The military in Myanmar has staged a coup to get back into power just over a week ago. Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party had won the parliamentary elections by a landslide in November, and dozens of other politicians have been detained. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is said to have been under house arrest since then - as in the days of the former military dictatorship. The protest against the military is strong. Despite occasional internet shutdowns, tens of thousands are organizing and taking to the streets - dressed in red, the color of resistance. "WortMelder" asked Achim Kemmerling, Professor of Public Policy and Development at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt: "Is Myanmar losing the future to the past or has the military messed with the wrong people?"
"First of all, the situation is tragic for the people. Even if many Myanmar citizens expected more from a government under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, the elections of 2015 and 2020 were nevertheless signs of democratic opening. I know many people personally who have massively supported and pushed for the opening. The military coup sets these hopes and efforts back by years.
To get even the slightest idea about the further course of the military coup, we would need to know more about the motives of the coup. But these are still nebulous. Personal reasons of the commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing seem to play a role. Min Aung Hlaing would soon have reached the maximum age for generals and would therefore have to resign. Perhaps he fears being prosecuted in retirement for past atrocities. Or he, his family and other members of the junta fear for their influence in military-controlled companies. Another reason could be structural: The November 2020 election resulted in an overwhelming victory for the ruling party. To be sure, the military still holds an important blocking minority of 25 percent of seats in parliament. But with the dominance of Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the risk of the military being disempowered may have increased. The allegations of election fraud should certainly be seen in this context. Of course, the elections in the country's civil war regions were far from unproblematic. Nevertheless, the military's insistence on these allegations seems to be a diversion from the real reasons.
Unfortunately, the pandemic also contributed to the coup. The country has just received aid from the International Monetary Fund again, and the Corona-related conditions were drastic even before the coup. But this also makes it easier to organize a state of emergency. In this respect, Myanmar is perhaps one of the first Corona dictatorships worldwide.
Protests continue, despite considerable repression. There are demonstrations, general strikes and even resistance from the ranks of state employees and the police. Several Western countries have already threatened or even imposed sanctions: for example, the United States and Australia. European countries will surely follow. However, autocratic countries like China or Russia are unlikely to join. Therefore, it is very questionable who will have the upper hand in the foreseeable future. The military has, once again, set the country back for years."