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.
Yesterday, on International Human Rights Day, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands announced that Saw Eh Say, the coordinator from the Kayah Earthrights Action Network (KEAN), received the 2020 Human Rights Tulip Myanmar Award for his great efforts to promote the right to land in Myanmar. The Human Rights Tulip is an annual award of the Dutch government for outstanding and courageous human rights defenders.
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.
On 8 November 2020, Myanmar went to the polls for the second time after a process of political liberalisation was initiated in 2011, a critical moment in Myanmar’s transition from half a century under military rule. The National League for Democracy again won a large victory, but the military State Administration Council took power on 1 February 2021.
Myanmar cross-border migrant workers overwhelmingly come from and are rooted in rural areas of the country; an estimated 5 million of them working mostly in Thailand, China and Malaysia, and have an estimated combined income remittance of up to US$8 Billion per year.
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?
There is genuine hope that by sharing her story as a woman who grows opium, Nang Kham could help encourage other women farmers to speak out, and encourage the wider community to realise the collective benefits of gender equality.
In a country that was ruled by dictatorship for several decades, the local administration units are also no stranger to emergency-like authoritarian measures. Many thought there is no option but detention to deal with the situation. It is easier for the authorities even at the village and ward levels to ensure authoritarian submission if the country is in panic.
Today marks the Silver Jubilee of the ceasefire agreement between the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the military (Tatmadaw) government of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) on 29 June 1995. This peace agreement came after 40 years of armed struggle for political and ethnic rights by the Mon people against successive central governments in the country. Founded in 1958, the NMSP is an ethnic nationality-based armed organization that is active in southern regions of the Union of Myanmar.