House of Commons Library

Burma: November 2018 update

Published Wednesday, November 21, 2018

After a brief period when Burma was viewed by the rest of the world as an inspiring 'success story', the country is once again the target of strong international criticism over the Rohingya crisis. This briefing surveys developments since the beginning of 2018.

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During 2018 the Burmese authorities have sought to limit the damage caused to their reputation by the crisis in Rakhine State. They have tried to present an image of increasing ‘normality’ both to their domestic audience and to the wider world. While at home they may have had some success, the UN and Western governments have not been persuaded. Last week it looked like the large-scale repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh might be about to begin, but UN and Western concerns over its involuntary character were in the end enough to stall it.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s and the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) government’s efforts to manage the Rohingya crisis also seem to have distracted them from the pursuit of other important initiatives – for example, the peace process with minority ethnic armed groups. A patchy performance in by-elections held earlier this month suggests that the NLD may be losing support amongst some sections of the electorate. The next national elections are due in 2020.

For further background, see our January 2018 briefing on Burma.

For background on Bangladesh’s actions and perspectives on the Rohingya crisis, see also our briefing Bangladesh: October 2017 update.

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