On February 1, 2022, the military coup in Myanmar completed a year. On this day last year, the army took the power of the country into its hands by toppling the elected government of the people and placing the leaders under house arrest.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander of the Myanmar army, seized power on the morning of February 1, 2021, arresting Aung San Suu Kyi and top members of her government and the ruling National League for Democracy Party. The party was about to begin a second term after winning a landslide victory in the 2020 November election. The use of force by the military to capture power escalated the conflict and some experts declared a state of civil war in the country.
After the coup, there was a widespread protest in the country. Violence took place during this and about 1,500 civilians have been killed. The coup also attracted international attention.
To mark the one year of the coup, protestors called a nationwide strike on 1 February. The junta circulated leaflets warning that participants would be charged with terrorism, incitement and violating the electronic communications law. Dozens have already been arrested.
Photos and videos on social media showed that a countrywide “silent strike” had emptied out streets in Myanmar’s largest city of Yangon and other towns, as people stayed home and businesses shut their doors in a show of opposition to army rule.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), a human rights organisation opposing military rule, 1463 “heroes” were killed in connection with the coup (as of January 13, 2022). The NGO, The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) recorded more than 11,000 deaths last year based on newspaper articles, non-governmental organisations observations and social media reports.
Myanmar Economy After Coup
According to the World Bank, the country’s economic output has declined by 18 percent in 2021. According to the United Nations, about 3.5 million people were displaced within the country. More and more journalists are being killed, imprisoned or are leaving the country. With an added push from the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN says, the turmoil will push nearly half of Myanmar’s 55 million people into poverty by early this year, a level not seen since 2005.
Myanmar expert David Scott Mathieson, in an interview with the online edition of the Burmese and English monthly newspaper, The Irrawaddy, said of the developments in Myanmar, “In my opinion, the current situation prevailed in Myanmar after the Second World War is worst since independence. In fact, the army has declared war against its own people.”
Democracy Returned After Decades
Although Myanmar was occupied by the army for 50 years, in 2015, Suu Kyi’s government NLD (National League for Democracy) came to power. This government got a lot of support from people, due to which it became difficult to be recaptured by the army. So, the army carried out a coup by force of arms. After which a large number of people took to the streets demanding restoration of democracy. Even today, the country reports demonstration in some area or the other.