Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar’s civilian government, has been taken into custody in a raid early on Monday morning. Other members of the ruling National League for Democracy have also been detained, according to local reports.
The moves follow a flare-up of tension between the country’s powerful army and the nominally in-charge civilian rulers. The developments may be the first stages of a military coup.
Myo Myunt, a spokesman for the NLD, confirmed to the Reuters news agency that Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other leaders, had been “taken.” He urged the population not to escalate the problem. “I want to tell our people not to act rashly and I want them to act according to the law.” The army has not yet made any comment on the detentions.
In 2015, the military junta honored the result of elections and allowed civilians to nominally head the country, albeit under strict controls. In power, Suu Kyi has disappointed many of her supporters in democratic countries. She has refused to condemn the country’s military for a brutal campaign against the Rohyinga Muslim minority population, that many analysts say amounts to genocide.
Her silence had helped her stay in power, however. And in the November 2020 elections her party was able to increase its parliamentary majority. The proxy party for the military was reduced to just 33 seats out of the 476 in parliament.
The past two months have seen tensions grow as the military claimed that the election was fraudulent. Suu Kyi was for 15 years a political prisoner, held under house arrest by the army. But even with her liberty restricted, she appeared to be a tireless campaigner for, civilian rule and attracted global attention for her calls for peace and democracy. She was celebrated in the Luc Besson-directed drama “The Lady,” with Michelle Yeoh in the starring role.