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In the Wake of Coup, Gold Mining Boom Is Ravaging Myanmar

With a military junta retaking power last year, a gold rush is increasingly despoiling rivers in the Myanmar state of Kachin, polluting water with mercury, destroying riverbanks and farmland, and disrupting the traditional way of life of the region’s ethnic groups. He traveled 60 miles west, passing through verdant forests, rice paddies, and small villages of bamboo houses. Reaching Bhamo, a town on the banks of the Irrawaddy, Myanmar’s longest river, he began mining gold and earning $4 per day

Myanmar’s military uses internet blackouts to hide its alleged atrocities

When he lost internet access in late September 2021, Salai Kyaw Moe began riding his motorbike from his home in Chin state to a town on the border with the neighboring Magway region, where he could pick up a faint 2G signal. The Myanmar military shut down the internet hours before it seized power in a military coup in February 2021. Since then, it has routinely disrupted access across the country. In September, the junta blocked access in 25 townships in northwestern and central Myanmar’s Manda

Electricity shortages add to woes in Myanmar after coup

On Feb. 1, exactly one year after the military coup in Myanmar, a man set himself on fire in front of his local electricity office. According to media reports of the incident, he was protesting against increasing power outages which had affected his iron fence business. He died later that day, leaving behind a handwritten note: “May all Myanmar citizens have light 24 hours a day. We are not going back to 2001-2002.” Back then, the country was isolated under military rule and was considered one

Kachin tycoon draws controversy over gold mining at Myitsone

Local people call for community leaders to do more to stop one of Kachin State’s most influential businessmen and his company from digging up and destroying land near the famed river confluence. Sut Mai* started mining gold from the bank of Kachin State’s Mali River in 2013, when he was 18. He uses a shovel, generator-powered suction pipes, a sluice pan and a tray. “Local people have been mining gold for a long time, but it’s difficult and there’s not much profit,” he said. He hails from Tang

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Mothers of the Myanmar revolution: ‘I worry about whether he has warm clothes’

When Peh Reh’s* mother, Mi Nya*, lost contact with him in September, she had little doubt as to where he had gone. Four months earlier, the 19-year-old had told her he wanted to join the armed resistance against the military, which had seized power from the democratically-elected government in Myanmar in February 2021. Yet she refused to let him leave their home in Myanmar’s south-eastern Karenni state (also known as Kayah). “In my eyes, he is still so young,” she says. “If I could, I would lik

Christmas eve killings reinforce views of ‘evil’ Myanmar military

Military’s burning of more than 30 civilians in their vehicles on December 24 left locals ‘devastated and terrified’ in Kayah State. At two in the morning on December 24, Pray Meh was awakened by the sound of drones flying over in her village in Hpruso township in Myanmar’s southeastern Kayah State. Since clashes between anti-coup forces and the military erupted in May, the buzzing of drones has become a familiar sound. Pray Meh, who is from the predominantly Christian Karenni ethnic group in

Amid education boycotts, ethnic schools help to fill the gap

A boycott of state schools under military rule has caused a spike in enrollments at ethnic community schools and created opportunities for ethnic armed organizations to broaden and strengthen trust and understanding with the public. When state-run schools opened throughout Myanmar on June 1, in many cases with armed soldiers stationed outside, fewer than 10 percent of students showed up. But in ethnic community schools, including those run by ethnic armed organizations, enrollments have skyrock

War and displacement after coup leave farmers in Myanmar unable to plant

On April 20, Nhkum Bawk fled her village in Myanmar’s northernmost Kachin State as military air strikes fell. She has since passed nearly four months of sleepless nights on the floor of her tarpaulin-walled shelter in a church compound, thinking about her unplanted rice paddies and how her family of six will survive the coming year. She is among more than 220,000 people across the country who have fled their homes amid armed conflict since a Feb. 1 military coup. While the pandemic in Myanmar

