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Countries at Risk for Mass Killing 2022–23: Early Warning Project Statistical Risk Assessment Results

November 29th, 2022  •  Author:   United States Holocaust Memorial Museum  •  2 minute read
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Highest-risk countries

  • Burma/Myanmar (Rank: 3): Burma has the ignominious distinction of being the first country on record since 1945 to experience three mass killings simultaneously. This year, the Early Warning Project marked the onset of state-led mass killing of non-combatant civilians suspected of opposing the military junta in Burma in 2021. In addition to this newest onset, we also judged that the state-led mass killing against the Rohingya and the decades-long episode of state-led mass killing in the country’s east—against minority ethnic groups, including the Karen, Kachin, Ta’ang, Mon, Lisu, and Shan—were ongoing as of the end of 2021. While the time for early warning is long past, Burma’s high ranking this year indicates that the country continues to exhibit many characteristics common among countries that experience new mass killings. Since last year’s risk assessment, when Burma ranked 17th, the military ousted civilian leaders in a February 2021 coup, which has resulted in widespread and systematic violence against civilians. According to the United Nations, state security forces and their affiliates have killed at least 1,600 individuals since the coup. Burma is experiencing an increasingly complex conflict landscape, including ethnic armed organizations, self-defense forces, and mass demonstrations. War has also recently returned to Rakhine State, where government forces have used heavy weapons and burned, looted, and killed in cities, towns, and villages. With a large number of active armed groups and civilian targeting being widespread, a detailed qualitative assessment is necessary to help understand the nature of atrocity risks and determine who is at greatest risk. According to our model, the increase in Burma’s risk score from last year’s assessment can be most attributed to an increase in government-led political killings and that there was a coup. Overall, the factors accounting most for Burma’s current high-risk estimate are its lack of freedom of movement for men, that it experiences political killings that are frequently approved of or incited by top leaders of government, its large population, its history of mass killing, and the presence of battle-related deaths (conflict between Burma’s current military government and a number of armed opposition or resistance groups). Conversely, the fact that Burma has an ongoing mass killing is associated with lower risk of an additional mass killing beginning.

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