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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

Unchanged Situation

Moves toward international accountability for crimes against Rohingya ramped up with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi personally leading the country’s defence at Hague-based International Court of Justice in genocide convention case brought by Gambia in Nov; meanwhile clashes continued between Arakan Army (AA) and military. Speaking before court 11 Dec, Suu Kyi denied genocide but acknowledged for first time possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by military, and stated that govt and military were investigating crimes and convening courts martial, also claimed govt was taking steps to improve lives of over 600,000 Muslims remaining in Rakhine State. Suu Kyi’s appearance attracted international criticism, amid increased pressure for further sanctions from West; U.S. 10 Dec added Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win and commanders of two Light Infantry Divisions to its sanctions list. Suu Kyi’s leading defence role received positively within Myanmar, helping consolidate domestic political support ahead of Nov 2020 elections. UN General Assembly 27 Dec approved resolution strongly condemning human rights abuses by govt against Rohingya and other minorities, Myanmar UN ambassador called resolution “another classic example of double-standards (and) selective and discriminatory application of human rights norms”. AA and military continued to clash across central and northern Rakhine State, Chin State’s Paletwa township, and northern Shan State, with risks of further escalation. AA leader’s wife and two children 4 Dec detained in Chiang Mai (northern Thailand), after Myanmar revoked their passports and requested extradition; AA leader early Dec said AA would not be deterred by family members’ arrest. AA continued apparent tactic of kidnappings striking political targets; 11 Dec abducted National League for Democracy chairman in northern Rakhine State’s Buthidaung Township “for questioning”; he was later reported killed in army shelling. Ongoing clashes between govt and AA 2-6 Dec left over six dead, including children, notably in Mrauk-U and Kyauktaw townships; UNICEF 12 Dec called on all conflict parties to respect civilian nature of schools and for commitment from govt.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
5 Sep 2017
The [Myanmar] military and government should be careful not to assume all Rohingya are sympathizers or supporters [of jihadis]. Deutsche Welle

Anagha Neelakantan

Former Program Director, Asia
29 Aug 2017
It should be in the government’s power to create the conditions in which to implement some of these recommendations [of the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State in Myanmar]. RFI

Anagha Neelakantan

Former Program Director, Asia
31 Mar 2017
Most [political] transitions end badly like the Arab spring. [They] are always bumpy and I think Myanmar is going through a particularly bumpy moment in its transition. The Guardian

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
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

Senior Adviser, Myanmar

Latest Updates

Briefing / Asia

An Opening for Internally Displaced Person Returns in Northern Myanmar

In 2011, fighting between Myanmar’s military and Kachin rebels displaced more than 100,000 people. Now they might be able to go home. The military and insurgents should both cease fire while the government arranges for the internally displaced persons’ safe, voluntary return or resettlement.

Also available in Burmese
Briefing / Asia

Building a Better Future for Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is hosting nearly a million Rohingya refugees who have little hope of going home any time soon. The government should move to improve camp living conditions, in particular by lifting the education ban and fighting crime. Donors should support such steps.

Commentary / Asia

Myanmar: Humanitarian Crisis and Armed Escalation

Ethnic armed conflict, the ongoing Rohingya crisis and thriving illegal business are preventing Myanmar from solving the country’s protracted conflicts. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2019 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to sustain aid and diversify its peacebuilding initiatives.

Briefing / Asia

A New Dimension of Violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

Ethnic Rakhine insurgents have attacked four police stations in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, provoking a military counteroffensive. Escalation could imperil both prospects for Rohingya repatriation and the country’s transition toward civilian rule. All sides should step back from confrontation and pursue talks about Rakhine State’s future.

Also available in Burmese
Report / Asia

Fire and Ice: Conflict and Drugs in Myanmar’s Shan State

Civil strife has turned Myanmar’s Shan State into a crystal methamphetamine hub. The richer the traffickers get, the harder the underlying conflicts will be to resolve. Instead of targeting minor offenders, the military should root out corruption, including among top brass, and disarm complicit paramilitaries.

Also available in Burmese

Our People

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
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