Monthly Report | September 2023

(photo/Western News)

Skirmish and Instability in Arakan Rise

Monitoring of a brief situation of political tension, economic issues, social issues, and humanitarian issues in Western Myanmar in September 2023

About report

This report is a part of the ‘Monthly Report’ series released by the Center for Arakan Studies (CAS). For the month of ‘September’, the CAS has developed this new report based on the four key sections such as ‘politics’, ‘economics’, ‘social issues’ and ‘humanitarian context’ mainly focusing on the state of affairs happening in Rakhine State (Arakan).

Readers of this report can observe the key trends tending in Arakan politics despite being a de facto ceasefire between the political authorities: the junta and the ULA. Since the strike of Cyclone Mocha on the Arakan coast in the mid-May impacted huge destructions on the socio- economic lives of the local population, the concentration of the local community is much on the rehabilitation and recovery activities. In addition to that, the rising political tension between the junta and ULA authority and frequent clashes between the AA and ARSA also brought more public attention during that month.

The key sources of the information and data in this report are from the key local media agencies such as the ‘Development Media Group (DMG)’, ‘Western News’ and ‘Narijara’, etc. The key news presented in the report as the also ones presented in these various media platforms.

More importantly, the report also invites the reader to read a special look on the humanitarian part as it has mainly focused on the updates of the post-Mocha Cyclone time and refugee repatriation issues. Local concerns on the rise of violence against the women population are also worth noting.

Key Remarks

The politics of Arakan during the month of September become more unstable compared to the previous months in the year. Political instability comes from two key sources such as the political tensions between the junta and the ULA authorities and secondly, the AA-ARSA clashes and operations in the Northern part of the State. More importantly, since the AA’s support and involvement in the anti-junta movement in other parts of the country continues, the junta’s arrests and imprisonment against the suspicious ULA/AA members also still go on. Many observers have expected more and more military tension in the coming months and years.

The economic hardships released by the political crisis and Cyclone Mocha still continue while the recovery actions against these impacts are still minimal. Migration and human trafficking are still highly active while farming communities across the state are facing more challenges. Border trade with Bangladesh is now in the decline while trading restrictions between Arakan and other parts of the country remained in high scale. The MSEM sectors also face increasing challenges especially due to the lack of technical and financial capitals. Special attention is more than in need for those ordinary and lower economic classes living under extreme poverty.

Community insecurity especially for the women and girl populations in Rakhine State is on the rise due to the lack of rule of law in addition to the social and economic hardships. Violence against the female population appears more frequently on the local online media platforms and public outrage against these incidents also become stronger. Besides, more cases of burglary and theft also come out in many parts of the State. On another front, the Kaman Muslim community faces increasingly more restrictions on the freedom of movement and travel due to the suspension of the passports for them.

In the humanitarian sectors, two key issues such as situations of recovery from the Mocha Cyclone impacts and refugee repatriation from Bangladesh have dominated the local media coverage. In the first sector, although it is noted that the Chief Minister of Rakhine State has claimed the accomplishment of the first phase of the recovery, the Cyclone victims on the ground are still under massive livelihood and survival conditions due to the lack of effective implementation. Then, in the repatriation issue, the junta officers in the support of China seems to try to accelerate the repatriation process despite the concerned Rohingya community and international observers warned the situations on the ground to be quite premature and fragile.

Table of Content

  • Part- I: Political Affairs
  • Part- II: Economic Situations
  • Part- III: Social Issues
  • Part- IV: Humanitarian Issues
  • Part- I: Political Affairs

    During the month of September, the political news in Arakan included the cases related to the armed conflict, peace process, ARSA, SAC activities, external affairs of the country, election, and political freedom, etc. Starting with the news concerning the armed conflicts, on September 2, 2023, ICRC warned the local population to be careful about hidden explosive devices surfacing after heavy rain and flood. Five days later September 8, the ULA arrested the junta officer and policeman in return for detaining one ULA member but later the detains were released by both sides. One-week later September 14, the ULA authorities asked some Kyauktaw villagers to dig a bomb pit within a week.

    "The villagers were asked to dig bomb pits in their villages. The AA’s village governors have informed every family. If it is not done within a week, they have to face fines. I don't know what kind of fine they will impose,” said a resident from Kyauktaw township.

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    The CAS is an independent, non-partisan and research-oriented group conducting research and analyzing issues related to Arakan/Rakhine affairs.

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