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CrisisWatch Myanmar

Unchanged Situation

UN-OHCHR 3 Feb released report on human rights abuses by security forces in N Rakhine state following Oct attacks on police posts by al-Yaqin armed group. Report, which found “very likely commission of crimes against humanity” including mass killings and gang rapes, significantly increased momentum behind calls for international commission of inquiry, to be discussed at UN Human Rights Council session in March. 73,000 Rohingya now reported to have fled to Bangladesh since 9 Oct, 24,000 internally displaced. Having previously denied similar allegations, govt 8 Feb said it would investigate allegations, however, gave task to commission headed by VP-1 Myint Swe, whose credibility was undermined when it issued preliminary report in Jan finding no evidence of abuses. Military and police set up separate, internal investigations 9 and 11 Feb; military chief of general staff Gen Mya Tun Oo in 28 Feb press conference said military had so far not been able to substantiate OHCHR accusations of rape and other atrocities, denied general allegations of Rohingya persecution. New National Security Adviser 15 Feb told diplomats military “clearance operations” had now ended; humanitarian and media access remain restricted. Curfew restrictions in Maungdaw district since 2012 anti-Muslim violence, which had been tightened following Oct attacks, were relaxed 10 Feb. Speaking at Annual Union Day celebrations marking 70th anniversary of signing of Panglong Agreement on inclusion of ethnic borderlands in independent Burma 12 Feb, Aung San Suu Kyi focused on new “Panglong-21” peace process, urged ethnic armed groups to have “courage” and “self-confidence” to sign Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). Govt postponed next Panglong-21 peace conference from 28 Feb to late March, as preparatory meetings started late and with little apparent success in convincing any additional groups to sign NCA. Fighting in Kachin and N Shan states subsided since late-Jan as military has eased offensives against ethnic armed group positions. Motive and ultimate responsibility remained unclear in 29 Jan assassination of leading constitutional lawyer and ruling NLD party adviser Ko Ni.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

3 Feb 2017
The threat is not because of [Harakah al-Yaqin's] military strength, it's because of what they represent, the potential of [Myanmar] facing a very well organized, violent jihadist movement. CNN

Richard Horsey

Consultant, Myanmar
4 Jan 2017
The emergence of this well-organized, apparently well-funded group is a game changer in the Myanmar government’s efforts to address the complex challenges in Rakhine state. The Los Angeles Times

— Crisis Group

16 Dec 2016
There are real risks that if the [Myanmar] government mishandles the situation, it will push more of the Muslim population in that area to support al-Yaqin, entrenching the armed group and a cycle of violence. Deutsche Presse Agentur

Tim Johnston

Former Program Director, Asia
12 Oct 2016
Myanmar is a new democracy, its institutions aren't that strong, it has a number of other ethnic battles up on its north-eastern border and elsewhere, and [the recent border attacks] will make life a lot more complicated for the government. RFI

Tim Johnston

Former Program Director, Asia
15 Sep 2016
A level playing field helps mainly small and medium-sized industries in Myanmar, not the cronies who have thrived under sanctions for years and are geared up to circumvent them. The New York Times

Richard Horsey

Consultant, Myanmar

Latest Updates

Commentary / Asia

Myanmar: Diverting Rakhine State’s Alarming Trajectory

The emergence of the al-Yaqin armed group in Myanmar's Rakhine State and the heavy-handed response by the government risk imperiling the country's transition to democracy. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2017 annual early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group encourages the European Union and its member states to pressure the highest level of the government and military to stop abuses in Rakhine and develop a political strategy to address the underlying causes of armed militancy.

Statement / Asia

Myanmar Assassination Shows Urgent Need for Unity Against Hate Crimes

The 29 January assassination of U Ko Ni, a respected Muslim veteran of the pro-democracy struggle, is a great loss to Myanmar and underlines the urgency for unity against all forms of hate speech and possible hate crimes.

Impact Note / Asia

WSJ: Asia’s New Insurgency

Crisis Group’s Myanmar report on 15 December 2016 revealed the emergence of a game-changing Muslim insurgency in the country’s Rakhine state. In this Editorial, the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Page introduced the report to readers as evidence of how Burma’s abuse of the Rohingya Muslims has created violent backlash.

Op-Ed / Asia

The World’s Newest Muslim Insurgency Is Being Waged in Burma

Deadly attacks in October and November against security forces in Burma’s northern Arakan state are qualitatively different from anything that has occurred there in recent decades.

Originally published in Time

Our People

Richard Horsey

Consultant, Myanmar