Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been detained by the countries’ military in what appears to be a coup against her and the government of the south-east Asian nation.
Suu Kyi, along with a number of other government officials, were seized on the morning of 1st February. The military has declared a one year state of emergency according to a statement on military tv, giving the leader of the army de facto premiership of the country.
The apparent coup follows a landslide election win by Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) in the countries recent elections.
Aung San Suu Kyi received a Noble Peace Prize in 1991 for her commitment to free thought, following a military refusal to hand over power, despite her party winning the 1990 election with 59% of the vote.
She spent multiple stints under house arrest between 1989 and 2010, totalling more than 15 years, with her periods outside of her home being underlined by involvement with the UN to pressure the military junta into ceding power to democratic institutions.
Her house arrest gained universal condemnation, with global leaders such as President Barack Obama and UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon amongst those urging the government to release her.
Upon her release in 2010, she returned to the political scene, with her party eventually winning 2015 general election and assuming control of the country. Ms Suu Kyi was barred from becoming president due to a constitutional change in 2008 that prevented any widow’s or mother of foreign-born children from becoming president; both provisions seemingly invented specifically to prevent her from taking up the premiership.
She has however been the de facto leader of Myanmar since 2016, a period in which the military committed numerous human rights abuses against a Muslim minority population in the country, with Ms Suu Kyi receiving criticism for her inability to roll back their actions.
The arrest is perhaps indicative of the limited power that she possessed, even when ruling the country, with the military a pervasive presence in the nation’s administration.
Following her arrest she urged her supporters to protest against the military’s actions and to “not to accept this”.
The military said it was handing power to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing because of “election fraud”, despite producing no evidence of this.
The move has been met with international condemnation, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson stating;
The vote of the people must be respected and civilian leaders released.