Myanmar’s military has a long history of involvement in the country’s politics. The people of the Southeast Asian nation are no strangers to military rule. The country was controlled by the armed forces until they began to cede power a little more than 10 years ago. Here is a timeline:

1948—Aung San, who fought against the Japanese and led the country to independence from Britain, is assassinated. Aung San Suu Kyi, is his only daughter and youngest child.

1962—Myanmar achieves formal independence under President U Nu.

1988—The military under General Ne Win takes power in a coup. All opposition parties are banned, and the military takes control of all businesses and industries. Its economic policies and deliberate isolation of the country lead to economic stagnation and extreme economic hardship.

1990—Pro-democracy protests in August are met with a brutal military crackdown and as many as 5,000 people are killed, according to civil society groups. In September, Aung San Suu Kyi founds the National League for Democracy (NLD).

1995—Under international pressure the military calls an election, which the NLD wins by a landslide. The military refuses to recognize the results or hand over power and Aung San Suu Kyi is arrested.

1997—In July, Aung San Suu Kyi released from house arrest.

2002—Aung San Suu Kyi detained again as Europe tightens sanctions on Myanmar.

2003—Aung San Suu Kyi released again and allowed to travel around the country.

2006—Aung San Suu Kyi is arrested again – supposedly for her own protection – after an attack on her convoy. More than 70 of her supporters were beaten to death in the May attack by the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), a political militia backed by the military. The USDA was later transformed into the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the military’s proxy party in parliament.

2007—The military announces it has moved the capital to Naypyidaw, a new city it had built in secret midway between Yangon and Mandalay.

2010—The process of democratization begins with a controversial constitutional referendum that took place only two days after Cyclone Nargis swept across the Irrawaddy Delta leaving tens of thousands dead.  Cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta leaving tens of thousands dead. The military continued with its constitutional referendum regardless.

2012—The USDP wins elections that are boycotted by the NLD. Aung San Suu Kyi is freed from house arrest in November.

2016—The NLD wins a general election by a landslide and Suu Kyi becomes leader in a specially created role of state counsellor.

2020—The NLD claims a resounding victory in parliamentary elections taking more votes than it did in 2016.

2021—The USDP demands a rerun of the election and calls for military help to ensure fairness, alleging irregularities.

February 1: The military imposes a state of emergency and says power has been transferred to military chief Min Aung Hlaing, after Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior government officials were arrested in a series of early morning raids.



Dispatches from the front lines of the Mission Field

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