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CrisisWatch Myanmar

Unchanged Situation

Delayed Panglong-21 Peace Conference held 24-29 May, with broader participation than expected after China brokered last-minute deal to fly seven armed groups from NE to Naypyitaw; these groups attended opening segment, also met with Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials, but did not participate in conference discussions. Conference agreed 37 “principles” including some governing future federal arrangement, although with deep divisions over some points. Sporadic clashes ongoing between govt forces and Ta’ang National Liberation Army troops in N Shan state’s Namkhan township since late-April, as well as with Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army in Kokang region. Tensions between govt forces and Kachin Independence Organisation troops also reportedly high in jade mining area Hpakant in Kachin state 19 May. Govt 13 May announced discovery of bodies of five men – two “foreigners” and three local Muslim residents, including two Islamic leaders – buried in Buthidaung township in N Rakhine state; bomb-making materials also found 7 May. Authorities claim they were killed, and several injured, in 4 May explosion during IED training session being taught by the foreigners, reportedly Pakistani. UN 30 May appointed three experts to fact-finding mission into human rights in Myanmar, including Rohingya crackdown, mandated by Human Rights Council in March; govt reiterated its rejection of move. Yangon court 28 April began hearings in case against seven nationalists including three monks for holding unauthorised anti-Rohingya demonstration outside U.S. embassy in 2016; after hearing, some 50 nationalists forced closure of four nearby madrassas; police negotiated padlocking of the schools in effort to calm protesters. Following 9 May court hearing on related case, group of some 50 nationalists and monks went to nearby township with large Muslim population demanding authorities search house accused of harbouring illegal Rohingya; none were found and police fired warning shots to restore control. Arrest warrants issued for seven nationalist demonstrators, including two monks, for inciting violence. Kofi Annan-led advisory commission for Rakhine state held further round of consultations 8-16 May, in Yangon, Sittwe and Naypyitaw.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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

Consultant, 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

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
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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
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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

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Richard Horsey

Consultant, Myanmar