Myanmar Military’s Repression Continues

Myanmar military junta has decided to dissolve the political party with the largest support, the National League for Democracy (NLD) of imprisoned leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and has continued to push for elections.

To prepare for the elections, the military has also abolished 40 political parties because they have refused to comply with a tough new registration law. This law sets tough requirements for national parties, narrowing political representation.

Some of the requirements are: recruiting 100,000 members within 90 days of registration; parties opening offices in at least half of all 330 townships within 180 days and parties contesting at least half of all constituencies and holding funds of 100m kyat. 

The military’s plans to hold an election have created conflict and violence raging across the country and internationally. After their coup, they promised elections in August 2023. In the meantime, army chief Min Aung Hlaing has been the head of the caretaker government. As August approaches, the date for new elections hasn’t been set.

Nevertheless, Myanmar’s coup leader Min Aung Hlaing has pledged to deal decisively with “terrorists” fighting against his rule as the military put on an annual show of strength for Armed Forces Day on Monday 27.

In this context, the opposition armed group, the loosely organized People’s Defense Forces (PDF), regularly attacks military columns, bases, and outposts. At the same time, the army and air force are hitting villages with artillery and air raids, often causing civilian casualties and being accused of other brutal human rights abuses.

After the military coup in 2021

Since February 2021, the country has been controlled by the military.

As the Guardian correspondent, Rebecca Ratcliffe, recalls, the NLD, the country’s most popular party, won elections by a landslide in 2020, but the military refused to accept the result, alleging electoral fraud, a claim rejected by independent observers. 

Then the military junta seized power and detained NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others. Aung San Suu Kyi has since been sentenced to a total of 33 years in prison.

In the weeks following the coup, a lot of people mass protested demanding to respect for voting and Aung San Suu Kyi’s release. The military responded with deadly violence, raided homes, and arrested anyone suspected of supporting democracy.

More than 15,500 people have been arrested and the number continues to grow. Amnesty International further explains that more than 1,000 opposition politicians, political activists, human rights defenders, and others have been convicted in unfair trials. 

Additionally, as of March 28, the Junta forces have killed 3,171 people, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), a human rights group.

Due to indiscriminate military attacks on civilians more than 1.38 million people have been displaced, according to the UN. Furthermore, tens of thousands of ethnic Rohingya people remained in squalid displacement camps and their rights remained severely curtailed, says Amnesty International.

The future of Myanmar seems dark. Any election without the participation of all stakeholders in Burma will not be and cannot be considered free or fair.

Although there is no settled date for the elections, with the NLD out of the equation and most of the 63 registered parties contesting seats only in regional legislatures, the military’s proxy, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), is almost certain to win at the national level, Reuters analyses.

Myanmar’s political space is further narrowing, and the military junta is continuing to build on brutal tactics to create fear and repress opposition. All of this is in the midst of a severely weakened economy.

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