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Two Years of Military Mumbo Jumbo: Myanmar Celebrates Coup-aversary with a ‘Silent Strike

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Pro-democracy activists in Myanmar are marking two years since a military coup with a “silent strike” in which the public has been urged to stay indoors and businesses to shut down. The call for the strike came as the UK, US, Canada, and Australia announced new sanctions against army-linked companies. The military, which claims that the country is facing “unusual circumstances”, has raised fresh doubts over its promise to hold elections this year.

The “silent strike” is meant to send a clear message to the military that the public does not accept the rigged election that it is planning. Images from major cities, including Yangon, show deserted streets, reflecting the impact of the strike. Pro-democracy activists have reported that resistance against the military is continuing, particularly in rural areas.

Two years after the coup, the situation in Myanmar remains dire. Over 2,900 people have been killed, 1.5 million have been displaced, 40,000 homes have been burned down, 8 million children are no longer in school, and 15 million people are dangerously short of food according to the UN. The military has failed to normalize the situation, and instead, it has plans for an election that would almost certainly exclude Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her party, the National League for Democracy. Loyalists of Suu Kyi are calling on citizens to boycott the military’s planned poll, which they consider to be illegitimate and impractical, and which the UN has called a “sham election.”

The military’s recent admission of failure may force it to postpone the election and extend the state of emergency, further prolonging the stalemate in which Myanmar is trapped. Western nations marked the anniversary by announcing new rounds of sanctions against the military and its supporters. The UK targeted, among others, companies that supply aviation fuel to the military, claiming that they are “enabling its barbaric air-raiding campaign in an attempt to maintain power.” Australia announced its first sanctions against the military, aimed at 16 individuals and two major military-controlled conglomerates, which dominate the country’s economy. Sanctions by the US targeted the military-approved election commission.

The National Unity Government, which leads opposition to the military, welcomed the sanctions, calling on countries to place further “aggressive, targeted sanctions” on the military regime and its supporters. The military is expected to issue a statement that could extend the state of emergency. In conclusion, the “silent strike” marks a pivotal moment in the struggle for democracy in Myanmar, reflecting the resilience of the pro-democracy movement and the determination to reclaim the public space from the military junta.

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