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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

Deadly fighting between military and Arakan Army (AA) persisted in Rakhine State. Govt negotiators 9 June proposed to Brotherhood Alliance – coalition of armed groups AA, Kachin Independence Organisation, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army – to resume peace talks via videoconference but coalition rejected offer. Violence between AA and military continued across Rakhine State. AA 10 June reportedly launched rocket-propelled grenades at two navy vessels, which returned fire killing civilian in nearby village in Sittwe township; AA ambush on military column same day prompted several thousands to flee in Minbya township; suspected AA fighters 11 June stabbed soldier and abducted another in Sittwe, military reportedly killed civilian in retaliation. AA 22 June reportedly launched attack on police convoy killing three officers and one civilian in Rathedaung township; landmines targeting military column 2 June killed civilian and unknown number of soldiers in Ponnagyun township. Govt issued order 23 June to villagers in part of Rathedaung township to leave their villages due to imminent military “clearance operation”; thousands fled and intense fighting ongoing since 24 June, prompting UN and Western embassies to raise alarm and call for urgent civilian protection measures. Clash between military and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) 4 June left two ARSA fighters dead in Maungdaw township, Rakhine State; ARSA claimed “sizable” number of military casualties. Govt 12 June said internet blackout in Rakhine and Chin states would remain in place until at least August; on 21 June, one-year anniversary of internet ban, international community and more than 100 civil society organisations called on govt to lift ban. Rise in detected COVID-19 cases in Rakhine State due to informal returns from Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, prompted govt to announce criminal penalties for illegal cross-border travel and fuelled anti-Rohingya hate speech.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
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

Latest Updates

Briefing / Asia

Conflict, Health Cooperation and COVID-19 in Myanmar

Conflicts have paused in much of Myanmar, opening a window for the government, military and ethnic armed groups to pursue a holistic response to the coronavirus. The parties should also work together in Rakhine State, where fighting persists, to limit the disease’s spread.

Report / Asia

Commerce and Conflict: Navigating Myanmar’s China Relationship

Isolated from the international community, Myanmar is deepening its dependence on China. But closer ties, Beijing-backed megaprojects and private Chinese investment carry both risks and opportunities. Both states should proceed carefully to ensure local communities benefit and avoid inflaming deadly armed conflicts.

Report / Asia

A Sustainable Policy 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. 

Q&A / Asia

Myanmar at the International Court of Justice

On 10 December, the International Court of Justice convened to hear an opening request in a genocide case filed against Myanmar for its atrocities against Rohingya Muslims. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Richard Horsey looks at the legal and diplomatic stakes of these proceedings.

Briefing / Asia

Myanmar: A Violent Push to Shake Up Ceasefire Negotiations

A trio of ethnic armed groups have escalated their fight with the military in Myanmar’s Shan State. This alliance has long been outside the country’s peace process. With China’s help, the government should pursue bilateral ceasefires – and longer-term rapprochement – with the three organisations.

Our People

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar

Thomas Kean

Consultant, Myanmar & Bangladesh