Thursday 25 Feb 2021 | 04:03 | SYDNEY
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Myanmar

The importance of Myanmar’s pots and pans protests

The pounding of pots and pans in many parts of Myanmar at 8 o’clock every night signifies the civil outcry to the military coup that took place last week. In the early morning of Monday, 1 February, the Myanmar military detained the leaders of the ruling party (National League of Democracy, NLD)

Myanmar: Calling a coup a coup

The military takeover in Myanmar on 1 February was clearly unconstitutional, although there has been little detailed investigation of why. The US State Department announced that it regarded the takeover as a coup d'état but failed to provide a legal rationale. When is a coup not a coup

Myanmar’s empty promise of constitutional reform

Myanmar’s political transition in 2011 was only ever a partial one. After all, the country moved from direct military rule without a constitution to a constitutional system in which the military reserved for itself unelected seats in parliament. The National League for Democracy (NLD) was

The coup in Myanmar: What do we know?

On 1 February, Myanmar’s armed forces (or Tatmadaw) declared a one-year state of emergency, arrested State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and detained more than 50 politicians and activists. It had been just ten years since the former military regime permitted the transition to a “disciplined

International relations video of the year – by February

We’ll feature more analysis of the coup in Myanmar on The Interpreter in the coming days. Yet major political events such as this regularly become associated with a searing image – think the last stand of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko’s

Myanmar election: A fractured process

Myanmar’s general election, scheduled for 8 November, looms as only the second to be completed since the 1962 military coup, and therefore a rarity in the lifetimes of most of Myanmar's voters. The first completed democratic poll since then was in 2015, which resulted in the triumphant return of

A measure of change in Myanmar election

Myanmar’s next general elections are planned for 8 November, with more than 1100 parliamentary seats to be decided in the Lower House, Upper House and across state and regional parliaments, and for ethnic entities. The National League for Democracy (NLD) and the Army-aligned Union Solidarity and

Rohingya in Malaysia, doubly trapped

For some people living in the Ampang district in eastern Kuala Lumpur, self-isolation is nothing new. The area is known for its concentration of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, nestled in the grimy apartments and neighbourhoods of this former tin mining centre, and they haven't been going out for a

Stirring hatreds ahead of Myanmar elections

Ethnic and religious nationalism has increasingly gripped Myanmar since intercommunal violence broke out between Burmese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in 2012. Viral disinformation, including videos of alleged terrorist attacks and anti-Rohingya propaganda linked to military accounts, has spread on

For Rohingya, the long distance between law and justice

One would think that, after 100 years, the International Court of Justice would know about administering international justice. To the extent that the “world court” does or doesn’t understand international justice really depends on your interpretation of the term. The ruling on Myanmar’s

What Xi wants in Myanmar may not be what he gets

If there were any doubts around China’s thinking about where to direct its money and influence in Southeast Asia, they were dispelled by the recent announcement that Xi Jinping would visit Myanmar on 17 and 18 January, the first state visit by a Chinese leader to its southern neighbour in 19 years

Aung San Suu Kyi: Why defend the indefensible?

This week, the world was treated to an extraordinary sight. Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner once hailed as “the bravest and most moral person in the world ... the immaculate heroine who allows us all to feel a little better about human nature”, sat in the International Court

The Gambia v Myanmar: Day 1

Yesterday, Gambia commenced its arguments in the case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice, relating to the application of the Genocide Convention and the Rohingya. After filing its application on 11 November, in which The Gambia initiated the case at the ICJ and also asked the

A motion towards justice in Myanmar

International law proceedings targeting the alleged genocide of members of the Rohingya group in Myanmar are gathering force. The Republic of The Gambia has submitted an application to institute proceedings against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, with the support of

Facebook, the Rohingya, and internet blackouts in Myanmar

The role of social media, particularly Facebook, in facilitating hate speech and spreading disinformation in countries such as Myanmar has undermined assertions by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that his platform promotes “well-being”. Nevertheless, the United Nations has argued that internet

Can the ICC bring justice to Myanmar?

