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Myanmar

Crisis Group is monitoring the upsurge in violence in the country triggered by the military's 1 February 2021 coup d'état which deposed the Aung San Suu Kyi administration. The regime has brutally cracked down on protesters, killing hundreds and detaining thousands. Public sector strikes and other forms of civil disobedience have prevented the regime from consolidating its control, and plunged the country into deep economic crisis. Some of the country’s ethnic armed groups have gone on the offensive, and new forms of armed resistance by civilian militias and underground networks have emerged. Although Rakhine State has so far avoided some of the worst of the violence, the plight of the Rohingya remains unaddressed and the prospects for a return of almost one million languishing in camps in Bangladesh looks bleak. Through field research and advocacy, Crisis Group works to understand the new violent dynamics unleashed by the coup and mitigate the impact on the people of the country.

CrisisWatch Myanmar

Unchanged Situation

Regime violence against civilians continued, triggering protests and international condemnation, while court convicted deposed leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi. In Yangon city, military vehicle 5 Dec accelerated into demonstrators and bystanders in Kyeemyindaing township, with soldiers firing on fleeing protesters, reportedly killing at least five; residents same day resumed banging pots and pans in protest as soldiers responded by breaking windows, vandalising parked cars and firing slingshots at residents on balconies. In grievous human rights abuse in Sagaing region, security forces 7 Dec implicated in killing and incinerating 11 civilians, including six teenagers, in Done Taw village, Salingyi township; authorities previous day reportedly detained villagers after suspected members of local People’s Defence Force attacked military convoys with IEDs. U.S. described incident as “sickening” while UN human rights office warned of “alarming escalation of grave human rights abuses in Myanmar”. Protesters 10 Dec organised “silent strike” with high participation across country as streets were deserted and businesses shuttered despite regime threats. U.S., U.K. and Canada same day announced further targeted sanctions, including against several chief ministers, directorates of defence industries and procurement, and Myanmar War Veterans’ Organisation. In Kayin State, regime forces 14 Dec raided Karen National Union (KNU)-administered Lay Kay Kaw village, Myawaddy township, arresting some 60 political dissidents, National League for Democracy MP and members of Civil Disobedience Movement. Regime forces next day clashed with KNU, displacing thousands and sparking tensions with neighbouring Thailand after shells landed across border (see Thailand). Military forces 24 Dec killed at least 35 civilians outside Moso village, Kayah State; in response, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell 30 Dec called for “international preventive action…including an arms embargo”. Naypyitaw court 6 Dec sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi and former President Win Myint to four years imprisonment for incitement and violation of COVID-19 rules; regime same day reduced sentences to two years house arrest. UN General Assembly’s Credentials Committee 1 Dec deferred decision on whether to accredit regime’s nominee, maintaining incumbent permanent representative, National Unity Govt-affiliated Kyaw Moe Tun, likely until Sept 2022 General Assembly session.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

20 Dec 2021
Myanmar's status as one of the world's largest illicit drug producers is only possible because of criminal justice failures. VICE

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
6 Dec 2021
Myanmar needs to be a much higher diplomatic priority for the major powers and the UN. The Guardian

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
21 Nov 2021
There’s significance in the propaganda war that’s playing out [in Myanmar]. I think they [the military] make the resistance feel emboldened and confident. The New York Times

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
1 Oct 2021
Much of the population [of Myanmar] is determined to prevent a return to military rule, at the cost of their lives if necessary. AFP

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
17 Sep 2021
Many people in Myanmar struggle to see how nonviolence can be effective in a situation where the regime is willing to unleash extraordinary levels of violence against ordinary people. LA Times

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
7 Aug 2021
This is a deep, deep economic crisis [in Myanmar]. It’s a confidence issue — confidence in the regime, the banks and the economy. The New York Times

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar

Latest Updates

Event Recording / Global

EU Watch List: 10 Cases Where the EU can Build Peace in 2022 (Online Event, 28th January 2022)

Crisis Group’s Watch List identifies ten countries or regions at risk of deadly conflict or escalation thereof in 2022. In these places, early action, driven or supported by the EU and its member states, could enhance prospects for peace and stability.

Briefing / Asia

Taking Aim at the Tatmadaw: The New Armed Resistance to Myanmar’s Coup

Across Myanmar, militias are forming to counter deadly repression of demonstrations against the 1 February coup. In response, the military has deliberately targeted civilians, displacing tens of thousands. Outside actors should press the regime to respect international law and allow humanitarian aid to the displaced.

Also available in Burmese
Commentary / Asia

Help Contain the Damage of Myanmar’s Military Coup

The 1 February coup d’état has pushed Myanmar toward possible state collapse. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2021 – Spring Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to channel significant aid to Myanmar, support regional diplomacy, expand targeted sanctions on the regime and ensure that the EU arms embargo is strictly enforced.

EU Watch List / Global

Watch List 2021 – Spring Update

Every year Crisis Group publishes two additional Watch List updates that complement its annual Watch List for the EU, most recently published in January 2021. These publications identify major crises and conflict situations where the European Union and its member states can generate stronger prospects for peace. The Spring Update of the Watch List 2021 includes entries on Bolivia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Ukraine and Yemen.

Report / Asia

Myanmar’s Military Struggles to Control the Virtual Battlefield

In order to silence opposition to the February coup, Myanmar’s military is vigorously policing the internet as it quashes street protests. Outside powers and technology companies should endeavour to keep the online space free of interference and deny the junta tools of virtual repression.

Also available in Burmese, 简体中文

Our People

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
rshorsey

Thomas Kean

Senior Consultant, Myanmar & Bangladesh
tdkean