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Regime launched deadly airstrikes as ethnic armed groups and resistance forces staged ambushes in north and southeast; authorities agreed to possible small-scale Rohingya repatriation and sentenced activists.
In north, regime airstrikes killed scores amid resistance ambushes. Continuing series of deadly airstrikes in late March, military 10 April bombed school in Chin National Defence Force (CNDF)-controlled Falam township, killing at least 11. Military next day conducted devastating air attacks during resistance ceremony in Kanbalu township, Sagaing region, killing at least 170, mostly civilians; UN human rights chief Volker Türk reiterated regime violations “may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes”. Meanwhile, armed groups in Chin state stepped up lethal ambushes on military convoys: notably, Chin National Front 2 April attacked convoy between Falam and Hakha townships, inflicting casualties.
In southeast, heavy fighting resurged along Asian Highway, displacing thousands. People’s Defence Forces (PDF) and allied groups, including Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), late March began ambushes on regime outposts and along highway connecting to Thailand, claiming to have killed dozens of regime forces. Notably, KNLA-PDF “Cobra Column” 3-4 April inflicted heavy casualties in ambush on military truck and police station in Myawaddy. Fighting spread northward, as KNLA and resistance 5 April destroyed two Kayin State Border Guard outposts near Shwe Kokko town; clashes over subsequent week inflicted heavy casualties and forced 4,000 people to flee into Thailand.
Regime agreed to possible small-scale Rohingya repatriation, courts sentenced activists. Following months of negotiations, State Administration Council 3 April declared Myanmar would accept 1,100 Rohingya Muslim refugees and 30o Hindu refugees from Bangladesh; regime confirmed only 56,000 out of 87,000 refugees on list sent by Bangladesh (see Bangladesh). Meanwhile, court 6 April sentenced activist Wai Moe Naing to 34 years imprisonment and next day sentenced Kachin National Consultative Assembly leader Reverend Hkalam Samson to six years in prison.
Regime cemented ties to China and Russia. Senior Chinese official Wang Ning 2 April oversaw signing of agriculture, health and energy agreements with regime in capital Naypyitaw. Regime leader Min Aung Hlaing 3 April conferred honorary Thiri Pyanchi title on Russia’s deputy defence minister.
Military continued alleged abuses against civilians and resistance, while regime disbanded political parties ahead of possible election and took step toward small-scale Rohingya repatriation.
Military faced allegations of abuses and civilian massacres. Daily accusations surfaced against military, particularly in Dry Zone region. Notably, National Unity Govt 6 March highlighted alleged atrocities committed by military late Feb, such as beheading of two teenage boys and massacre of at least 14 people, including several women who were first sexually abused. In Shan State, regime 11 March raided Nam Neint village in southern Pinlaung township following clashes since 24 Feb, torching homes and launching airstrikes to counter attempted resistance offensive; soldiers reportedly massacred 21-28 people. Regime spokesperson Zaw Min Tun denied civilian killings. Concurrent reports of abuses, albeit fewer, by resistance groups surfaced.
Regime disbanded National League for Democracy (NLD) and dozens of other parties. Ahead of possibly elections that regime appears intent on holding between Nov and Jan, eight new political parties as of 26 March applied to register under new Political Party Registration law, with 44 existing parties applying to remain registered; of eight parties that won more than single seat in 2020, only four have re-registered. Regime 28 March disbanded NLD and 39 other parties after not registering; NLD 3 March expelled four senior members for “disrespecting the public’s will” and “cooperating with the dictator” amid intra-party divisions over whether to contest election or support armed struggle against regime.
Regime took small step toward possibly repatriating Rohingya refugees. Regime 8 March brought ambassadors from China, India, Bangladesh and regional bloc ASEAN to Sittwe and Maungdaw reception facilities in northern Rakhine State in pilot project aiming to repatriate some 1,000 Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.
China stepped up diplomatic overtures, U.S. imposed sanctions. Chinese Special Envoy to Myanmar Deng Xijun 6 March met leader Min Aung Hlaing to discuss regime’s negotiations with ethnic armed groups and other issues. Chinese Ambassador Chen Hai next day met Union Election Commission in capital Naypyitaw to discuss election preparations. Meanwhile, U.S. 2 March sanctioned three Myanmar entities for providing surveillance technology to regime.
Govt delayed elections as it extended state of emergency and expanded martial law, while military and resistance groups clashed heavily and regional leaders debated crisis response.
Regime extended state of emergency and imposed martial law. Amid widespread insecurity, regime 1 Feb announced six-month extension of state of emergency, beyond constitutional deadline, pushing back timeline of election to no later than 31 Jan 2024. Regime 2 Feb imposed martial law on 37 townships in eight states and regions, and another three townships on 22 Feb, bringing total number of townships under martial law to 52. Election preparations, however, continued: govt 3 Feb said voter list data from some 87% of households had been verified.
Resistance groups continued raids and battled regime forces. In Chin State, Chin National Army and Chinland Defence Force 8 Feb raided police station in Thantlang town, killing four soldiers; military next day launched airstrikes around town. In Sagaing region, resistance groups led by Homalin People’s Defence Force (PDF) early Feb overran Shwe Pyi Aye town, Homalin township, before major military offensive repelled resistance. Regime forces 4-5 Feb allegedly raided five villages in Kanbalu township, displacing 2,000 villagers. Regime 7 Feb overran resistance camps in southern Salingyi township following martial law imposition. Light Infantry Division 44 soldiers 3 Feb allegedly beheaded six PDF members and killed one civilian near Pale township. In Magway region, Pakokku District PDF Battalion 3 on 5 Feb attacked two regime vehicles on Pakokku-Yesagyo road, killing seven.
Indonesia and Malaysia urged more robust crisis response. Indonesian President Widodo 1 Feb revealed intention to send top general to Myanmar “as soon as possible” for dialogue and said regional bloc ASEAN would not be “held hostage” by crisis. ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat held 3-4 Feb concluded “inclusive national dialogue” was only way to peacefully resolve crisis. In meeting with Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim 9 Feb urged Thailand to take more active role, next day said crisis should “not frustrate our moves”. Meanwhile, European Union 20 Feb imposed fresh sanctions on nine regime-linked individuals and seven entities.
Regime prepared for election and pursued dialogue with ethnic armed groups, while ongoing heavy clashes between military and resistance groups displaced thousands.
Regime continued election preparations and peace talks with ethnic armed groups. Leader Min Aung Hlaing 5 Jan called for update of voter list as part of preparation for election likely held mid-year. Regime 26 Jan issued new highly restrictive political party registration law, which will likely result in most parties being dissolved within 60 days. Election faced opposition: National Unity Govt (NUG) urged public not to cooperate with process, and resistance groups during month staged more than dozen attacks on teams updating voter lists across country, including assault which killed one in Tanintharyi region 9 Jan. Meanwhile, discussions with ethnic armed groups under regime peace initiative continued; nine of ten groups participated in three rounds of meetings as of 25 Jan. Officials 5-7 Jan met United Wa State Party, National Democratic Alliance Army (Mongla) and Shan State Progress Party (SSPP); SSPP 7 Jan said groups would not oppose election process. Marking Independence Day, Tatmadaw 4 Jan released 7,012 prisoners, including some 300 political prisoners.
Military launched airstrikes against ethnic armed groups in north. In Kachin State, military 9 Jan conducted air attacks on Kachin Independence Army base in Tanai township and outposts in Hpakant and Hkamti townships. In Chin State, regime 10 Jan launched airstrikes against Chin National Front (CNF) headquarters at Camp Victoria, Thantlang township, killing five CNF soldiers and injuring ten; additional airstrike next day damaged medical facility and destroyed three homes.