More than 700,000 men, women, and children, many identifying as Rohingya, crossed the border from Myanmar’s Rakhine State into Bangladesh in 2017, fleeing violence at the hands of the military and security forces. A UN Fact-Finding Mission was established to determine the facts and circumstances

Myanmar: postage stamps and political signals

Myanmar’s former military regime often used new issues of the country’s postage stamps to send political signals, not only to its own people but also to the international community. It appears that this practice is also being followed by Aung San Suu Kyi’s quasi-democratic

Stalemate leaves Rohingya refugees trapped

It has been two years since the forced exodus of Rohingya from Myanmar, and for about a million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, there is no sign of returning in the foreseeable future. The growing uncertainty of repatriation, diminishing international aid, and an aggrieved local host community have

In Myanmar, a unity still out of reach

In January 2018, the Arakan Army, the newest ethnic-based militia in Myanmar, released a video on YouTube and elsewhere of its cadres kitted out in camouflage, armed with modern weapons, and looking extremely disciplined. “The Arakan Army are soldiers from the indigenous population of Arakan

Hope, despair and the new normal in Myanmar

Human rights advocates had a rare chance to celebrate on Tuesday as two local Reuters journalists in Myanmar were released from prison. Their situation is viewed by the international community as a test case of the political reform process in the country. For the international community, the

Myanmar: pariah status no bar to defence modernisation

It has been more than two years since military “clearance operations” against Myanmar’s Rohingyas began in October 2016. Since then, the international community has relied on public criticism, unilateral sanctions and a range of measures in the United Nations and International Criminal Court

Myanmar’s intelligence apparatus under Aung San Suu Kyi

When Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) took office in 2016, a wave of euphoria swept over Myanmar, shared by many people in other parts of the world. At the time, there was a rather naive belief that everything would suddenly be transformed. It was widely assumed, for

The death penalty paradox in Buddhist Myanmar

On my recent visit to Myanmar, I attended the commemoration ceremony of U Ko Ni, the former lawyer and legal advisor to the National League for Democracy. He was among the most vocal of advocates for constitutional change in Myanmar. While some aspects of political and social life in Myanmar have

The gloom about Myanmar’s economy

Talking to business owners across a variety of sectors in Yangon in January this year, the mood was universally glum. Big-spending Western tourists were staying away in droves, concerned over human rights abuses. Bureaucratic red tape was clogging up business and investment, and the country

The fight to preserve the Khon Pi Luang rapids

In 2000, China, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand concluded an agreement to begin clearing the Mekong River of obstacles so that cargo vessels could travel from southern Yunnan to the old royal capital of Laos, Luang Prabang. Neither Cambodia nor Vietnam, the other two riverine countries, were

Myanmar’s skewed democracy was predictable

The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) was made up of exiled pro-democracy leaders who were elected to the national parliament in 1990 (which was subsequently annulled) in one of the military junta’s very brief flirtations with democracy. I worked with them – largely

Myanmar’s press freedom mirage

It has been a bad year for press freedom across Southeast Asia. Myanmar has been no exception. Media freedom fell to new lows this month as a self-proclaimed anti-Rohingya supporter, American Rick Heizman, was welcomed with open arms in Myanmar. Heizman, a little-known musician and

Elections a sham in Rakhine State

People go to the polls on Saturday in Myanmar, or at least some of them do. On 3 November 2018, the Union Election Commission will coordinate by-elections across 13 electorates. Most are to fill seats from vacancies due to deaths of senior members of parliament. There are two reasons these

Myanmar: media stranglehold

In a park in downtown Yangon, a mix of passers-by and snack venders milled about, watching curiously as a pack of reporters jostled amongst themselves for a position. The focus was fixed on several dozen people standing in rows, some holding black balloons, others holding signs. One sign read “

The Rohingyas: a new terrorist threat?

This is the final in a series of three articles on the Rohingya crisis, featuring Morten Pederson on the domestic drivers of conflict, and Nicholas Farrelly on the consequences for neighbouring Bangladesh.  There have been a small number of militant Muslim groups in

The Rohingya are stuck

This is the second of a series of three articles on the Rohingya crisis, featuring Morten Pederson on the domestic drivers of conflict, and Andrew Selth on the potential danger from transnational terrorist networks.  Most of the Rohingya who were forced from their homes in

No safe return for Rohingya refugees

This is the first of a series of three articles on the Rohingya crisis, with subsequent articles by Nicholas Farrelly and Andrew Selth to discuss the situation in Bangladesh and the potential danger from transnational terrorist networks.  The Report of the Independent International Fact-

Myanmar’s fourth estate

The arrest in Myanmar of two Reuters journalists, accused of possessing secret government papers, has put the spotlight on the freedom of the press and the country’s weak justice system. A court last week upheld the charges and the case will shortly go to trial.  The case looks set to only

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