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What We Do

Supporting Inclusive Dialogue in Myanmar

Myanmar, the second largest country in South-East Asia, with around 56.8 million inhabitants, is a country facing both political and economic transition. It struggles with identity issues along ethnic and religious lines (with more than 135 recognized ethnic groups).  A number of violent attacks target the Muslim community in various parts of the country, particularly in the Rakhine State. A surge of violence erupted again in August 2017, which resulted in over 1,000 people killed, according to the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar. The UN Secretary General has called on authorities in Myanmar to end violence against the Rohingya Muslims and acknowledged the situation there is best described as “ethnic cleansing.” Following violent tensions in this region in October 2016, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report in February 2017 which spoke of the “devastating cruelty” deployed against the Rohingyas by Myanmar’s security forces; documenting serious human rights violations. The newly elected government faces a huge challenge in calibrating its political, policy and security responses to ensure that violence does not escalate and is kept under control. Negotiations for a national peace settlement with the ethnic armed groups have yet to make any significant progress. Although the government argues that the Rohingya are illegal migrants from Bangladesh, and has made no real effort to provide them any formal legal status, recent events show that it has started increasingly turning against the radical groups. Moreover, outspoken nationalist monk, U Wirathu, spreading anti-Muslim hate speech was banned from preaching sermons for one year for “instigating religious, racial, and political conflict and disputes”.