America has vowed to “take action” if the military coup in Myanmar is not reversed after soldiers arrested de facto leader Aung San Suu Ky, the president and MPs in dawn raids on Monday.
US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken condemned the reports in a statement released overnight and called on the military to “reverse these actions immediately”.
The generals feared Suu Kyi would use her new mandate, in which she humiliated military-backed parties in a vote last year to reform the constitution and revoke their takeover.
Military leaders who claim the vote was fraudulent have now declared a year-long state of emergency, named Vice President Myint Swe – a former general – as incumbent president and closed all banks until further notice.
“The United States expresses great concern and concern about reports that the Burmese military has arrested several civil government leaders, including State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi and civil society leaders,” the statement said.
We call on the Burmese military leaders to release all government officials and civil society leaders and to respect the will of the people of Burma as expressed in the democratic elections on November 8th. The United States stands with the people of Burma in their pursuit of democracy and freedom, peace and development. ‘
All government functions have been delegated to Colonel General Min Aung Hlaing to “ensure national stability” until new elections can be held, the military said on its own television channel after state television aired and promised that the vote would take place within a year would take place.
The NLD released a statement written by Suu Kyi prior to her arrest calling on people to “protest the coup” while warning that generals “want to restore the country under dictatorship”.
Britain, Japan and Australia, along with the US, condemned the coup early Monday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The referendum must be respected and civil leaders released.”
China – which has long been a supporter of the military – urged all sides to “resolve their differences … to protect political and social stability”.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto ruler, was arrested in a military coup just hours before their newly elected government took office, along with the country’s President Win Myint and other influential MPs
In a statement released overnight, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken condemned the reports and called on the military to “immediately reverse these actions.”
After the coup, an armored personnel carrier sits on the streets of Naypyitaw in front of the congress grounds of the Myanmar parliament
Soldiers stand guard on a street in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s capital, early Monday after conducting a coup against the government that arrested elected officials
Myanmar MP Pa Pa Han (left) was streamed live on Facebook by her husband when the military showed up on Monday (right) to arrest her and threatened to arrest her “by all means” if she resisted
Military leaders in Myanmar hold a press conference announcing the start of a year-long state of emergency and the closure of all banks following the start of a coup
After a military coup on Monday, police officers sit in trucks parked on a street in downtown Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city
A military helicopter hovers in the sky over Naypyitawm, the capital of Myanmar, after the government was overthrown in a coup by generals accusing Suu Kyi of “election fraud”.
A police officer walks behind a sealed gate at Yangon International Airport in Myanmar after all transportation hubs were closed due to a coup against the government
Myanmar – a former British colony called Burma – gained independence in 1948, initially as a democracy, but with the strong influence of the military, which had contributed significantly to the struggle for self-government.
However, amid rampant fighting, corruption and ethnic persecution, the government lost control and in 1962 the military was asked to form a unity government under a socialist one-party system.
The military junta then ruled Myanmar for the next five decades until the 2010 partial elections ushered in a new era of civil rule from 2011.
The full elections in 2015 handed power to Suu Kyi’s party, albeit with a guaranteed share of power for the military.
Last year’s elections gave Suu Kyi’s party even more power and, fearing constitutional reforms that would rob the military of much of its influence, generals said they had committed election fraud and threatened to intervene.
Since the new government was to be sworn in on Monday, the coup took place in the early hours of the morning.
Why did the military stage a coup?
Myanmar’s military plays a central role in the country’s political life – it led the struggle for independence in 1948, formed the country’s first government, and then ruled as the junta for five decades after abandoning democracy in 1962.
That all seemed to change in 2010 with the return to democracy, in which an elected government was sworn in – when in reality the military was guaranteed control of key ministries and 25 percent of the seats in parliament.
In the 2015 free elections, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a large majority while the military was hammered, believing it would reform the constitution and remove the military from power altogether.
Further elections last year gave Suu Kyi an even bigger share of power, which raised concerns among the military that their powers would soon be removed.
On Monday, just hours before the new government was due to be sworn in, the military struck and officially arrested Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and many of the country’s most influential MPs for “election fraud.”
