Topic: Situation in Myanmar
Delegate Name: Ethan Ellis
A military junta has ruled Myanmar since it gained independence from Britain in 1948. The Union of Burma began as a parliamentary democracy, but it only lasted until 1962. General Ne Win led a military coup and held power for the next 26 years. Ne Win put in a new constitution in 1974 based on an isolationist foreign policy and socialist economic program that nationalized Burma’s major enterprises. The economy rapidly declined, and a black-market economy took hold. By 1988, widespread corruption, shifts in economic policy related to Myanmar’s currency, and food shortages led to massive protests. In August 1988, the army killed 3,000 protesters, and displaced thousands more in an effort to get rid of them. After the crackdown on protests in 1988, Ne Win resigned as chairman of his party, although he was active behind the scenes as another military junta took over. In 1989 the new military junta renamed the country the Union of Myanmar. They also moved their capital from Yangon to Nay Pyi Taw. In 2007, the Saffron Revolution broke out. Faced with international pressure, the junta began to loosen controls, believing it could continue to rule Myanmar even if it stepped back slightly. It pushed forward a new constitution in 2008, which is still in place today, that gave the military widespread powers even under civilian rule. The military junta officially dissolved in 2011 and established a military-dominated civilian parliament for a transitional period, during which former army bureaucrat and Prime Minister Thein Sein was appointed president. President Thein Sein spearheaded some reforms, including granting amnesty to political prisoners, relaxing media censorship, and implementing economic policies to encourage foreign investment. In 2015, Myanmar held its first nationwide, multiparty elections. Suu Kyi’s opposition NLD party won a landslide victory. New lawmakers elected Htin Kyaw, a longtime confidant of Suu Kyi, as president. But the real power was in the hands of Suu Kyi, who was appointed to the newly created position of state counselor and effectively became the head of the civilian government. In 2021 the military took power in a coup, halting the country’s transition towards democracy. In response to the coup, people took to the streets in mass protests. The military responded with violence and raiding peoples homes. More than 15,500 people have been arrested since September 2022. Almost 700,000 people had to leave their homes due to conflict since the coup. Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained since the coup, and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Malteser International is a worldwide relief agency of the Order of Malta for humanitarian aid. They have had a comprehensive program in the region of Kayin State. Malteser International has helped more than 84 villages in the areas of health, water, sanitation, social infrastructure, disaster risk reduction, and human rights. The European Commission and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has helped fund these programs. As well as, it is improving access to health and sanitation by building new water supply systems and supporting the creation of mother support groups and village health and water committees. One school and five health care centers are also being built, complete with sanitation facilities and a clean drinking water supply, which can function as evacuation centers in case of disaster. In addition, teams will conduct human rights workshops with the residents, so they are able to identify and prevent abuses by the conflict parties and obtain registration. Malteser International has helped Rohingya refugees who escaped from the Myanmar military attack. During the Rohingya genocide, about 300 people were killed. Malteser International opened up health stations, with therapeutic feeding for malnourished children, psychosocial support, hygiene, and sanitation training. Over 60,000 patients have been treated with life-saving aid.
Malta will continue aiding displaced persons in Myanmar. They will continue educating them on hygiene and supplying them vital medical, water, and food supplies. Allies of Malta would be the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and Norway. These are countries who have actively disagreed with the human rights violations occurring in Myanmar.