On February 1, the military of Myanmar took over the country, ousting civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. After two members of Kyi’s party mysteriously passed away while in military custody, countries around the world have raised the alarm.
Myanmar, located in Southeast Asia, is home to 54 million people. The UN and international watchdog groups have long reported human rights violations in the nation, which has struggled with an ongoing civil war and public unrest for most of its history as an independent country.
The National League for Democracy confirmed that one of their members, Zaw Myat Lynn, passed away on Tuesday in custody. The politician was detained by military forces in Yangon during their extensive crackdown on ongoing protests. Sources indicate that Lynn was abducted by military forces during a nighttime raid in Yangon despite not having broken any of Myanmar’s laws.
Myanmar has suffered under years of totalitarian rule, though the last decade has seen the military slowly allowing more power to be held by civilian leadership. However, in February of 2021, the military forces in the country seemed to abruptly change their stance, resuming complete control of the country. That includes locking down dissent from people such as Lynn, who spoke out against the “dictatorship” in Myanmar.
Lynn’s detainment by the military followed his statements during a Facebook live stream in which he assured the public that “we will be protesting day and night for 24 hours against the dictatorship.” Lynn’s conviction was on full display during the stream, confirming that his movement would “risk our lives to defeat them.”
The junta is overwhelmingly unpopular in the country, with protest groups numbering in the thousands turning out daily to resist military rule. The military has responded in kind by swiftly and brutally cracking down on the protestors. However, some police officers fled across the border to India rather than follow the military’s orders to fire on peaceful crowds of protestors, according to a BBC report.
Mass arrests and other intimidation tactics have also been employed by the military to stop protests and prevent journalists from reporting on the situation. Even as reporters in the country attempt to keep up with the military’s actions, the junta forces continue to revoke press licenses and target reporters in their crackdown.
Protestors have expressed hope that the international community will see the military’s actions and will intervene to address the worsening crisis. For now, it is unclear what the ultimate fate of the coup will be, as the UN continues to monitor the situation closely.