The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the military coup in Myanmar, where the military declared a state of emergency after detaining Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and several other politicians. At the same time, it expressed support for the country’s legitimate leaders and called for the immediate release of the detainees and for the results of the November parliamentary election to be respected.
The military justified its actions by claiming that last year’s election was fraudulent, in which, according to official results, the ruling party of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Suu Kyi won. The inaugural session of the new parliament was to take place yesterday.
“We have always supported the transition to democracy in the country and the efforts to promote lasting peace, freedom, human rights, and prosperity for all the people of Myanmar,” the ministry said. Myanmar is the official name of Burma.
The United States, Australia and the UN Secretary-General expressed concerns over reports of the coup. Japan, India and Singapore hope for democratic dialogue, while Thailand has said that the coup is Burma’s own “internal affair.”
As in 2015, the National League for Democracy won a majority in the Burmese parliament. Its biggest rival was the Union Solidarity and Development Party, founded by former soldiers and representatives of the military junta that ruled Burma for five decades. According to the army, however, the election was accompanied by extensive fraud, and the soldiers, therefore, demanded a revision of the election results. The Electoral Commission has denied any wrongdoing.
The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ondřej Veselý, regretted that the attempt to set up a standard political regime in Burma ended faster than it had begun. “The only possible reaction of the international community is to not recognize the new power as official representatives of the state of Myanmar,” he wrote to the Czech News Agency.
Suu Kyi gained international respect for fighting for democracy in her country, for which the military junta kept her under house arrest for many years. She received many awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, for which she was nominated by former Czech President Václav Havel.
Last year, however, the European Parliament’s leadership formally expelled Suu Kyi from the 1990 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought Community. According to the European Parliament, she did not sufficiently prevent the violent repression of the Rohingya people, a Muslim ethnic group; the predominantly Buddhist Burma describes the group as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and has denied them citizenship and basic human rights.
According to Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Jaroslav Bžoch, the situation in Burma worsened last year during the campaign against the Rohingya people. This weakened Suu Kyi’s role on the international stage, and according to him, the army took advantage of it. “The international community should exert the greatest possible pressure to release those illegally detained and to withdraw the Burmese army,” he said.
The director of the Václav Havel Library, Michael Žantovský, who had negotiated with Suu Kyi in the past, said that the military coup was a step backward. According to him, it shows what role the army still has in Burma.
“I think that this also explains to some extent why Suu Kyi has been so careful in the past and has been criticized for not acting boldly or publicly about the Rohingya situation,” he said. According to him, everyone who was in Burma and talked to Suu Kyi understood what a “thin line” she was walking. “I think it is symptomatic that not only Mrs. Suu Kyi and her party protested against the coup but also the representatives of Rohingya organizations based in Bangladesh,” he added.
Title image: A Burmese living in Thailand holds a picture of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. Myanmar’s military has taken control of the country under a one-year state of emergency and reports say State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other government leaders have been detained. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)