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Myanmar

CrisisWatch Myanmar

Unchanged Situation

Significant clashes between Arakan Army (AA) and Myanmar military in Rakhine state continued and spread further south. AA claimed to have clashed 33 times with military 1-12 May, including 12 May ambush of military convoy near Western Command headquarters in Ann township. Tensions in Rakhine increased following deaths of civilians in military custody, after army rounded up some 275 Rakhine men and boys aged 15-50 in Buthidaung township (north) 30 April, and 2 May shot dead six and wounded eight. Local villagers disputed military’s claim that men were attempting to riot; military announced internal investigation into incident and released some of those detained, but 83 still under interrogation or facing prosecution for links to AA; UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern for their safety. NGO Amnesty International 29 May released report detailing Myanmar military “war crimes” in Rakhine since Jan, also finding evidence of AA abuses against civilians.  Malaysian police 13 May said they had disrupted Islamic State (ISIS) cell plotting attacks in Malaysia and other countries, with two Rohingya among those arrested, one reportedly a supporter of militant group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) intending to target Myanmar embassy and targets in Rakhine state. Following talks between govt’s peace team and Northern Alliance of ethnic armed groups, military 30 April declared two-month extension to unilateral ceasefire in Kachin and Shan States originally announced in Dec 2018. UN Fact-Finding Mission 14 May urged international community to cut off all financial and other support to military in effort to hold army accountable for “atrocities against many of the ethnic groups living within borders of Myanmar”. Govt 7 May released on humanitarian grounds two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, jailed in 2017 for breaking Official Secrets Act in their reporting on massacre of Rohingya men, as part of presidential amnesty; civil society groups welcomed decision but warned of ongoing media restrictions. EU late April announced extension of sanctions until 30 April 2020, including arms embargo as well as visa bans and asset freezes for fourteen members of police and military associated with human rights violations.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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

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

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
29 Aug 2017
It should be in the government’s power to create the conditions in which to implement some of these recommendations [of the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State in Myanmar]. RFI

Anagha Neelakantan

Former Program Director, Asia
31 Mar 2017
Most [political] transitions end badly like the Arab spring. [They] are always bumpy and I think Myanmar is going through a particularly bumpy moment in its transition. The Guardian

Richard Horsey

Adviser, Myanmar
3 Feb 2017
The threat is not because of [Harakah al-Yaqin's] military strength, it's because of what they represent, the potential of [Myanmar] facing a very well organized, violent jihadist movement. CNN

Richard Horsey

Adviser, Myanmar

Latest Updates

Report / Asia

Fire and Ice: Conflict and Drugs in Myanmar’s Shan State

Civil strife has turned Myanmar’s Shan State into a crystal methamphetamine hub. The richer the traffickers get, the harder the underlying conflicts will be to resolve. Instead of targeting minor offenders, the military should root out corruption, including among top brass, and disarm complicit paramilitaries.

Also available in Burmese
Briefing / Asia

Bangladesh-Myanmar: The Danger of Forced Rohingya Repatriation

Bangladesh and Myanmar have struck a deal for the involuntary repatriation of over 2,000 Rohingya refugees. But the agreement is rushed and threatens stability on both sides of the border. Myanmar and Bangladesh should halt the plan and instead work to create conditions conducive to a safe and dignified return. 

Briefing / Asia

Myanmar’s Stalled Transition

Aung San Suu Kyi’s government appears stuck amid international condemnation of the Rohingya's mass displacement and domestic unease about the economy. To nudge Myanmar’s post-junta transition forward, the UN should combine engagement with pressure for accountability for crimes against humanity and eventual refugee return.

Also available in Burmese
Op-Ed / Asia

Rohingya Deserve Non-violent Leadership

Originally published in Asia Times

Report / Asia

The Long Haul Ahead for Myanmar’s Rohingya Refugee Crisis

More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees from brutal military operations in Myanmar are stuck in Bangladesh, with returns to Myanmar unlikely soon and Bangladeshi goodwill being tested. In Myanmar, international partners must be allowed access to northern Rakhine State. In Bangladesh, donors must help both refugees and their local hosts.

Also available in Burmese, 简体中文

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Richard Horsey

Adviser, Myanmar
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