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Coup Watch January 2023 – Regime steps up preparations for sham ‘election’ as resistance bites

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Key summary points:

  • Junta forces have killed at least 2,688 civilians and arrested 17,573as of 31 Jan. The regime continued to target former officials and NLD members, as well as perceived opponents and their families. As of late Jan, it had killed at least 84 NLD members and arrested a further 1,232.
  • The junta suspended issuing and renewing passports, likely to stop anti-coup activists from leaving Burma and cut the funds flowing from migrant workers to the resistance. Activists warned that the move will boost illegal immigration.
  • The regime began a nationwide campaign to compile voter lists in preparations for its sham 2023 ‘election.’ Resistance groups attacked census agents in several locations, killing at least 13 junta personnel and detaining four.
  • The junta adopted a new Political Parties Registration Law that will effectively allow the military-aligned USDP to run unchallenged at the national level and lead to the dissolution of the NLD.
  • UNHCR reported that over 3,500 Rohingya attempted to flee Bangladesh and Burma by sea in 2022, up from 700 in 2021; a 360% increase. At least 348 died or went missing, making it one of the deadliest years since 2014.
  • The World Bank estimated Burma’s GDP grew by 3% in fiscal 2022 and forecast the same rate for 2023, with per capita GDP expected to remain 13% lower than in 2019. In contrast, the ASEAN-5 economies are expected to expand by an average of 10% during 2019-2023.
  • Transparency International ranked Burma as Southeast Asia’s most corrupt country; a first in a decade.
  • ASEAN Chair Indonesia vowed to engage with all stakeholders and promote national dialogue. Thailand kept legitimizing the regime by sending high-level delegations to Burma and hosting junta representatives.
  • Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US announced new sanctions against the junta ahead of the attempted coup’s anniversary. The US stopped short of sanctioning the junta’s single largest revenue generating state-owned company despite civil society calls.

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