A quick look at the coup against Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government.
Myanmar’s military has seized power and declared a state of emergency for one year following days of escalating tension over the result of November’s parliamentary elections.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de facto leader, President Win Myint and other senior members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party have been detained in the capital, Naypyidaw, on Monday.
A video broadcast on military-owned television said power was handed to Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, citing “huge irregularities” in November’s vote.
The power grab came as Parliament – in which the military is given 25 percent of the seats – was set to open in Myanmar.
Hello, this is Virginia Pietromarchi and Mersiha Gadzo giving you the latest updates.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has said it is “appalled” by the military coup and calls for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi, president Win Myint and other political leaders.
The committee noted that Aung San Suu Kyi was handed the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize “in recognition of her brave struggle for democracy in Myanmar”, and “has continued to be a leading figure in developing democracy”.
“Now, 30 years after she was awarded the Peace Prize, the military has once again pushed democracy aside and arrested leading representatives of the legally elected government,” the committee said in a statement.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee asks for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other arrested politicians, and for the result of last year’s general election to be respected.”
The UK has said it would pursue diplomatic steps with its allies to ensure a return to democracy in Myanmar.
The UK’s foreign ministry said it had summoned Myanmar’s ambassador for a meeting with Minister for Asia Nigel Adams.
“The Minister for Asia made clear the democratic wishes of the people of Myanmar must be respected, and the National Assembly peacefully re-convened. He also said that the UK would work with like-minded partners and pursue all necessary diplomatic levers to ensure a peaceful return to democracy,” the UK’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says that a statement by US President Joe Biden about the military coup in Myanmar is directed at all countries in the region, when asked if it was directed at China.
On Sunday, the White House put out a statement saying the US opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed.
Biden also released a separate statement on Myanmar on Monday.
The UK has summoned Myanmar’s ambassador in London, a British foreign ministry official has said, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the coup.
The United Nations has said it fears the coup in Myanmar will worsen the situation for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims still in the country’s Rakhine state, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
“There are about 600,000 Rohingya those that remain in Rakhine State, including 120,000 people who are effectively confined to camps, they cannot move freely and have extremely limited access to basic health and education services,” he said.
“So our fear is that the events may make the situation worse for them,” he said.
The United States will immediately review sanctions laws and authorities and take “appropriate action” following the coup by the Myanmar military, US President Joe Biden said.
“The United States removed sanctions on Burma (Myanmar) over the past decade based on progress toward democracy,” Biden said in a statement.
“The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action.”
The generals made their move hours before Parliament had been due to sit for the first time since the NLD’s landslide win in a November 8 election viewed as a referendum on Aung San Suu Kyi’s fledgeling democratic rule.
Phone and internet connections in the capital, Naypyidaw, and the main commercial centre Yangon were disrupted and state television went off air.
Click here to read about what this means for Myanmar.
I went to bed in a flawed democracy and woke up under military rule. Late on Sunday, hours before Myanmar’s new parliament was due to convene, the military released an aggressive statement again rejecting the results of November’s election, which the National League for Democracy won in a landslide. It was not a good sign for continuing negotiations in the nation’s capital, which sources had said were going badly.
Read the Reporter’s Notebook by Andrew Nachemson from Yangon, Myanmar here.
Thomas Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, told Al Jazeera he is worried for the people of the country and the international community must condemn the military’s coup in “the strongest possible terms”.
“This is an outrageous, unacceptable action by the military … The military had very little accountability as it was. What’s amazing is that they are overturning a constitution that they wrote, that gives them enormous power and a lack of accountability. So now it’s complete, free reign,” Andrews said.
“There’s not even a pretence that there’s any kind of accountability. Those who are vulnerable: civil society leaders, organisations that support democracy and human rights, the Rohingya community, ethnic minorities around the country including those that are in conflict right now with the military … Everybody is in danger and everybody needs a strong, international response.”
Myanmar’s military has imposed an 8pm to 6am curfew across the country.
Street vendors in the main city of Yangon scrambled to pack away their stalls as the curfew approached on Monday evening, Ben Small, a resident in the city, posted on Twitter.
Food vendors on Myanmar Gone Yi St in Yangon were hurriedly packing up around 7.55pm as news of the supposed 8pm curfew spread. pic.twitter.com/Zl7jRqsHrC
— Ben Small (@benjaminsmall) February 1, 2021
“It is now eerily quiet in Yangon as people obediently adhere to the sudden curfew. It’s like the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown in Myanmar last April when the howling street dogs reclaimed the city,” Small wrote on Twitter.
It is now eerily quiet in Yangon as people obediently adhere to the sudden curfew. It's like the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown in Myanmar last April when the howling street dogs reclaimed the city.
