The overthrow of the democratic government in Myanmar by the military is condemnable and unacceptable. The declaration of a year-long state of emergency on February 1 by the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services, Min Aung Hlaing, who has now assumed absolute power, was unprovoked, gratuitous and uncalled for. The coup d’état is against the spirit and the letters of the constitution. The dissolution of the two houses of parliament is illegal and unconstitutional. They should be re-convened forthwith. The members of parliament now in detention must be released immediately and unconditionally. President Win Myint and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi must be released from detention and restored to their positions. The disruption of Internet communication, Facebook, Whatsapp and others by the military to isolate the country is a desperate act to forestall civil disobedience. It will fail.
The shock of the international community on this misguided action by the Myanmar military is understandable. The military has been a source of political instability in Myanmar since 1962 when the first coup d’état was executed. The military dictatorship has held sway for more than 44 years since the country attained independence in 1948. Like all military dictatorships, those were the years of the locusts, without any discernible value or improvement in the lives of Myanmar citizens. In 2015 , when the civil rule was restored, it was a huge relief to the international community. To return to dictatorship and chaos and repression would be disastrous.
The international community has expressed its disgust at the change of government. The pretext for this coup was that the election results of November 8, 2020, was fraudulent. The military provided zero evidence to buttress its allegations. The election was witnessed and reported by international observers from all over the world including the Carter Centre, USA. The Burma Union Election Commission was categorical that there was no fraud whatsoever. Again, the remedy for a disputed election cannot possibly be a coup d’etat. All over the world, the courts have served as arbiters for such disputes. Myanmar’s election authority having seen no evidence of fraud had no choice but to announce the results which showed the military won only 33 seats to Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy’s 396, which was only a slight improvement on its performance in 2015. Fair-minded people think the military was blaming the government for its own woeful electoral performance.
The speculation that the coup was probably a reflection of the military’s fear of diminished influence in Myanmar’s politics is unfounded because the military had used its overwhelming influence to ensure that it constitutionally appointed a quarter of all members of parliament. There are even baser motives for the forceful change of government. For instance, the Commander-in-Chief Hliang is expected to retire at the age of 65 which would be sometime in July. Could he be postponing his date with history? Or is he trying to deprive the civilian authority of an opportunity to appoint a commander who is more amenable to reforms? Besides, his family members, his son, son in-law involved in state-run organisations probably need protection. Secondly, the Myanmar military is castigated for the ugly incidents in the Rakine State, including the accusations of genocide and ethnic cleansing and the barbaric treatment of the Rohingya ethnic group. The international Criminal Court (ICC) has waded into the matter and Aung San Suu Kyi was in the court at The Hague some months ago where she heroically defended the military of charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. For the Myanmar military to turn against her so soon, after she literally threw away her Nobel Peace Prize in their defence, is confounding, to say the least. Certainly, the chief prosecutor at the ICC has penciled down Commander-in-Chief Hliang as a defendant for serious charges including genocide and crimes against humanity. Is commander Hliang, therefore, trying to save his skin?