events have led to today’s dramatic development, with Suu Kyi and other government leaders being arrested by the military. In the television address by the military, it was stated that the leaders will be detained for a year.

Besides the claims of electoral fraud, there have been pro-military protests with several trucks carrying people holding placards denouncing the government. These protestors circled the city last week praising the military. After the coup, all legislative, executive, and judicial powers have been transferred to the commander in chief Min Aung Hlaing.

What’s ironic is that Myanmar’s constitution— that was drafted by the military itself— is supposed to make it difficult for the army to intervene against an elected government. “The constitution could be revoked,” General Aung Hlaing had said just last week.

The whereabouts of the de facto ruler are unknown at the moment; however, a statement has been released in her name that says, “I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly protest against the coup by the military.”

Moreover, Thant Myint-U, who is a prominent Myanmar historian and author, took to Twitter and said, “The doors just opened to a very different future. I have a sinking feeling that no one will really be able to control what comes next. And remember Myanmar’s a country awash in weapons, with deep divisions across ethnic and religious lines, where millions can barely feed themselves.”

The action of the Myanmar military has garnered condemnation from the international world. The United States has urged the military leaders to release all government officials and civilian leaders. According to a statement by the US Secretary of State, “The United States expresses grave concern and alarm regarding reports that the Burmese military has detained multiple civilian government leaders, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and civil society leaders. The military must reverse these actions immediately.

Moreover, US President Joe Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki said that “the US opposed any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed.” UN Secretary-general Antonio Guterres also said that the developments represent “a serious blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar.”

With the military seeking to seize control of Myanmar once again, it can be pretty difficult to imagine it going back to the way it was before 2011. The country has opened up in such significant ways.

This was all the crucial information you needed to know about the developments in Myanmar, keep coming back to the website to know more details about the events as they progress and don’t forget to like our Facebook page.

Updated February 1, 2021
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