March 30, 2021

Fight For Freedom

A military coup in Myanmar has grown more violent and deadly – as the resistance grows more resolute.

What’s Going On
Why It Matters

Background: The Basics

  • Myanmar is also known as Burma.
  • After gaining independence from Britain in 1948, military rule has continued in varying degrees.
  • Site of the world’s longest civil war as military has battled ethnic minorities.
  • A move toward democracy with open elections was fleeting. After the pro-democracy party won overwhelmingly in the 2020 election, the military seized power, claiming election fraud.
“The world is upside down in Myanmar. We must fight until we win. The regime must step down. There is no place for any dictator here in Myanmar.”

U Tin Tun, 46, to The New York Times. Locals have taken to the streets in nearly-constant protests since the Feb. 1 military coup. The military has met the opposition with violence; the United Nations estimates 149 protesters have been killed since the coup began. 50+ were killed this weekend – reportedly the deadliest exchange to date.

“We have continued to consistently inquire about her health and safety, as well as the health and safety of all detained leaders and civil society actors …”

U.S. State Dept. spokesman Ned Price on Aung San Suu Kyi, the former civilian head of govt. Kyi was previously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work advocating for democracy in Myanmar. Two members of Kyi’s National League for Democracy recently died in military custody; her condition and whereabouts are unknown.

Why This Matters

Myanmar’s move toward democracy (even with a military role in govt.) was seen as a move toward the West and a free, open society – a “strategic victory for Washington in China’s backyard.” (The Wall Street Journal)

The military’s violent crackdown is getting worse – leading to more death and violence, *and* further alignment with China.

The U.S. has issued sanctions on the regime, as well as an emergency order allowing Myanmar citizens to stay in the U.S. for up to 18 months instead of returning home to the violence. Critics say without a concerted effort by the international community, the sanctions will not pressure change.

“The world is upside down in Myanmar,” READ MORE

Solid Timeline:

Myanmar coup: What is happening and why?

Good background on U.S. efforts READ MORE

Analysis courtesy of The Wall Street Journal:

by Jenna Lee,