Rampant killings of civilians, arbitrary detentions and crackdown on dissent have become a commonplace of public life in Myanmar, rights groups say.

One year after the military coup in Myanmar, the United Nations has said that the country has plunged into multiple crises due to rising poverty as well as violence and human rights violations carried out by the military regime. 

Last February, military leader Min Aung Hlaing took control of Myanmar after ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League of Democracy party was about to begin a second five-year term in office after winning in the previous year’s November elections. 

The military said it took over because of widespread voter fraud in the polls.

Here is what the country has seen since the coup. 

Crackdown on anti-coup protests

In the months after the coup, millions came out to protest despite soldiers violently cracking down on dissent. 

Resistance continued after protests were put down with lethal force. 

About 1,500 civilians have been killed but the government has been unable to control the resistance. 

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Local media reported that at least six bombings were carried out by resistance forces in Yangon, and another at a police station in Myitkyina in northern Kachin state. 

The opposition continue to carry out near-daily guerrilla attacks, while the military conduct larger-scale assaults in rural areas, including air strikes, which has resulted in several civilian casualties.

The government issued warnings last week in state-run media that anyone taking part in the protests could be prosecuted, including under the Counter-Terrorism Law with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and the possible confiscation of their property.

Last Friday, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said that about 12,000 are arbitrarily detained for voicing their opposition, out of which nearly 9,000 remain in custody, and at least 290 have died in detention, many likely tortured.

War crimes

At least 30 people, including women and children, were killed in the eastern state of Kayah on Christmas Eve, including two members of international humanitarian group Save the Children. Their bodies were burned beyond recognition.

Another mass killing, where 10 villagers were found dead with their bodies gagged and blindfolded, was reported in western Chin state in January.

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On March 14, 2021, soldiers and police armed with military assault rifles fired on protesters killing at least 65 protesters and bystanders.

Five people were killed and at least 15 arrested after Myanmar security forces in a car rammed into an anti-coup protest on December 5 last year.

Displacement

Out of the total 593,000 internally displaced people in the country, a record high of more than 223,000 have been displaced by armed conflict and unrest since February 1 2021. The number of refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries is about 22,000. 

An increasing conflict has prompted further displacement, including around 10,000 people in Shan State (South) fleeing artillery strikes in Pekhon Township, and over 2,000 people in Kayin State amidst clashes between the Tatmadaw and Karen National Union, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Rising poverty

The People’s Pulse Survey, a poll of respondents across Myanmar taken in May and June of 2021, measured the socioeconomic situation of households since the coup.

 It confirmed the predictions made by the United Nations Development Programme earlier this year that by early 2022, nearly half of Myanmar’s 55 million population – some 25 million people – will be living below the national poverty line.

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The country’s poverty headcount is likely to return to levels not seen since 2005.

States such as Chin and Rakhine are predicted to retain high poverty levels while in urban areas like Mandalay and Yangon, those already poor will fall further below the poverty line.

Cash is in short supply and Myanmar’s largest Bank, KBZ, has been limiting cash withdrawals to approximately USD120 a day. Meanwhile, international remittances have been reduced by 10 percent.

What next?

Activists and rights groups have been calling on the international community to block the supply of arms and cash to the military. 

The UN has prevented the military from taking a seat at the world body, rejecting their international recognition.

Human rights activists and analysts say that Myanmar's situation might get worse in the year ahead if the international community fails to take action. 

Expressing concern over the situation in the country, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said in April last year: “There are clear echoes of Syria in 2011. There, too, we saw peaceful protests met with unnecessary and clearly disproportionate force. 

“The state’s brutal, persistent repression of its own people led to some individuals taking up arms, followed by a downward and rapidly expanding spiral of violence all across the country.”

Source: TRT World