MYANMAR: THE DEATH, AND RECYCLING, OF DEMOCRACY

LIAM ROGERS WRITES — With the arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, the former Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Myanmar-she who had also supported the genocidal actions of the Myanmar armed forces against the Rohingya in 2017-the Myanmar military has usurped power for the next 12 months.

Again. Myanmar has been riddled with strife the past 72 years over the matter of democratization. The military’s renouncement of the election on the count of fraud proves that Myanmar is not quite ready for a true democracy. While it remains unknown whether the military will relinquish its power at the end of the declared term, it would be more than a fair guess that this military junta will persist just as previous regimes have.

Historically, Myanmar’s political structure is cyclical in nature. After independence from Japan in 1948, the country moved to a shortly-lived parliamentary style democratic rule, followed by a 20 -year military junta that left the nation in ruin, then made way for the NLD to push for and win an election, which was then rejected by the military, allowing them to continue their rule. The pattern progressed to modern times, so that now the NLD fights for democracy but fails to maintain power. No wonder: Myanmar is riddled with political opposition groups and parties jockeying for dominance: communism, militarism, democracy, etc. Without the backing of the military, the NLD remains unable to maintain control. Still, what truly remains shocking is that the military presumed power on the basis that the election was fraudulently won, and that democracy was not upheld in the election.

The NLD and other political parties are adjuring their case to the international community. Christine Schraner Burgener, the United Nations Special Envoy to Myanmar, pleaded for the United Nations to take action by, “urg[ing] all of you to collectively send a clear signal in support of democracy in Myanmar” so that the country “doesn’t fall back into isolation.” Yet this outcry cannot be responded to by the General Assembly, nor the Security Council. While the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and other members of the UN body condemn the actions of the military, to act upon this condemnation would only complicate the situation. The position of the UN was never to uphold democracy within a particular country, or to deal with internal matters, but to hold democracy as one of its core values: “The United Nations supports democracy by promoting human rights, development, and peace and security.”

Now the question arises, how else can the United Nations aid the democratization of the country and ensure that justice prevails? Sitting idly by and watching the military continue its rule in this tragically chaotic Southeast Asian nation is not an adequate answer.

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