OUSTING THE DEMOCRACY BY ABROGATING CIVIL RIGHTS: MYANMAR’S COUP D’ETAT

INTRODUCTION

Democracy is a distinguish form of government accepted in many countries of the world. Citizens elect their representatives and their consent matters in almost all spheres of political, social, and economic dimensions. It is considered a boon for all the legal systems prevailing in the world as it ensures human rights in the best possible way. Howbeit, the beau idéal faced existential crisis in Myanmar. The military overthrew the democracy by confining Aun San Su Kyi, arresting elected leaders, and announcing the emergency. This article maps the series of events that have undermined democracy in Myanmar.

THE COUP D’ETAT

The looping politics of Myanmar has left no stone unturned to danger the democracy. The Military Junta has seized the authorityfor the third time since 1948 (Independence) and transferred the authority to Commander-in-chief Min AungHlaing by declaring emergency. The military representatives justified themselves by asserting this double-dealing as a pavement to democracy. They backed their assertion with the Constitution which was drafted by the military itself in 2008 to keep their authority up. Moreover, they abrogated the foreign intervention for solving the internal matters despite; they have violated the principles of international law considering human rights. The democrats and protesters tried to make use of social media but the Junta blocked networking in lieu of stability. The military used the conflict among the communities very well where majority group is Burmans and other ethnic minorities like Buddhists. The latter have accepted the military rule. The military is using several draconian rules made by them to ensure their rule.

ENCROACHING THE RIGHTS OF THE COUNSEL AND ACCUSED

The iron-fisted security forces adhering Myanmar’s Junta has arrested six defense lawyers namely Thein Hlaing Tun, Ayar Linn Htut, Thet Tun Oo, May Zun Ko, Nilar and Hpone Myat Thu breaching the liberty of legal profession and rights of the defendants (clients). The fascistic movement of military Junta is clearly symbolizing that shielding those detained since February 1 coup may lead to criminal proceedings. Hereinafter, it’s clear that the forces are pulling out all the stops for keeping the political prisoner deprived of fair trial, counsel and hearing. The Lawyers have been charged for flouting Section 505A of the Penal Code which decodes the offense of spreading and making the comments that cause fear, fake news will directly or indirectly be treated as a criminality against a government agent. The section has been included by the Military Junta itself with three year prison under the offense. It has become a legal mechanism to suppress their authority for military. Abiding the Basic Principle on the Role of the Lawyers, a lawyer must be legitimized to conduct all professional function without any intimidation, hindrance, harassment, or improper interference, and should not be subject to the civil or criminal penalties for good faith statements made in defense of their client. Consequently, the deed of Military Junta is a misdemeanor against the judiciary and international laws.

DEMURRING AGAINST THE MISDEMEANOR

The Spring Revolutionis initiated to fight against the transgression. The revolution is a peaceful and non-violent dissent shown against the military regime. They have chosen red color deriving from National League for Democracy (NLD), a song “Kabar Ma Kyay Bu” which is the anthem of the 8888 uprisings and three-fingers salute widely as a tactic for Civil Disobedience Movement. The protestors used several soothing methods like strikes and campaigns. Healthcare workers, civil servants, and teachers initiated strikes at vast level beseeching “No Recognition, No Partition” against the coup rule. The strike slowly gets wide dimensions that several newspapers pull up the publications. A military knock-back propaganda take up calling “Stop Buying Junta Business” for shunning junta’s products and services strafing the economy of the regime which included Myanmar Beer, Mytel (a telecom carrier), Mandalay Beer, Dagon Beer, coffee brands, tea brands and other services concerning the profits of military. People in urban areas begin bumping pots for calling the evils away and called it as Pot-Banging Movement. Several got arrested under Section 47 of the police act. Workers instigated the Red-Ribbon Movement for symbolizing the National League for Democracy. Democratic netizens posed with showing three-fingers on social media. Another such movement was “Slow-Car or Car-Breakdown Movement” for showing defiance by jamming the traffic. The military tried to eradicate the efforts brutally and left no chance while escalating the anarchism to new heights.

METASTASICING THE ANARCHISM

The military has killed around 883 protesters and detained 6,000 opponents approximately as per Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in February to proliferate their regime and ousting the democracy, attributing to media and social media syncope, criminal apprehensions and uncontrollable detentions. There is a situation of anarchism where citizens are under the fear of military due to the weakening of the legal system. They are hiding themselves from security forces in the fear of being detained and harassed. The legal system of Myanmar exhausted to address these circumstances well. It’s puny and on the fritz due to internal glitches like disabled constitutional mechanism. Expostulating the anarchism will lead to detention with maltreatment. The condition of defense lawyers is a proof to it. They were photographed and videotaped in daunting manner which escalated the fear among female lawyers. They feel unsafe to go alone in the court. They are constantly under reconnaissance, being spied by the strangers looking around for them.

The lawyer not only serves as a person to defend the rights of victims but also she/he is a network between the detained and his loved ones. He serves as a connection from the world inside prison to the outside. The arrest of lawyers resulted in the broken communication. This opened the way for enhanced ill-treatment in the prison. No relatives are allowed to meet and see their love ones in the prison. This situation plotted a peril for the students pursuing legal profession. They see future in the hopeless darkness. For combating the coup, the democrats formed the shadow government. They formed National Unity Government which consisted members from different ethnic groups and the ousted cabinet. The organization is inspired and extended form of the Committee representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw which was declared as barred organization for protesting against the military coup. The leaders were being arrested and detained in the prison for clamping down the Civil Disobedience Movement. There was reckless use of authority by blocking internet, charging sedition and martial law, using rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas on peaceful protestors, posted military and armored forces etc. These were another ways of ensuring the autocracy.

CONCLUSION

As long as the legal system is a puppet of military, the stability in the Myanmar will be impossible. The country is in strict need to refine its machinery on the basis of worldwide accepted legal traditions. It should adopt a particular type of tradition like civil law, common law, socialist, etc. or go for elaborative and mixed approach like India. But the condition is to remove the interference of the military among political, legal, economic and social matters. Its role must be limited to defending the nation from external menaces. Independence of Judicial system and formation of laws by proper legislative debate are really needed. There must be proper legal and fundamental rights given to the citizens for peaceful and secure living. On that account, the need for proper framework steps up. People of Myanmar need a united democratic movement. The division among communities is a stumbling block for setting a proper democratic regime by overthrowing the rule of powerful military. The obstruction over international intervention should be removed for facilitation of help.


Title Image: ABC News


This article has been written by Sakshi Khatri. Sakshi is a second year law student studying at GNLU, Gandhinagar.