Myanmar military junta, under the leadership of greedy, corrupt, cruel and thuggish officers have visibly ruined the country thus pushing forward towards further civilians into unimaginable sufferings. Despite challenges posed by its own citizen and international sanctions, the military junta remains in power with no signs of restoring democracy and protecting human rights and freedom of expression. Although now a wave of international pressures is steadily growing, in my opinion, such pressures may not succeed in forcing the military regime creating conditions for the return of a democratic government. Interestingly, this is the first time, none of the international media, groups or government are talking about release of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi from prison, and she no more is enjoying the accolade of being termed as ‘daughter of democracy’. Reason behind such sordid state or fall from grace of Aung San Suu Kyi is her dubious actions which only resembled that of a cruel dictator, while her absolute silence on the case of persecuted Rohingyas and even her silent endorsement to genocide committed on these Rakhine State populace has had placed her into the position of a heartless monster.
To most of the people in the world, Aung San Suu Kyi is no more a hero or poster-girl of democracy. She has exposed her nasty and notorious face to the international community, which is one of the reasons that her former supporters and admirers are no more willing to see her return to power.
Despite such situation where majority of the people are not showing interest in putting their support towards Aung San Suu Kyi, it is now a big question to people of Myanmar – even if the military junta expresses willingness of restoring democracy, who shall lead that government? Can the people of Myanmar find an alternative to Aung San Suu Kyi?
But still, the United Nations sees Aung San Suu Kyi’s government as “democratically elected” one, where the UN’s Special Rapporteur Thomas Andrews said: “Two years ago, the military deposed a democratically elected government in an unconstitutional coup. The unrelenting violence that it unleashed on the people of Myanmar has created a widespread human rights, humanitarian, and economic crisis and galvanized nationwide opposition”.
Andrews stressed, “the military coup was illegal and its claim as Myanmar’s Government is illegitimate”. He called for a “new, coordinated international response to the crisis”, which is imperative, to oust the regime’s ruling State Administration Council (SAC). Moreover, the Special Rapporteur urges member states to reject the sham elections the SAC is planning to hold later this year in a move to restore a veneer of legitimacy.
Speaking to reporters, Thomas Andrews decried “a vacuum of leadership when it comes to Myanmar”. The crisis merits much more attention from the world community. He conceded, the “failure of we, as an international community, to address the crisis”.
According to media reports, the human toll since the coup has been devastating; at least 2,900 civilians have been killed and another 17,000 detained. More than 17.5 million people, about a third of the country’s population, require humanitarian aid in 2023, compared with 1 million before the takeover. More than a million people have been internally displaced within Myanmar.
The World Bank reported that 40 percent of the population lives under the poverty line.
Significantly a five-point peace plan promoted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) the influential 10 state regional grouping, has set a political roadmap for the return of democratic government in Myanmar. The plan has been shunned by the junta. In the meantime, Myanmar’s military has been barred from ASEAN meetings.
Countries like Singapore and Indonesia have reduced engagement with the military and press for a genuine political solution to the crisis. Other states like Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand “have engaged more” with the regime diplomats assert. Indonesia’s current chairmanship of ASEAN, according to Andrews is “very crucial” given the proactive role of the Jakarta government in pressing to solve the crisis.
A resource-rich Myanmar with strategic location borders Bangladesh, China and Thailand. Though having a majority Buddhist population among its 55 million people, there are Christian, Muslim and Hindu minorities who have long opposed and been oppressed by the central government.
The UN’s Human Rights Chief Volker Turk stated unambiguously, that since the military coup, “By nearly every feasible measurement, and in every area of human rights, economic, social and cultural, as much as civil and political, Myanmar has profoundly regressed”.
The Human Rights Chief added, that since the coup two years ago, “the military has imprisoned the entire democratically elected leadership of the country and detained over 16,000 others, most of whom face specious charges in military controlled courts, in flagrant breach of due process and fair trial rights”.
It may be mentioned here that Myanmar military also known as the Tatmadaw remains a shadowy force combining political control and suffocating oppression along with running a corrupt business empire. It has been directly involved in transnational drug trafficking while it was also reported in the media that the junta was funding and patronizing a jihadist outfit named Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
As mentioned, in 2017 then State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi condoned the mass deportation of the Muslim minority population in Rakhine state. More than a million people fled to Bangladesh.
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