As conflict and military rule continue, Mumyit Sinli Pukdun argues that a major rethink in international aid is essential with a focus on civil society which is at the heart of community resilience and support for national change. Lessons need to be learned from the failed donor policies of the past three decades. Not only has the nature of political challenges been misunderstood but many international agencies have also followed aid policies that have undermined local capacity and organisations. In Myanmar’s latest cycle of state breakdown, support to civil society is vital to address emergency needs and socio-political transformation in the long term.
Tensions are rising in Arakan (Rakhine State) where a ceasefire exists between the Myanmar military government and Arakan Army. On the surface, the relative stability contrasts with the chaos that has enveloped many other parts of the country following last year’s coup. In this commentary, Kyaw Lynn analyses the changing landscape highlighting that, while confrontations are occurring, neither side appears yet ready to return to open warfare. “Retaliatory” actions, though, are increasing.
Across the world, the state of environmental stress is unprecedented. As scholarship and activism on ‘environmental justice’ point out, poorer and marginalised communities face particular exposure to environmental harms.
This holds especially true for populations in the Global South, including Myanmar. The role of opium cultivation in relation to these environmental stresses is an underexplored terrain. Yet, as this new TNI report argues, drugs, as well as the policy responses to them, are an environmental crisis in Myanmar as well as other countries where opium poppy, coca bush and cannabis plants are cultivated.
While the struggle against military rule continues, Lahkyen Roi analyses in this commentary how natural resource exploitation, land-grabbing and the marginalisation of local peoples underpin poverty, suffering and conflict in Kachin State. A once pristine land of biodiverse forestry, mineral and water potential, Kachin State is today one of Myanmar’s poorest territories. While the natural environment is degraded, the resources of local communities are plundered by outside actors, over-extraction, business cronies and military elites. The establishment of political reform and peace in a new system of federal democracy is essential if the local peoples are to live decent and dignified lives.
As conflict and crisis continue in the aftermath of the SAC coup, political instability and uncertainty have swept many parts of the country. In this commentary, Khun Say Lone examines a dramatic succession of events in Shan State that have seen the RCSS, an NCA-signatory, forced to retreat by other ethnic armed organisations in the territory. Amidst allegations of “divide and rule”, he argues that unity is needed if the people are to end the cycles of conflict and build a better future.
This week, the International Court of Justice in The Hague is investigating allegations of genocide, conducted by the Myanmar armed forces against the Rohingya population in Rakhine State. Meanwhile an uneasy peace exists in the territory where the United League of Arakan-Arakan Army continues to expand its administrative outreach following an informal ceasefire in November 2020. In this commentary, Kyaw Lynn examines the political and security rivalries taking place between the military State Administration Council and ULA-AA, with the ULA-AA offering a new vision for a modern Arakan national identity that will include all nationality peoples.
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.
Since the February coup by the State Administration Council, conflict has spread in many parts of the country. In this commentary Khun Bedu explains why Karenni (Kayah) State is a critical example of political developments underway. Popular resistance is continuing. And, with the UN General Assembly soon to meet, a key moment is approaching to decide which is the legitimate government that represents the people.
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.
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.