Spring Revolution Steps Forward into 2023

January 17th, 2023  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  11 minute read
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In 2023 Myanmar needs the world to respond more concretely and with practical and material measures that will have an impact on the ground. This includes the Security Council going beyond its mealy-mouthed resolution and imposing a global arms embargo and targeted sanctions. 

The year 2022 ended with the UN Security Council (UNSC) passing its first resolution in 74 years on Myanmar as the military junta continued its scorched earth policy in the central regions of the country. However, no amount of ostentatious military parades, sham election plans and conditional prisoner amnesties can hide the fact that the military junta is hellbent on gaining power, even if it means destroying the country.

The UNSC Resolution, passed on 21 December, 2022, expressed “deep concern at the ongoing state of emergency” as well as, importantly, “further deep concern at all forms of violence across the country.” In fact the Resolution repeats its concern and deep concern throughout which, while noting that the UNSC is taking this unprecedented step, carries little weight in terms of concrete action. As a press release by Progressive Voice expresses, the Resolution is “meaningless” unless it includes “substantive action.” The Resolution passed with three of the Myanmar military’s allies – India, China, and Russia – all abstaining, and therefore absent is any language that would result in a global arms embargo. This is in no small part to the profit that arms manufacturers in China and Russia are making as the military junta uses such weapons to wage campaigns of slaughter against the people of Myanmar. As pointed out in a statement by Burma Campaign UK – “The Resolution also takes no action to address numerous violations of international law by the Burmese military, including genocide of the Rohingya.”

The situation of the Rohingya, while gaining international attention during and immediately after the aforementioned genocide in 2017, has largely fallen from view, but is still a pressing and desperate situation. Most of the Rohingya fled the genocidal violence to the relative safety in Bangladesh. However, conditions in these refugee camps and an uncertain future mean that boatloads of desperate Rohingya are attempting the perilous journey on unsafe boats across the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea to Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. On 26 December, a boat with 180 people went missing, with fears that all onboard had drowned. In fact the UN High Commissioner for Refugees noted that 2022 was the deadliest year at sea for nearly a decade for the Rohingya community. Previous years of boat crises, have been met by ineffectual action from ASEAN members, with Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand pushing boat full of fleeing Rohingya back out to sea. Inside Myanmar, their plight only worsens, caught in the middle of the armed conflict between the Arakan Army and the military junta – despite the recent precarious ceasefire – and living in apartheid conditions. If they do try to flee Rakhine State by boat, as over 100 did in December last year, and they are caught, they are arrested, charged, and imprisoned by the junta for not having the correct documentation or permission to travel, with two to five year sentences. To make matters worse, information from Insein Prison regarding the treatment of Rohingya reveal particularly cruel treatment, with physical abuse and Rohingya being forced to carry out demeaning tasks such as handling faeces being reported by Myanmar Now.    

On dry land in central Myanmar, meanwhile, the junta is continuing its scorched earth tactics, razing homes to the ground as it tries to defeat the spirited resistance that has been particularly resolute in Magway and Sagaing Regions. The burning of homes, torturing and killing of villagers, and use of heavy weapons characterizes daily life in Myanmar’s dryzone. Throughout Myanmar, as people’s resistance forces and ethnic revolutionary armed organizations fight to defend local communities and thwart the military junta, they are faced with extreme and indiscriminate violence.

Meanwhile, junta leader, Min Aung Hlaing, is doing his utmost to put on a pretense that the military is in control and that some form of “elections” will go ahead later this year. This was particularly visible at the independence day events in the capital Naypyidaw on 4 January, where troops, armored vehicles, floats and missiles paraded through the streets. It was a 1984esque event, where war seems to mean peace, 750 white doves were released into the sky, and the personal greed and megalomania of Min Aung Hlaing was on full display. Shortly after the event, a meeting between the Min Aung Hlaing-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and other political parties was just the latest in series of preparatory steps to fulfil his ambition to become president through sham elections supposedly to be held in August 2023.

