Arakan State has long seen conflict across numerous sectors of its socio-economy, resulting in poverty and disenfranchisement.

In recent months and years, there have been far too few major criminal cases (and/or crimes that attracted significant public interest) in which the perpetrators have been brought to justice. No wonder then that the residents of Sittwe feel they are not safe. 

Fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army that began in late 2018 has displaced more than 150,000 civilians in Arakan State. Although it has been more than a year, there is no sign of the hostilities coming to an end anytime soon.  

The number of Arakanese youths who have lost their lives after an encounter with the increasing number of Tatmadaw checkpoints along the Sittwe-Yangon road has also increased. According to the military’s statements, most often the ostensible reason that they are shot dead is that they were somehow linked to the AA, regardless of what the families or local residents say.

Myanmar is gearing up for a general election later this year that will pit the NLD against dozens of other political parties including many “ethnic” alternatives. Mindful of the looming polls, here we evaluate the extent to which the NLD government has delivered on these key commitments — to the rule of law, finding political solutions and federal principles — in the context of Arakan State.

Several civilians were killed by artillery shells that landed on Kyauk Seik village in Ponnagyun Township, Arakan State, on April 13. Photos and videos of this tragedy have circulated on social media and the carnage was also covered by the press. 

In Myanmar, the leaders of Kachin and Karen armed groups did not think their armed conflicts with the government would last many decades. But wars like these could not be ended when the demands of the respective ethnic armed groups were not met, and those groups’ resolve remained steadfast,

Although those in power can often get away with misdeeds and injustices, it is usually the general populace who feel the weight of shame for the wrongdoing of their leaders. To this day, Germans feel a sense of disgrace due to the horrific era of Hitler and his henchmen. The world experienced the worst atrocities in human history during Hitler’s 12-year reign from 1933 to 1945.

The government’s stated reason for the internet shutdown was due to the ongoing conflict in the region, which has shown no signs of abating despite the COVID-19 outbreak. In an April 10 statement, the Myanmar Foreign Affairs Ministry explained that the internet shutdown was “to prevent the misuse of the internet by the Arakan Army (AA) for their political and military agenda.”

In Myanmar, a country that has only been practicing its most recent version of democracy for about a decade, journalists and media outlets are struggling with more than just financial viability. We have been reminded of this in recent weeks, as a handful of journalists became the latest to face undue threats to their lives and livelihoods.

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