After nearly a year since the military coup in Myanmar deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s electoral commission announced Tuesday that she—along with 15 other top civilian leaders—has been charged with election fraud.

UPI, citing reports out of the country, said the 76-year-old has been charged with falsely adding names to voter lists among other charges. The Associated Press pointed out that independent observers found no evidence to support the claim of fraud.

The New York Times reported that there is a morale crisis in Myanmar’s military after being forced to fight the civilian uprising. At least 3,000 soldiers and police officers out of the country’s estimated 350,000 have defected. 

“Never have we seen defections at this level,” Moe Thuzar, the co-coordinator of the Myanmar Studies Program at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, told the paper. “What we’re seeing since February is this steady trickle of people leaving, and also publicly stating their support for the C.D.M. [Civil Disobedience Movement] That’s unprecedented.”

The Trends Journal reported extensively on the military coup in February and the subsequent deadly protests that have broken out across the country. (See “MYANMAR: ANOTHER DAY, MORE BLOODSHED,” “RUSSIA BACKING MYANMAR JUNTA AFTER COUP,” and “UN TAKES ACTION AGAINST MYANMAR RULERS.”)

Since the protests began, at least 1,260 people have been killed and more than 7,200 detained on vague charges, the Times reported, citing rights groups. Suu Kyi was arrested on the morning of the coup months after winning in a landslide election last November.

The protesters—many of them young people—have faced an emboldened police force backed by the military. These officers seem to have a willingness to use live rounds on protesters who have gathered by the thousands in main cities. 

Western sanctions have proven to be ineffective, and protesters know they are no match against heavily-armed and military-backed security forces. Thus, an underground movement emerged that is intent on destroying the country’s economy from the inside out.

The Associated Press reported that the coup set the country’s economy back for years, and the country was not thriving before the military takeover. The economy is expected to shrink by 18.4 percent this year, the report said.

“Imported foods and medicines cost double what they used to… so people buy only what they need to buy,” Ma San San, a trader in Mawlamyine township, told the AP“And when traders sell an item for 1,000 kyats one day and 1,200 the next, it means that the seller is losing while selling.”

TREND FORECAST: We maintain our forecast that military rule will continue in Myanmar, and threats by the UN, the United States, and other nations will achieve nothing in terms of bringing so-called “Democracy” to the country. 

Furthermore, the stronger outside countries pressure the Myanmar government—be they in sanctions or supporting rebel movements—the greater the ruling government will strengthen its ties with its Chinese neighbor.

On Thursday, China called on the Southeast Asian nations—a 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations—to allow Myanmar’s military envoy to attend the summit planned for this week, according to Reuters. ASEAN leaders wanted to exclude the military leaders.

On 10 August, China announced the transfer of $6 million to Myanmar’s government to fund 21 projects, Reuters reported. The report said that China has remained relatively quiet after the coup. But as we had noted, Beijing would not support a citizens uprising against the military. 

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