Myanmar’s Military Coup Deals Serious Blow to Democracy


  • Tuesday, 02 February 2021 00:00
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INFID Press Release | 2 February 2021

Monday, February 1, 2021, marks a day of mourning for the people of Myanmar and the rest of the world. A day when the military seized power in a coup against a legitimate government. The army’s commander-in-chief henceforth takes control of the country for the next 12 months, closing all access points to its international airport, and detaining Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (that won 83 percent of votes in the election on 8 November 2020), President Win Myint, and pro-democracy activists.

The military coup is wholly unacceptable as it would only imperil the democratic process in Myanmar, and breed impunity for human rights abuses committed by the armed forces. It is disruptive to the country’s journey towards democracy, which began in 2011 after 60 years of military rule. Despite the constitution guaranteeing the military 25 percent of legislative seats and command over several key sectors, there is still no end to the army’s insatiable appetite for power as it seeks to wrest full control of the country.

The military takeover in Myanmar is an arbitrary action that will have a devastating impact on the economy, the health sector, and human welfare, including the people’s economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as their civil and political rights, which could not have come at a worse time as the country struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic. It unquestionably proves that the military has no interest whatsoever in bringing the nation and country forward. For the global community, in ASEAN and elsewhere in the world, Myanmar’s military coup is an affront to the democratic values that we all hold dear. Members of the United Nations should stand in solidarity and acknowledge the military’s actions in Myanmar as a grave threat to the process of nation- and state-building that should put the people’s interests above all else, instead of setting an appalling example by seizing power with such flagrant disregard of the people’s civil rights. The coup d’état also underscores the vulnerability of a civilian government, especially when a woman stands at the helm, in facing the military.

INFID (International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development) denounces the takeover of power in a coup by the Myanmar armed forces. An authoritarian regime in any form must never be an example to emulate. Firstly, a military coup is an illegal seizure of power that is socially and politically wrong. It is a display of utter disdain for the people’s voice articulated through elections as a democratic mechanism. Secondly, any authoritarian rule, in the past, present or future, should be firmly rejected as it subverts democracy and human rights. Thirdly, the idea behind a military coup, where a democracy is overthrown, is indeed inspired by China’s governance model perceived as a promising development framework.

INFID mourns alongside the people of Myanmar and sympathizes with their plight. We remain hopeful that Myanmar will pull through, and political power restored to the democratically-elected government. INFID hereby calls for the following actions:

  1. The United Nations (UN) should emphatically condemn the military action, and should not align itself with a government that assumes power in a coup, while urging for the reinstatement of the civilian government that claimed victory in the elections held in November 2020.
  2. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should extend a message of sympathy to the people of Myanmar, and join in condemnation of the military coup d’état in Myanmar.
  3. The Government of Indonesia should issue a travel warning to all Indonesian nationals in Myanmar, and express heartfelt sympathy to the people of Myanmar left in disquieting circumstances in their perilous path towards democratic consolidation.
  4. All elements of pro-democracy civil society worldwide should present a united front in vociferously condemning and objecting to the military coup in Myanmar, in expressing sympathy to the people of Myanmar, and in assisting them to restore the constitution in which human rights are respected, including therein the protection of civil rights.

Sincerely,

Dian Kartika Sari (Board Chair)

Sugeng Bahagijo (Executive Director)

Contact person: Abdul Waidl, Senior Program Officer Human Rights & Democracy (0812-8082-1339)