Daily Video

February 3, 2021

Classroom Resource: Why Myanmar’s military overthrew the nation’s democratically-elected government


Directions: Watch the short video clip, read the summary below and then answer the discussion questions.  To read a transcript of the video, click here

Summary: On Feb. 1, the military of the southeast Asian country of Myanmar launched a coup, or military takeover, arresting members of parliament including Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner. (To learn more about Suu Kyi’s life, including her 15 years in prison between 1989 and 2010, and her later role involving the genocide of ethnic minorities, read this BBC article.)

  • For generations, Myanmar was considered a military dictatorship, but it had begun making democratic reforms in the past decade. On Monday, the military announced it would formally control the country again.
  • Monday’s coup represents a reversal of the move toward democracy. Monday’s events were set in motion in November when Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party won elections in a landslide victory. The military immediately began calling the results fraudulent.
  • On Tues., Feb. 2, the Biden Administration recognized the military takeover as a coup, which will likely mean the U.S. cuts off foreign aid to the country and might also impose sanctions.


Warm up questions: 

  1. What is a military coup?
  2. Who was the Nobel Prize winning leader in Myanmar, and why was she arrested?
  3. Why is this coup happening, according to the story?
  4. When and where did this military coup take place?
  5. How has the United States tried to push Myanmar toward democracy?

Focus questions:

  1. Do you think the U.S. has a role in supporting democracy in countries where it is under threat? If so, what do you think is the best way to do so?
  2. How do you think living under military dictatorship will affect the lives of ordinary citizens in Myanmar?

Media literacy: What extra background about Myanmar would you like to have to better understand what’s happening in that country?

Additional resources: 

  • Nobel Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi has been hailed by Western democracies as representing hope for a democratic future for Myanmar. However, her legacy is complicated by her own role in the government of Myanmar, including supporting military actions that many consider genocide against ethnic minorities within the country. Watch the following NewsHour clip to find out more:


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