Burma was separated from India in 1937.On January 4, 1948, Burma got independence from British domination.
The economy was shattered due to war, towns and cities were devastated. They decided to attain peace by a policy of non-participation, but due to internal strife, it did not result in peace. Burma stopped accepting aid from the US and rejected all foreign aids because a general support was given to Taiwan by the United States. By 1958, Burma attained peace and there was an economic revival.
There were some quarrels in the ruling party (AFPFL) between Thakin Nu and his associates. Thakin Nu invited Ne Win (Army Chief of staff) and Aung Sons (second in-command) to accept dictatorship. Seeing the situation, Ne Win established security to stabilise the situation and re-elections took place in February 1960, in which Thakin Nu won with an absolute majority.
In March 1962, Ne Win led a military coup and arrested Thakin Nu and several Cabinet Ministers. Ne Win suspended the 1947 Constitution. He ruled the country with the Revolutionary Council, which consisted of senior military officers. He stated that his purpose was to make Burma an accurately socialist state. He took various steps and eventually implemented a type of command economy. But his steps did not improve the economy as there was low investment in agriculture and industry, and the military replaced civilians in crucial administration ranks. Then, he assured a new Constitution.
In September 1971, a meeting was held with various ethnic groups and other groups to draft a document. In December 1973, a referendum was conducted for the amendment of the new Constitution and it was approved. Elections were held and Ne Win was elected as President in 1974. After the following steps, Burma’s economy slowed down. Myanmar started receiving funding from Japan and Asian Development Bank.
Some of the economic reforms proposed in 1987-88 deregulated the socialist policies and encouraged foreign investments.
Although Ne Win retired as President and Chairman of the Council Of State in November 1981, he was still in power. There were some protests. Saw Maung took control of the government and he became the Chairman of SLORC as well as Prime Minister. In 1989, Burma was changed to Myanmar by SLORC.
The NLD was founded by Aung Shwe, Tin Oo,Aung San Suu Kyi (daughter of Aung San). The League’s main aim was to bring democracy and get free from military dictatorship. The Opposition coalition (i.e. the NLD itself) won some four-fifths of the seats. NLD’s leader Tin Oo and Aung San Suu Kyi were arrested in July 1989 and weren’t released. Worldwide attention was given to Myanmar after Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 (she was under house arrest till 1995).
Saw Maung was reported to be in poor health with her role as the Prime Minister and Chairman of the SLORC by Gen. There was a social organisation (USDA) and by the 21st century, more than one-fifth of the country’s population belonged to this organisation. The SLORC initiated a lot of cease fires with ethnic groups and gave a greater control to the government.
The military doubled their troops’ strength between 1988 and 2000. In 1997, the military rebuilt itself and changed its name from SLORC to SPDC. The SPDC continued to harass the NLD. Then, the UN called on the economic sanctions against Myanmar in 1997.
Late in 2000, the SPDC initiated some secret talks with Aung San Suu Kyi when she was under house arrest and decided to negotiate with her by releasing 200 political prisoners. In 2003, Khin Nyunt was named the Prime Minister and he promised to conduct free elections and draft the Constitution, he had short-term rule and allegations of corruption.
In late 2004, Nyunt was placed under a house arrest and was replaced by Gen Soe Win. In 2003, the SPDC held back Aung San Suu Kyi. In September 2007, the monastic community presented a large-scale demonstration and called for democratic reforms; the military drew widespread international criticism.
In preparation for the parliamentary elections, a series of reforms were passed in March 2010. In 2008, a new Constitution was drafted and reserved 25% of the seats for the military. There were two laws specified that people married to foreign nationals or convicted of crimes were not eligible to participate in the elections. Aung San Suu Kyi was married to a British citizen. In 2010, elections were conducted and the USDP won it. Aung San Suu Kyi was released in 2010. In 2015, elections were conducted and the NLD won the elections.
San Suu Kyi was not permitted to become President, because constitutional provision banned candidates who had children of foreign nationalities. So, Htin Kyaw took up the post of President. The administration faced some challenges as the periodic riots against Rohingya Muslims had reawakened.
In 2017, Suu Kyi’s international image suffered after the Rohingya crisis. A genocide of the Rohingya Muslims was conducted. In early 2018, it was estimated that over 80,000 Rohingya fled the country since the first crackdown in 2016.
On March 21, 2018, Htin Kyaw resigned as President. In March 2020, the NLD introduced some amendments — they wanted to reduce the minimum number of legislature seats reserved for the military over a period of 15 years. However, these amendments were not passed because in 2008, the new Constitution that was written said that 25% of the seats will be reserved for military. In 2020, elections were conducted and the NLD won with a majority of seats. The USDP and the military rejected the results and alleged that this was fraud. The Election Commission rejected it and said there was no evidence of fraud.
On February 1, 2021, the Parliament was scheduled to meet for the first time after the elections, and the military did a coup and seized the power of the ruling party. They said that there was fraud in elections, that’s why they did a coup. But actually, there was no fraud in the election and it was done with proper procedure. Eventually, people got angry and came on the road for protests.
The military opened firing, which killed thousands of people. Some countries like the UK and USA have declared economic sanctions. Also, all the newspapers are shut down as newspapers became a medium to spread nationalism and provoke citizens to protests in the first place. Recently, there was news that more than 100 protesters have been killed in Myanmar. Violence continues on the streets and we are yet to see where this coup will take the future of the country and its people.