Everything you need to know about the coup, massacres and fighting in Myanmar
Horrific stories of massacres, murder and countless acts of violence in Myanmar made headlines throughout the whole of last year.
The military, dubbed the junta by locals, took over the country in February – after almost a decade of quasi-democracy – and now the nation is on the brink of civil war.
Ruling soldiers have long been accused of committing heinous crimes against their own people, but a recent investigation concluded the armed forces are torching and massacring entire villages.
This is likely a response to the growing guerilla units called the ‘People’s Defence Forces’ (PDF) which are springing up to fight the junta.
But a lot has happened to bring Myanmar to this point, so here is some context.
Myanmar before the coup:
The Southeast Asian country, which borders India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand, is very familiar with military rule.
The junta had control of the nation from 1962 to 2011, when leading soldiers were pushed to introduce political reforms including parliamentary elections.
The National League for Democracy (NLD), headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, was elected in 2015.
The NLD won again in early 2021 – gaining 83% of parliament’s seats – but the junta said the election was fraudulent. The election commission said it found no evidence of this.
Nevertheless, this is what sparked the coup – from a military which has managed to hold onto significant power throughout civilian rule.
The junta detained NDL members, including Ms Suu Kyi who was later sentenced to four years in prison for incitement and violating Covid rules.
They suspended telephone and internet access and declared a year-long state of emergency.
Military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing promised his soldiers were on the side of the people and wanted a ‘true and disciplined democracy’ for Myanmar.
He said a ‘free and fair’ election will be held after the state of emergency is over.
After the coup:
Anti-junta protests started almost immediately and although soldiers seemed to show restraint in the beginning, clashes quickly turned violent.
More than 106 demonstrators, including children, have been killed by police with all the violence prompting the UK to join other countries in putting sanctions on Myanmar for ‘human rights violations’.
But reports of brutality have only gotten worse as resistance has moved from traditional civil disobedience to guerrilla tactics.
The junta has a reputation for resorting to particularly cruel methods to quash democracy movements. Thousands of peaceful monks rose up against the military in 2007, but many of them were shot. Similar scenes took place in 1988.
Last year was no different as civilians started forming PDF units to fight the junta directly.