Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, seized power Monday (Feb. 1) and detained the country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and members of her party. The coup took place following days of tension between the military and the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), which won the November elections by a landslide.
The Tatmadaw has refused to accept the results, alleging massive election fraud and demanding a rerun of the vote. The election commission said there was no evidence to support these claims. The coup was staged as a new session of parliament was set to open, several international media outlets reported. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the military takeover was a “serious blow to democratic reforms”. China blocked a UN Security Council statement condemning the coup.
Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines, have said it is an “internal matter” while the UK, EU and Australia are among those to have condemned the military takeover. Myanmar, also known as Burma, gained independence from Britain in 1948. It was ruled by the armed forces from 1962 until Suu Kyi’s party came to power in 2015 under a constitution that reserves 25% of parliamentary seats for the military, allowing it to neutralize Suu Kyi’s attempts at constitutional reforms.
Security forces killed more than 90 people across Myanmar on Saturday in one of the bloodiest days of protests since a military coup last month, news reports and witnesses said.
The killing has drawn international condemnation, with defence ministers of 12 nations including the UK, USA, Australia and Japan condemning the military’s violent actions.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also commented on the weekend bloodshed.
“My message to the Myanmar military is simple: Stop the killings,” Guterres told a news conference. “Stop the repression of the demonstrations; release the political prisoners; and return power to those who have a legitimate right to exercise it.”
More than 500 people have been killed in the suppression of protests in Myanmar since the 1 February coup, according to human rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.