Myanmar: The Forgotten Civil War

Scritto da in data Luglio 5, 2024

By ToniAnn Izzo

Leggi  in Italian

Myanmar , once a Southeast Asian symbol of a blossoming democracy, is now drowning in a wave of violence that has stunned the world. The February 1, 2021 military coup shattered years of progress, replacing optimism with darkness.

General Min Aung Hlaing’s iron grip has transformed the nation’s streets into war zones, forcing its citizens into a desperate fight for their freedom. Yet, even during the chaos, there are signs of defiance and resilience.

These are testaments to the spirit of a people who refuse to be muzzled and censored by the government.

Historical Context

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has a complex history. Beginning in the 1820s, Burma became a colony of the British Empire. The Allies liberated Burma in May 1945 and Burma gained independence in January 1948.

However, in 1962, a military junta seized power leading the nation to suffer under decades of authoritarian rule.

This oppressive regime continued until 2011 when the country began transitioning towards democracy. Despite this transition toward democracy, the military had reserved 25 percent of parliamentary seats for itself, raising doubts about the legitimacy of the democratic process in Myanmar.

Timeline

In 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi , an iconic symbol of the pro-democracy movement, led her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), to victory. During her time in power, she dealt with the Rohingya crisis and with accusations of genocide against the Muslim minority.

In 2021, the military, known as the Tatmadaw, claimed the 2020 elections were fraudulent and staged a coup, reinstating its rule and imprisoning Suu Kyi on multiple charges.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, once a close associate of Suu Kyi, led the 2021 coup, declaring a state of emergency due to what he claims was a rigged election. Despite his promises of free and fair elections, these have been repeatedly postponed, solidifying the junta’s power.

In response to the coup, multiple pro-democracy groups joined to form the National Unity Government (NUG). From this came the People’s Defense Force (PDF), an armed wing engaged in fierce battles against the military across Myanmar.

The Current Struggle

Myanmar is now faced with international isolation, where countries such as the US, UK, Canada, and Australia are imposing sanctions. However, China and Russia have continued to support the junta, providing arms and material aid. Russian and Chinese aircrafts are being used in strikes against the rebels.

Despite the dire situation, resistance groups have made significant progress. They have liberated certain areas and continue to fight the well-armed military regime, which has a $2 billion defense budget.

The PDF on the other hand, lacks such resources, resorting to innovative tactics such as using drones for air attacks, which have proven effective in reclaiming territory.

The resistance fighters, despite their limited resources and lack of international aid, remain determined. They seek freedom and choice, fighting against a regime that targets schools and hospitals, showing no distinction between civilians and rebels.

Myanmar’s youth are at the forefront of this struggle, making immense sacrifices by dropping out of school, leaving their families and risking their lives.

The struggle of the Rohingya

The Rohingya Muslims, long denied citizenship and subjected to severe human rights violations, are now being called to fight against the same regime that oppresses them. The military claims they are merely preparing the Rohingya to defend their camps.

However, many young men are being forcibly enlisted, with their families threatened if they refuse. This forced enlistment is what one might consider tragic irony to their struggle.

A Call to Action

The international community must bring more attention to the civil war in Myanmar because it is only through joint international action that the Myanmar people can the country hope to emerge from this dark chapter in its history. The world must not turn a blind eye to the atrocities taking place in Myanmar.

ToniAnn Izzo

I am a political science enthusiast from New York City with a passion for global politics.

I aim to spark interest in young people, who are most impacted by today’s political decisions, by making complex issues understandable and engaging.

I bring a fresh perspective to political discussions to make politics fun and accessible for the next generation.

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