Silent strike marks year one . . .
Streets in cities across Myanmar were deserted on Tuesday as people stayed indoors and shut down businesses to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the military coup that toppled the country’s democratically elected government and sparked mass protests and violent crackdowns. The ruling junta reiterated its intention to hold new elections when the situation becomes “peaceful and stable,” without giving a specific date. Meanwhile, it has escalated attacks on civilians, torched entire villages, and perpetuated systemic human rights abuses. Since the beginning of the coup, more than 1,500 civilians have been killed, with nearly 12,000 arrested, and hundreds of thousands displaced. Due to the combined impact of the coup and COVID-19, Myanmar’s economy is expected to remain critically weak, and the share of the population living in poverty is projected to double compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Uneven international response . . .
Yesterday, Canada, along with the U.S. and the U.K., imposed additional sanctions on individuals associated with the Myanmar military regime in light of the escalating conflict. A growing number of companies have also ended their operations in Myanmar. While the United Nations Security Council has issued statements condemning the coup, it has stopped short of passing a resolution on Myanmar that would cut arms and cash to the junta. ASEAN has yet to engage with representatives of Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government and other opponents of the military junta, which shows no signs of upholding ASEAN’s five-point consensus to restore peace in the country.
A political future reimagined . . .
For the many determined to continue their nationwide democratic revolution, there is reason for optimism as the coup has brought diverse groups together with the common goal of defeating the junta. The National Unity Consultative Council, a coalition of ethnic armed organizations, political parties, and other resistance groups, is discussing the formation of a federal democratic union. Some of their policy pronouncements include the reversal of statements made by the previous National League of Democracy (NLD) government that defended atrocities committed by the military under the NLD-led government, and the inclusion of historically excluded ethnic minorities such as the Rohingya. While plans to politically unite all ethnic groups will take time, most agree that a return to a pre-coup status quo is no longer possible.