Early this week, Myanmar’s military junta officially cancelled the results of the November 2020 election – the election Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy won in a landslide.
Following the February 1 coup, members of the NLD have been arrested, protests have erupted in the streets and the military junta has cracked down with deadly violence, detaining at least 6000 people.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest and is facing charges ranging from breaching the official secrets act to illegally importing walkie talkies. Her trial officially began on June 14 and she faces a potential prison sentence of 75 years in a junta-controlled justice system widely recognised as unfair and corrupt.
Press freedom has reduced dramatically, as foreign journalists leave or are forcibly removed, while local journalists face arrests and heavy restrictions on reporting.
Myanmar media still operating are reporting the return of “Pyusawhti” para-miliary units who are in conflict with pro-democracy groups, who themselves are now training with armed ethnic groups in the countryside.
All this is happening as Covid rages through Myanmar. Now facing its third wave, the country’s daily reported cases hover around 6000 – in December 2020, the last wave, daily cases were around 1500.
Many doctors and nurses went on strike after the coup as a form of protest. But as the junta has cracked down on protestors, some healthcare workers were forced to go into hiding, leaving less staff in an already fragile health system to deal with the pandemic.
More recently, images out of Yangon have shown people queuing to refill oxygen tanks while some hospitals are forced to turn away patients due to lack of space. Healthcare professionals on the ground say the military “ruined” the previous – relatively – smooth control of Covid, as it seized medical facilities and equipment.
In vaccine news, as cases spike along Myanmar’s border with China, Chinese officials are donating two million doses of its Sinopharm vaccine to Myanmar, with more doses expected in coming months. Vaccination rates are still low however, hovering under four percent of the total population fully vaccinated.
Myanmar is facing a humanitarian crisis on multiple fronts and a way out of it is currently unclear. The military junta still claims elections will be held within two years but with no date given and a pandemic holding so much of the world’s attention, the outlook is grim.
Re-posted from Asia Media Centre