Know Their Names: Children killed since the Myanmar coup

Since seizing power from the elected civilian government on February 1, Myanmar’s military has killed at least 934 people and arrested more than 6,900, according to data collected by a local rights group. Uncounted numbers have also died as a result of escalating armed conflict between the military and ethnic armed organisations as well as newly-formed civilian defence forces. According to the UN Child Rights Committee, among those killed since the coup are at least 75 children. Some of them wer

Egg Crisis Adds to Coronavirus Misery in Myanmar

This picture taken on July 14, 2021 shows people waiting to fill up empty oxygen canisters outside a factory in Yangon amid a surge in coronavirus cases. Photo: Ye Aung THU / AFP Thiha, a university student in Myanmar, began experiencing coronavirus symptoms on July 10. So did his entire family. Three days later, in an effort to get fresh air and avoid infecting neighbors, Thiha’s father took some paracetamol and drove the family of five from their apartment in Yangon to an old second home outs

From K-Pop stan to keyboard warrior: Meet the activists battling Myanmar’s military junta

On June 14, Cape Diamond, a journalist covering Myanmar for global media outlets, posted a link to a Human Rights Watch report covering abuses by the country’s military. Within hours, there were more than 2,000 quote tweets of his original post, mostly a mess of hashtags — #ReleaseTheDetainees, #EndSexualViolence, #CrimesAgainstHumanity, and #June14Coup. This happens every time he —or almost any recognizable voice on Myanmar — tweets. Before a February 1 coup d’état thrust the country into the

Pangs of guilt: Exiles in India torn between safety and resistance

Volunteer networks and cross-border ethnic and family ties have ensured a refuge for thousands who’ve fled overland to India’s Mizoram state, but some long to return to Myanmar to rejoin the anti-coup struggle. In late March, Emmanuel fled Yangon for Kalay, his hometown in western Sagaing Region at the foot of the Chin hills. He had received a warning from neighbours in the commercial capital that he was a risk of imminent arrest for participating in protests against the February 1 military cou

Divide and rule in Kachin State

Divide and rule is an old Tatmadaw tactic and in Kachin State it is enabling local elites to take advantage of grievances to foster distrust and increase their influence. The coup has united people across ethnic divides against a common enemy, but it has also provided the Tatmadaw and its supporters with an opportunity to take advantage of ethnic tensions to increase their power and influence. It’s nothing new. The Tatmadaw has used divide-and-rule tactics for decades to weaken the strength of
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Additional Reports

Myanmar’s ethnic Bamar majority seeks amends with Rohingya after they, too, face military violence

In the eight months since a military coup, Myanmar’s ethnic majority has shown unprecedented efforts to build solidarity with long-persecuted minorities, including the Rohingya, and to make amends for failures to stand with them in the past. Since the military seized power on Feb. 1, its forces have killed more than 1,100 unarmed protesters and bystanders, including at least 75 children. More than 8,300 people have been arrested, some of whom were tortured or forcibly disappeared, human-rights

In Myanmar’s protests, diverse ethnic people stand united against a military coup, but some are pushing for bigger change

In the wake of a military coup, the Myanmar public has shown a fiercely unified front in opposing the new regime and restoring the civilian government. But protests look markedly different between areas dominated by the Bamar majority ethnic group and the seven ethnic states which line the country’s borderlands. At protests in predominantly Bamar areas, including the urban centres of Yangon and Mandalay, elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s portrait adorns banners, signboards and T-shirts. Demonst

Fear and uncertainty for refugees in Malaysia as xenophobia escalates

Refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia say they’re facing an increasingly critical situation as arrests and xenophobia escalate during the coronavirus pandemic. In recent weeks, authorities in the Southeast Asian nation have scaled up immigration arrests, including through a series of raids in locked-down neighbourhoods with COVID-19 clusters and large migrant and refugee populations. Nearly 180,000 refugees and asylum seekers are registered with the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, in Malaysia, i