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Is Myanmar Headed for Collapse or Revolution?

Authors: Gregory B. Poling & Simon Tran Hudes

Affiliation: Senior Fellow and Research Associate at Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS)

Organization/Publisher: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS)

Date/Place: May 7, 2021/USA

Type of Literature: Discussion Paper

Word Count: 1900 


Keywords: Myanmar, Coup, ASEAN


Although Myanmar’s Military chief Min Aung Hlaing had agreed with Southeast Asian leaders on the “Five-Point Consensus” to de-escalate the situation in Myanmar, crackdowns on protests still continue by the junta and the violence has not stopped. The authors argue that it is still unclear for Myanmar how this tragedy will end: it could be the collapse of the state, the return of oppressive military rule, or the emergence of a more democratic regime. The authors provide four critical questions to examine what lies ahead for Myanmar. First, what the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has accomplished. After the “Five-Point Consensus” was released in the ASEAN Special Summit in Jakarta, the junta held a press release stating that they will implement the ASEAN suggestion after “stabilizing the country”. Hence, the violent crackdown on protesters and opposition is still visible in the country. Second, what is happening on the ground. As of May 5th, 769 people have been killed and 3,696 people have been detained by the junta; the economy has also gotten worsen with a massive cash shortage and a non-functioning financial system. Third, how much support does the National Unity Government (NUG) have. The NUG, in opposition to the junta, declared itself as a parallel government and is headed by members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), and is having a tremendous support from ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) and ethnic political parties to denounce the military coup. Fourth, what options do international actors have. Whether to break relations and diplomatically isolate the junta, or engage the junta like ASEAN does. The authors agreed that a return to democracy requires offering greater support towards the NUG and the civil disobedience movement, coordinating armed resistance through the EAOs, and depriving the junta of “a functioning formal economy”. 

By: Salman Nugraha, CIGA Research Intern



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