Explaining politics: Is the Myanmar coup tied to the 2017 genocide?
Much of the U.S. remains focused on the events that took place in January, which saw a coup at the U.S. Capitol as a large group of rioters stormed Washington D.C. in a fight for their political agendas. Oftentimes, because of the distractions going on in our own country, we forget the news of the rest of the world, such as the Myanmar genocide of 2017 as well as the events taking place there today.
Myanmar, otherwise known as Burma, has been the victim of decades of military control, causing poverty due to years of isolationist economic practices, and even civil war with minority groups. While the dream of democratic reform in 2011 due to a transfer to civilian leadership seemed alive and well, the military ultimately remained in control of large government sections. It was a shadow that no one could escape.
Now, the military in Myanmar has launched a coup, calling for a state of emergency that could last up to a year, and have even begun arresting opposing figures who stand against these inhumane practices. Could all of this possibly spawn from the 2017 Myanmar genocide? Let’s take a closer look at the full story, which is as horrifying as anything you’ve ever read.
2017 Myanmar genocide
In 2017, the Myanmar military began a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, who have been labeled as one of Myanmar’s many “ethnic minorities”. At the start of 2017, there were an estimated one-million Rohingyas living in Myanmar.
The genocide itself took place in two phases, a process that many considered “ethnic cleansing”. This series of ongoing persecutions kicked off in the fall of 2016, and ended in January 2017, while the second phase began in August 2017, and continues even today. These events, which continue to see the mistreatment of the Rohingya by the Myanmar government, have ultimately resulted in some pretty terrifying numbers.
Nearly 700,000 refugees have fled abroad since phase one of this genocide began, which also saw the destruction of hundreds of villages. Sadly, it is estimated that over 24,000 Rohingya people have lost their lives during these horrific events.
On the morning of February 1, 2021, the Myanmar military declared a year-long state of emergency due to the election results which saw the NLD, or the National League for Democracy, win by a landslide victory. The opposition, who is backed by the military, called for voting fraud and demanded a recount of all votes. The election commission stated that there was no evidence to support these fraudulent claims.
In rebellious fashion, the military staged a coup just as a new session of parliament was set to commence. This saw Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s elected leader, detained along with other members of her party. Even local celebrities who stand against this coup are being put on the country’s wanted list for opposing this military behavior.
Now, all the power has been handed over to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, a man who, even as the country has crawled toward democracy, played a villainous role in both the current coup as well as the “ethnic cleansing” during the 2017 Myanmar genocide. Perhaps the genocide in 2017 was in response to minimizing votes that would help avoid democracy, the very democracy in which led to this current coup.
Many civilians are protesting the coup, as well as the detaining of some of the country’s more prominent figures who have provided inspiration for the people.
In fact, it has been described as the largest protest since 2007’s “Saffron Revolution”, when an enormous number of the country’s monks stood up to combat the despicable acts of the military regime.
Because of this, the military has now implemented minimal gatherings, curfews, area restrictions, and other means in order to end these protests. They’ve even begun firing water cannons when these protests erupt in large numbers, which might actually be the mildest form of force the Myanmar military has ever shown.