Democracy for Myanmar: Update since the Feb 1 Coup d’état

By: Susan Heller Evenson

Apr 7, 2021

In Myanmar's November 2020 general elections, Myanmar's National League for Democracy (NLD) party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won a landslide victory, capturing 83% of open parliamentary seats. In an early-morning raid on February 1st, just before the newly elected lawmakers were to convene and take their seats in parliament, Myanmar's military (known as the Tatmadaw) staged a coup d'état, detaining and deposing members from the NLD, including Suu Kyi, and President Win Myint.

Almost immediately after the coup, civilians began a Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), protesting the Tatmadaw's actions through walk-outs in the medical, banking, and other sectors; peacefully marching; wearing red (the color associated with the NLD); taking to social media. And For the past two months, the Tatmadaw has responded by killing over 550 protestors; christening a new government called the State Administration Council; declaring a 1-year emergency with a promise to hold election's in a year; instituting full and partial internet; arresting and detaining dozens of protesters and journalists.

The coup occurred right in the middle of Myanmar's coffee harvest, and we have been in regular communication (as the internet allows) with our producer partners and were able to arrange a call in late March between several buyers and the producer partners to reconnect, ask questions, and show support. All of the producers with whom we work are all safe but have also expressed fear of both the Tatmadaw and the global community's isolation. We will continue to partner with them to export coffee from Myanmar despite the significant political and logistical hurdles and express our support for our producer partners even more vocally.

Myanmar has a violent and complex history, with the horrific actions of the Tatmadaw against the Rohingya in recent years garnering international condemnation. We condemn the actions of the Tatmadaw and unequivocally support the producer partners with whom we work. They condemn the coup, are unaffiliated with the Tatmadaw and the Tatmadaw's actions, and are small business owners and employees, just as many of our roasters are small business owners. Our long-term support as business partners and friends is more vital than ever. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.

Please see our Daily Coffee News article for more detailed information on the coup and its impact on the Myanmar coffee sector.

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