Monthly Report | Octomber 2023


A Month of Turmoil: Political Maneuvers and Civic Strain in Arakan

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

About report

This report is part of the CAS's monthly series, which delves into four key areas of the state of Rakhine. The first section addresses political concerns, including the armed revolution, junta activities, and issues of political freedom. The second examines the state's economic climate, focusing on rising prices, declining demand, foreign direct investment, and border trade. The third and fourth sections cover social and humanitarian issues, respectively; these include education, health, migration, post-Cyclone Mocha recovery activities, and the internally displaced persons (IDP) population.

Key data in the report are sourced from local media outlets, such as DMG, Western News, among others. The aim of this report is to shed new light on the situation for observers endeavoring to comprehend the dynamics at play in the region.

Key Remarks

Political instability and military tensions have increased in Arakan politics as of November. The junta military's weapon testing and the Arakan Army's (AA) involvement in attacks against the junta in Kachin and northern Shan State are key reasons behind this change. The continued imprisonment of Rakhine activists and individuals associated with the ULA/AA also indicates a dwindling potential for dialogue between the two parties. However, forecasting the timing and nature of any armed conflicts remains challenging.

Trade across the border between Bangladesh and Arakan has declined in both volume and value, primarily due to the junta’s restrictions on export items and trading locations, shifting from Maungdaw to Sittwe. This change is purportedly to reduce exports of rice and other basic commodities to Bangladesh, although some claim it is an attempt by the junta to control all trade channels. Additionally, Chinese investments in Rakhine, extending beyond the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone and deep seaports, warrant specific attention.

Crimes against women and differently abled communities in Rakhine are reportedly on the rise. The local media's increased coverage of these issues has drawn more public attention. Many observers attribute the escalation of these social crimes to socio-economic hardships, a lack of adequate awareness, and the absence of the rule of law. In another development, the farming community in many northern townships of Rakhine State has also faced plant infestations, further challenging their profitability. Furthermore, basic public infrastructure remains inadequate for the residents of the newly formed sub-townships.

Humanitarianly, despite the ceasefire, the internally displaced person (IDP) population in Rakhine State continues to face an uncertain future regarding their livelihood and security. In recent months, junta authorities have implemented policies to force the IDP community to return home, using both coercive and incentivizing means. Without guarantees for security and livelihood at their original locations, many IDPs have chosen not to return, opting instead for neighboring villages and communities, or being forced to migrate abroad. Additionally, provisions for the remaining IDP community are insufficient due to rising commodity prices, while other humanitarian actors face legal restrictions imposed by the junta authorities.

Table of Content

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

    News related to political issues in Arakan during November encompassed activities of the SAC, actions of the ULA/AA, aspects of the armed revolution, the peace process, the ARSA and Rohingya community, political freedom, research publications, and the country's foreign affairs. Regarding SAC activities, on October 1, 2023, authorities stated that Rakhine State has a population of 3.4 million and announced extra allowances for civil servants. The following day, junta forces began demanding one car daily from Myebon town motorists for patrols. On October 8, live-fire exercises were conducted by the junta in the southern parts of Rakhine State. A pilot census began in Maungdaw on October 9. By October 13, reports emerged that two Rakhine youths had gone missing after junta forces arrested them. Additional reinforcements and supplies were deployed by the junta in Rakhine State by October 16.

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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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