• Saturday, Oct 23, 2021
  • Last Update : 12:26 am

Myanmar's journey back to military rule

  • Published at 04:04 pm February 1st, 2021
Myanmar protesters residing in Japan raise their fists and shout slogans as they show a picture of Myanmar's army chief Min Aung Hlaing, at United Nations University in Tokyo on February 1, 2021 Reuters

On Monday, Myanmar's military seized power in a coup against the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar's military has detained de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and staged a coup, a decade after relinquishing its nearly five-decade iron grip on the country.

Here is a timeline of a nation that emerged from a military dictatorship, only to plunge into a trouble-filled -- and perhaps short-lived -- democracy. 


The junta holds elections in early November and the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) claims victory. The NLD and many other parties refuse to take part. Observers do not consider the poll free or fair.

Less than a week after the election, Suu Kyi is released after spending 16 of the last 20 years under house arrest.


In a surprise move, the junta relinquishes power to a quasi-civilian government under former general Thein Sein, who pursues reforms. 

Many basic rights are restored, including the lifting of restrictions on assembly and expression.


The NLD wins 43 out of 45 seats in April by-elections. Suu Kyi becomes an MP.

The United States and European Union begin lifting sanctions and Western businesses start flocking to the country. 

Also Read - Myanmar military seizes power, detains elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi

Sectarian violence flares in western Rakhine state, mainly aimed at the Rohingya Muslim minority. 

In November, Barack Obama becomes the first US president to visit Myanmar.


The NLD wins a landslide victory in historic elections. Army chief General Min Aung Hlaing congratulates Suu Kyi and her party.  


The NLD takes power and Suu Kyi assumes the role of state counsellor -- a de facto leadership position created to sidestep constitutional provisions barring her from the presidency. 


Prominent Muslim lawyer Ko Ni, a vocal critic of the army and adviser to Suu Kyi, is assassinated in Yangon. His funeral is attended by thousands.

Also Read - Myanmar's NLD: Suu Kyi calls on public to reject, protest coup

On August 25, the military launches a ferocious crackdown in Rakhine state in retaliation against militants, sending almost 750,000 Rohingya fleeing across the border to Bangladesh. 


Two Reuters journalists are jailed, accused of breaching Myanmar's state secrets law while reporting on a Rohingya massacre. They are behind bars for more than 500 days before being released on a presidential pardon.


Washington announces sanctions against Myanmar's army chief and three other top officers.

Gambia files a lawsuit at the UN's top court, the International Court of Justice, accusing Myanmar of genocide. Suu Kyi personally leads the country's defence at the Hague. 

Two other cases are filed against Myanmar, including an investigation by the International Criminal Court. 


The ICJ rejects Suu Kyi's defence and orders Myanmar to take steps to prevent alleged genocide.

Also Read - Timeline: Events in troubled Myanmar since Suu Kyi's NLD party came to power

Myanmar's weak health infrastructure is overwhelmed by the pandemic, killing more than 3,000 and infecting 140,000 by 2021. 

Myanmar holds its second democratic elections, but large swathes of the population in conflict-wracked ethnic areas are shut out of the process. The NLD predictably sweeps the poll.  


After weeks of alleging widespread vote irregularities -- that the government does not address -- the military arrests de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint on the morning newly elected MPs were due to take their seats in a reconvened parliament.

The military declares a one-year state of emergency and appoints a former general as acting president to preserve "stability."

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