The peoples of Myanmar are presently struggling with three grave challenges: a coup, conflict and Covid-19. This new TNI briefing analyses how these three crises have unfolded, leading to health system collapse, a new cycle of humanitarian emergency and deepening political divisions within the country. Taking a narrative approach, the report focuses on the consequences of state failure, the impact of Covid-19 and the actions taken by different military, political and civil society actors during a time of national breakdown.
In the 2020 general election, the Mon Unity Party made a strong showing, encouraging hopes of a political breakthrough. These were abruptly ended by the February coup of the State Administration Council. Since this time, Mon politics have become divided. Amidst countrywide breakdown, some leaders have accepted cooperation with the SAC, others declare support for the opposition National Unity Government, while others urge caution for the Mon people. Kun Wood analyses the dilemmas facing the Mon movement, explaining why lessons from history need to be learned.
In the 2020 general election, the Mon Unity Party made a strong showing, encouraging hopes of a political breakthrough. These were abruptly ended by the February coup of the State Administration Council. Since this time, Mon politics have become divided. Amidst countrywide breakdown, some leaders have accepted cooperation with the SAC, others declare support for the opposition National Unity Government, while others urge caution for the Mon people. Min Naing Soon analyses the dilemmas facing the Mon movement, explaining why lessons from history need to be learned.
Commonly found in Southeast Asia including in Myanmar, leaves from the kratom tree have long been used as a traditional medicine to treat various health conditions, including diabetes, diarrhoea, fever and pain. Kratom is currently banned in Myanmar, and the WHO's Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) is discussing this week whether it should be placed under international drug control. Instead of criminalisation, however, this commentary argues that legal regulation of kratom could contribute to building safer communities, promoting development and supporting peace efforts in Myanmar and beyond.
This primer is about ‘the 5Rs’ and land and natural resource politics. The 5Rs is a set of five principles: Recognition, Restitution, Redistribution, Regeneration, and Representation/Resistance. The primer briefly explores the idea of a working people’s program on land and natural resources in Myanmar based on these five principles in the context of a future federal democratic system.
After decades of conflict, it is often said that that political struggle in Myanmar has three groupings: military, pro-democracy and ethnic. But, as Cheery Zahau argues in this commentary, the ethnic nationality cause is frequently marginalised and misunderstood. Paradigm shifts in political behaviour and perspectives are required on all sides if the failures of the past are not to be repeated.
In the aftermath of the November general election the intense fighting between the national armed forces (Tatmadaw) and the Arakan Army came to an unexpected halt. Since the February coup of the State Administration Council, the situation has remained delicately poised. Political sentiment is very high. But Rakhine nationalism is presently on a different cycle to political movements in other parts of the country. In this commentary Kyaw Lynn outlines why the coming months will remain a time of high tension and uncertainty in Arakan politics.
Myanmar is in a dangerous and uncertain moment following the military coup on 1 February 2021. The articles in this Special Forum provide timely contextual analysis. Written before the coup, the articles delve into the politics of agrarian transformation in the context of (what was then) an ongoing (but fragile) opening up of political space.
Following the February coup, the violence used by the security forces against civilian protestors in Myanmar’s towns and cities has shocked public opinion around the world. But, as Naw Hsa Moo and Dominique Dillabough-Lefebvre explain in this commentary, such tactics have long been used by the Myanmar armed forces in military operations in the country’s ethnic states and regions. Awareness is now building and, as they argue, the military coup has brought new understanding and sympathy between pro-democracy and ethnic nationality movements.
The 1 February coup by the military State Administration Council has caused protest and confusion in Myanmar and around the world. In this commentary, Kyaw Lynn puts in context the complexity of factors, personal as much as institutional, that preceded the military takeover during a difficult time for democratic progress on the international stage. He then looks at the critical situation in Rakhine State, examining why political trends have been different to other ethnic states and regions in the country.
The tunnel that we have had to pass through is a very long one… 70 plus years, and there is still no sign of light that we are nearing the end. The leaders have staunchly blocked the exit. No ordinary civilian can pass through, and those inside the tunnel only get to see glimpses of light through tiny holes now and then. By the time the leaders of our country have agreed and worked out their differences, it will be too late for those of us who have been suffocating inside the darkness for far too long.
Today is Union Day in Myanmar, which marks the historic Panglong Agreement in February 1947 when the principles of equality and unity were drawn up for the future union. In 2021, however, it is not a day of celebration but one of protest as peoples across the country take to the street to demonstrate against the assumption of power by the military State Administrative Council. In this commentary, TNI analyses why the present crisis is so profound and why the patterns of military rule, state failure and ethnic conflict are in grave danger of being repeated. Peace and national reconciliation are required today, not at some indeterminate time in the future.
The 2020 general election was one of disappointment for ethnic nationality parties in Myanmar. Prior to the polls, expectations were high that they would win a larger number of seats than in previous elections. In the event, the National League for Democracy won another landslide victory. NLD gains were largely at the expense of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party. The position of ethnic parties, in contrast, will remain relatively the same.
This commentary is part of the ten-day global campaign to end violence against women, in which the Drug Policy Advocacy Group – Myanmar (DPAG) also participates together with partners in Myanmar, including female sex workers, women living with HIV, and transgender people. DPAG’s campaign focuses on ending violence against women, including women who use drugs and other women facing intersecting inequalities. The campaign is coordinated by DPAG, and supported by the Sex Worker Network in Myanmar (SWIM), Myanmar Positive Women Network, Myanmar Youth Stars, and the Transnational Institute (TNI). For more information see DPAG’s Facebook page.
With another general election imminent, concerns are deepening that ethnic nationality peoples will be marginalised once again. In this commentary, Lahpai Seng Raw explains why political systems and electoral practices deny equality and representation to so many of the country’s population. Elections will not change this. Political reforms are essential to achieve peace and national reconciliation.
As Myanmar prepares to go to the polls in November, it is a time of rising political tension. Covid-19 is spreading, while conflict continues in several ethnic states. As Kyaw Lynn argues, a key reform question remains to be answered. Will the country have federal reform and, if so, what kind?