This Article is written by Meher (a fourth-year BBA LLB Student at Christ University Bangalore)
Table of Contents
The past year has been filled with a plethora of disappointments. By the time we revived from every disaster with fractured hope, there was a new variant and a new year. With no end to the pandemic and an unfathomable future, we move ahead. The only thing persistent even in the upcoming year is the continuation of the socio-political downfalls and dilemmas. The past year has seen an endemic of military coups and further destruction of democracy. It has become hard for a democracy to survive and thrive these days. An organized democracy is being ravaged by coups all around the world. Democracy is no longer the people’s will and interest, it is seen as an opportunity to turn the state into demonocracy. The fight for democracy has been a flickering flame and these incidents completely destroy the fight. Once a coup extinguishes the country’s political system, massacring the opposition and crimes against humanity are daily lives. Elected leaders are ousted and the country is led to a mayhem state. This has been the case with Myanmar for so long. The people and the leaders of the country fought for democracy, but recently the fight was disgraced again with the arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi.
MYANMAR SO FAR:
Myanmar has been on a long fight for democracy. The fight is filled with military coups overthrowing formed governments, arrests and detention and crimes on people. The fragile democracy of the state has seen the worst atrocities on humans yet the people are unwavering. Their hope is the strongest pillar of democracy. Democracy is the only harbour for them. But the recent military coup in February 2021 has dashed all these hopes for the development of democracy. This coup has become another addition to this troubled history and failure of democratic reforms. Independent Myanmar struggled for democratic reforms but it could not break the perpetual chain of coups sabotaging the democracy. In addition to these, the country was also suffering from widespread poverty due to isolationist policies and there were ethnic wars. The first time independent Myanmar caught on to democracy is in 2011 where there was a transitional government along with military control. Albeit the weight of military control, there were a series of reforms. In 2015 the country had its first fairest elections in decades, and Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory establishing a civilian government. Her party won again for the second time in 2020 with more votes than in 2015. This massive victory brought allegations like voter fraud in addition to the pre-election allegations over the Rohingya issue. The voter fraud allegations were denied by the election commission. But in 2021 the military staged a coup again by ousting the de facto leader of the civilian rule and declared a year of emergency. On February 1st the military seized the control and arrested the leaders of the ruling party along with Suu Kyi. Since then, Myanmar has seen a series of massive violent protests where many were killed including children.
The military (junta) justified their actions by using the 2008 constitution drafted by the military. The military has gaping holes in its justification and arguments. The constitution does not support their actions especially when there is a clear provision for the president’s immunity from detention. When the first step of the staged coup is unconstitutional then the series of actions that follow are rendered unconstitutional immediately. Nevertheless, the state of emergency still continues along with the huge protests. The military says there will be “free and fair” elections after the end of the emergency but the political experts fear that this could be the end of the democracy in the state. They fear that the military might retain power indefinitely without any turning back. This sparked the devastating protest with lots of killings and crimes against humanity. As of now the commander-in-chief of the military is the leader of the state. This commander-in-chief maintained the military’s power throughout civilian rule and has been condemned by the international community for several previous actions.
SUU KYI’S ARREST:
Suu Kyi was arrested on 1st February on the day when the new government was to be established in the Parliament. The charges under which Suu Kyi was detained are different from that of the Arrest of the President. The ousted leader faced charges under various legal violations. The main charges were for possessing unwarranted walkie-talkies and for violating Covid -19 restrictions by inciting dissent. These violations allegedly gave the authority to the military to cease control. This is not the first time she was arrested. There has been a long history of arrests and detention of the leader who fought for the restoration of democracy. But the recent Rohingya crackdown has been a major setback in her growing international reputation. The people and her followers opine that the arrests discredit her. The final verdict date is not set yet. As of now the leader is sentenced for a four-year imprisonment and the charges under various laws amount to more than a life time imprisonment for a term of 102 years. Protest have emerged demanding the release of the leader and as a result, many were killed and March 27th saw the highest number of deaths where over 100 people were massacred.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW – CONCLUSION:
Whenever there has been a failed democracy or a downfall of a political system, the international reaction plays a significant role. The extent of international control can give inexplicable results, event upto the extent of reviving the democracy. But the recent events show that the international community just condemns or has no reaction to the failure and human rights violations, be it in the case of Afghanistan or Myanmar. The international community has reduced itself to a silent spectator and has sidelined itself. Well, international law never came to the rescue of democracy. This suppression of upheaval in Myanmar and the military coup will be the darkest days in the already struggling Myanmar and the international community as always will remain a footnote. Only time can tell if the military is on the “side of people” as it claims to be. And the international community should just hope the people retain their hope for democracy. Their sacrifice for democracy will rekindle the flame and authenticity of democracy around the world one day. For now, we should pray that Myanmar comes out of this coup crisis, hopefully, with some help from the world.