— Ben Small (@benjaminsmall) February 1, 2021
Al Jazeera breaks down Aung San Suu Kyi’s journey, from being the daughter of an independence hero to a political leader who has had multiple detentions throughout her life by Myanmar’s military.
Read about it here.
Rohingya who fled Myanmar for Bangladesh after a brutal military crackdown three years ago are celebrating Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention.
The news of her arrest spread quickly in the crowded refugee camps in Bangladesh where about one million Rohingya refugees now live.
Mohammad Yusuf, a leader at the Balukhali camp, said: “She was our last hope, but she ignored our plight and supported the genocide against the Rohingya.”
Maung Kyaw Min, the spokesman for the influential Rohingya Student Union, said there was now increased hope that Rohingya might return to their villages in Myanmar.
“Unlike an elected government, this military [government] will need international support to sustain. So we hope they will focus on the Rohingya issue to reduce international pressure,” he said.
US Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has called on Myanmar’s military to immediately release the country’s civilian political leaders, dubbing reports of a roundup “horrifying” and calling for a strong response from the Biden administration.
“The Biden administration must take a strong stand and our partners and all democracies around the world should follow suit in condemning this authoritarian assault on democracy.
“We need to support the people of Burma in their journey toward democracy and impose costs on those who stand in their way,” said McConnell, who has long had close ties to Aung San Suu Kyi.
Al Jazeera’s Elizabeth Puranam reporting from New Delhi says that while India has supported Myanmar’s democratic process, it has also maintained very close ties with Myanmar’s military because of its security concerns in the northeast.
“Various armed groups in the northeastern states have had bases in Myanmar over the past few decades, and for that reason, India’s army has worked really closely with Myanmar’s military to put pressure on those groups; they conduct many joint operations,” Puranam said.
“India has also maintained close contacts with Myanmar’s powerful military as a way to balance China’s influence in the country.
“Analysts here are saying that this is not what India wants to see, that this is the last thing that India would want to see – a weakened Myanmar on its border – and of course a weakened Myanmar that might fall into the clutches of China, being pressured to do China’s bidding in the region.”
The UN human rights chief has called for the release of at least 45 people detained in Myanmar after the military seized power and voiced concern at internet restrictions limiting freedom of expression “at this critical and frightening time”.
“I remind the military leadership that Myanmar is bound by international human rights law, including to respect the right to peaceful assembly, and to refrain from using unnecessary or excessive force,” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
The United Nations Security Council aims to discuss the situation in Myanmar on Tuesday, diplomats have said.
Myanmar’s military government has announced a purge of Aung San Suu Kyi’s administration, removing 24 ministers and deputies and naming 11 replacements in its new administration after seizing power in a coup.
The announcement was made on the military-run Myawadday Television and included new appointments in the portfolios for finance, health, information, foreign affairs, defence, borders and interior.
Hello, this is Mersiha Gadzo taking over the live updates from my colleague Virginia Pietromarchi.
France joined the list of countries calling for the immediate release of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and for the Myanmar military to respect the results of the November 8 election.
“This arrest, as well as the transfer of legislative, executive and judicial power to the army is an unacceptable threat to the democratic process that was started about 10 years ago,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.
Such sentiments were echoed by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
"I condemn the military's takeover of power in #Myanmar in the strongest possible terms. I call on the military to immediately release all persons arrested, incl. President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and to re-establish the constitutional order." @HeikoMaas pic.twitter.com/4uYxAQz6W1
— GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) February 1, 2021
“The EU has been very adamant over the past months that it is important that Myanmar continues to go down what the EU calls a democratic path,” said Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, reporting from the French capital, Paris.
“They were supporters of the elections at the end of last year, so there is a lots of concern here in the EU,” she added.
“It feels sort of like business as usual when you go around most of the streets,” said Al Jazeera’s Ali Fowle reporting from Yangon, adding that there was an increased police presence in specific areas.
“The banks have been closed, so there is a little bit of nervousness around that,” she said, pointing to the fact that people in Myanmar largely rely on cash. The Myanmar Bankers Association announced earlier the temporary closure of all financial services across the country due to poor internet connection.
UPDATE: Military Coup in Myanmar
All #banks in #Myanmar were forced to halt their operations nationwide on Monday, as internet access was blocked following the military coup in the morning.#militarycoup #save #Myanmar pic.twitter.com/AToTVRCpEl
— The Irrawaddy (Eng) (@IrrawaddyNews) February 1, 2021
Questions loom now over how people are going to react.
“We know that is going to be a very unpopular move [the military coup], but to say that this will be translated into a popular movement is yet to be determined,” Fowle said, adding that various influential public figures, from activists to artists, who could rally enough support have already been arrested.
Meanwhile, pro-military protesters have been roaming around the city, Fowle said, with some attacking journalists.