Military and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) clashes displaced thousands. In Kayin State, military 1 Jan launched around 20 airstrikes against KNLA Brigade 6 and Kawthoolei Army’s Lion Battalion in Kyainseikgyi township following groups’ late Dec seizure of two bases near Payathonesu, killing seven Lion Battalion soldiers. Brigade 6 and allied People’s Defence Forces (PDFs) 4 Jan launched attacks on three infantry battalions around Kyainseikgyi; military responded with helicopter gunships. Military next day bombed Brigade 6-aligned Karen National Union administrative office in Dooplaya district. Clashes displaced some 10,000 people, and KNLA claimed it killed 70 soldiers.
Violence between regime and resistance forces continued, as late Nov fragile ceasefire held in Rakhine State, while U.K., Canada, U.S. and UN Security Council censured regime.
Military continued operations, notably in Shan State; late-Nov pause in Rakhine State continued. Military continued major military operations during month; notably, ground and air forces 7 Dec launched surprise attack on ethnic armed group Ta’ang National Liberation Army close to Namhsan township headquarters, Shan State, conducting 30 airstrikes and shelling area for five days. Ceasefire in Rakhine State declared late Nov between Arakan Army (AA) and regime held throughout month despite little attempt by sides to de-escalate, with both AA and regime troops still entrenched amid regime redeployments and ongoing arrests of AA members; deal could collapse any time. Tatmadaw 4 Dec detained prominent Kachin civil society leader Rev. Hkalam Samson at Mandalay Airport.
Evidence surfaced of serious abuses at hands of People’s Defence Force (PDF). In Sagaing region, video 3 Dec emerged purportedly showing resistance group torturing and executing woman accused of being military informant in Tamu township; unnamed Tamu People’s Defence Force (PDF) member said video was six months old; National Unity Govt (NUG) 5 Dec commenced investigation. PDF Kantbalu Battlion 4 on 1 Dec detained lawyer San San Yi along with two others in Shwebo township, next day killed her in Kantbalu township and released other detainees; NUG 8 Dec confirmed investigation into her death.
Canada and UK imposed new sanctions, U.S. passed bill to support anti-regime forces. Marking Human Rights Day 10 Dec, Canada sanctioned three entities and 12 individuals including military personnel, cabinet members and arms dealers, while UK sanctioned Office of the Chief of Military Affairs Security and Light Infantry Divisions 33 and 99. U.S. Congress 15 Dec passed National Defense Authorisation Act, which included clauses to support NUG and other anti-military groups; provided for humanitarian assistance, including for first time to ethnic armed groups; and supported (but did not mandate) sanctions against state-run Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise. UN Security Council 21 Dec adopted first Myanmar resolution in seven decades, calling on junta to release all political prisoners.
Military clashed heavily with Arakan Army in Rakhine State and resistance forces in centre amid mounting allegations of atrocities, while regime pardoned thousands of prisoners.
Arakan Army (AA) stepped up ambushes on military in Rakhine State. Clashes were reported in four townships 8 Nov, with AA claiming to have killed at least ten members of security forces. AA landmines 10 Nov struck military truck carrying rations in Ponnagyun township, killing ten soldiers; regime forces same day retaliated by massacring at least nine civilians in nearby village. AA 14 Nov ambushed military convoy in northern Maungdaw township, 15 Nov attacked military outposts in Buthidaung and Ponnagyun townships. Military 15 Nov allegedly shelled children’s birthday party in Maungdaw, killing at least 11 civilians.
Resistance forces and military battled in central and southern areas. In Sagaing region, regime soldiers 6 Nov allegedly killed as many as 14 people, including eight civilians and four People’s Defence Forces (PDF) members, in Monywa township; several victims showed signs of severe torture. Meanwhile, Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and allied PDFs launched several major attacks in mid-Nov, capturing military outposts; notably, 12 Nov attacked police station in Kyaikmayaw township, Mon State, killing three police officers, and same day captured three military camps in Bago region.
Regime released prisoners amid 2023 election preparations. In mass pardon to mark National Day, regime 17 Nov released almost 6,000 prisoners, including former ministers, activists, senior National League for Democracy (NLD) officials and four foreigners; regime claimed 700 were political prisoners. Meanwhile, Vice Senior General Soe Win 10 Nov chaired meeting on verifying voter lists for 2023 election while leader Min Aung Hlaing next day underscored importance of ongoing peace talks with ethnic armed groups to support election, expressing hope of concluding agreements with armed groups by year’s end. New Mon State Party 9-10 Nov participated in third round of talks with regime.
ASEAN reiterated support for its diplomatic initiative. Regional body ASEAN leaders 11 Nov retained its Five Point Consensus to end crisis, tasked FMs with developing “concrete” implementation plan, and agreed to maintain ban on regime officials attending meetings.
Resistance groups in centre staged deadly attacks on regime, which clashed heavily with Arakan Army in Rakhine state and Karen armed groups in south east; regime killed scores in deadliest air attack on record.
Resistance forces launched several lethal attacks in centre. In Sagaing region, combined people’s defence forces (PDFs) for second time since April 2 Oct attacked strategic locations comprising police post and five army bunkers in Kyadet village, Salingyi township. Military next day retaliated, looting and torching villages, displacing thousands. PDFs 2 Oct attacked police station in Sagaing’s Monywa township, killing at least ten soldiers, while resistance forces same day killed six soldiers in Myingyan township. PDFs 2 Oct attacked police training camp in Magway’s region’s Pauk Township, killing at least 17 police/soldiers and capturing 53 trainee prisoners.
Arakan Army (AA) attacked military as tensions surfaced with Rohingya community. In Rakhine State, AA 10 Oct seized Border Guard Police post in Maungdaw township, killing some 30 soldiers/police. AA 15 Oct ambushed military vehicles in Maungdaw’s Kodan Kauk village, killing four soldiers. Meanwhile, gunmen 6 Oct killed Rohingya community leader from Buthidaung township; local regime administrator blamed Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which in turn blamed military and indirectly AA. Gunmen, likely AA fighters, 8 Oct killed another prominent Rohingya community leader in Buthidaung; his relative, activist Wai Wai Nu, accused AA.
Regime and Karen ethnic armed groups clashed in south east. In Karen state from 18 Oct, Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and aligned PDFs launched attack on Kawkareik town on main trade route with Thailand. In Mon State, regime blamed both for 12 Oct attack on bus terminal in Kyaikto township that killed three. In Kayin State, KNLA and allied resistance group 13-16 Oct launched attacks in Kyainseikgyi township, killing six regime soldiers and capturing 16. State media 4 Oct accused Karenni Nationalities Progressive Party for shooting commercial plane 30 Sept.
In north, regime forces struck Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) celebration. Regime forces 23 Oct conducted deadly airstrikes on crowded anniversary event in Kachin state’s Hpakant Township, killing at least 60 people – both KIO fighters and civilians – and possibly more than 100.
After two-year pause, fighting resurged in Rakhine State; authorities continued to face violent opposition in other regions and repress peaceful dissent.Deadly conflict escalated in Rakhine. Informal ceasefire between military and ethnic armed group Arakan Army (AA) in place since Nov 2020 collapsed: after AA 31 Aug carried out raid on Border Guard Police outpost on Myanmar-Bangladesh border in Maungdaw township, killing at least 19 officers, military 2 Sept launched attacks on AA positions with two helicopter gunships, with fire landing in Bangladesh (see Bangladesh). AA 1 Sept attacked military convoy with landmines in Ann township, destroying two vehicles. AA 7 Sept attacked govt office in Myebon township, killing and injuring several soldiers. AA forces 9-11 Sept attacked and captured military camp in Maungdaw township, killing 13 soldiers. In southern Chin State, after AA late Aug claimed to have killed ten soldiers, clashes were reported in Paletwa 1 Sept.Violence in other regions continued, including in Shan State (south) and in Sagaing region (north). In Shan state, Karenni armed groups, including Karenni Army and Karenni Nationalities Defence Force, 8 Sept ambushed regime forces in Pekon township, reportedly killing up to 20 soldiers. Military during month also carried out helicopter gunship attacks on several villages in Tabayin Township in Sagaing, culminating in 19 Sept attack where at least 11 children were killed when two helicopters fired on monastery school for more than hour.Crackdown on dissent continued, regime strengthened cooperation with Russia. Courts 2 Sept handed Aung San Suu Kyi eighth conviction, sentencing her to further three years’ imprisonment with hard labour for “influencing electoral authorities”, bringing sentence to 22 years with nine further charges outstanding. Insein Prison Court same day sentenced former British Ambassador Vicky Bowman and husband Htein Lin, noted artist and former political prisoner, to one-year imprisonment with hard labour for violating immigration law. Leader Min Aung Hlaing 7 Sept met Russian President Putin during second visit to Russia in two months; Min Aung Hlaing praised Putin for turning Russia into “world powerhouse” as pair discussed potential cooperation on various sectors including banking, energy and aerospace.