With border closings already in place and international governments distracted from domestic political issues and the coronavirus pandemic, they face few obstacles.
Now a year-long state of emergency has been declared, Vice President Myint Swe – a former general – has been declared leader and the banks have been closed until further notice.
“Free” elections will take place after the state of emergency ends, the military has claimed.
The one-year state of emergency was declared, power was transferred to the military leaders and all banks were closed until further notice.
NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt said Suu Kyi, a state councilor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, had been “detained” with President Win Myint in the capital, Naypyidaw.
“We heard they were being taken by the military,” he told AFP, adding that he was extremely concerned about the couple. Given the current situation, we have to assume that the military will carry out a coup. ‘
The White House said President Biden had been briefed on the situation and asked the Myanmar military to release the leaders.
“The United States rejects any attempt to change the outcome of the recent elections or impede the democratic transition in Myanmar and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed,” the White House said in a statement.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab added: “The democratic desires of the people of Myanmar must be respected and the National Assembly must be peacefully reconstituted.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the arrest of Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other military leaders.
“These developments are a severe blow to the democratic reforms in Myanmar,” said spokesman Stephane Dujarric in a statement.
“We are calling for the release of interest groups, including state advisor Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now in jail,” the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement calling on the national army to quickly restore the democratic political system in Myanmar.
“We urge the military to respect the rule of law, resolve disputes through lawful mechanisms and promptly release all civil law leaders and others who have been illegally detained,” added Australian Foreign Secretary Marise Payne.
The Singapore Foreign Ministry expressed “grave concern about the recent situation in Myanmar” and hoped that all parties would “show restraint”.
The Indonesian Foreign Minister also expressed “concern” while calling for “restraint”.
However, Filipino presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the situation was an “internal matter”.
“Our main concern is the safety of our employees,” he said. “Our armed forces are on standby should we need to fly them, and naval vessels to repatriate them if necessary.”
A military spokesman did not answer calls for comments.
An NLD lawmaker, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation, said another detainee was Han Thar Myint, a member of the party’s central executive committee.
Elsewhere, according to party sources, the prime minister of Karen state and several other regional ministers were also being held on the day the new parliament was due to hold its first session.
Myo Nyunt said it was not clear what would happen to the newly elected MPs.
Myanmar’s military commander in chief, Major General Min Aung Hlaing, has been given control of the government, while Vice President Vice President Myint Swe – also a former general – has been promoted to incumbent president
A soldier guards a military roadblock in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw, after an early morning coup
Soldiers block a street in the Myanmar capital, Naypyitaw, following an anti-government coup in which generals took power after an election that humiliated them in the elections
Soldiers stand guard on a blocked road leading to the Myanmar Parliament in Naypyidaw
Policemen armed with riot gear can be seen on the streets of Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, hours after the military took control in a coupe and declared a year of emergency
Soldiers are on the move in Naypyitaw after the early morning coup in which Aung San Suu Kyi and other influential members of her party were rounded up and arrested
Soldiers sit in trucks parked on a street in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, after seizing power in an anti-government coup
After the coup, soldiers guard the checkpoint of a military compound in Yangon
Soldiers keep vigil in the Yangon City Hall area
The general’s daughter who became a freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi was born under British rule in what was then Burma to General Aung San, one of the heroes of the country’s struggle for independence.
General San was assassinated in 1948 while Ms. Suu Kyi was only two years old and shortly before the country gained independence.
In 1960 – two years before the country entered into dictatorship – she left her home country for India, where her mother was appointed ambassador to Delhi.
Four years later, Ms. Suu Kyi studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University, where she met her future husband, the British academic Michael Aris.
Ms. Suu Kyi, a historian who lectured on the culture and history of Bhutan, Tibet and the Himalayas, married Aris in a Buddhist ceremony in 1972.
Ms. Suu Kyi spent some time after the wedding in Japan and Bhutan, where Aris was the tutoring tutor for the monarch’s children, before the couple settled in the UK to raise their own children. Alexander and Kim.
Ms. Suu Kyi returned to her homeland in 1988 – initially to take care of her seriously ill mother, but soon became embroiled in pro-democracy protests after the country’s military ruler, General Ne Win, resigned.
