Published: 11th March 2021
What the FAQ: Nun kneeling before the military latest symbol of protest, what is Myanmar's history with coups?
A nun begging the Myanmar military to 'spare the children' has gone viral on social media in the past few days. Here's what it's all about
A 45-year-old nun in Myanmar has captured the nation's attention by kneeling before armed police officers in an attempt to save protesters from harm. An image of Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng on her knees with her arms widespread has become a major symbol for the resistance overnight. On March 9, military forces were pursuing an ongoing protest and attempting to quash their efforts. Here's what led up to the event and a brief look back at how Myanmar has endured military coups and political unrest over the years.
What made Tawng beg to save the protesters?
The Catholic nun runs a clinic in the northern city of Myitkyina. When she heard the officers approaching to quash the protests on her street, she approached them in an attempt to maintain peace. She told Reuters, "I begged them not to hurt the protesters, but to treat them kindly like family members. I told them that they can kill me, I am not standing up until they give their promise that they will not brutally crackdown on protesters.” The senior officers who were also seen kneeling and lowering their heads to the floor, promised Tawng that they would not resort to violence. However, they began firing later and two protesters were killed and a number of others injured.
How did the political unrest begin in Myanmar?
After Myanmar won independence from the UK in 1948, a constitutional government was formed under the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League (AFPFL). Prime Minister U Nu's government crumbled under ethnic struggles, corruption and various internal issues. In 1958, difference of opinion caused rifts within the AFPFL and field officers were on the verge of rising up against the establishment in a coup. To keep things under control, U Nu formed a caretaker government with the military.
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When did the first coup occur?
After the military held an election in 1960, U Nu's party formed a civilian government. The government's inability to solve existing issues led to a coup by General Ne Win in 1962. Following this, the constitution was suspended and elected representatives were arrested. A Union Revolutionary Council was formed to rule over the country. Following this, democratic rule ended in Myanmar. Ne Win formed a one-party electoral system where his Burma Socialist Party ruled. This military junta lost power when a general election was held in 2011.
What happened in February?
Following another general election in 2020 won by the ruling National League for Democracy, on February 1, the nation's military declared an emergency and claimed that the 2020 election was invalid. A day before the new government was expected to be sworn in, President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi , in addition to various members of the government were detained indefinitely.