Update on the Situation in Myanmar
Statement from the Asia Program's Lucas Myers.
"On Sunday, March 28th 2021, the United Nations reported that over 107 people were killed the day before by Myanmar’s military in their ongoing, brutal efforts to crack down on a widespread and committed opposition movement. A non-profit monitoring organization, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, reported on the 28th that over 2500 are currently in detention and 459 have been killed.
Protests have continued since the first week after the coup launched on February 1st, and the military leadership—despite targeted sanctions from the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union, among others—has consistently escalated its level of violence to intimidate and suppress the pro-democracy movement.
The continuation of the protests despite the violence inflicted against the people of Myanmar is a testament to the widespread support for democracy in the country. Furthermore, the anti-coup opposition has united diverse factions across Myanmar, including ethnic armed organizations such as the Karen National Union.
Looking ahead, the outlook for Myanmar and its people is grim, and the sheer scale of the violence leaves little doubt as to the coup leadership’s intentions of holding onto power. The economy has been devastated and the country is facing looming international isolation, while the coup appears to have triggered renewed violence between the military and the ethnic armed organizations, thereby undoing progress in the already stalled peace process. A regional refugee crisis is now a distinct possibility. Furthermore, many NLD leaders have been arrested, and the continued rollout of criminal charges against ousted State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi demonstrates the military’s desire to eliminate the NLD as a political competitor.
Whether this new regime led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing could ever rehabilitate its international image in the West in the manner of the Thai military is seriously in doubt. Regardless, Min Aung Hlaing appears set on weathering the current crisis without compromise and inflicting whatever instability, violence, and economic devastation is necessary for his and the military’s political aggrandizement.”
About the Author
The Asia Program promotes policy debate and intellectual discussions on U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific as well as political, economic, security, and social issues relating to the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region. Read more