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Explained: The Myanmar Crisis and India’s relevance

The Myanmar crisis has been talked about for months now. But India recently issued the strongest condemnation it has since the day of the coup.

Myanmar is witnessing massive protests since February 2021. These protests are pro-democracy but are getting violent by the day. As of 2nd April, Tatmadaw, the armed forces of Myanmar, have killed more than 520 people. More than 2500 people were detained by the military, including Noble Peace Prize-winning activist Aung San Suu Kyi. Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party had won the elections held in November 2021. NLD had promised some reforms which were against the military’s intentions. So, the military seized power in a coup.

The the military had called the November polling results fraudulent and stated that there were “irregularities” in polling. And just before the elected party was about to take the new responsibilities Suu Kyi and 24 others of the party were detained on February 1st. Since then, the military is enjoying power, with General Min Aung Hlaing as the leader. This is not the first time Myanmar is witnessing military rule. Myanmar was under military rule for around 50 years, from 1962 to 2011. Myanmar had a democracy for a little while when in 2008 the military was forced to draw up a constitution. Although it was a military constitution, elections were held. NLD won the by-poll elections in 2012 with Aung San Suu Kyi as the leader. Suu Kyi was released in 2011 after serving detention for more than 15 years between 1990 and 2011. Aung’s party National League for Democracy also won the national election in 2015 but Aung had no serious powers. Under the military constitution, she was given the position of State Councilor.

Read more: A year into the pandemic and 32 million middle class have declined to below the poverty line in India: PEW Report

myanmar military coup
Image source – Financial Times

India was one of the first to condemn the move made by the Myanmar military on Feb 1st along with a number of nations and world leaders. But India’s subsequent actions were criticized by many. India chose to maintain communication links with the military junta. India even participated in a military parade along with 7 other nations on 27th February. Celebrated as Tatmadaw day or Armed Forces Day, the day was one of the bloodiest in Myanmar’s violent history. More than 140 civilians including children were killed on that day. Indian officials said that participation in the military parade was “unavoidable”.

India has a close relationship with the Myanmar Army. The Burmese army helped India fight insurgencies and helped bring peace in the North-Eastern states of India. Myanmar shares a border with the state of Mizoram and people living near the border have close ties. Some even have families across the border. And now the people of Myanmar are trying to flee the land. They are looking towards India and Indonesia to provide them shelter and safety from the Myanmar Army. And we know that our government wants to deport migrants who have illegally entered Indian borders. And obviously, the government doesn’t want to take in more refugees.

India on Friday, finally took a strong stand against the Myanmar crisis. Condemning the violence that the military inflicted on the 27th March, the government issued the following statement, “We condemn any use of violence. We believe that the rule of law should prevail. We stand for the restoration of democracy in Myanmar. We have urged the release of political prisoners and supported any attempts at resolving the current situation, including through the efforts of ASEAN”. Amit Shah further said that India could provide Myanmar citizens with food and medicine as long as there are no attempts of infiltration.

By overthrowing the government and taking over political control, Myanmar’s military has reversed a decade of progress towards democracy in the Southeast Asian country that followed five decades of army rule. The issue is getting serious every day as the violent resistance movement is getting bigger with multiple guerrilla groups resorting to violence. These groups may lead to the possible emergence of various armed groups in Myanmar.

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