While the UNSC adopted a Resolution, Myanmar’s neighbors in ASEAN, still largely divided on how to deal with the crisis the military has created, are struggling to go beyond the failed ASEAN Five Point Consensus. A meeting in Thailand – held on the sidelines of a bilateral meeting between the junta and Thailand – with the junta’s closer allies in the region – Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, as well as Thailand itself, was not attended by representatives from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia or the Philippines. This highlights the division within ASEAN on how to deal with the murderous junta. With Indonesia as the coming ASEAN Chair, Myanmar civil society are hoping that it can lead a more robust response than Cambodia in 2022 and Brunei in 2021.

In 2023 Myanmar needs the world to respond more concretely and with practical and material measures that will have an impact on the ground. This includes the Security Council going beyond its mealy-mouthed resolution and imposing a global arms embargo and targeted sanctions. An increase in humanitarian aid, particularly cross-border assistance through local networks and civil society organizations that can provide for those displaced and in need due to the junta’s violence is also essential. Meanwhile, ASEAN must go beyond the failed Five Point Consensus to articulate a new strategic approach to stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar, including recognizing and engaging and collaborating with the National Unity Government, the National Unity Consultative Council and Ethnic Revolutionary Organizations. It has been nearly two years since the coup attempt and the regional and international response to the junta’s atrocity crimes and violations of international law has been severely lacking. And while the Spring Revolution will succeed on its own terms, material support, sanctions on the military junta and diplomatic recognition will be a shot in the arm for Myanmar’s struggle for a federal democracy that remains determined and resolute in the face of the junta’s extreme violence. 


[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

Southeast Asian MPs call on ASEAN member states and other countries in the region to rescue boat with up to 200 Rohingya refugees

By ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Myanmar: UN Security Council resolution a small but important step in addressing human rights crisis

By Amnesty International

UN Security Council Burma Resolution Will Have No Practical Impact

By Burma Campaign UK

Long Awaited UN Security Council Resolution on Myanmar Fails to Include Substantive Measures to Address the Ongoing Atrocities in Myanmar

By Burma Human Rights Network

Aceh Rescue Of Rohingya Refugees Must Be A Wakeup Call To The World

By Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

Historic UN Security Council Resolution Fails to Address Rohingya Genocide

By Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

UN security council calls for end to violence and release of political prisoners in Myanmar

By Christian Solidarity Worldwide

CNF Statement welcoming the Burma Act and UNSC Resolution

By Chin National Front

New Filing In Argentinian Genocide Case Against Myanmar Military Presents Recommendations For Treatment Of Sexual Violence Victims

By Global Justice Center, Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

UN Security Council: Historic Censure of Myanmar Junta

By Human Rights Watch

One year after the Christmas Eve attack near Moso Village, Myanmar – statement by Nicholas Koumjian, Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar

By Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar

IFC divesting from Yoma Bank after its business with military companies exposed

By Justice For Myanmar

၂၀၂၂ ခုနှစ်၊ ဒီဇင်ဘာလ (၁၇) နေ့တွင် ဖြစ်ပွားခဲ့သောဖြစ်စဉ်နှင့် ပတ်သက်၍ ကရင်နီအမျိုးသားတိုးတက်ရေးပါတီ (KNPP) ၏ အသိပေးထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By Karenni National Progressive Party

Response from ten institutional shareholders of three Japanese banks that continue investment in military-linked projects in Myanmar Bank shareholders are responsible for stopping the flow of funds to the Myanmar military

By Mekong Watch, Friends of the Earth Japan, Justice For Myanmar, Network Against Japan Arms Trade, ayus:Network of Buddhists Volunteers on International Cooperation, Japan International Volunteer Center

His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister PRAK Sokhonn, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, attended a ministerial Informal Consultation on the situation in Myanmar, on 22 December 2022

By Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia

MAP Condemns Unlawful Attempt by the Illegal Junta to Seize Myanmar House in London

