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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

Deteriorated Situation

Military coup sparked biggest political crisis in generation as police killed dozens in violent crackdowns on mass protests. Military 1 Feb staged coup after alleging fraud in Nov elections, declaring state of emergency for one year and handing power to Senior General Min Aung Hlaing after detaining State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other senior figures of National League for Democracy party. Police 3 Feb filed charges against Myint for alleged violation of COVID-19 protocols, and against Suu Kyi for alleged import infringements after finding six unauthorised walkie-talkies in her residence. Min Aung Hlaing 1 Feb pledged to hold new election and hand power to winner, without specifying date; medical staff, teachers, govt and private sector workers same day started civil disobedience campaign against military rule, and stopped working. Despite intermittent internet cuts, hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators took to streets nationwide throughout Feb, demanding release of Suu Kyi and end to military rule, including in capital Naypyitaw, Yangon, Mandalay and other cities and towns; police cracked down violently on protesters, killing dozens – including at least 18 on 28 Feb alone – while arresting over 1,000 people. Coup prompted stern international response: UN Security Council 4 Feb called for release of members of govt while UK and U.S. same day urged military to relinquish power. Numerous states imposed sanctions on military leaders, including New Zealand 9 Feb, U.S. 11 Feb, as well as UK and Canada 18 Feb. Ethnic armed groups differed in responses to coup. In Rakhine State, Arakan Army continued informal talks with military to solidify informal ceasefire, while some Arakan National Party members accepted positions in new local and national administrations. In northern Shan State, armed groups Restoration Council of Shan State and Ta-ang National Liberation Army 15-21 Feb clashed in sign of more assertive military posture. In Kokang region, military 2 Feb removed local leadership; as they left, rival Myanmar National Democratic Alliance attacked them, reportedly killing dozen, mostly civilians. Ten ethnic armed groups signatory to Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement 20 Feb announced they would suspend political talks with junta.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

13 Aug 2020
As Myanmar starts to consolidate a system of electoral democracy after so many decades of authoritarianism, observers play a key role in giving the elections credibility. The New York Times

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
20 Mar 2020
[The drug trade] is a problem of the armed conflict in Myanmar [and] it is also a problem of corruption. ASEAN Today

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
18 Jan 2020
The overall impression is that Myanmar is being cautious about Chinese investment, especially ahead of elections planned later in the year. ABC

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
5 Dec 2019
[Aung San Suu Kyi] likely feels that she must do all she can to defend the national interest against what most people in Myanmar see as biased and politically-motivated charges. Reuters

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
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

Latest Updates

Statement / Asia

Myanmar’s Military Should Reverse Its Coup

On 1 February, Myanmar’s armed forces overthrew the country’s civilian leaders. International actors should make clear in word and deed that there will be no business as usual until the elected government is restored. If protests break out, the military should act with maximum restraint.

Podcast / Asia

Ethnicity and Conflict in Myanmar

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Rob Malley and guest host Richard Atwood talk about the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh with Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director Olga Oliker and examine Myanmar’s identity crisis with Crisis Group expert Richard Horsey. 

Q&A / Asia

Another Landslide Victory for Aung San Suu Kyi’s Party in Myanmar – But at What Cost?

The National League for Democracy is set to win a second term following Myanmar’s 8 November elections – its second competitive polls since absolute military rule ended in 2011. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Richard Horsey reflects on the implications for the country’s conflicts.

Event Recording / Asia

Myanmar's 2020 elections: Path to stability or flashpoint for conflict?

Online Event to discuss International Crisis Group's briefing on Myanmar's 2020 elections

Briefing / Asia

Majority Rules in Myanmar’s Second Democratic Election

De facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is likely to win Myanmar’s 8 November elections. The next test will be whether the result entrenches minority grievances that fuel armed conflict or revives reform efforts to give minorities a fairer deal alongside the Burman Buddhist majority.

Also available in Burmese

Our People

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
rshorsey

Thomas Kean

Consultant, Myanmar & Bangladesh
tdkean