What Is a Coup?

What Is a Coup?
Contributor: Lifehacker Australia

As you may know by now, Myanmar is making international news after news broke that the nation’s military stated it had taken control of the country. As the ABC has reported, democratically-elected leaders Aung San Suu Kyi, and President Win Myint have been taken into custody, and the military has claimed it will hold power in Myanmar for one year.

The military control of Myanmar is being described as a coup, with the SMH reporting that the army has sent soldiers into the city of Yangon where it is believed internet, TV and phone lines have been shut down.

While this is certainly not the first time the term “coup” has been used in 2021 (the Capitol Hill insurrection in January brought the word front of mind) it may not be a term everyone is familiar with, so let’s look into its meaning, shall we?

What is a coup?

A coup is short for coup d’état — which, by its formal definition, is often used to refer to a sudden, illegal seizure of power from a government.

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, a coup is often violent, it’s usually enacted by a small group of people and this group often has substantial weight or control over military resources.

Britannica also made a point to mention that a coup differs substantially from a revolution, in that a coup is mostly concerned with stealing power. Revolutions are movements that are rooted in the wants, rights and basic needs of a large group of people; they push for political change and fair policies.

This is not the desire or goal of those seeking to violently overthrow heads of government. A coup is an attack on the democratic process.

If you’d like to continue reading on about this area, and ways countries can prepare to fight off attacks such as these, take a peek at this write up we did on identifying a coup, here.

This article has been updated by Lifehacker Australia staff since its original publish date. The original article spoke to the use of the word “coup” by former US president, Donald Trump. 


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