Deadly clashes between regime and armed groups persisted amid uptick in assassinations in urban areas, while regional body ASEAN lamented regime’s “limited progress” on plan to resolve crisis. Military and allied militias conducted village raids throughout month in northern Chin State, southern and western Sagaing region, northern Magway region and across Kayin State, Kayah State and Tanintharyi region, with local defence forces putting up resistance. Notably, more than dozen local defence forces in Dry Zone (centre) launched second combined offensive during month, reportedly inflicting significant army casualties. Month saw uptick in assassinations in urban areas: from 1-7 Aug, underground cells assassinated five long-serving pro-military Yangon state ward administrators and military killed three top underground cell leaders in Mandalay city. Local defence forces 21 Aug massacred eight members of family in Magway Region in apparent case of mistaken identity; defence force in Mandalay 23 Aug mistakenly killed married couple when targeting police officer with similar name. Tensions remained high between military and ethnic armed group Arakan Army (AA) with clashes escalating following deadly 13 Aug AA attack on military in Rathedaung township, Rakhine State; parties clashed several times in Maungdaw township, on border with Bangladesh. Kachin Independence Army 8 Aug launched significant attack, seizing regime outpost near Sezin village, Hpakant township, and two nearby outposts reportedly controlled by Shanni Nationalities Army; military next day deployed helicopter gunship and two fighter jets. As of 24 Aug, fighting had killed at least four civilians and displaced some 3,000 residents. On international front, regional body ASEAN 3 Aug held foreign ministers’ meeting without regime representation. Joint communique 5 Aug lamented “limited progress” and “lack of commitment” from regime to implement five-point consensus and recommended ASEAN summit in Nov assess progress to guide next steps; regime same day insisted ASEAN refrain from interference in “internal affairs.” Russian FM Sergey Lavrov 3 Aug visited capital Naypyitaw in first ever bilateral visit to Myanmar, likely intended as signal of support for regime. Regime 24 Aug detained former British Ambassador Vicky Bowman and husband Htein Lin, former political prisoner, for alleged household registration error pending trial in Sept.
Regime conducted first judicial executions in decades, provoking condemnation and jeopardising crisis resolution efforts, while regime and armed groups clashed in Kayin and Shan States. Regime 23 July executed four political prisoners, including two high-profile dissidents, in country’s first judicial executions since 1988; killings outraged public, further damaged any prospect of negotiations to address crisis, and sparked strong international criticism, as regional body ASEAN’s chairman 25 July described acts as “highly reprehensible” and “setback” to bloc’s diplomatic efforts, while UN Security Council 27 July unanimously condemned executions. In Kayin State, intense fighting late June-early July erupted between regime and combined ethnic and resistance forces around military outpost at Ukarithta, southern Myawaddy township, with regime forces launching scores of airstrikes and firing heavy weapons; notably, People’s Defence Force (PDF) Cobra Column 12 July reportedly carried out series of ambushes on Myawaddy-Waw Lay Road, killing several soldiers. In northern Shan State, armed group Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) 1 July clashed with military in Mongmit township in first fighting since SSPP last month rejected regime’s ultimatum to vacate three bases, reportedly killing three soldiers and injuring 15, with one SSPP member also killed. Delegation of armed group Lahu Democratic Union 7 July visited capital Naypyitaw for talks with regime leader Min Aung Hlaing, becoming ninth armed group to accept peace talk invitation. NGO Amnesty International 20 July said military’s use of landmines in Kayah State constituted war crimes. On diplomatic front, Chinese FM Wang Yi 3 July met Cambodian FM Prak Sokhonn and Myanmar FM Wunna Maung Lwin and outlined three “expectations” for how Cambodia should handle Myanmar crisis as ASEAN chair, including need for “political reconciliation”, restarting “democratic transition process” and upholding ASEAN’s “non-interference in internal affairs”. Wunna Maung Lwin next day met Thai deputy PM and FM Dom Pramudwinai, discussing implementation of five-point consensus. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 10 July said ASEAN needed to hold regime “accountable” for failure to make progress on five-point consensus, said bloc should push military to cease violence and restore democracy and “all countries to speak clearly” on regime’s “ongoing repression and brutality”.
Regime announced plans for first judicial executions in decades, fighting continued in Sagaing region amid reports of serious abuses at hands of Tatmadaw, and tensions ran high in Chin State. Tatmadaw 3 June confirmed regime would execute four people, including National League for Democracy legislator Phyo Zeyar Thaw and 88 Generation leader Kyaw Min Yu, for their involvement in armed resistance movement in Yangon city, in what would be first judicial execution since 1988. Decision sparked domestic and international outcry: Cambodia 10 June warned executions would undermine South East Asia regional bloc ASEAN and Cambodian efforts to end crisis; regime 6 June rejected criticism from France, UN and U.S. In Sagaing region (centre), regime forces appeared to carry out serious abuses targeting civilians amid ongoing fighting with local people’s defence forces (PDFs). Notably, PDF in Kani township 4 June found four bodies allegedly killed by military 31 May and next day found two bodies apparently tortured before being shot; charred remains of 78-year-old woman found 4 June in Khin-U township after military torched 70 homes. Soldiers 6 June reportedly massacred civilians in Kanphyar village, Myinmu township, killing at least five. Resistance force in Gangaw township 4 June attacked 100-vehicle military convoy, claiming at least ten military casualties and sparking retributive attacks. In Chin State (west), tensions between military and Arakan Army (AA) remained high following late May clashes, with both sides detaining each other’s personnel. Regime soldiers 1 June allegedly fired mortars at displacement camps near neighbouring Kyauktaw township. AA 11 June detained two soldiers in Kyauktaw township, triggering search by military. In central Shan State (east), Shan State Progress Party 4 June rejected military’s ultimatum to withdraw from three outposts in Mong Hsu township. As part of peace initiative, regime early June met two major ethnic armed groups linked to China, United Wa State Army and National Democratic Alliance Army; regime also met signatories of 2015 ceasefire – Arakan Liberation Party, Pao National Liberation Organisation, Karen Peace Council and Democratic Karen Benevolent Army later in month. Defence Minister Mya Tun Oo 22 June attended ASEAN defence ministers’ meeting despite calls from many civil society groups to exclude regime.
National Unity Govt (NUG) accused pro-military groups of targeted killings against its members, hostilities rose in Kayah State, and U.S. and regional states urged progress on five-point consensus. Working committee of former ruling party, National League for Democracy, 10 May accused pro-military “death squads” of killing seven party members and seven supporters as of 5 May. Revenge attacks by resistance groups killed alleged death squad members during month; notably, resistance groups 10 May reportedly shot dead two death squad leaders in Tanintharyi and Mandalay regions. Fighting escalated in Hpruso Township, Kayah State, following relative lull through March-April. Regime forces 3 May allegedly fired indiscriminately into residential areas of villages along Demoso-Bawlakhe highway. Karenni Nationalities Defence Force next day retaliated with two attacks on military convoys on highway, reportedly killing three soldiers, and 7 May ambushed convoy heading to Bawlakhe town, reportedly killing at least 20 soldiers and destroying four vehicles. In Rakhine State, in sign of rising tensions with military, leader of ethnic armed group Arakan Army 6 May tweeted threat at head of military’s Western Command, said would “crush” forces if aggressive military stance, increased checkpoints and civilian harassment continued. At least nine armed groups by 9 May confirmed participation in peace talks proposed by State Administration Council Chairman Min Aung Hlaing in April; none of them however hold strong anti-military positions or are in active conflict with regime. Boat carrying around 90 ethnic Rohingya refugees from Rakhine State 21 May capsized en route to Malaysia, killing at least 17. Diplomatically, Min Aung Hlaing 2 May met Cambodian PM Hun Sen in first public meeting since late Jan; Cambodia called for “more speedy progress” on implementing five-point consensus agreed by Southeast Asia regional body ASEAN to address situation in Myanmar in April 2021. Myanmar remained key issue during 12-13 May U.S.-ASEAN summit with attendees pushing for five-point consensus implementation. Despite no formal invitation to summit, NUG FM Zin Mar Aung 12 May met with U.S. Assistant Sec of State Wendy Sherman and 14 May with Malaysian FM Abdullah Saifuddin. Myanmar regime 14 May objected to meetings and Myanmar-specific paragraph in U.S.-ASEAN summit communiqué.
