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Myanmar

Crisis Group is monitoring the volatility in this multi-ethnic, multi-religious country during its transition away from military rule. In Rakhine state, longstanding communal tensions and government discrimination against the Rohingya Muslim minority have morphed into a major crisis. In August 2017, following militant  attacks, the military drove more than 750,000 Rohingya into neighbouring Bangladesh. This human catastrophe is also a potential driver of transnational jihadist group mobilisation or recruitment. Meanwhile, armed conflict has escalated in both Rakhine and Shan states, and the peace process with some 21 ethnic armed groups has lost momentum as it collides with political and electoral realities. Through field research and advocacy, Crisis Group works to mitigate the impact of armed conflict, strengthen the peace process and promote improved communal relations.

CrisisWatch Myanmar

Improved Situation

Hostilities between Arakan Army (AA) and Tatmadaw paused in Rakhine State as parties initiated direct ceasefire talks. After two years of escalating hostilities in Rakhine State, AA and military informally halted fighting; move follows support by both sides last month to hold polls in all cancelled Rakhine State constituencies and pledge to cooperate to create conducive security environment. Direct talks between AA and Tatmadaw on formal ceasefire commenced late Nov with online meeting and 9 Dec continued with in-person talks hosted by China-backed armed group United Wa State Army in their headquarters in Pangsang city, Shan State; neither set of talks involved civilian govt. Court martial in Rakhine’s regional capital Sittwe 11 Dec sentenced three Tatmadaw soldiers to 20-year prison terms for rape of Rakhine woman in July.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

13 Aug 2020
As Myanmar starts to consolidate a system of electoral democracy after so many decades of authoritarianism, observers play a key role in giving the elections credibility. The New York Times

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
20 Mar 2020
[The drug trade] is a problem of the armed conflict in Myanmar [and] it is also a problem of corruption. ASEAN Today

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
18 Jan 2020
The overall impression is that Myanmar is being cautious about Chinese investment, especially ahead of elections planned later in the year. ABC

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
5 Dec 2019
[Aung San Suu Kyi] likely feels that she must do all she can to defend the national interest against what most people in Myanmar see as biased and politically-motivated charges. Reuters

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
29 Nov 2017
The Pope was aware that inserting himself too strongly into a situation with a lot of religious undertones could inflame tensions further in Myanmar. ABC

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
26 Nov 2017
[Buddhist] monks feel the [Myanmar] government is weak on the protection of Buddhism and keeping the morals of the country intact. CNN

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar

Latest Updates

Event Recording / Asia

Myanmar's 2020 elections: Path to stability or flashpoint for conflict?

Online Event to discuss International Crisis Group's briefing on Myanmar's 2020 elections

Report / Asia

Identity Crisis: Ethnicity and Conflict in Myanmar

Ethnicity and conflict are tightly linked in Myanmar, as communal groups take up arms to press grievances for which they have found no other recourse. The problem calls for dialogue and deep reform, but meanwhile authorities can take smaller steps to indicate their positive intent.

Video / Asia

China has big plans for Myanmar. But they could backfire for both sides.

Isolated from the international community, Myanmar is deepening its dependence on China. But closer ties, Beijing-backed megaprojects and private Chinese investment carry both risks and opportunities. Both states should proceed carefully to ensure local communities benefit and avoid inflaming deadly armed conflicts.

Report / Asia

Rebooting Myanmar’s Stalled Peace Process

The polls approaching in Myanmar are an opportunity for the government and ethnic armed groups to re-examine their positions in the country’s peace process. All parties should use the election-related hiatus to ask why talks have not succeeded and how to make them more productive.

Report / Asia

An Avoidable War: Politics and Armed Conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

Fighting in Myanmar’s Rakhine State is taking a rising toll. It will hinder any effort to contain COVID-19 or resolve the Rohingya crisis. Rather than trying to defeat the Arakan Army, Naypyitaw should negotiate with ethnic Rakhine, endeavouring to convince them of electoral democracy’s benefits.

Our People

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
rshorsey

Thomas Kean

Consultant, Myanmar & Bangladesh
tdkean