Since the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military junta, overthrew a democratically elected government on Feb. 1, it has brutally suppressed the nation’s citizens and democratic leaders. On Dec. 6, the regime sentenced elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi to prison, while continuing to kill and arrest peaceful protesters who want nothing more than democracy. How the international community responds could set the pattern for responding to the rising tide of autocracy worldwide.
Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) has been a thorn in the side of the junta since its founding in 1988. When they swept parliamentary elections in 1990 by 80 percent of the Parliamentary seats, the Tatmadaw nullified the results and placed her under house arrest, where she spent 15 of the next 22 years. In 2015, the NLD again swept the elections, and installed her as leader of the government. In the 2020 election, the NLD widened its margin of victory to 83 percent, winning 397 of the 476 contested Parliamentary seats.
On Feb. 1 of this year, the day before Parliament was scheduled to swear in new members, the junta declared the previous election invalid, deposed the winners and imposed a state of emergency. Three months later, former President Donald Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn would state that such a military coup “should happen” in the U.S.