Deadly fighting between Tatmadaw and resistance forces continued, while China demonstrated public support for regime. April saw profusion of military raids and clashes between regime and locally-organised people’s defence forces (PDFs). Notably, in Magway region regime forces 2-4 April raided villages in Yesagyo township, destroying at least 120 homes and killing elderly man; resistance groups 2-3 April clashed with military, reportedly killing commanding officer and injuring at least three soldiers in Myaing township. Elsewhere in Myaung township, 22 resistance groups 2-3 April led combined assault against military, reportedly killing 12 soldiers. In Sagaing region, regime forces 3 April raided village in Khin-U township, burning 200 homes; in Pinlebu township, Kachin Independence Army and PDF fighters 30 March-10 April clashed with regime forces, capturing key buildings before withdrawing under aerial bombardment from military; resistance forces reportedly detained at least eight soldiers, while fighting killed at least 13 civilians and resistance fighters and displaced some 1,000 civilians. In Kayin State, Karen National Liberation Army fighters 4 April clashed with regime forces at two locations along Kawkareik-Myawaddy stretch of so-called Asian Highway connecting Myanmar and Thailand. National Unity Govt (NUG), PDFs and ethnic armed groups 10 April congratulated Arakan Army (AA) on anniversary of foundation, underscoring growing power of group; AA leader warned that forces should “be ready to go to war”, raising possibility of renewed fighting between AA and regime forces in Rakhine state. Festivities were subdued at official Thingyan (Myanmar New Year) events 13-17 April, as resistance groups urged boycott; military 17 April announced release of 1,619 prisoners; monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma said 10,238 people were in detention for coup-related offences as of 15 April. NUG 7 April claimed responsibility for shooting Central Bank Deputy Governor. Naypyitaw court 27 April sentenced deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to five years imprisonment in first of 11 pending corruption cases. Meanwhile, State Administration Council (SAC) FM Wunna Maung 1 April met Chinese FM Wang Yi in Huangshan city, China; in strongest public backing of regime to date, China declared it “will always support Myanmar in safeguarding sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity”.
Clashes escalated between regime and resistance forces as well as ethnic armed groups, while U.S. declared anti-Rohingya violence as genocide. Tatmadaw and aligned paramilitary forces from pro-military Pyusawhti networks stepped up counter-insurgency operations during month in central Dry Zone encompassing townships in Sagaing, Mandalay and Magway regions, burning hundreds of homes and killing dozens of civilians. Notably, military and paramilitary forces 1 March raided three villages in Gangaw township, Magway region, torching 275 homes and killing 11 people, including five People’s Defence Force (PDF) fighters; 8 March raided village in Khin-U township, Sagaing region, reportedly killing 11 PDF fighters and three civilians. Resistance forces responded with attacks on pro-military villages: in Sagaing region, PDF 6 March attacked two villages allegedly harbouring regime forces in Taze township, claiming over 30 military and paramilitary casualties; 9 March attacked military camped in village in Chaung-U township, reportedly killing five soldiers. In northern Shan state, military 1-2 March clashed with ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), ending two-week lull in fighting since death of MNDAA founder Peng Jiasheng on 16 Feb. Chinland Defence Force 7 March attacked regime convoy in southern southern Chin state. In far northern parts of Kachin state, regime forces 1 March launched airstrikes on Kachin Independence Army. In Kayah state, regime forces 13 March captured key stronghold of Karenni Nationalities Defence Force in Demoso township, following fighting that reportedly inflicted heavy casualties on junta forces. In Kayin State, Karen National Union and PDF 7 March clashed with junta forces around Lay Kay Kaw village, Myawaddy township. Meanwhile, junta 5, 8 March cancelled citizenship of leading opposition figures and National Unity Govt (NUG) members. Worsening electric power shortages and rising commodity prices due to Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted factories to suspend operations, resulted in reduced bus routes and higher transportation fees for trucking companies. Internationally, NUG-aligned UN representative 2 March voted in favour of General Assembly resolution condemning Russian invasion of Ukraine, in contrast to regime’s late Feb comments in support of Russia. U.S. 21 March announced formal determination of genocide for violence committed by military against Rohingya minority.
Regime forces’ ongoing battles against resistance forces and ethnic armed groups fuelled uptick in fighting, while nationwide strike and sanctions marked coup’s first anniversary. Violence rose in Sagaing region (north west) as regime forces continued counter-insurgency campaign and local resistance groups retaliated. Notably, military 6-7 Feb deployed air support during raid on village in Ye-U township, detaining over 70 people and forcing some 10,000 to flee. In Pale township, regime and paramilitary forces from pro-military Pyusawhti networks 4 Feb allegedly raided two villages, burning some 700 homes in total; combined forces of 14 resistance groups next day reportedly attacked police station and General Administration Department in Pale with “heavy weapons”, claiming to have killed eight, including district administrator. Similarly, at least six resistance groups 9 Feb attacked police station in Taze township. Clashes also persisted with some ethnic armed groups. Notably, Arakan Army (AA) 4-8 Feb clashed with military in Maungdaw township, near Bangladesh border, in heaviest fighting since Nov 2020 informal ceasefire. Both sides, however, appeared keen to de-escalate, with regime releasing several dozen AA-linked detainees and AA 12 Feb sending delegation to regime’s Union Day ceremony. In Chin State, military destroyed over 90 homes in Thantlang town in early Feb in retaliation for clashes with Chinland Defence Force. Kachin Independence Army early month launched several attacks on regime targets, upending relative lull in fighting in northern Myanmar. To mark one-year anniversary of 1 Feb coup, resistance called for “silent strike” that was widely observed across country. In Tachileik township (Shan state) unknown assailants same day threw grenade at pro-military rally, reportedly killing two and injuring 20. U.S., Canada and UK marked 1 Feb anniversary with additional sanctions against regime officials and businesspeople helping to arm military. Cambodia next day confirmed it would not invite junta FM Wunna Maung Lwin to rescheduled regional body ASEAN’s meeting on 16-17 Feb, citing regime’s lack of progress on five-point consensus. EU 21 Feb issued new sanctions, including against state-owned oil and gas company. U.S., Japanese, Indian and Australian FMs 11 Feb called for “an end to violence” and reaffirmed support for ASEAN’s efforts.
