Myanmar’s road to democracy crumbled this week when the military arrested the country’s elected leader and took over the government in a matter of hours.
Claiming an election that returned Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy to power in November was fraudulent, unproven allegations by the opposition for a rerun of the election were backed by the military who declared a year-long state-of-emergency.
Myanmar’s election commission said there was no evidence of widespread fraud, and democracies around the world condemned the claims while recognizing the legitimacy of the elected government. Aung was charged with breaching import laws and illegally owning walkie-talkies.
“Canada is deeply concerned by the Myanmar military’s recent actions, which jeopardize the peaceful process of democratic transition,” Marc Garneau, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, said in a statement.
For Myanmar, the Feb. 1 coup was just the latest in a series of actions by the military to stifle democracy. Despite the military’s claims it will hold a “free and fair” election once the state-of-emergency is over, its record indicates the opposite.
Between the years of 1989 and 2010, Suu Kyi spent 15 years under military captivity and was notably awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while under house arrest in 1991 as she campaigned to bring democracy back to Myanmar.
People of Myanmar voted overwhelmingly against military control and in favour of Suu Kyi’s NLD party in 2015, the first democratic election in 25 years.
Despite her gains in establishing a democracy, Suu Kyi had to deal with a military junta that maintained control over the entirety of the security forces and permanently controlled 25 per cent of the parliamentary seats.
Suu Kyi’s reputation suffered in 2017 from the treatment of Myanmar’s minority Rohingya, a group that has not received citizenship in the country.
Military crackdowns on the ethnic minority resulted in the deaths of thousands while nearly a million Rohingya fled to Bangladesh.
Suu Kyi was forced to appear before an international court in 2019, where she staunchly defended the nation against allegations of genocide.
Even though she experienced a rocky first term, Suu Kyi and her party were re-elected with a supermajority in 2020.
Now, she remains in “good health,” according to a Facebook post from her aide Toe Kyi.
The leader encouraged her supporters to engage in protests, but instead, her party seeks to find a “peaceful” solution, reported The Associated Press.