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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Myanmar’s struggle for democracy

Myanmar%E2%80%99s+struggle+for+democracy

Drawing comparisons between Myanmar and U.S. democracy

The early February 2021 military coup in Myanmar marked a major dent in the bulwark of global democracy. 

On Feb. 1, the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military, seized control of the government and placed the country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest along with many members of her party, the National League for Democracy. This occurred after Myanmar’s most recent elections in which Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide, prompting the Tatmadaw to overthrow the elected government alleging voter fraud.  

Anyone reading this might be taken aback by some of the similarities to what we saw occur over these last few months in the U.S. after the 2020 election. Of course, despite unfounded claims of voter fraud and calls by some to impose martial law, our democracy, though bruised, came out strong. Perhaps this is because American democracy has existed for over 230 years, and Burmese democracy has only existed for 10.

But while age speaks to the tempered strength of a democracy, it does not remove its inherent fragility. 

We saw an example of our system’s own fragility on Jan. 6 at the Capitol. While the mob that broke into the building that day was very unlikely to actually overthrow the federal government, the storming of the Capitol still showed that for a large portion of the country, their connection to democratic values is weakening. 

However, I am confident that partisanship, while a significant danger to the country, will not be what overthrows our democracy.

As shown in Myanmar, the forces that support democracy will always prove formidable against those that do not. Since the coup, thousands of protesters came out across the country, from cities big and small, to show their opposition to the Tatmadaw’s takeover of their government. Despite the obvious danger presented by opposing an authoritarian regime, these protesters  came out to voice their disapproval of the military’s actions and show their support for democracy. It is truly an inspiring sight. 

What the events in Myanmar should teach us is that democracy is never a guarantee, and that there will always exist forces that seek to exploit the weaknesses inherent in democratic systems. Our democracy is strong, but it is not invincible. Therefore, we must continue to support pro-democratic movements like the one that arose in Myanmar  to ensure the preservation of democracy worldwide.  

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