The Myanmar military, which had controlled the country for 50 years before ceding power in the past decade, seems unperturbed by international admonishments over its recent coup. U.N. special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener reported that deputy military chief Soe Win told her, “We are used to sanctions, and we survived. ... We have to learn to walk with only few friends.”
In contrast to Myanmar, Hong Kong’s crackdown on its pro-democracy movement in the past few years has seen few fatalities at the hands of police. Instead, the central government is killing the movement by legislation and detention.
The Chinese Communist Party had promised Hong Kong 50 years of autonomy after the British handed the former territory over to China in 1997. But last July Beijing imposed a draconian national security law on Hong Kong that effectively criminalized political dissent. Some pro-democracy activists fled overseas, while others dissolved their political parties.
Protests fizzled as the government banned gatherings and delayed September’s legislative elections by one year (ostensibly due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Authorities used the new national security law to remove four opposition lawmakers from office, prompting other pro-democratic lawmakers to resign from Hong Kong’s legislature, the Legislative Council, in protest. Officials also arrested dozens of activists for their participation in the protests.
Last week, authorities charged 47 pro-democracy figures and former lawmakers with conspiracy to commit subversion for their roles in an unofficial election primary last July. Beijing still considered their actions an attempt to overthrow the government. (The top target of the arrests is Christian legal scholar Benny Tai, who spearheaded the primary as a way to ensure the pro-democratic candidates would win a majority of the seats on the Legislative Council.) If found guilty, the activists could face up to life in prison.