Democrats around the world should be grateful to the ordinary men and women of Myanmar. They braved death threats from the military junta which staged a coup earlier this month, putting democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi behind bars. Since the February 1 coup, tens of thousands of people from all walks of life have thronged the streets of towns and small towns to protest and demand the release from house arrest of the popular leader of the National League. for democracy.
With young people at the forefront of the movement for the restoration of democracy, even a large part of the officials spoke out against the military junta. Thousands of Buddhist monks have joined the pro-democracy movement, giving the fight against military rule a clearer advantage. A few days ago, the armed forces killed two demonstrators in an attempt to prevent a peaceful demonstration.
The funeral procession of a young woman shot by the military took place on Monday, February 22. Dubbed the Revolution of 22222, it brought together tens of thousands of people chanting pro-democracy and anti-coup slogans. Protests across the country defied warnings of “loss of life” broadcast by state-controlled media. Obviously, the generals did not think their takeover would provoke such a popular uprising.
After being convincingly defeated in the national ballot, which Suu Kyi’s party swept away with a three-quarter majority, the rejected generals declared the election null and void. They alleged widespread bad practices in the ballot, a claim rejected by independent electoral authorities. Military Commander Min Aung Hlaing, while assuming full control of the country, has promised to hold a new election within a year. World leaders have called on the generals to restore popular domination. However, General Hlaing remains impassive. US President Joe Biden has now threatened to reimpose sanctions.
China, however, used its veto power to block a UN Security Council statement condemning the coup. As long as the military is assured of Chinese support, it hopes to overcome global isolation. China, for its part, exploits Myanmar for its mineral wealth, monopolizing control of major infrastructure projects. It also gives tacit support to a terrorist group harassing the Myanmar government, which provides Beijing with leverage over the government.
For its part, India has had to be cautious, given the way in which armed rebels from the northeast have taken refuge in Mynamar whenever Indian police made it difficult for them at home. Moreover, India would not like to give a free pass to China in a strategic geography. Yet it seems the generals this time may have miscalculated the popular reaction. The way the whole country has emerged as one defender of their democratic leader leaves them little choice but to quell the popular uprising through the use of sheer force. This may have unforeseen repercussions for Myanmar.
The best possible solution for the generals is to restore civilian rule and retire to the barracks. No military leader can last long if the people are united against him.