Myanmar protests

Lessons to be learned

The Myanmar military has found that it has had a harder task than it probably thought it had when it overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyii’s National League for Democracy on February 1st. Protests have continued ever since, and have gradually grown increasingly violent, to the extent that two protesters have been killed in Mandalay. This should disabuse the Myanmar military of the notion that they would got a walkover.

It seems that the military’s claim that the elections were rigged has not gained much, if any, traction. It almost seems that a large number of Myanmarese are ready to die for the principle that the vote must be respected. Whatever the merits or demerits of Aung San Suu Kyii, she was declared the winner of last year’s election, and the failure to honour that result does not seem to have been swallowed as easily as the military thought it would be. One of the more ominous signs for the military has been that those protesting have come to include the educated and the privileged, which indicates that the NLD’s support is coming from those sections of the public that the military most needs to throw their lot in with it.

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However, it does seem as if the Myanmarese people have had a surfeit of the military rule which lasted from 1962 to 2010, and was succeeded by a pro-military regime of retired generals until 2016, when Suu Kyii came to power after winning elections.

Though the Myanmarese military has taken over, this should probably not constitute a precedent for any adventurers anywhere else. People who have had a taste of freedom, including that of freely electing their own government, will not give it up easily. That has been the lesson of several states where there was an attempt by the military to take over again. It should not be ignored that military rule has been followed by democracy. That has been of varying ideologies and effectiveness, but a common factor has been that people seem unwilling to give up being able to choose their government. All militaries should take this lesson to heart.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].

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