On February 1, 2021, the military in Burma (1) overthrew the democratically elected government, declared a one-year state of emergency, and installed Senior General Min Aung Hlaing as the head of government. Since the coup, the military has cracked down on protestors, killing over 800 people and detaining many more. Numerous countries and international organizations, including the United States and the United Nations, have condemned the coup and ensuing violence and called for the restoration of a democratic government. The United States and other countries have also imposed rigorous sanctions on the Burmese military, its officials and affiliated corporations, and social media companies have imposed content restrictions to prevent the spread of pro-military propaganda.
This is not the first military coup in Burma. The Burmese military seized power in 1962 and maintained control over the country for forty-nine years. (2) After elections in 2010, Burma began a peaceful transition from authoritarian rule to a quasi-civilian government, (3) and in 2015, the military accepted election results that brought the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, to power. (4) Even after this transition, however, the military retained significant control over key cabinet positions and national corporations. (5) Burma and its military in particular have drawn international condemnation since the 2017 launch of a violent campaign against the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority, that forced over 750,000 refugees to flee the country. (6) Even in the face of allegations that the campaign was genocidal, Aung San Suu Kyi and the civilian government defended the military's actions. (7)
Despite this delicate alliance between the civilian government and the military, concerns about a military coup began to surface in October 2020. (8) The NLD decisively won the November 2020 election, securing 396 out of 479 Parliamentary seats; in contrast, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the military's proxy party, won only thirty-three seats. (9) The USDP refused to recognize the election results and claimed that early voting showed evidence of "widespread violation of laws and procedures." (10) Subsequent talks between the military and civilian leaders failed, (11) and during the last week of January, military vehicles began appearing in at least two cities. (12) On January 28, 2021, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned against any military provocations in Burma. (13) The next day, seventeen diplomatic missions in Burma, including the U.S. embassy, released a joint statement opposing "any attempt to alter the outcome of the elections or impede Myanmar's democratic transition." (14)
On February 1, the newly elected Parliament was supposed to be sworn in, (15) but instead, the military declared a one-year state of emergency and seized control. (16) By the evening of February 1, the military had formed a new cabinet, in which every minister was a former or current military general. (17) After detaining civilian leaders like Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint, cabinet ministers, and opposition politicians, the Burmese military announced that ultimate authority had been transferred to the army chief, Senior General...