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.
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.
Deadly hostilities between military and resistance forces continued countrywide, regime curtailed relief operations following cyclone and Thailand sought high-level engagement with regime.
Countrywide clashes continued between military and ethnic armed groups. In Sagaing region (north west), military 4 June raided People’s Defence Forces (PDF) camp in Budalin township and allegedly executed three detained fighters. Regime forces 5 June used 18 people from nine villages in Kawlin township as human shields, leaving at least nine dead. Around 80 soldiers 7 June raided PDF camp in Monywa township. Three resistance groups 9 June raided police station in Salingyi township, claiming to have killed eleven officers. After fighting escalated between regime and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) in May, KNLA and resistance forces 1 June staged attack on bridge in Thaton township linking Mon and Kayin states, reportedly inflicting heavy casualties. In Bago region (south east), KNLA and allies 6 June destroyed major bridge in Kyaukkyi township. Assailants 7 June shot dead army major and village administrator in Kyauktaga township. Meanwhile, conflict intensified in Chin state (north west) as regime forces sought to clear resistance groups from strategic locations.
Regime pursued peace talks with select armed groups. Regime peace negotiators 1 2 June met representatives of three ethnic armed groups (Arakan Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army - MNDAA, which collectively make up Three Brothers Alliance) for first time since coup, with Chinese facilitation; no concrete progress was made and fighting erupted in Laukkaing townships with MNDAA during talks.
Junta closely controlled relief following Cyclone. Amid aftermath of 14 May cyclone that was strongest ever to make landfall on Myanmar coast, regime 8 June rejected UN aid distribution plan and rescinded existing travel authorisations; acting UN resident coordinator 12 June described restrictions as “devastating setback”. Consequently, only small amount of aid reached 1.6m affected people.
Thailand sought to boost engagement with junta. Thai FM 19 June hosted meeting of Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) FMs with ultimate aim to “fully re-engage Myanmar at the leaders’ level”, to which only Myanmar and Laos sent respective FMs; ASEAN chair Indonesia criticised Thai initiative, reflecting lack of consensus within regional bloc.
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 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.
In this video, Crisis Group expert Richard Horsey discusses how elections in Myanmar may trigger escalated violence.
The Sangha, Myanmar’s Buddhist monastic community, has largely stayed out of politics since the 2021 coup. As youth take the vanguard of resistance, a long-term shift in the country’s civic life – and a conservative backlash – could be in the offing. The issue bears close watching.
In defiance of prevailing patriarchal norms, young women are playing instrumental roles in the country’s “Spring Revolution.”
Politics in Myanmar is traditionally the domain of older men, but women and youth have been prominent in resistance to the 2021 military takeover. Giving them a bigger voice could have a positive effect on the country's political culture, no matter how the crisis ends.
Myanmar’s military regime is planning elections despite facing widespread resistance. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023, Crisis Group explains how the EU and its member states can help ease the country’s political and humanitarian crisis.
Anti-military groups in Myanmar have crowdfunded successfully over the past eighteen months despite regime efforts to deprive them of resources. Fundraisers should take steps to shield contributors from retribution, while international donors should work with local groups to channel aid to hard-hit civilians.
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