The powerful military in Burma has overtaken the government in a military coup on Monday Feb. 1, and has called a state of emergency for the country.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken condemned the action, and called for the military to “reverse these actions immediately.”
Senior leaders of the country including Aung San Suu Kyi, its de facto leader have been detained.
As the sun rose over Burma, there were widespread blackouts, banks were closed, and the military was patrolling the biggest city, Yangon.
Citizens could only access the news via the military-owned Myawaddy TV channel, as all other news channels seemed under a blackout.
A news anchor announced on the military-owned channel that power had been handed over to army chief Min Aung Hlaing. The military confirmed it was holding Suu Kyi and other high ranking National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders, as a response to voting irregularities that had marred the November election.
Political tensions had been escalating over the disputed election, and a military takeover had been rumored.
There has been international condemnation over the coup, and the United States has called on Burma’s military leaders to “release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people,” reported CNN.
“The United States expresses grave concern and alarm regarding reports that the Burmese military has detained multiple civilian government leaders, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and civil society leaders,” according to a statement from the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “The military must reverse these actions immediately.”
The National League for Democracy, which is led by Suu Kyi, said in a statement obtained by Reuters that those in the country should reject the military actions, reported Fox News.
“The actions of the military are actions to put the country back under a dictatorship,” the statement read. “I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military.”
Army chief Min Aung Hlaing, is now in charge, and has been under U.S. sanctions since December 2019. He has been identified for serious human rights abuses after the atrocities committed against the Rohingya Muslim community.
Prominent Burma historian and author Thant Myint-U said on Twitter on Monday, “The doors just opened to a very different future.”
“I have a sinking feeling that no one will really be able to control what comes next. And remember Myanmar’s [Burma’s] a country awash in weapons, with deep divisions across ethnic and religious lines, where millions can barely feed themselves.”