I was lucky enough to get out of this Military supporter crowds after taking few snaps, few minutes after they attacked two journalists. Journalists be safe and stay away from them. #Myanmar #MilitaryCoup pic.twitter.com/w74aV1Ut1w
— Htoo Tay Zar (@tayzar44) February 1, 2021
A United Nations official assigned to Myanmar has condemned the coup and urged an unequivocal response from world leaders.
“The constitution that the Generals wrote and that they pledged just 48 hours ago to fully abide by has now been overturned,” Tom Andrews, UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, told Al Jazeera.
“This is nothing short of outrageous, deeply disturbing and I think what is important is for the international community, first and foremost, to speak out very clearly and very unequivocally that this is unacceptable,” he said.
Reuters witnesses said the police in Thailand clashed with a group of demonstrators who took to the street against Myanmar military’s power grab.
At least two people were injured at the protest where about 200 people had gathered outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok.
The police arrested at least two people, according to the Thai legal monitoring group iLaw.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) called for Myanmar to pursue “dialogue, reconciliation and the return to normalcy”.
“We reiterate that the political stability in ASEAN Member States is essential to achieving a peaceful, stable and prosperous ASEAN Community,” the 10-member bloc said in a statement.
#ASEAN encourages #Myanmar to continue to pursue dialogue, reconciliation and return to normalcy in accordance with the will and interests of its people, based on purposes and principles enshrined in ASEAN Charter.https://t.co/GqpPL1CZ4D pic.twitter.com/ZZF4ucNqo8
— ASEAN (@ASEAN) February 1, 2021
Myanmar’s military said a free and fair election would be held and it would hand power to the winning party.
Commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing had pledged to practise “the genuine discipline-flourishing multiparty democratic system” in a fair manner, the military said in an article on one of its official websites summarising a meeting of the military government.
It gave no timeframe for elections, but earlier said its state of emergency would last one year.
Commenting on the coup in Myanmar, Pakistan Foreign Ministry said it hoped the two parties will “engage constructively”.
“We hope that all parties involved will exercise restraint, uphold the rule of law, engage constructively, and work towards a peaceful outcome,” read a statement from the ministry.
Hundreds of demonstrators, holding portraits of Aung San Suu Kyi, gathered in downtown Tokyo outside the United Nations University, calling on the international body to further condemn Myanmar military’s actions.
“I’m worried [about my family], but more than them I’m worried about Aung San Suu Kyi,” Tin Htway, a 22-year-old restaurant worker who attended the protest, told Reuters.
Than Swe, president of the Union of Myanmar Citizen Association, said he wanted Aung San Suu Kyi and all other democratically elected leaders to be released immediately.
“The military needs to acknowledge the results of the 2020 [election] and stop what they are doing right now,” the 58-year-old told the news agency.
Protesters gathered in Thailand’s capital Bangkok as well to voice their dissent against the military’s coup in Myanmar.
Myanmar’s health minister said he was leaving his post because of the “evolving situation” in the country.
In a message on the health ministry’s official Facebook page, Myint Htwe urged colleagues to continue to serve the population, especially with the coronavirus epidemic and vaccinations. He did not say whether his departure was voluntary or by force.
According to two lawmakers, security forces are guarding the residences of members of parliament in the country’s capital Naypyidaw.
Military trucks have blocked exits of the compound that contains the municipal housing where legislators live during house sessions, representative Sai Lynn Myat told Reuters.
Those inside were in good health but were not allowed to leave.
A senior leader of Myanmar’s NLD said the decision by General Min Aung Hlaing to stage a coup at a time when Myanmar was struggling with the pandemic showed personal ambitions rather than concern for the country.
“The country’s economy is going down. At this time, the fact that he conducted a coup shows that he doesn’t think about the future,” Win Htein said on a video posted on Facebook.
Human rights group Fortify Rights has called for the immediate and unconditional release of activists and senior officials, including Aung San Suu Kyi, who were arrested in early morning nationwide raids.
“The military needs to urgently de-escalate this situation and unconditionally free those detained today,” said CEO Matthew Smith.
The #Myanmar military needs to urgently de-escalate this situation and unconditionally free all of those detained today. The military should cease any further arrests and publicly guarantee the safety and well-being of those detained. #Myanmarcoup
— Matthew Smith (@matthewfsmith) February 1, 2021
“The military should lift any blocks on mobile communications and respect the right to free expression. Access to information is critical for the Myanmar public right now,” he said as authorities reportedly cut mobile communication signals.
— Matthew Smith (@matthewfsmith) February 1, 2021
India’s Ministry of External Affairs says it is concerned over the latest developments in Myanmar, adding that is was “closely” watching the situation.
