Protests Continue In Myanmar In A Plea For Democracy

Since February 1st, Myanmar has been in turmoil when a coup removed the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. As a result, mass protests were triggered in cities across the country in a bid for the civilian administration’s restoration.

The protesters have been met with brutal security force responses, using tear gas and stun grenades to disperse these demonstrators, just hours after the United Nations Security Council was called on to hear the nation’s plea in order to restore democracy. These tactics have become increasingly aggressive to try to maintain order, and more than 1,800 arrests have been made as the protests continue.

According to the United Nations, the death toll stands at more than 50 since the coup. The state’s vital sectors have been diminished by a continuous campaign urging civil servants to boycott working under their military government. However, multiple universities and hospitals are being occupied by police and security forces. Reasons for this are because occupying hospitals allows police to easily arrest wounded people, who they would presume to be demonstrators. The international Physicians for Human Rights group has condemned this occupying, stating that they were “appalled by this latest wave of violence by the Myanmar military.”

Protestors have been heard chanting “our revolution must win” in the city of Loikaw earlier this week, including civil servants such as teachers. The impact of these demonstrations has halted infrastructure; empty ministry offices and banks are unable to operate all across the nation.

Local activist Maung Saungkha has stated that the movement will continue to persist even if security forces intervene, as citizens are determined to remove any resurgence of the repression that was experienced under the previous military government.

Authorities in Myanmar have since asked India to return eight of their policemen who sought refuge across the border in order to avoid taking orders from the military. However, the Indian foreign ministry has responded stating that they are still “ascertaining the facts” in regards to this request.

Internationally, the United States and other Western countries have imposed limited sanctions on the military government and the UN Security Council is unlikely to provide measures against the military government. Singapore’s foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan has called on Myanmar’s military to seek a peaceful solution and has addressed that external pressure would only have a limited effect on the situation.

The Embassy of Myanmar in the United States are continuing to carry out its functions in representing the state, and to serve in the interest of the country and its people. Efforts are continuing for the Security Council to impose a global arms embargo and targeted economic sanctions on the coup leaders.

Mia Heaphy