Saturday, October 16

US threatens Myanmar with sanctions after coup

Asia Correspondent



A day after the coup in Myanmar, the official name of the former Burma, the whereabouts of its “de facto” head of government, the Nobel Peace Prize, is unknown.Aung San Suu Kyi, nor the rest of the politicians detained by the military on Monday morning. Some 400 deputies, who had come to the capital, Naipyidaw, for the constitution of Parliament after the November elections, are locked up and watched by the military in the government complex that houses the building, according to the AP agency.

Under the state of emergency declared by the Army after overthrowing the Government and taking over the executive, legislative and judicial powers, you can breathe in the streets a tense calm waiting to see what happens. Under the command of its commander-in-chief, General Min Aung Hlaing, the Army has removed 24 ministers and formed a cabinet of eleven ministers. To justify their riot, they denounce “electoral fraud” in the victory in November of Aung San Suu Kyi, who obtained 83 percent of the votes, and promise to call elections one year from now and cede power to the party that wins.

From eight in the afternoon to six in the morning, curfew prevails and, with soldiers patrolling the streets of the main city, Yangon (Rangoon), this Tuesday some activity has timidly recovered. After the initial surprise, exacerbated by a crash in the internet and telephones that has led to the stockpiling of food and money from ATMs, Burmese people are on the lookout after seeing their young democracy truncated. Since 2015, they have only been able to vote in two truly free elections, in which they have given their almost unanimous support to the revered Aung San Suu Kyi, until the military has re-imposed the dictatorship that ruled the country for the last six decades.

International condemnation

This turning back has been doomed by the major western powers and the United States has threatened to reinstate the sanctions that were in effect during that time. “The international community should unite with one voice to pressure the Burmese Army and give up the power it has taken, freeing the activists and officials it has detained,” appeals the new US president, Joe Biden, in his first crisis since he occupied the White House just two weeks ago.

In his official statement, Biden recalls that “the US. lifted sanctions on Burma in the past decade because of its progress towards democracy ”, but warns that“ the involution of this process will need an immediate review of our laws followed by appropriate actions ”. To do this, he announced that “we will work with our allies in the region and the world in order to support the restoration of democracy and the rule of law, as well as to hold those responsible for reversing the democratic transition in Burma accountable.”

Amid condemnation by the US, the European Union, Japan, India and Australia, and the acquiescence of China and Russia, the 15 members of the UN Security Council will meet on Tuesday behind closed doors to discuss the situation, which returns instability to Southeast Asia in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the apparent calm, the moment is extremely dangerous because Aung San Suu Kyi has called to “not accept this and protest against the coup by the military” in a message written on Facebook before his arrest. Once again, Myanmar is torn between dictatorship or revolution.

Military pressure

Since 1962, when General Ne Win took power in another coup, this beautiful but impoverished Southeast Asian country has been led by military governments that, in 2011, began the transition to democracy. Although the opposition managed to overthrow Ne Win in August 1988, another military junta replaced him in September of that same year after violently crushing the protests demanding democracy. In 1990, the Army called an election that was overwhelmingly won by Aung San Suu Kyi. But, instead of allowing him to establish his government, the militarys she was confined under house arrest for 15 of the next 20 years. Released in 2010, she won the first free elections five years later and was about to start her second term after also sweeping the elections last November. But, as happened three decades ago, the military has once again recovered one of the oldest Burmese traditions: dictatorship.

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