Myanmar: Military Takeover Mindat as Pro-Democracy Protests Continue

In mid-May, the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) has taken over the town of Mindat, in the Eastern province of Chin. The Tatmadaw is able to bomb the town from a artillery base 33 kilometers away, while hundreds of young protesters are arming themselves with an insufficient amount of hunting rifles. The city had previously been controlled by a rebel group that openly opposed the Tatmadaw’s autocratic tendencies and brutal suppression of protesters. The military had declared martial law in Mindat while identifying insurgent fighters as terrorists. As of today, the military is in control of Mindat despite the population’s attempts at safeguarding the city. While some have been able to escape into the countryside, more than 20,000 people are currently trapped in the city. Some citizens of Mindat have arranged what they call a People’s Administration Team, which stands against the military government’s illegitimate rule.

Since the coup, more than 800 people have died in country-wide protests, a movement that has been coined the “Spring Revolution”. Since then, the military’s excessive use of force against its own civilians has been widely criticized. Both the US and British embassy have done so by specifying the Tatmadaw’s human rights violations of the past month.

Back in February, the Myanmar military took over power in a coup and detained their leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. It undermined the country’s dubious democratic system which had been under the leadership of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) since 2016. The military justified its takeover of power in Myanmar by pointing to the country’s fraudulent electoral system which they claimed favored the NLD politically. Yet, independent observers in Myanmar have rejected the claim of any electoral fraud whatsoever, meaning that voters willingly and lawfully chose Aung San Suu Kyi to extend her tenure. Despite the pandemic, more than 27 million Burmese casted their votes. The Asian Network for Free Elections detected “irregularities” in the election that occurred in November due to events liked with the pandemic and the social instability in Myanmar at the time. Nonetheless, it concluded that the election results were valid and adequately reflected the voice of the people of Myanmar.

On May 17th, the US, the UK and Canada have imposed sanctions on the Tatmadaw’s military leaders as well as on any associated individuals or institutions. Up to now, the Tatmadaw has promised to launch new elections as soon as the state of emergency would be over, yet continues to crack down on protesters.