Deadly fighting between Tatmadaw and resistance forces escalated sharply in Kayah State in south east, while Cambodian PM became first foreign leader to visit country since Feb 2021 coup. Kayah State saw marked escalation in conflict during Jan following 24 Dec massacre by Tatmadaw of over 30 civilians outside Moso village. Clashes 6 Jan erupted between military and Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF) fighters in state capital Loikaw, forcing 60,000 residents to flee to neighbouring Shan State and prompting Tatmadaw to deploy helicopter gunships and launch military airstrikes 7-16 Jan; notably, two jets 11 Jan dropped seven bombs in Maing Lone ward. KNDF same day said it had killed 20 soldiers and captured three during fighting. Rising violence in Kayah and Kayin States in past two months have led civilians to flee to Moei River bordering Thailand, with some 2,000 people camped on Myanmar side by mid-Jan. Regime-controlled court 10 Jan sentenced deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to four additional years in prison on charges of violating COVID-19 rules, breaching import-export laws and owning signal jammers, increasing her most recent sentence to six years. Cambodian PM and current Chair of South East Asia regional body ASEAN Hun Sen 7-8 Jan visited capital Naypyitaw, becoming first foreign leader to visit Myanmar since coup; visit reportedly sparked protests, notably in Depayin and Mandalay cities. In meeting, State Administration Council Chairman Min Aung Hlaing attempted to reframe ASEAN’s demands for complete cessation of violence and dialogue among “all parties concerned” to cover only clashes with Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups, also proposed to extend unilateral ceasefire with ethnic armed groups that notably excludes People’s Defence Force and other resistance forces. Amid fallout from Hun Sen’s visit, with some ASEAN member states, notably Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, criticising progress and implications of visit, Cambodia 12 Jan announced indefinite postponement of ASEAN foreign ministers’ retreat scheduled 18-19 Jan. Attorney general of Gambia 14 Feb said International Court of Justice will hold next hearing on Rohingya genocide case on 21 Feb – first hearing since Feb 2021 coup.
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.
Targeted attacks against regime continued, including high-profile killing of military-linked executive, alongside clashes between Tatmadaw and armed resistance groups. In highest-profile killing of military-linked official since Feb coup, unknown attackers 4 Nov shot and killed former Naval Lieutenant Commander Thein Aung in Yangon city and wounded his wife; Thein Aung was chief financial officer of military-linked telecoms company Mytel and general manager of military-owned Myanmar Economic Corporation and subsidiary. National Unity Govt (NUG) Minister for International Cooperation Dr Sasa 8 Nov denied existence of “hit list” of political enemies, amid widespread claims online and in local media that NUG distributed list to resistance forces that included Thein Aung as well as some veteran peace negotiators; Sasa also denied any NUG involvement in extrajudicial killings, attributing rumours to military attempts to discredit NUG. Since attacks on local officials and regime supporters began in April, killings of pro-regime civilians rose to several per day. Meanwhile, resistance attacks on military convoys using IEDs, ambushes and targeted killings continued. In Sagaing province, north west, People’s Defence Force (PDF) claimed IED 1 Nov blew armoured personnel carrier off mountain road in notable attack among many in recent months in Htigyaing township, where PDF forces often cooperate with Kachin Independence Army. In Kalay township, Sagaing, heavy clashes erupted mid-Nov as local PDF forces and Chin National Defence Force reportedly fought together against Tatmadaw; similarly, local PDF fought with Kachin Independence Army against Tatmadaw in Kawlin township. In Shan State, east, Pekon township witnessed rising violence with PDF fighting alongside Karenni armed groups against Tatmadaw. UN Security Council 8 Nov held closed-door meeting to discuss Myanmar’s security situation; 10 Nov called for cessation of violence and dialogue, urged delivery of COVID-19 vaccines and humanitarian aid, expressing support for regional body ASEAN’s efforts to “facilitate a peaceful solution”. Former U.S. Ambassador to UN Bill Richardson 2 Nov met State Administration Council Chairman Min Aung Hlaing and secured release of detained former Burmese employee of Richardson Center for Global Engagement; Richardson 15 Nov returned and secured release of U.S. journalist Danny Fenster, sentenced to 11 years imprisonment on 12 Nov.
Regime forces faced stiffening resistance amid wave of deadly attacks, while regional body ASEAN barred junta leader from its summit. Myanmar military reportedly deployed significant forces to country’s north west (Chin, Magway, Sagaing regions) throughout Oct in apparent preparation for renewed offensive against opposition People’s Defence Forces; unconfirmed reports revealed that over 1,500 soldiers killed throughout Oct, making it potentially bloodiest month since Feb coup. State Administration Council also faced growing economic crisis as dollar shortages and declining kyat currency made critical imports such as food, fuel, fertiliser and other essential goods particularly difficult; kyat stabilised as of 14 Oct but remained far below value before coup. Meanwhile, court hearings against senior National League for Democracy figures resumed. Notably, in corruption case against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, former Yangon Region Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein 1 Oct testified that he had bribed her to secure businesses interests. Aung San Suu Kyi described allegations as “all absurd” and said Phyo Min Thein had given testimony under duress. On international front, member states of South East Asia regional body ASEAN 15 Oct decided to bar junta’s representatives, chiefly Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, from attending 26-28 Oct ASEAN summit and other related summits over lack of progress on five-point consensus, notably Tatmadaw’s refusal to allow ASEAN special envoy Erywan Yusof to meet Aung San Suu Kyi. In address to nation, Min Aung Hlaing 18 Oct pinned blame for snub on opposition violence and announced mass release of over 5,600 political prisoners; NGO Human Rights Watch 22 Oct called release “limited in scope”, while authorities subsequently re-arrested 110 people; junta also arrested prominent activist Ko Jimmy in North Dagon township, Yangon region 24 Oct. U.S. legislators 5 Oct introduced “Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act” authorising stronger sanctions, support for civil society and appointment of “special coordinator for Burmese democracy”. French senate same day unanimously approved symbolic proposal to recognise National Unity Govt (NUG) as legitimate government. European Parliament 7 Oct approved resolution that “supports the CRPH [Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw] and the NUG as the only legitimate representatives”.
While opposition govt declared “people’s defensive war” to depose military dictatorship, announcement failed to lead to sustained escalation in attacks. National Unity Govt (NUG) 7 Sept declared “people’s defensive war” and state of emergency calling on people to rise up against regime. State Administration Council regime 9 Sept accused NUG, Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), People’s Defence Force and some ethnic armed groups of choosing “the terror way” and 12 Sept said NUG declaration aimed “to destabilise the country” to influence 14 Sept UN General Assembly decision on Myanmar’s UN credentials. While declaration did not result in significant escalation, deadly attacks on regime targets have continued. Notably, series of militia ambushes early Sept launched against troops in Magway region’s Gangaw township prompted military to occupy area, which resulted in killing of at least 22 villagers from 9-10 Sept, including teenagers and elderly. Military forces 18-19 Sept clashed with anti-junta militia Chin Defence Force in Thantlang town, Chin State, destroying at least 20 homes and forcing majority of town’s 10,000 residents to flee, including several thousands across border into India; militia reported it had killed 30 govt troops. Throughout Sept, regime also stepped up raids and arrests of people allegedly involved in resistance activity in Yangon and elsewhere. Meanwhile, regime 6 Sept dropped sedition charge against nationalist monk Wirathu, detained for past ten months. SAC 21 Sept tried deposed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi for incitement; Suu Kyi pleaded not guilty, with trial set to continue in Oct. Internationally, Vice Senior General Soe Win 3 Sept held talks with Russian deputy defence minister focused on Russian plans to aid “military technology, education, health and various sectors”. Information Minister Maung Maung Ohn 9 Sept briefed foreign diplomats in Yangon on regime’s narrative of Feb coup, stating Tatmadaw had taken power according to constitution in response to “serious irregularities” in 2020 election. U.S. and China 13 Sept brokered agreement to defer decision on Myanmar’s UN representation until at least Oct-Nov; NUG-affiliated incumbent Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun retained UN credentials on condition he did not speak at high-level General Assembly debate.