The military, placed under house arrest in 1989, held elections the following year, which Ms. Suu Kyi won – although they decided to ignore the result.
She was placed under house arrest for the next six years. During this time she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize before she was released in 1995 – despite strict travel restrictions and bans on speaking with the media.
Ms. Suu Kyi last saw her husband the same year before he died of prostate cancer in Oxford in 1999.
Over the next decade, she continued to campaign for democratic reform in Myanmar while spending time in and out of house arrest – and was jailed in the country’s first election in 2010.
In 2012, she won a seat as a MP and was sworn in as an opposition leader. Her party gained power in 2015 and when she became the de facto leader of the country, she was excluded from the official role because her children are British.
The developments sparked a swift reaction from Australia, warning that the military “is trying again to take control of the country”.
“We urge the military to respect the rule of law, resolve disputes through lawful mechanisms and promptly release all civil law leaders and others who have been illegally detained,” said Secretary of State Marise Payne.
In the hours following the arrests, Myanmar’s communications networks were restricted and several cellular networks were down.
NetBlocks, a non-governmental organization tracking Internet shutdowns, reported serious disruptions to Internet connections in Myanmar.
Telephone numbers in the capital, Naypyidaw, also seemed unavailable.
Myanmar’s November polls were only the second democratic election the country has seen since 49 years of military rule in 2011.
The NLD took part in the polls and expected to extend 75-year-old Suu Kyi’s power contract for a new term of five years.
But the military has complained for weeks that the polls were fraught with irregularities, claiming to have detected over 10 million cases of election fraud.
She has demanded that the government-run electoral commission release voter lists for cross-checking – which the commission has not done.
Last week, the military chief General Min Aung Hlaing – arguably the most powerful person in the country – said the country’s 2008 constitution could be “revoked” under certain circumstances.
Min Aung Hlaing’s statements, accompanied by rumors of an already widespread coup d’état, fueled further tension in the country and warned more than a dozen foreign embassies and the United Nations.
Myanmar has seen two previous coups since its independence from Britain in 1948, one in 1962 and one in 1988.
Suu Kyi – a former icon of democracy and Nobel Peace Prize laureate whose image has been shaken internationally in the face of the Muslim Rohingya crisis – remains an extremely popular figure.
She spent 20 years under occasional house arrest for her role as opposition leader before being released by the military in 2010.
The new parliament is due to meet on Monday for the first time since the November elections, which Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide but which the military said were marred by fraud.
A group of Western powers, including the United States, issued a joint statement on Friday warning against “any attempt to change the outcome of the elections or impede democratic transition in Myanmar.”
In a statement on Sunday, the military accused the foreign diplomats of making “unjustified assumptions”.
A Myanmar national of Japan holds up a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest outside the United Nations University in Tokyo
Myanmarians living in Japan are demonstrating against the military coup that took place in their home country today
A Myanmar migrant holds up a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi as he participates in a demonstration outside the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand
During a protest in Bangkok, Thailand, people hold a portrait of Aung San (left), a Burmese revolutionary figure who was also the father of Aung San Suu Kyi
Buddhist monks hold banners during a protest to demand an investigation into the Union Electoral Commission (UEC) investigation over fears of a possible military coup for electoral fraud
The military “will do everything possible to uphold the democratic norms for free and fair elections as set out in the 2008 Constitution, lasting peace and inclusive well-being and prosperity for the people of Myanmar,” the statement said. posted on facebook.
Tanks were deployed in some streets last week and pro-military demonstrations took place in some cities ahead of the first assembly of parliament.
The army said Tuesday it would crack down on the election result, and when asked if it was planning a coup, a spokesman declined to rule it out.
Sunday’s statement did not directly address the issue of such an action or coup.
However, the ruling party later said in a statement that Suu Kyi and other leaders had been arrested.
Following the 2008 Constitution, the military gradually gave power to democratic institutions. But it retains privileges, including control of the security forces and some ministries.
Legal complaints about the election are pending with the Supreme Court.
The Electoral Commission has rejected the military’s allegations of electoral fraud, stating that there are no errors large enough to undermine the credibility of the vote.