Myanmar Leader Aung San Suu Kyi Arrested As Military Seizes Control Of Country
The military has seized power in Myanmar, Southeast Asia after leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior members of her governing party were arrested.
Suu Kyi’s party National League for Democracy (NLD) took power in the country, formerly known as Burma, following an election on November 8 in which she won 83% of the available seats.
Despite gaining the majority, the military claimed Suu Kyi had won as a result of fraud, and filed complaints with the Supreme Court against the president and the chair of the electoral commission.
The election commission rejected the allegations, but the military threatened to ‘take action’ over the alleged illegal activity. The military detained San Suu Kyi and other politicians in the early hours of this morning, February 1, with all authority given to top army commander Min Aung Hlaing.
Following a coup in 1962, the military directly ruled Myanmar for nearly 50 years until democratic reforms began in 2011. It cited ‘election fraud’ as the reason for detaining the president, and sent soldiers out onto the streets of the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, and the main city, Yangon.
According to a statement on military TV, cited by the BBC, a state of emergency declared for one year in the country. On the ground, mobile internet data connections and some phone services have been disrupted, with phone lines and internet connectivity in Yangon seemingly limited.
Residents have been seen lining up at ATMs in the country amid expectations of a cash crunch, and banks have temporarily halted all financial services, according to the Myanmar Banks Association.
Suu Kyi previously urged her supporters not to accept the coup and launch protests, with her pleas further reflected in a statement issued by the NLD on her behalf after her arrest.
Per Reuters, the statement said, ‘I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military.’
The coup has been condemned by leaders and organisations across the globe, with officials urging the Myanmar military to respect the results of the election.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented, ‘The United States stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development. The military must reverse these actions immediately.’
Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, said:
These developments represent a serious blow to democratic reforms.
All leaders must act in the greater interest of Myanmar’s democratic reform, engaging in meaningful dialogue, refraining from violence and fully respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch, claimed the military that previously ruled Myanmar ‘never really stepped away from power’ or ‘submitted to civilian authority’ in the first place, adding, ‘Today’s events in some sense are merely revealing a political reality that already existed.’
The U.S. and other countries with sanctions regime should send a strong message today, by immediately revoking sanctions relaxations and imposing strict and directed economic sanctions on the military leadership and its enormous economic conglomerates; and pressing other key counties — including South Korea and Japan — to force businesses to divest. The Burmese junta doesn’t want to go back to being China’s vassal.
The military in Myanmar is notoriously reclusive, and even those who have committed to observing the organisation know little about it its inner workings.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Most Read StoriesMost Read