Acts of resistance and deadly clashes between regime and insurgents continued amid deadly COVID-19 wave; regional bloc ASEAN appointed special envoy for Myanmar. Bombings in urban areas increased, notably around anniversary of 8 Aug 1988 (“four eights”) uprising, which activists across country marked with flash demonstrations. Targeted assassinations of military personnel, alleged informants and members of paramilitary Pyusawhti network continued; notably, series of bombs and shootings 7-9 Aug targeted junta officials and military officers chiefly in Yangon city. During raid in Yangon, regime forces 10 Aug arrested three and seized homemade bombs, while five activists jumped from building to avoid arrest, killing two and sparking widespread shock on social media. Security forces next day arrested over 30 youths in Yangon amid parallel administration National Unity Govt’s talk of so-called “D-Day” operation to unseat junta. Series of explosions 26-27 Aug hit several locations in Yangon and Mandalay regions. Elsewhere, civil resistance group Yaw Defense Force 23 Aug ambushed military convoy on Gangaw-Kale highway, Magwe region, reportedly killing some 30 soldiers. COVID-19 crisis worsened, with hundreds dying daily in Yangon. On diplomatic front, South East Asia regional body ASEAN 4 Aug confirmed Brunei’s second FM Erywan Yusof as bloc’s special envoy to Myanmar. During virtual ASEAN-European Union (EU) Ministerial Meeting, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borell 6 Aug called for “meaningful dialogue” between regime and parliamentary committee in exile, National Unity Govt, ethnic minority groups and pro-democracy forces. In response, State Administration Council FM Wunna Maung Lwin expressed opposition to contact between ASEAN special envoy and aforementioned entities, rejected ASEAN-mediated dialogue with opposition. In first official contact, U.S. Deputy Sec State Wendy Sherman 4 Aug called National Unity Govt FM Zin Mar Aung; U.S. 10 Aug announced provision of $50mn for Myanmar people in humanitarian assistance. Separately, U.S. 6 Aug announced charges against two Myanmar nationals detained on U.S. soil for allegedly organising attack on Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to UN who had aligned with National Unity govt. In sign of gradual recognition of military-backed State Administration Council, China 11 Aug transferred $6mn to junta under regional cooperation fund.
Authorities struggled to bring rising COVID-19 infections under control, while unidentified armed groups staged attacks against state electricity corporation in response to power cuts. Ruling State Administration Council throughout month faced rapidly worsening COVID-19 crisis across country, as number of confirmed cases more than doubled each week, with unofficial tallies expected to be far higher; authorities initially blamed victims for hoarding oxygen, before belatedly moving to secure consignments from China and Thailand. In response to large outbreaks of virus in northern Shan State, China continued to shutter trade crossings and 8 July closed last two crossing points near border town of Muse – cutting off around half of Myanmar’s overland trade. Meanwhile, officials in several townships began cutting power to households that have refused to pay bills either to avoid giving funds to regime or due to financial difficulties. After firing and replacing electricity workers on strike in April, State Administration Council issued outstanding bills, attempting to force residents to pay them; in response, resistance groups launched series of targeted attacks against Yangon and Mandalay electricity offices, including bomb explosions at two Yangon offices 7 July, and Mandalay office 16 July, latter killing two people – staffer and customer. Karenni Nationalities Defence Force 13 July bombed electricity offices in Kayah State capital Loikaw; in Mandalay city, resistance groups 11 July shot two electricity workers, killing one. Anti-military forces also continued to stage assassinations of regime officials and sympathisers at similar levels as June, including members of counter-resistance Pyusawhti network. Notably, resistance group in Sagaing region 14 July shot dead former MP from military-established Union Solidarity and Development Party as well as his assistant; military-appointed village administrator next day killed in Sagaing region. Amid ongoing clashes since June between rival armed groups in Shan state, main Shan political party 26 July released statement blaming both groups for violence, calling for end to hostilities and warning that behaviour of groups was undermining “Shan political struggle”. Internationally, U.S. 2 July announced additional sanctions against State Administration Council members and their immediate families, as well as military-linked companies.
Tatmadaw continued to struggle to contain acts of resistance amid intense fighting with civil defence groups and ethnic armed groups across country. Targeted assassinations of alleged supporters of junta increased in June, with several dozen people killed, including local administrators appointed by regime and alleged state informants; with security forces unable to stop killings, armed defence groups mobilised in support of military. Soldiers 22 June attacked resistance forces in downtown Mandalay, leaving several killed on both sides; regime next day intercepted large weapons shipment allegedly destined for Mandalay resistance. Meanwhile, People’s Defence Forces and other civilian militias continued to battle Tatmadaw nationwide. Chinland Defence Force (CDF) 6 June staged several deadly ambushes, claiming killing of up to 50 soldiers in Mindat township and 17 soldiers in Thantlang township. Clashes between junta and civilian militias continued in Sagaing Region; heaviest fighting took place in Kayah State, which led to looming humanitarian disaster. Local defence force and Tatmadaw 15 June agreed temporary ceasefire; 14-day ceasefire also struck between CDF and military from 20 June. In Kachin State and Sagaing Region, wave of fresh fighting between ethnic armed groups and Tatmadaw erupted during month. In far northern Kachin State, Kachin Independence Organisation 1 June fired mortars on Putao Airport. In Kayin State, ethnic armed groups and local defence force 1-2 June clashed together with Tatmadaw troops and members of Karen Border Guard Force near border town of Myawaddy; about 600 civilians fled into Thailand; Tatmadaw shell 2 June hit temporary refugee camp in Thailand, injuring two civilians and Thai soldier. During virtual press conference – which junta blocked by shutting down internet – National Unity Government 5 June presented Rohingya policy providing for equal rights for Rohingya and inviting Rohingya to join opposition to dictatorship. Junta 10 June announced corruption charges against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior National League for Democracy figures; Suu Kyi 7 June appeared in court to face raft of charges. For first time since Feb military coup, delegation from regional organisation ASEAN 4-5 June visited country. G7 leaders 11-13 June condemned Feb coup.
Civil disobedience actions continued as Tatmadaw and civil defence groups clashed, opposition govt launched armed wing and fighting persisted between ethnic armed groups and military. Strikes against coup and other civil disobedience activities continued across country; protests launched daily, with most small-scale and brief in order to avoid crackdowns from security forces. Amid ongoing arrests of anti-coup supporters, country witnessed fewer protest-related killings, although at least 68 reported during month. Spate of bombings and unclaimed arson attacks continued in Yangon, Mandalay and other cities, and at least dozen local govt officials reported killed. Armed clashes between military and locally organised civil defence groups persisted throughout May in north west Myanmar, including Chin State and Sagaing, Magway and Mandalay regions, as well as Kayah State in south east, killing dozens of military troops and police and enabling civil defence groups to seize assault weapons. In Mindat town, in southern Chin State, Chin Defence Force 12-14 May ambushed military vehicles; junta 13 May responded by imposing martial law in township and 15 May unleashed artillery barrage and airborne assault, re-taking town and forcing thousands of townspeople to flee. National Unity Government, which was set up in April in opposition to junta, 5 May announced founding of armed wing – People’s Defence Force – in attempt to unify resistance groups, specifically locally organised defence forces and disparate groups of several hundred protesters undergoing military training in areas controlled by ethnic armed groups. In northern Shan State, armed groups Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and Ta-ang National Liberation Army 4-5 May staged joint attacks on military base in Kutkai township, seizing large cache of weapons. In Kachin State, military 8 May retook key communications base in Momauk township from Kachin Independence Army (KIO) armed group; KIO 4 May attacked police station in Mansi township, killing head of police force and injuring station chief. In Kayin State, Karen National Union (KNU) armed group continued attacks on military outposts, while junta continued artillery barrages and airstrikes on KNU targets – including civilian areas. G7 foreign ministers 5 May issued communiqué condemning military coup in “strongest terms”, committing to tightening sanctions on regime and preventing sale of weapons to junta.
