What‘s going on in Myanmar?
To understand what’s going on in Myanmar, we need to go back in time. The coup d‘état, which means that the leader is being deposed, is sensitive to many Myanmar people, because it reminds them of 1988, when the army came to power, and the country became a military dictatorship with a difficult word. So that means that the army has complete power. “It meant no elections in Myanmar, no freedom of expression and no contact abroad,” says Southeast Asia correspondent Annemarie Kas.
Until 2015, when elections came and it was won by the popular leader Aung San Suu Kyi. In 1991, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, because she has been working for a democratic Myanmar for decades.
According to Annemarie, there has been much improvement in the country since 2015. “There is a little more freedom and the economy is evolving little by little.” The government has also improved the labour market and increased job opportunities for young people. But the army was never completely powerless at that time. “When the army wrote the constitution in 2008, it allowed military forces to rule much in Myanmar.”
On 8 November there were new elections. The party of Aung San Suu Kyi won again and by a large majority. A few days after that election, the army claimed that she had not won fairly. The committee, which supervised whether it was all fair, said that this was not true. “The army used that as a reason, while the real reason might be that they want power back,” says Annemarie. So last week, she committed a coup d’état.
Who wants what?
Since then, there have been protests in the country. “Myanmar people do not want their freedom taken away. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram also went black last weekend and that is also the wrong thing for young people in Myanmar. They are worried about their future,” says Annemarie. Young people in Myanmar express their dissatisfaction early last week mainly on social media. But residents also do so through noise protests, hitting pots and pans and honking their cars. According to Annemarie, a tradition in Myanmar to scare away evil spirits. There is also a discontinuation by staff in, for example, the hospital and the bank.
The protesters demand that Aung San Suu Kyi and other politicians be released. They also want the coup d‘état to be reversed and the parliament to regain power. “The Myanmarese would also like to see that the constitution is changed so that the army gets less power,” says Annemarie.
And now? According to Annemarie, there is really only a small chance that the army will return power. “The army says to take over power at least for a year and then organize ‘free and honor‘ elections. But residents don’t believe that.”