explainer

Here are 5 facts about what is happening in Myanmar right now.

It has been over two months since Myanmar awoke to the military's attempt to dismantle their relatively new democratic government. Every day since, the junta has employed casual and deadly violence to suppress pro-democracy demonstrations.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed, thousands have been detained and millions more remain fearful for the future under the brutal control of the military.

Watch: Military-backed ruling party concedes defeat in Myanmar election. Post continues after video.


Video via ABC.

The political unrest comes after Aung San Suu Kyi — who has now been detained — won the country's democratic election last year in a landslide. The military contested the election results, despite no evidence, and consequently took control of the government on February 1, declaring a year-long state of emergency.

Here are five facts of what's happening right now in Myanmar, a country of 54 million people. 

1. At least 700 civilians have been killed since the coup.

According to the latest figures from AAPP, at least 706 people have now been killed by the ruling junta. This includes at least 46 children.

On Friday at least 82 people were killed in Bago alone, a city about 100 kilometres northeast of Yangon. It marked the biggest one-day total for a single city since March 14, according to reports from independent local media.

The military are employing brutal force to crush the persistent opposition of pro-democracy protesters. 

“It is like genocide,” a protest organiser called Ye Htut told Myanmar Now. “They are shooting at every shadow.”

2. Over 3,000 civilians are currently detained or sentenced.

More than 3059 people are currently detained due to crackdowns by the military, according to AAPP. 

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Many of those detained were attending non-violent protests around the country and consider themselves part of a civil disobedience movement.

3. It's been 10 days since Myanmar's internet was effectively shut down.  

As of April 1, the junta ordered internet service providers to suspend wireless broadband services, according to digital rights organisation Access Now. This comes as mobile internet access was blocked on March 15. 

The military is still allowing fibre optic and fixed cable internet, however Access Now reports that only a limited portion of people in Myanmar have access via these connections.

“From a political point of view, the major effect is on people’s ability to know what’s happening in the coup and take part in the movement against it,” Oliver Spencer, the legal director of the nonprofit 'Free Expression Myanmar', told Reuters.

Indeed, it's harder to share with the international community the human rights abuses occurring in Myanmar if citizens don't have access to Internet. 

4. It is a crime to be a journalist inside Myanmar right now. 

More than 700 people have been killed since the coup. Image: Getty. 

Since the coup, journalists in Myanmar have been risking their lives to report on what is unfolding. It is a crime, under the military's Penal Code, to publish or circulate “any statement, rumour or report with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause fear or alarm to the public or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offense against the State or against the public tranquility".

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The military-controlled government have clamped down on media coverage of anti-coup demonstrations by raiding media companies and detaining dozens of journalists. Some reporters have even been shot and wounded. 

In the wake of the coup, the country no longer has a single independent newspaper in publication, according to Myanmar Now.

As a result, the country has seen a rise in 'citizen journalists' who are documenting the demonstrations via their phones. 

“I know I might get killed at some point for taking a video record of what is happening. But I won’t step back,” one citizen journalist, Ma Thuzar Myat, told The New York Times.

5. Experts say an economic crisis is looming. 

Since the coup, millions of people have refused to turn up to work as part of the civil disobedience movement. 

From shops to schools to hospitals, the nation's workers have essentially come to a halt, with the hope it will force military out of power. 

Experts are saying Myanmar's economy is now in a free-fall, with one estimate from the Fitch Solutions projecting a 20 per cent contraction in GDP for the 2020-21 fiscal year, according to The Straits Times

This is alarming news for a country that is already one of Asia's poorest nations.

Feature image: Getty