February 1st marks the anniversary of Myanmar’s 2021 coup
As Myanmar enters the third year of fallout following the coup, led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, in over half of the country battles rage between the extant ethnic armed organisations, forces affiliated with the parallel National Unity Government (NUG) and the current military-led administration.
In these two years, data collected by local media organisations show that the level of live combat was recorded at over 7,500 battles in Kayin State alone. It is followed by around 900 battles in Sagaing and 600 in Chin State and more. All in all, the total amount of recorded clashes reached around 9,000 battles within two years.
Many of the political prisoners, detained immediately after the coup, or at any time during the past two years, remain imprisoned.
The iconic and ousted National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi now faces up to 33 years in jail, which essentially amounts to a life sentence for the 77-year-old Nobel Laureate.
Former president Win Myint was also sentenced to 12 years, with many senior party leaders and other politicians receiving a similar amount of jail time. They could, however, be considered lucky, because as many as 143 prisoners, many of them politically detained, have been sentenced to death on multiple charges.
67 NLD party members have died during their detention, many of them reportedly as a result of brutal interrogations.
There are over 13,000 arrests on record, with at least 2,800 killed during clashes or while showing opposition to the current administration.
Political crack down or economic slump
Those that did not get caught up in the fighting or crackdowns have to suffer through deteriorating economic conditions. From millions of war refugees to more and more people falling under the poverty line, it remains to be seen how long the current government of Myanmar will take to remedy the situation.
A litre of a 92-Ron grade fuel went for 665 Kyats per litre in January 2020, rose as far as 9,000 Kyats and has now fallen back down to 7,000 at the end of January, 2023. The greenback was at 1,300 Kyats per dollar and climbed as far as 3,600 Kyats. It has fallen back to around a stable 2,800 Kyats. A bag of a popular strain of rice, weighing approximately 30 kilos, used to cost around 50,000 MMK but has since more than doubled.
The depreciation of the Kyat and that fact that Myanmar relies heavily on its imports mean that the cost of living has doubled, if not tripled.
Myanmar’s minimum wage ranged from as high as about 4,300 Kyats per day to as low as 3,600 in recent years. The instability caused by the post-coup fallout means that, if businesses that had been maintaining a respectable wage level hadn’t left Myanmar altogether, they certainly aren’t able to pay the wages they did previously.
Many of Myanmar’s woes won’t be solved in the near future, as the military-led administration is still deadlocked in fighting its opponents, as well as manipulating laws and the legislature to cement their position of power, as proven by a myriad of changes introduced within the past two years.
Prospect of election
The State Administration Council, the body of highest authority in the current administration, is set to hold a general election sometime in 2023 and has sped up efforts to put the procedures in place, such as census data collection.
A State of Emergency, according to the constitution, can only be declared legally for two years and ended on January 31st, 2023. On the 31st of January, a National Security meeting was held, attended by all the heads of the current government, save a few. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing claimed that, due to “acts of terror”, amongst other “destabilising elements” by organisations such as the PDF, CRPH and NUG, the country remains in an “irregular” state and that an announcement will be made on February 1st, the anniversary of the coup and the date on which strike groups have urged the citizens of Myanmar to take part in yet another silent strike.
Many expect further manipulations of extant laws and regulations, to suit the needs of the current administration.
By Thai PBS World