“We have noted the developments in Myanmar with deep concern. India has always been steadfast in its support to the process of democratic transition in Myanmar,” read a statement from the ministry.
“We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld. We are monitoring the situation closely,” it added.
Here is a quick look at a few streets in Myanmar as the military seized power and declared a one-year state of emergency.
The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined the chorus of voices condemning the latest developments in Myanmar.
“I condemn the coup and unlawful imprisonment of civilians, including Aung San Suu Kyi, in Myanmar,” Johnson said on Twitter.
“The vote of the people must be respected and civilian leaders released,” he added.
I condemn the coup and unlawful imprisonment of civilians, including Aung San Suu Kyi, in Myanmar. The vote of the people must be respected and civilian leaders released.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) February 1, 2021
The army declared a one-year state of emergency in a video broadcast on Myawaddy Television (MWD) citing “terrible fraud” in last
November’s general election as a justification for seizing power.
Read the full statement here.
China says it hopes all sides in Myanmar can manage their differences under the constitution and legal framework and uphold stability.
“China is a friendly neighbour of Myanmar and hopes the various parties in Myanmar will appropriately resolve their differences under the constitutional and legal framework to protect political and social stability,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a daily news briefing.
Wang said China, which shares a border with Myanmar, was still “furthering our understanding of the situation.”
European Council President Charles Michel condemned the military’s seizure of power in Myanmar and demanded that it release all those it had detained in raids across the country.
“The outcome of the elections has to be respected and democratic process needs to be restored,” Michel wrote on his Twitter account.
I strongly condemn the coup in #Myanmar and call on the military to release all who have been unlawfully detained in raids across the country.
The outcome of the elections has to be respected and democratic process needs to be restored.
— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) February 1, 2021
Criticism came also from Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, and the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell.
“I strongly condemn the coup in Myanmar,” Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter, and called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of all those detained.
“Myanmar’s people want democracy. The EU stands with them,” Borrell said on Twitter.
I strongly condemn the coup in Myanmar.
The legitimate civilian government must be restored, in line with the country's constitution & the November elections.
I call for the immediate & unconditional release of all those detained. https://t.co/YbIkxLZlve
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) February 1, 2021
Human Rights Watch’s Asia Advocacy Director John Sifton urged the US and other countries to send a strong message to Myanmar’s military by imposing direct sanctions.
“The military junta that ruled Myanmar for decades never really stepped away from power in the first place … They never really submitted to civilian authority in the first place, so today’s events in some sense are merely revealing a political reality that already existed,” Sifton said on Twitter.
“It appears to be a military coup — but from another perspective, the military junta that ruled Myanmar for decades never really stepped away from power in the first place.
— John Sifton (@johnsifton) February 1, 2021
“The U.S. and other countries with sanctions regime should send a strong message today, by immediately revoking sanctions relaxations and imposing strict and directed economic sanctions on the military leadership and its enormous economic conglomerates; and pressing other key counties — including South Korea and Japan — to force businesses to divest. The Burmese junta doesn’t want to go back to being China’s vassal,” he added in another tweet.
The Rohingya community condemned the military power grab, according to its leader Dil Mohammed.
“We Rohingya community strongly condemn this heinous attempt to kill democracy,” Dil Mohammed told Reuters news agency by phone.
“We urge the global community to come forward and restore democracy at any cost.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expressing alarm about Myanmar’s military detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders.
“We call on Burmese military leaders to release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people of Burma as expressed in democratic elections on November 8,” Blinken said in a statement from Washington, DC.
“The United States stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development. The military must reverse these actions immediately.”
United Nations’ Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has strongly condemned the detention of Myanmar’s civilian leaders and expressed “grave concern” about all legislative, executive and judicial powers being transferred to the military. “These developments represent a serious blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar,” said a statement from the UN chief’s spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) February 1, 2021
Guterres said the elections last November provided a strong mandate for Suu Kyi’s NLD to govern. The announcement that the military was taking control came on the first day Myanmar’s Parliament was to convene after the elections.
The military has argued the vote was tainted by fraud, but the elections commission last week rejected those claims as lacking evidence.
Malaysia has called on all parties to resolve any electoral disputes peacefully.
“Malaysia supports the continuation of discussion among Myanmar’s leaders to avoid adverse consequences to the people and state of Myanmar, especially in the current, difficult COVID-19 pandemic situation,” its foreign ministry said in a statement.
The NLD released a statement from its chief Aung San Suu Kyi, saying the military’s actions were unjustified and went against the constitution and will of voters.
A verified Facebook page for the NLD published comments it said had been written in anticipation of a coup, and which quoted her as saying people should protest against the military takeover.
“The actions of the military are actions to put the country back under a dictatorship,” it said. “I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military.”
— Wa Lone (@walone4) February 1, 2021