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Coup Watch Special Edition: A year of Struggle in Burma

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In the year since the Burma military attempted to launch a coup, it has critically harmed millions of lives, the national economy, rule of law, natural resources, and governance.

  • There were 8,647 armed clashes and attacks on civilians Feb 2021Jan 2022, a 762% increase from the year preceding (1,003). These numbers were higher than those in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, or Iraq.
  • The junta’s widespread and systematic atrocity crimes increased over time. Junta troops destroyed and blocked humanitarian aid, shelled and conducted airstrikes on towns, burned civilians alive, committed rape and perfidy, and destroyed hundreds of homes. As of 26 Jan 2022, it had arrested at least 286 healthcare workers and killed 30.
  • Widespread civilian protests were met with widespread junta violence. As of 31 Jan 2022, the junta had arrested at least 11,838 civilians, tortured hundreds of detainees, and used lethal force against protesters repeatedly, including by ramming vehicles into them; and 2,610 civilians had been killed as a result of couprelated violence.
  • The junta weaponized the judiciary and punished rivals in military courts. As of 1 Jan 2022, it had jailed 649 opposition NLD party members; 14 died in detention.
  • The junta turned Burma into the world’s second highest jailer of journalists. By 21 Jan 2022, it had jailed 120including four female editors, one female cofounder, one female photojournalist, and 16 female reportersand killed three.
  • The junta was negligent in handling the COVID19 pandemic, possibly allowing hundreds of thousands to die, a number difficult to confirm because of the junta’s failure to accurately report cases and deaths. It increased the death toll by maliciously withholding oxygen from clinics and private hospitals.
  • The World Bank said that Burma’s economy shrank by 18% in 2021 and was set to grow only 1% in 2022. The Myanmar kyat (MMK) lost over half its value, pushing up domestic costs, and UNDP forecast that 46.3% of residents would be in poverty by early 2022.
  • The junta tried to maintain economic power through natural resource extraction and oil and gas revenue. However, businesses left Burma, recognizing the legal, reputational, and operational challenges of working or investing there. Some of the world’s largest economies, including the EU, US, and UK enacted sanctions to prevent junta atrocities.

ALTSEANBurma has tracked the most important updates during this time in its online thematic Coup Trackers, and summarized these updates by publishing a Coup Watch briefer each month. This special edition of the Coup Watch draws on these tools to provide a oneyear overview.

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