By Myanmar Accountability Project

ASEAN needs a new approach to stop the tragedy of the Rohingya boat people

By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization in Malaysia

Statement on bombing on Dala Ferry of December 18, 2022

By National Unity Government of Myanmar

ကရင်နှစ်သစ်ကူးနေ့သို့ အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရမှ ပေးပို့သည့် သဝဏ်လွှာ

By National Unity Government of Myanmar

Statement of the National Unity Government of Myanmar on the adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution on the situation in Myanmar

By National Unity Government of Myanmar

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရအဖွဲ့ ခရစ္စမတ်နေ့အထိမ်းအမှတ် နှုတ်ခွန်းဆက်သဝဏ်လွှာ

By National Unity Government of Myanmar

New Year Joint Declaration on the People’s Revolution

By National Unity Government of Myanmar and National Unity Consultative Council

ကရင်နီပြည်မှ စစ်ဘေးရှောင် ပြည်သူများအား အာဏာရှင်စစ်တပ်မှ အစုအပြုံလိုက်အရှင်လတ်လတ် မီးရှို့သတ်ဖြတ်ခြင်း နှစ်ပတ်လည်နေ့ ထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By Network for Human Rights Documentation Burma

Myanmar: Action needed to stop carnage, says UN expert after adoption of Security Council resolution

By Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Coordinated regional action urged to stop Rohingya deaths at sea: UN expert

By Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

UN Security Council Resolution lacks action against Myanmar military junta, in face of atrocity crimes

By Progressive Voice

ရက်စက်ကြမ်းကြုတ်သော ရာဇဝတ်မှုများ ဖြစ်ပေါ်နေသည့်ကြားမှာပင် ကုလသမဂ္ဂလုံခြုံရေးကောင်စီ၏ ဆုံးဖြတ်ချက်သည် မြန်မာစစ်အုပ်စုအပေါ် အရေးယူဆောင်ရွက်မှု ကင်းမဲ့နေသည်

By Progressive Voice

Urgent Action Needed to Save Rohingya Adrift at Sea

By Refugees International

Stranded Rohingya refugees must be immediately provided protection

By Rohingya Human Rights Initiative

UN Security Council Resolution on Myanmar Welcome but Weak

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

Open Letter to the President Joko Widodo of the Republic of Indonesia

By Student Unions from Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal and Indonesia

Security Council Demands Immediate End to Violence in Myanmar, Urges Restraint, Release of Arbitrarily Detained Prisoners, Adopting Resolution 2669 (2022)

By United Nations Security Council

Statement on the United Nations Security Council Resolution S/RES/2669 (2022)

By Women Peace Network



Monthly Overview: Human Rights Situation in Mon State, Karen State, and Tanintharyi Region | December 2022

Human Rights Foundation of Monland

Crowdfunding a War: The Money behind Myanmar’s Resistance

International Crisis Group

Myanmar Crisis Response Plan 2023

International Organization for Migration

Victims’ Quest for Accountability of Aerial Bombardments in Burma: A Common Plan for Eradication of the Military Dictatorship in Burma

Legal Aid Network

Peace Monitoring Dashboard: December 2022

Myanmar Peace Monitor

Myanmar Coup Dashboard: December 2022

Myanmar Peace Monitor

Retaliatory fires after SAC convoy is ambushed

Myanmar Witness

ငိုကြွေးနေသော ဘဝများ

Network for Human Rights Documentation Burma

Myanmar: Tanintharyi Region Monthly Situation Update (31 December 2022)

Southern Monitor

Myanmar South East – Emergency Overview Map: Number of people displaced in South East since Feb 2021 and remain displaced (As of 26 December 2022)

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Myanmar South East – Emergency Overview Map: Number of people displaced in South East since Feb 2021 and remain displaced (As of 02 January 2023)

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Myanmar Humanitarian Update No. 25 | 30 December 2022

United Nations 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.”