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33 Pictures of Myanmar’s Stolen Election, One Year On

By The Irrawaddy 5 November 2021

Monday will mark the one year anniversary of the Myanmar general election, in which the majority of people voted for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and more of the democratic changes its government had rolled out since taking office in 2016.

Keeping that in mind for their country, the dutiful citizens of Myanmar braved the raging COVID-19 epidemic at the time by arming themselves with masks and face shields to cast their votes. On the morning of Nov. 8 last year, hope was in the air.

When the results came out, Myanmar was thrilled. Jubilant NLD supporters in cities rallied the towns to celebrate the success as the party won 920 (82 percent) of the total 1,117 elected seats up for grabs nationwide. The military-backed main opposition Union Solidarity and Development party (USDP) only managed a humiliating 71 seats. Local and international observers chorused that the election was free and fair. As the NLD was given an even greater mandate to form the government, expectations for a new, more democratic Myanmar ran high.

People queue outside a polling station in Yangon on the morning of Nov. 8, 2020. / The Irrawaddy

But hopes were shattered and expectations proved short-lived on the early morning of Feb. 1 as the military seized power, claiming it was defending the country from election fraud, and arrested Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint. Myanmar exploded as millions of angry and insulted voters flooded the streets across the country to prove the regime’s claim false while denouncing the coup. “You said voting fraud, come and check it out with us!” they shouted in unison.

Polling station officials in Mandalay’s Aung Myay Thazan Township make some final checks shortly before they open the station to the voters on Nov. 8. / The Irrawaddy

Ignoring the people’s voice as it always has, the military cracked down on protesters with deadly force and abolished the results of the election, pushing Myanmar to the verge of being a politically, economically and socially failed state. International sanctions were imposed and investors took the last train out of town while civilian armed resistance against the regime flared up across the country; it is still going strong 10 months after the coup.

A volunteer distributes COVID-19 protection gear to voters outside a polling station in Yangon on Nov. 8. / The Irrawaddy

On the eve of the first anniversary of Myanmar’s 2020 election, which was stolen by the military, here are some images of the historic moments The Irrawaddy recorded at the time. They are not merely editorial pictures but document the aspirations, hope and anger of a nation that has been betrayed by its military.

A woman casts her vote on Nov. 8 in Yangon. / The Irrawaddy

As one of the COVID-19 precaution requirements set  by the Union Election Commission, a  polling station staffer checks the body temperature of a voter before they enter the polling station in Yangon on Nov. 8. / The Irrawaddy

Voters wait outside a polling station in Yangon on Nov. 8. / The Irrawaddy

Myanmar army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing shows off his ink-stained pinky as a sign of “just voted” after casting his ballot at a polling station in Naypyitaw’s Zayarthiri Township on Nov. 8. Deputy army chief Vice Senior General Soe Win and other military commanders, also cast their ballots there on the same day. / The Irrawaddy

Voters in Mandalay’s Chan Myathazi Township wait for their turn to cast their vote at a local polling station on Nov. 8. / The Irrawaddy

A woman casts her vote in Yangon on Nov. 8. / The Irrawaddy

Slum dwellers in Yangon’s Dagon Seikkan Township use banana leaves to protect themselves from sunlight while waiting to cast their votes on Nov. 8. / The Irrawaddy

Military voters wait to cast their votes in Mandalay on Nov. 8. Unlike previous elections, the Union Election commission ordered that the polling stations for military personnel and their families in the 2020 election to be open to public sight, especially for transparency issues. / The Irrawaddy

A man casts his vote in Yangon’s Dagon Seikkan Township on Nov. 8.

A voter shows her ink-stained pinky after casting her ballot in Yangon on Nov. 8. / The Irrawaddy

Voters in Naypyitaw’s Zabhuthiri Township wait under a scorching sun to cast their votes on the afternoon of Nov. 8. / The Irrawaddy

Votes are counted at a polling station in Yangon Seikkyi Khanaungto Township on the evening of Nov. 8. / The Irrawaddy

Ballots are counted under election observers’ scrutiny in Mandalay on Nov. 8. / The Irrawaddy

NLD supporters celebrate in front of the party’s headquarters in Yangon on the night of Nov. 8 as some results show the party’s win in some townships. / The Irrawaddy

NLD supporters celebrate in front of the headquarters in Mandalay on Nov. 9. / The Irrawaddy

NLD supporters in Naypyitaw’s Pobbathiri Township celebrate on Nov. 9 after learning of the party’s near electoral sweep of the capital, with the exception of military stronghold Zayathiri Township. / The Irrawaddy

People gather in downtown Yangon to show their support for the NLD while saying no to the military coup on Feb. 7, 2021. / The Irrawaddy

People gather downtown Yangon to show their support for the NLD while saying no to the military coup on Feb. 8, 2021. / The Irrawaddy

A regime soldier looks out at anti-junta protesters in Yangon in February. / The Irrawaddy

Government schoolteachers stage a protest against the regime on Feb. 10 in Yangon. / The Irrawaddy

An NLD supporter waves the party’s flag during an anti-regime protest in Yangon on Feb 13.

Anti-regime protesters in Yangon on Feb 14. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters in Yangon hold placards countering the regime’s election fraud claims and calling for Suu Kyi’s freedom on Feb 14. / The Irrawaddy

A child holds a placard saying “We Stand With Out Our Leader” when teachers and students at Mandalay Education Degree College held a Red Ribbon Campaign on the morning of Feb. 5 to protest the military dictatorship. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters in Yangon on Feb 14. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters in Mandalay on Feb 15. / The Irrawaddy

People gather to show their solidarity with the NLD on Feb 15 in Yangon when the regime’s forces try to raid the party’s headquarters in the city. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-regime protesters gather in downtown Yangon on Feb 17. / The Irrawaddy

Anti-coup graffiti is sprayed on a footbridge in downtown Yangon in February. / The Irrawaddy

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