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CrisisWatch Myanmar

Unchanged Situation

Amid continued focus on crisis in Rakhine state, Kofi Annan-led Rakhine Commission 16 March released interim report with 29 recommendations covering issues from Rohingya citizenship, freedom of movement and birth registration to humanitarian and media access, and improving bilateral relations with Bangladesh. Govt released statement fully endorsing Commission’s recommendations and undertaking to quickly implement most; stated that a few would first require improvements in situation on ground. UN Human Rights Council (HRC) 24 March adopted resolution calling for international panel of experts to conduct “fact-finding mission” to Myanmar; falls short of international Commission of Inquiry many called for; govt said HRC move “not acceptable”. UNSC discussed Rakhine state crisis 17 March, Russia and China blocked press statement. Situation in N Rakhine remains largely unchanged: no further significant attacks by al-Yaqin, but continued killings of Rohingya with links to govt that may be work of group. Military operations largely over, far fewer reported abuses. A couple of thousand internally displaced persons returned to homes, estimated 20,000 remain in Maungdaw, 74,550 confirmed to have fled to Bangladesh. Domestic “investigation commission” looking into allegations of rights abuses visited Bangladesh. Al-Yaqin 28 March issued press release rebranding itself “Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army”, reaffirming no links to terrorist groups, assuring safety of civilians from all communities; also issued twenty-point demands, mostly relating to Rohingya civil and political rights. Ethnic peace process remained stalled: next “Panglong-21” peace process postponed until at least May; date, which armed groups will attend and what will be discussed unclear. Govt negotiators met with negotiating team of United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), umbrella group of many non-signatory groups) in Naypyitaw 1 March, reached ad referendum agreement in principle on nine points that UNFC has said are prerequisite for signing National Ceasefire Agreement; however, no agreement among UNFC leaders to endorse agreement. Fighting escalated 6 March when Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army attacked capital of Kokang Self-Administered Zone Laukkai, abducted over 250 workers, engaged in dozens of battles with military. Chinese authorities said at least 20,000 had arrived after 6 March attack.

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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