Security forces continued brutal crackdown on anti-coup protesters and civilians, escalating their counter-insurgency practices, as resistance groups launched sporadic deadly attacks on military. Pro-democracy protesters demanding end to military rule continued rallies nationwide, notably in Yangon, Mandalay and many other towns and cities; police and military responded with deadly force, including by opening fire on protesters; death toll of security crackdown since 1 Feb surpassed 750 people. In major attack, military 9 April assaulted multiple protest camps in Bago town, using for first time mortars and rifle grenades, killing at least 80 civilians. Resistance groups in several parts of country targeted military convoys, as well as ward and village-tractgeneral administration offices. Notably, resistance forces 9 April ambushed military convoy in Tamu, Sagaing region, killing three soldiers; in Chin State, resistance fighters 27 April killed at least 16 soldiers in fighting in Mindat town. State media 9 April announced that military tribunal in North Okkalapa had sentenced to death 19 protesters who allegedly attacked military in March. Opponents of junta 16 April announced creation of National Unity Government. In northern Shan State, military 7-8 April met with leaders of armed groups United Wa State Army and Shan State Progress Party in effort to bolster ceasefires. In Kachin State, Kachin Independence Army (KIA) 8 April ambushed military convoy in rural part of Mogaung township; military same day fired artillery at Laiza town, headquarters of KIA and its civilian wing. Militants associated with Three Brotherhood Alliance (consisting of Arakan Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and Ta’ang National Liberation Army) 10 April attacked police station outside of Lashio, killing at least 14 policemen, making it first attack since late March decision to re-evaluate unilateral ceasefire. Unidentified attackers 27 April fired rockets at military bases in country’s centre. International pressure continued. UK 1 April imposed sanctions on conglomerate Myanmar Economic Corporation; EU 19 April imposed sanctions on junta; U.S. 21 April added two state-owned enterprises to sanctions list. Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing 25 April attended summit of regional bloc ASEAN, agreeing five-point statement calling for cessation of violence and dialogue.
Mass protests continued against military’s Feb coup as security forces ramped up deadly crackdown on demonstrators, prompting international outcry. Amid tightened restrictions on internet services, hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters demanding end to military rule continued street action nationwide, including in capital Naypyitaw, Yangon, Mandalay and many other towns and cities; in response, police and soldiers increasingly used deadly force against demonstrators, firing tear gas shells, stun grenades and live ammunition, and burning at least one person alive. Security forces throughout March also conducted intimidating terror campaign at night in residential neighbourhoods, which involved summary executions, indiscriminately firing rubber bullets, arbitrary house searches, beatings and other abuses. Rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners stated over 500 people killed during security crackdown between 1 Feb coup and late March, with over 2,258 – including 37 journalists – arrested. Armed Forces Day 27 March marked deadliest so far with security forces killing some 158 protesters and bystanders, including 14 children. Despite crackdown, civil disobedience movement persisted among govt employees and during month expanded into general strike; hundreds of police officers have also resigned, joined disobedience movement or fled country. Military 11 March confirmed new bribery charges against Aung San Suu Kyi, and said ruling military council will only control country for certain period of time before holding election. Acting VP of civilian parallel govt 13 March vowed to pursue “revolution” to overturn coup. Military 23 March expressed regret for deaths of demonstrators and security forces; next day freed hundreds of arrested protesters. FMs from South East Asia regional group ASEAN 2 March stated they were “appalled” by violence while EU 4 March suspended financial support for development projects and 22 March sanctioned military leaders. After freezing around $1bn in Myanmar’s central bank reserves held at U.S. Federal Reserve in Feb, U.S. 4, 10 and 22 March announced new sanctions against junta. UN Security Council 10 March strongly condemned violence against protesters. Junta 11 March confirmed it had removed Arakan Army (AA) insurgents from list of terrorist groups; AA 23 March condemned military coup and “cruel and unacceptable” crackdown.
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.
Military staged coup d’état following escalating tensions with civilian govt over Nov election. Following Nov polls which saw landslide election victory for ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), military late month demanded postponement of new parliament due to convene in capital Naypyitaw on 1 Feb; asked for delay while allegations of electoral malpractice investigated; govt refused after Union Election Commission rejected fraud allegations and international observers called poll a success. Military 31 Jan said “Tatmadaw categorically denies it is impeding Myanmar’s democratic transition”; early morning 1 Feb seized power as it declared one-year state of emergency, imposed communications blackout and detained State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and other senior NLD figures, as well as cabinet ministers and civil society representatives; office of Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlain same day announced that military would name new election commission and hold fresh elections. Previously, tensions mounted as Tatmadaw and military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) throughout month made unsubstantiated claims that there were over ten million errors in electoral lists and equating them with fraud. Group of 203 opposition and military MPs 11 Jan signed request for Speaker of Union parliament to convene special session to discuss electoral disputes; speaker next day refused request, said parliament had no authority over elections; military statement 14 Jan suggested that speaker’s decision was unconstitutional. USDP 14 Jan convened more than 1,000 demonstrators against election commission’s conduct of polls in Mandalay Region’s Pyawbwe township. Meanwhile, Commander-in-Chief’s office 7 Jan called for elections to be held in remaining townships of Rakhine and Shan State where Nov poll was cancelled on security grounds; Zaw Htay next day stated delayed vote could not be held since military had not provided security guarantees. Informal ceasefire in Rakhine State continued to hold. Following meetings between Arakan Army (AA) and military, AA 1 Jan released three NLD election candidates previously held hostage since Oct. Speaking as chairperson of National Reconciliation and Peace Centre, Aung San Suu Kyi 1 Jan said constitutional amendment to establish democratic federal union was “absolutely necessary”.
Hostilities between Arakan Army (AA) and Tatmadaw paused in Rakhine State as parties initiated direct ceasefire talks. After two years of escalating hostilities in Rakhine State, AA and military informally halted fighting; move follows support by both sides last month to hold polls in all cancelled Rakhine State constituencies and pledge to cooperate to create conducive security environment. Direct talks between AA and Tatmadaw on formal ceasefire commenced late Nov with online meeting and 9 Dec continued with in-person talks hosted by China-backed armed group United Wa State Army in their headquarters in Pangsang city, Shan State; neither set of talks involved civilian govt. Court martial in Rakhine’s regional capital Sittwe 11 Dec sentenced three Tatmadaw soldiers to 20-year prison terms for rape of Rakhine woman in July.
Ruling party won landslide election victory while fighting eased in Rakhine State. General elections 8 Nov resulted in landslide victory for ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party, gaining 99% of elected seats in seven Burman-majority regions and 58% of elected seats in ethnic-majority states, securing 83% of elected seats in Union Parliament overall; Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) won three seats in Burman-majority regions and 16% of seats in ethnic-majority states; ethnic parties for their part won 25% of seats in ethnic-majority states, only giving them 10% of elected seats overall; military gets automatic 25% bloc. USDP 10 Nov alleged in Facebook video “many contentious events during the whole voting process”, urging voters to send evidence of illegal acts, and 11 Nov called on govt to hold another “free, fair, [and] unbiased” vote rerun as soon as possible. Amid govt’s cancellation of vote in most of Arakan National Party (ANP)’s strongholds in Oct, ANP won largest bloc of seats in Rakhine State Parliament; Rakhine parties however remained short of majority. Arakan Army (AA) 12 Nov released statement for first time in support of holding elections, calling on govt and military to ensure that elections could be held by 31 Dec in all cancelled Rakhine State constituencies; within hours of release, military welcomed statement and committed to support holding elections in cancelled areas; election commission had yet to respond on possible polls by end of month. Meanwhile, violence eased in Rakhine State throughout month. In Shan State in north, unidentified assassins 22 Nov shot and killed Htike Zaw, MP-elect for ruling NLD party.
