By Sherry Zhang
Since February 1, the day Myanmar’s military seized control of the nation, mass protests have been erupting across the country. As a result, hundreds of people, including children, were killed in the effort to bring back democracy.
Myanmar is located in Southeast Asia and is home to over 54 million people. Imperialized for its rich resources, Myanmar was also a colony to the British Empire from 1824 to 1948. After its independence, the country was governed by the armed forces from 1962 to 2011, when a new government called for civilian rule.
A few years later, the military took back control in February after Aung San Suu Kyi, a prominent proponent of democracy, and her party, the National League for Democracy, won the country’s recent election. Angered by the NLD winning the election by a landslide, the opposition (supported by the armed forces) called for a rerun, claiming widespread voter fraud. However, the elections committee firmly declared there was no such evidence to support the claims. Shortly after, the military’s coup took place just as a new session of Parliament was about to begin. After overthrowing the NLD, the military then held Aung San Suu Kyi captive, pressing her with various charges.
Currently, the military commander-in-chief—Min Aung Hlaing—holds the power in Myanmar, and even before the coup, during the days of democracy, Min Aung Hlaing possessed a great amount of political influence by maintaining a successful military. Internationally, the military general has received condemnation from several UN members for his coup and for his role in persecuting ethnic minorities. Nonetheless, despite the backlash, Min Aung Hlaing insists the takeover was justified and lovingly addresses his support for the people. In fact, the military affirmed the country will hold a “free and fair” election once the state of emergency is over.
Despite the military’s propaganda, people—angry, terrified, tired—continue to protest the military over the coup even today. Furthermore, the protest has been the largest in Myanmar since the Saffron Revolution in 2007, when thousands of monks banded together against the military regime. How many deaths will it take for a country pervaded with underlying corruption to finally hold the light of democracy forever?