Myanmar

Status
Medium-intensity

Conflict Summary

Recent international analysis of Myanmar’s politics has focused on its transition to a civilian government, albeit supported by the previously-ruling junta, and on the range of reforms – beginning with the constitution of 2008 – carried out as part of the country’s democratisation. However, the country has also been plagued by ethnic conflict and is home to some of the world's longest running insurgencies. While two-thirds of Myanmar’s population is Burman, particularly the hilly border regions are also home to numerous ethnic groups. The Karen and Shan each make up 10% of the population, alongside dozens of smaller groups with diverse grievances. The junta announced a 'roadmap to democracy' in 2003 and in 2008 promulgated a new constitution. The first free general elections held in November 2015 witnessed the main opposition party to the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the National League for Democracy (NLD), win in a landslide. Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD leader who spent nearly two decades under house arrest, is now the de facto civilian leader of the country. In response, Western nations have largely removed economic sanctions against the state – though the military retains control over the security apparatus and significant parts of the state and can veto constitutional amendments. The ongoing peace process begun by the USDP has led to the signing of a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement by eight insurgent groups, but several powerful groups remain outside the process and fighting continues in northern Shan State near the Chinese border. The situation is complicated by the ethnic groups’ lack of clearly articulated aims and by the conflicting strategies of the government and the armed forces. Meanwhile, repression of the Muslim Rohingya minority in Rakhine State has led to grave human-rights abuses, mob violence and the emergence of a new armed rebel group in 2016.

  • 17,910
    Fatalities since 1985
    451,100
    IDPs (2015)

  • Non State Parties
    • - Kachin Independence Army (KIA)
    • - Shan State Army - South (SSA-South)
    • - Shan State Army - North (SSA-North)
    • - Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA)
    State Parties
    • - Myanmar (gov of)

    Themes
    • Peace process
    • Separatism
    • Inter-community violence
    • Rebellion
  • 13 October
    Foreign relations
    After requests from France and Britain the United Nations Security Council meets behind closed doors to discuss the situation in Rakhine State with Kofi Annan, who recently led the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.
  • 13 October
    Insurgency / Non-state armed groups
    Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) General Secretary Ta Hpone Kyaw says that the group will not attend the second anniversary of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) as it was invited individually, and not as a member of the Northern Alliance.
  • 12 October
    Human security / Foreign relations / Political developments
    State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi announces that the government is in talks with Bangladesh to negotiate the repatriation of refugees and that she will chair a new body called the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine. She outlines that the three main priorities are 1) repatriation of those who have fled to Bangladesh and provision of humanitarian assistance 2) resettlement and rehabilitation 3) bringing development to the region and establishing durable peace.
  • 12 October
    Foreign relations
    In a Facebook post Myanmar’s commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing says that the international media has exaggerated the number of Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh.
  • 11 October
    Foreign relations

    According to an agreement seen by AFP the European Union '…and its member states will suspend invitations to the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar/Burma armed forces and senior military officers and review all practical defence cooperation’. The agreement is said to be signed by foreign ministers 16 October.

  • 11 October
    Human security / Foreign relations
    A UN human rights office report based on 65 interviews with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh says that ‘brutal attacks against Rohingya in northern Rakhine State have been well-organised, coordinated and systematic, with the intent of not only driving the population out of Myanmar but preventing them from returning to their homes’.
  • 10 October
    Political developments
    Up to 30,000 people participate in a National League for Democracy (NLD)-organised interfaith rally in Yangon, addressing the violence in Rakhine State. Symbols supporting the government dominate the scene.
  • 10 October
    Peace process
    The Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) urgently meets a government delegation in Nay Pyi Daw to discuss the peace process. According to a PPST spokesperson the government accepts a proposal to invite Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee, also known as the Northern Alliance, and the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) to the celebration of the second anniversary of the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.
  • 9 October
    Political developments
    During a meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the Peace Process Steering Team, a group of eight Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) signatories, say that they requested a separate meeting with the state counsellor and the commander-in-chief of Myanmar Armed Forces in order to have an informal discussion about the peace process.
  • 9 October
    Human security
    At least 12 Rohingya refugees die as their boat capsizes near Shah Porir Dwip on the way to Bangladesh.
  • 9 October
    Law enforcement
    Two Shan State Army – South (SSA – South) soldiers are tried in court after their July arrest by a Tatmadaw unit in Shan State.
  • 9 October
    Peace process
    A member of the government’s Peace Commission (PC), Aung Soe says that the PC is planning a meeting with the United Wa State Party (UWSP) and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) in the near future. He added that the commission has no plans to meet the Federal Peace Negotiation Consultative Committee (FPNCC).
  • 7 October
    Foreign relations / Military developments
    An Indian Naval Academy (INA) official press release says that a delegation from the Myanmar Defence Services Academy visited the INA to exchange best practices and enhance bilateral defence relations.
  • 7 October
    Insurgency / Non-state armed groups
    The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army says that their one month ceasefire in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung Townships will end as of midnight 9 October but indicates it is willing to negotiate new ceasefires to allow access for humanitarian assistance.
  • 7 October
    Armed clashes / Violent incidents
    The Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) clash with the Myanmar Army in Manton township, Shan State.
  • 6 October
    Foreign relations / Human security
    Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator of the United Nations Mark Lowcock says that the access the international community has into Rakhine State is unacceptable.
  • 6 October
    Foreign relations / Human security
    European Union President Donald Tusk urges Myanmar to adhere to its international rights obligations and allow Rohingya refugees to return to their place of origin and grant aid workers access to Rakhine State.
  • 5 October
    Human security
    Bangladesh authorities announce the construction of a new refugee camp to house the 800,000 Rohingya asylum seekers currently residing in the country. 
  • 5 October
    Insurgency / Non-state armed groups
    The office of Myanmar’s commander-in-chief posts a message on social media saying that the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army is responsible for the burning of villages in Rakhine State. 
  • 4 October
    Human security
    The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs appeals for US$434 million in response to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Rakhine State and Bangladesh.
  • 3 October
    Foreign relations
    The State Counsellor Office says that the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh view the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army as a common enemy. 
  • 2 October
    Foreign relations / Human security
    Following a government-organised visit to northern Rakhine State, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar calls for an end to the violence, greater access to humanitarian support and for the safe repatriation of refugees.
  • 1 October
    Civil unrest
    Residents of Yangon hold a rally in support of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and her handling of the situation in Rakhine State. 
  • 1 October
    Armed clashes / Violent incidents
    The Egyptian militant group Hasm claims responsibility for an explosion at Myanmar’s embassy in Cairo on 30 September, declaring it was retaliation for Myanmar authorities’ conduct in Rakhine State.