Fighting continued between Arakan Army (AA) and security forces, while election commission cancelled forthcoming polls in numerous locations. In central and northern Rakhine State and Paletwa town in Chin State, armed conflict escalated in first half of October, with major clashes between Arakan Army (AA) and Tatmadaw in Rathedaung and other townships; govt 5 Oct deployed air power and both sides reportedly suffered dozens of casualties. AA fighters 14 Oct abducted three ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) candidates in Toungup township, 19 Oct called them “traitors”, offered to free them in return for release of all innocent Rakhine civilians. Dire human rights situation continued in AA conflict: patrolling Tatmadaw soldiers 5 Oct used two Rohingya children working as cowherds in Buthidaung township as human shields, forcing them to walk ahead of troops; both killed after patrol walked into AA ambush. NGO Human Rights Watch 8 Oct released report on conditions of 600,000 Rohingya in Rakhine State, concluding that situation met legal definition of apartheid and calling for officials to be prosecuted; NGO Amnesty International 12 Oct issued report on recent “indiscriminate attacks” by Tatmadaw in Kyauktaw township that showed “disregard for human suffering” constituting crimes against humanity. Ahead of 8 Nov elections, Union Election Commission (UEC) 16 Oct announced locations where polls would not be held for security reasons, covering Kachin, Kayin, Mon, Rakhine and Shan States, as well as Bago Region; cancellations included six whole townships in Shan State, nine whole townships in Rakhine State, and partial cancellations in 582 wards and village tracts across the six regions; subsequent 27 Oct announcement revoked a small number of these partial cancellations, and added most of rural Paletwa township to cancelled areas. Cancellations will leave 22 seats vacant in national parliament, likely benefiting ruling NLD. UEC 2 Oct disqualified three Rohingya Muslim candidates and an ethnic Chinese candidate, stating that candidates’ parents were found not to have been citizens at time of birth.
Clashes between Arakan Army (AA) and security forces continued to inflict heavy toll on civilians. In Rakhine state, military 1 Sept allegedly shot and killed villager in Kyauktaw township; 3 Sept reportedly burned down nearly 200 homes in Kyauktaw and killed two villagers it claimed were AA insurgents. Two police officers went missing 5 Sept in Maungdaw township, mutilated body of one found two days later. Artillery shelling 8 Sept reportedly killed five villagers in Myebon township. Unidentified gunmen 10 Sept shot and injured police officer in Minbya township. Artillery shelling 11-17 Sept killed one villager and injured seven more in Rathedaung and Kyauktaw townships. Military 29 Sept announced extension of its nationwide COVID-19 ceasefire until end-Oct, but continued to exclude Rakhine state and Paletwa township. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet 14 Sept said military’s alleged targeting of civilians in Rakhine and Chin states may constitute “war crimes or even crimes against humanity”. Canada and Netherlands 2 Sept issued joint statement indicating they would support Rohingya genocide case filed by Gambia against Myanmar at International Court of Justice. International news outlet The New York Times and NGO Fortify Rights 8 Sept reported on video testimony of two Tatmadaw deserters confessing to army-directed atrocities against Rohingya, both fled Myanmar in Aug and are believed to be in The Hague in the Netherlands and to have been interviewed by International Criminal Court; military questioned credibility of confessions and called for soldiers to be returned to Myanmar to face justice. Ahead of Nov general election and amid rise in COVID-19 cases, campaign period kicked off 8 Sept; several opposition parties called for postponement of polls in light of deteriorating COVID-19 situation but Union Election Commission (UEC) 14 Sept rejected calls; unknown individual threw two grenades at residence of UEC official in capital Naypyitaw 19 Sept; neither exploded.
Amid ongoing fighting between Arakan Army (AA) and security forces, fourth “Panglong-21” Union Peace Conference took place in capital Naypyitaw. Violence continued across Rakhine state where unexploded ordnance and landmine 1-3 Aug killed three youths in Rathedaung and Ann townships. AA attacks against security forces 2-3 Aug caused several casualties in Rathedaung and Buthidaung townships; AA claimed killing “more than 20” and capturing six. Military shelling in first half of Aug reportedly injured ten villagers in Kyauktaw, Minbya and Rathedaung townships. Military 7 Aug arrested alleged AA fighter who later died in custody, body showed signs of torture. Unidentified gunmen 12 Aug killed head of Kyauktaw township police. AA 18 Aug reportedly abducted two Buddhist monks and two novice monks in Mrauk-U township. Military 24 Aug announced extension of its nationwide COVID-19 ceasefire until end-September, but continued to exclude Rakhine State. Fighting appeared to have eased in Rakhine after 16 Aug, when first local transmission of COVID-19 for many weeks detected in regional state; some 250 cases recorded by end of month, and night-time curfew and stay-at-home orders imposed across Rakhine 26 Aug. In Naypyitaw, representatives of govt and ten signatory armed groups of Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement 19-21 Aug took part in fourth “Panglong-21” Union Peace Conference, first session in over two years; conference agreed on 20 “principles” with regard to ceasefire agreement, including some vague language on a future federal arrangement; govt’s exclusion of AA from conference due to its designation as terrorist organisation prompted six allied armed groups to boycott talks. Ahead of Nov general elections, electoral authorities began vetting candidate applications; between 11 and 16 Aug district-level election commissions rejected applications of six Rohingya due to alleged failure to prove citizenship status of their parents.
Amid clashes between Arakan Army (AA) and military in Rakhine state, govt and armed groups agreed to hold fifth Union Peace Conference in Aug while election commission scheduled general elections for Nov. In Rakhine state, two police officers 8 July went missing in state capital Sittwe. Army 11 July arrested six men suspected of links to AA in Ramree township, army claimed one committed suicide in custody, but body showed signs of torture. Clashes between military and AA 11-14 July killed at least four civilians and displaced more than 3,000 in Ponnagyun, Rathedaung and Maungdaw townships. NGO Amnesty International 8 July said military’s killing of civilians in indiscriminate airstrikes on villages in Rakhine and Chin states “amount to war crimes” and urged UN Security Council to refer situation to International Criminal Court. In Shan state, after military late June allegedly shot and killed civilian and injured two others in Kyaukme township amid clashes with armed group Restoration Council of Shan State, more than 10,000 10 July protested in Kyaukme demanding justice for victims; military indicated same day that it would seek charges against organisers for illegal protest. In Kayin state, army 16 July killed civilian; in response, over 1,500 22 July and around 5,000 28 July demonstrated in Papun district calling for military’s withdrawal. Negotiators of govt and other signatories of Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement 7 July agreed to hold fourth “Panglong-21” Union Peace Conference 12-14 August; Brotherhood Alliance – coalition of non-signatory armed groups AA, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army – 21 July said it was “fully willing” to attend conference if invited and that it wanted to resume “stalled negotiations” with govt. Election Commission 1 July announced general elections scheduled for 8 Nov. UK 6 July imposed sanctions on military chief and his deputy for their involvement in “systematic and brutal violence against the Rohingya people and other ethnic minorities.”
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.
Military announced unilateral ceasefire across country but excluded areas where clashes between security forces and Arakan Army (AA) continued to exact heavy civilian toll. In response to COVID-19 threat, Tatmadaw 9 May announced unilateral ceasefire from 10 May to 31 Aug, while excluding Rakhine State and areas of southern Chin State where heavy fighting with AA is ongoing; Brotherhood Alliance – coalition of armed groups AA, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army – called ceasefire “a sham”, urged govt and army to include all parts of country. Clashes between AA and military continued throughout month. In two ethnic Rakhine villages, 325 houses destroyed by fire 16 and 26 May, in manner reminiscent of destruction of Rohingya villages in 2016-17; AA blamed military for recent incidents, who in turn accused AA, saying they did so to discredit military. In south Rakhine, official of ruling party National League for Democracy (NLD) 6 May claimed that AA had intimidated and attempted to kidnap NLD officials in Toungup township, AA said accusations were fabrications to damage its reputation; bomb 8 May exploded in Kyaukpyu township, govt blamed AA. After video of soldiers violently questioning detainees suspected of links with AA emerged, military 12 May said that soldiers had acted inappropriately and would be under military investigation; NGO Human Rights Watch expressed concerns about due accountability under military-led process. Mine explosion 13 May killed two children in Buthidaung township (northern Rakhine), govt and AA blamed each other. About 100 AA fighters 29 May launched attack on police outpost in Rathedaung township, killing four police officers. Radio Free Asia mid-May reported fighting between govt forces and AA had killed 47 civilians since April. Myanmar’s Union Election Commission 18 May stripped Aye Maung, former chairman of Arakan National Party, who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for high treason in 2019, of his MP status and barred him from running in future elections. Pursuant to Jan request by International Court of Justice, Myanmar 23 May submitted to court first six-monthly report detailing measures it has taken to prevent and punish acts of genocide against Rohingya.