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.
Fighting has intensified greatly in Myanmar in recent weeks. Having started in northern Shan State, it is now spreading elsewhere. As Crisis Group expert Richard Horsey explains in this Q&A, the military is under significant pressure on the battlefield, with worrying humanitarian implications.
Ethnic armed group in Shan state launched one of largest offensives in years, which may provoke further clashes with regime in coming weeks; explosion near internally displaced camp in Kachin state killed dozens.
Ethnic armed group launched large-scale offensive in north. In Shan state (north), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) – ethnic Kokang armed group – and allies 27 Oct launched seemingly one of its most significant offensives in several years: forces made series of pre-dawn raids on twelve towns across north of state, including Chin Shwe Haw town on Chinese border, in bid to take over Kokang Self-Administered Zone, which it controlled until 2009 when military offensive ousted it and installed rival Kokang faction. Military responded with airstrikes across northern Shan State, with hostilities likely to escalate in coming weeks.
Blast at IDP camp killed dozens amid hostilities in several areas. Huge explosion close to Munglai Hkyet IDP camp in Kachin state (north) 9 Oct killed 29 people and left more than 50 injured; Kachin Independence Army blamed “high-tech” drone strike, but military denied responsibility. Rights group Amnesty International 13 Oct said damage “is consistent with the largest aerial-delivered bombs” possessed by military, while International Institute for Strategic Studies 23 Oct said blast likely caused by regime artillery strike on stored ammonium nitrate or munitions. In central Myanmar, fighting continued between military and People’s Defence Forces and other resistance forces; among heaviest clashes were hostilities in Kantbalu Township in northern Sagaing region, forcing as many as 10,000 people to flee. In Kayah state (south east), 60-vehicle military convoy deployed to recapture territory in Mese township reached its destination in nearby Bawlake after weeks of heavy fighting.
Regime celebrated 2015 nationwide ceasefire. Regime 15 Oct held ceremony marking eighth anniversary of Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, but only seven of ten signatories attended as three groups have since aligned with anti-coup resistance forces.
Parallel govt addressed allegations of abuses. Amid growing reports of abuses and infighting among resistance forces, National Unity Govt 3 Oct said “they must be conducted fairly and transparently”; days later, video footage emerged purportedly showing resistance forces in Sagaing region carrying out extrajudicial killings late Sept.
Myanmar needs Russia because it doesn't want to be isolated ... and they also need an alternative to China in the region.
If combat persists [in Rakhine State], it will open a significant new front for the regime [in Myanmar], which is already overstretched.
The election [in Myanmar] was the regime's exit strategy from day one, and it doesn't appear to have a backup plan.
Any release of prisoners is of course welcome for the individuals and their families, but this does not represent any sort of concession by the regime [in Myanmar].
You might ask ‘why would the military be interested in negotiating to take them [Rohingya refugees] back when it was the one that forced them to leave for the military re...
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard is joined by Crisis Group’s Myanmar expert Richard Horsey, to discuss ethnic armed groups’ offensive against Myanmar's military in northern Shan State, fighting between resistance forces and the army elsewhere, China’s response to the escalation and the humanitarian consequences.
This event brings together analysts and prominent civil society members to discuss the evolution of governance in Myanmar and what this means for stakeholders inside and outside the country.
The Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh looks set to drag on indefinitely. Insecurity in the overcrowded camps is growing. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023 – Autumn Update, Crisis Group urges Europe to keep providing humanitarian assistance and increase its intake of refugees.
With Myanmar’s military fighting on other fronts, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army is firming up its foothold in the country’s north. Clashes with other ethnic armed groups are possible. The Ta’ang group should focus on improving governance in its areas, in conjunction with civil society.
Over the last fifteen years, an illicit economy – comprising everything from unregistered casinos to online scamming operations – has boomed along a stretch of the Mekong River separating Laos and Myanmar. Regional states will need to work together to rein in the criminal syndicates behind it.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks with Richard Horsey, Crisis Group’s Myanmar expert, about the war in Myanmar and why such a grave crisis in the heart of Asia is getting so little attention.
In this online event, Crisis Group’s analysts and external experts discuss the current state of play in Myanmar, how the conflict situation may evolve over the coming year, and the prospects for an exit from the country’s crisis. More information in our recent Asia report A Road to Nowhere: The Myanmar Regime’s Stage-managed Elections.
Two years after carrying out a coup, Myanmar’s generals are planning elections to entrench their role in politics. Amid the widespread resistance to their regime, the polls are bound to intensify armed conflict. Yet there are several ways to keep electoral violence to a minimum.
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