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Coup Watch May 2021 – Lacking Control and Concern, Junta Tries to Keep Itself Alive

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  • The junta, still unable to gain political, territorial, or economic control in the fourth month since its forcible and unconstitutional power grab, has engulfed the entire country in armed conflict.
  • Security forces created battlefields in more towns and cities, expanded airstrikes on Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, and Sagaing States/Regions, and shelled villages in all of these places as well as in Shan State.
  • During May alone, security forces killed at least 125 civilians and displaced over 150,000. There were 530 violent attacks that either targeted or failed to protect civilians in the first three weeks of May, and a total 2,098 incidents 1 Feb–21 May.
  • In total, they have killed over 1,000 civilians, injured thousands more, displaced over 200,000 mainly ethnic minority people, and detained at least 5,554 politicians, activists, journalists and others, in attacks against the democracy movement.
  • The National Unity Government (NUG) formed an interim armed force, began a constitutional reform process, and took other democratic, inclusive governance measures. It suggested granting ICC jurisdiction over events since 1 February.
  • Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing snubbed ASEAN’s 5-point consensus by escalating violence and discarding commitments without consequences—ASEAN members instead moved to remove the call for an arms embargo at the UN General Assembly.
  • The junta’s oppressive attempts to gain control of the country is disintegrating the economy. The value of the Kyat fell by 20% since January, inflating costs for people already impacted by the crippling economic impacts of the coup and COVID-19.
  • Junta leaders, secure in their access to foreign currency through oil, gas, and natural resource exploitation, seem willing to accept destruction of the domestic economy as the price of territorial control.
  • In order to avert worse violence and create space for dialogue and negotiations, the movement in Burma and allies urge that:
    • The UN, foreign states, and international finance institutions (IFIs) must expand sanctions;
    • These actors must engage with the NUG as the legitimate government of Burma, rather than the junta; and
    • The UN Security Council must take a more active role, in the face of ASEAN’s weakness and the junta’s intransigence.

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