Rakhine in Crisis Once More

October 7th, 2022  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  7 minute read
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As the junta opens another front in its war against the people of Myanmar, this will only lead to brutal violence, displacement and destruction of homes and communities, as the last few weeks in Rakhine State have shown.

Rakhine State is descending into full-blown civil war again, as the Myanmar junta is ratcheting up its attacks on the Arakan Army (AA), while the AA itself is seeking to extend its territorial control over Rakhine and southern Chin. The junta’s response is manifest in indiscriminate shelling, the use of airstrikes, blocking of humanitarian assistance, and restrictions on movement. Thus, for both Rakhine and Rohingya communities, the destruction, violence, and displacement that the rest of Myanmar has seen since the attempted coup of 1 February 2021, as well as what this region experienced before the coup attempt, is now the unfortunate reality of the present.

Since August, there has been a significant uptick in violence between the AA and junta forces. The junta has also lost two bases in recent weeks to the AA, while the AA has also been increasing its activities, conducting searches and attacking junta boats. The junta has responded by launching the kind of indiscriminate military attacks that cause immense harm to civilians. For example, helicopter gunship attacks in Minbya Township on 26 September injured three people, including two children, who were hiding in a monastery, while the day before a 7-year-old was killed by an artillery strike launched by the junta in Kyauktaw Township. The junta has also been laying landmines, one of the most indiscriminate weapons of war, as a 20 year old man from Mrauk Oo found out after serious injuries, including the loss of his legs resulting from him stepping on one. Shelling in a village in Mrauk Oo Township on 29 September also injured two children. Residents wanted to take the children to the hospital in Mrauk Oo Town but the junta wouldn’t let them.

This is consistent with the junta’s actions that are blocking movement for people, trapping them in under-siege villages. In northern Maungdaw Township, residents are trapped as the junta is cutting off supplies of medical equipment and food while junta-operated checkpoints are not letting people leave. Indeed this situation has been the norm for Rohingya in Rakhine State, whose movements, ability to access medical facilities and schools, even to move from village to village, have been severely restricted for many years. As well as trapping residents in villages, since mid-September, the junta has been blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid from International NGOs, the UN and aid agencies in six townships across Rakhine. This is as armed conflict is displacing more and more people, creating humanitarian needs across the state and therefore people are in urgent need of aid and basic necessities. The UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs estimates that around 17,400 people have been newly displaced since the escalation of conflict in August. This is not limited to Rakhine populations, and the Rohingya who remained from the 2017 genocide, are now facing renewed displacement, such as the 800 in Buthidaung Township who had to flee following artillery strikes in their village. Furthermore, added to the blocking of humanitarian assistance in the form of food and medical supplies, inflation has resulted in surging prices for essentials such as food.

Furthermore, the junta’s actions are creating regional insecurity, as shells from attacks have landed in Bangladesh several times. For example, heavy shelling in September in Maungdaw Township, resulted in the death of 17-year-old, and injured six others, causing the Bangladeshi government to summon the illegal junta’s ambassador to protest – the fourth time this has happened since August. In June this year, a similar incident occurred, as junta fighter jets circled into Thai territory as they were launching airstrikes at Karen populations along the border.

As the junta opens another front in its war against the people of Myanmar, this will only lead to brutal violence, displacement and destruction of homes and communities, as the last few weeks in Rakhine State have shown. This region has already experienced tragic atrocity crimes at the hands of the Myanmar military, the nearly one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are a legacy of which. It is thus imperative the actors within the international community take action to prevent the junta inflicting even more violence. The arms and military equipment that they are using, especially the Russian-made attack aircraft and helicopters which are causing the most damage to civilian life must be prevented from reaching the junta’s hands. A global arms embargo is hugely important. Furthermore, the EU specifically must do more to sanction Myanmar arms brokers. An investigation from activist group, Justice For Myanmar has recently shown that Myanmar arms brokers are acquiring equipment from EU companies, which is then used by the military junta. This must stop. The EU must, in its next round of sanctions, target these arms brokers, as well as any other sources of arms and revenue that is going to the junta. Otherwise, the escalation and devastation being seen in Rakhine State, in addition to the rest of the country, will only continue.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

36 civil society organizations urge France to support The Gambia’s case against Burma before the International Court of Justice

By 36 Civil Society Organizations

An open letter from 567 Civil Society Organizations calling for leaders of the Ethnic Resistance Organizations not to engage with Myanmar’s State Administrative Council

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Myanmar: Facebook’s Systems Promoted Violence Against Rohingya; Meta Owes Reparations

By Amnesty International

British government announces support in principle for ICC referral of Burma

By Burma Campaign UK

Apple CEO Tim Cook Not Welcome in UK – Stop Hosting Burmese Military Apps

By Burma Campaign UK

CSW calls for further EU sanctions on Myanmar military

By Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Letter to Josep Borrell and the Foreign Ministers of the EU member states

By Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Myanmar sentences journalist Htet Htet Khine to second 3-year prison term

By Committee to Protect Journalists

European Karen Call on European Union to Impose New Sanctions on Burmese Military

By European Karen Network

Military orchestrated an “information coup” စစ်တပ်သည် “သတင်းအချက်အလက် အာဏာသိမ်းမှု” ကို ကြိုးကိုင်ဆောင်ရွက်လျက်ရှိသည်

By Free Expression Myanmar

School attack in Let Yet Kone village may be considered a war crime with commanders criminally liable

By Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar

စစ်ကောင်စီလက်အောက်ခံ မြန်မာအမျိုးသားလေကြောင်းလိုင်း MNA လေယာဉ် ပစ်ခတ်ခံရမှုနှင့်ပတ်သက်၍ စစ်ကောင်စီဘက်မှ ထုတ်ပြန်စွပ်စွဲမှုများအပေါ် ကရင်နီအမျိုးသားတိုးတက်ရေးပါတီ KNPP ၏ သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By Karenni National Progressive Party

Oral update on the human rights situation in Myanmar to the Human Rights Council

By UN Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights

Secretary Mayorkas Extends and Redesignates Temporary Protected Status for Burma

By United States Department of Homeland Security



The Social Atrocity: Meta and the Right to Remedy for the Rohingya

By Amnesty International

September 2022 Overview: Human Rights Violations Remain Rampant in Mon State, Karen State and Tanintharyi Region

By Human Rights Foundation of Monland

Child severely injured in artillery strike

By Myanmar Witness

Myanmar Humanitarian Update No. 22 | 1 October 2022

By UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Myanmar: Escalation of Conflict in Rakhine and Southern Chin Flash Update (As of 30 September 2022)

By UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”