Myanmar at a crossroads

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Myanmar has been facing several problems including vast displacement of the local population and serious human rights violations in the country in the aftermath of the 2021 coup staged by the army.

Dictatorship in Myanmar:

February 1, 2021, marks a black day in the history of Myanmar when the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi was toppled by the army junta to reestablish a military dictatorship after the nation’s brief experiment with democracy for a decade.

In the aftermath of the coup, the massive crackdown on pro-democracy protests showed the inhuman face of the junta also called Tatmadaw.

In the aftermath of the 2020 polls, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) which was supported by the army lost the elections. It had accused Aung San Suu Kyi’s party of election irregularities and fraud though the electoral commission at that time had rejected its complaints.

Soon after the de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was charged with corruption and other crimes by the junta which is officially called the State Administration Council. Many of the leaders of NLD and other parties were put under house arrest.

The pro-democracy supporters formed a parallel government known as the National Unity Government (NUG) comprising ousted NLD lawmakers, protest leaders, and activists from several minority groups. In September 2021 under the NUG auspices, an armed group was formed called the People’s Defence Force to fight against the government.

Human Rights in Myanmar: The country is facing abysmal human rights records. Since October 554 people have died while for the year 2023 over 1600 people lost their lives at the hands of the military. According to the various reports 26000 people have been arrested on political grounds. Out of them over 19000 still languish behind bars and are also subjected to torture and abuse. In the last three years In last three years while being in military detention.

There are partial, intermittent, or total shutdowns of communication and internet services in some 74 townships. The Rakhine state is worst affected with most of its 17 townships experiencing the outage.

Displacement of vast population: The conflict ensuing after the military takeover in Myanmar in February 2021 has caused the serious problem of displacement of a vast population. Thousands of refugees have fled the country or the number of internally displaced people in Myanmar has reached over 1.95 million.

The worst affected population is the Rohingyas. Nearly a million of them have found shelter in Bangladesh. A total of 965,467 Rohingya refugees have been registered and issued documentation jointly by the Government of Bangladesh and UNHCR as of September 2023. Humanitarian access is not predictable and access to potential areas of return has not been granted in 2023.

The Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are dependent on humanitarian assistance. Many of them are undertaking onward sea journeys to move to other places which has witnessed a rise in 2023.

A sizeable number of Rohingyas are also living in other countries such as India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

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