The Myanmar military has declared that it stands ready to deal with sanctions and isolation after its coup on 1 Feb.
On Wednesday (3 Mar), a top United Nations (UN) official called on countries to “take very strong measures” in order to restore democracy in Myanmar.
Here’s what you need to know about the situation.
Myanmar Army Declares to UN That It is Ready for Sanctions & Isolation
According to the UN special envoy in Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, 38 people died on Wednesday, which has been the most violent day of the coup thus far.
The UN Security Council had expressed concern over the situation, but did not outrightly condemn the coup due to opposition from China and Russia, who believed that the events belonged to Myanmar’s internal affairs.
Schraner Burgener said in response that the situation in Myanmar “hits the stability of the region”, and hence cannot merely be classified as an internal affair.
She shared that while engaging in discussions with Myanmar’s deputy military chief Soe Win, she had forewarned that strong action would be taken against Myanmar by the other countries and that isolation would be imposed.
However, the response received was, “We are used to sanctions, and we survived.”
Upon warning of isolation, the military responded with, “We have to learn to walk with only a few friends.”
Sanctions have been imposed or are currently being considered by Western countries such as the United States, Britain, Canada, and the European Union, in an attempt to put pressure on the military government.
Background Information on the Situation in Myanmar
Even though the National League for Democracy (NLD) party under Aung San Suu Kyi won the November 2020 election in a landslide victory, the military invalidated the results as fraudulent.
The military government then proceeded to detain elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
Afterwards, the military declared a state of emergency and governing power was handed over to military chief Min Aung Hlaing, who stated that such action was taken because of the lack of government response to the military’s allegations of election fraud in November 2020, and also for not postponing the elections in light of COVID-19 considerations.
However, the military denied the ousting of the NLD from power as a coup, justifying it as necessary. They have promised to restore power to the NLD after a new election, though it has not been specified when exactly this election will take place.
Meanwhile, Myanmar has been embroiled in turmoil, with protesters taking to the streets and the military imposing harsh clampdowns in return. Violent measures have been used to quell protests, with rubber bullets, tear gas and even slingshots being used on the people of Myanmar.
In spite of all this, protestors have pressed on, and Schraner Burgener has said that she believes that the military is “very surprised” by the protests that have been raging against the coup.
She said that among the protestors are “young people who have lived in freedom for ten years, they have social media, and they are well organised and very determined”, and they “don’t want to go back in a dictatorship and in isolation”.
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