Yangon – Democratically-elected President Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar (or Burma) and several of her political leaders were reportedly arrested last week after the military seized control of the country and declared a state of emergency for a period of one year.
The new leader of the ruling 11-man junta is Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Burma had, for decades, been ruled by the military until 2011 when reforms were initiated.
Suu Kyi and the other detainees are being kept in an unspecified location in the capital Naypyitaw.
(Latest reports claim that Mrs. Suu Kyi, 75, faces up to 3 years in jail following criminal charges primarily designed to permanently bar her from seeking political office, as members of parliament cannot have criminal convictions. She was charged by state prosecutors for illegally importing and using walkie-talkies found inside her residence in Naypyitaw.)
The military had reportedly become restless when Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party registered a landslide win with some 83 percent of the seats in parliament in the November elections.
This was viewed as ominous since the NLD could unilaterally form a government without needing to rely on a coalition, thus posing an existential threat.
The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party did very poorly, winning only 33 of 476 seats. They disputed the results, claiming widespread fraud.
According to various international news agencies, the coup (declared just hours before Burma’s parliament was scheduled to resume its session) is a clear violation of the constitution which was drafted by the military a decade ago, and which it promised to obey only last Saturday, Jan. 30 or some 24 hours earlier.
In 2015, the NLD under Suu Kyi won an overwhelming victory that led to the first civilian government in five decades.
The Biden administration, in condemning the takeover as a “direct assault on democracy”, called on the junta to immediately release all political detainees and reverse the illegal action.
But whether the military would comply with the White House’s demands is still unclear.
Junta leader Hlaing has been under US sanctions since December 2019 for serious human rights abuses related to the horrific persecution of the Rohingya people.