On February 1, 2021 the military in Myanmar (Burma) staged a coup, streamed live for the world to see thanks to civilians using mobile devices. Military Commander Min Aung Hlaing proceeded to enact a year-long state of emergency and placed Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s recently re elected State Counsellor, under house arrest, charging her with “violating state secrets,” among other accusations. Following in the country’s long tradition of censorship, other prominent politicians, more than 125 journalists, and pro-democracy activists were also taken into custody by the military. Those in power now, including Hlaing, have played pivotal roles in the violence committed against the country’s minority Rohingya population.
Central African Republic
As it stands, nearly one third of The Central African Republic’s (CAR) population has been displaced by violence and humanitarian crisis. Some have fled to nearby countries, and others are internally displaced within CAR’s own borders. And while the civil war seems to be coming to an end thanks to the 2019 peace deal, it will not be an easy road back. CAR is in the early days of working to build a new government, but continuing violence and interference are complicating the process. In December 2020, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra was re-elected, but the election was not without its problems. Violence and intimidation kept many from the polls, and even led some to flee the country.
Peace remains elusive in Darfur, despite an agreement signed with Sudan’s current transitional government, which came to power in 2019. Starting in 2003, the Sudanese military and their proxy militia, known as the Janjaweed, perpetrated a campaign of mass murder, rape, and ethnic cleansing directly primarily against the Fur, Zaghawa, and Masalit ethnic groups. Almost two decades later, Darfur remains a conflict riddled and blighted homeland for its inhabitants. The United Nations estimates more than 300,000 people have died as a result of violence, starvation, and disease while nearly three million people have been driven from their homes and forced into refugee camps in neighboring countries or Internally Displaced Person camps (IDP) within Sudan. Ethnic violence that broke out in early 2021 has already left upwards of 500 people dead, with many of the victims in IDP camps. The new Sudanese government has been slow to appropriately intervene and de-escalate the situation, creating new concerns about its commitments to keep the region safe and address issues.
Slow progress toward basic reforms by President Salva Kiir’s government, as a result of ongoing political disputes over how to implement key elements of the 2020 agreement, is contributing to the growing unrest and increasing number of violent incidents between the main signatories. Both Kiir and Riek Machar, his one-time political arch rival and current first Vice President, have lost support with their key political power bases. Elements of the Dinka ethnic group and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement think Kiir should be replaced, and Machar’s Liberation Movement Army in opposition and members of his own Nuer ethnic group are unhappy with his lack of leadership.
After a decade of war, societal breakdown has led to food shortages, scarce healthcare resources, and a concerning difficulty responding to the COVID-19 crisis in Syria. This is compounded by the government’s continued attacks on civilians, medical facilities, and schools, reportedly using banned cluster munitions in partnership with their Russian counterparts. Additionally, aid continues to be restricted in the region, making life even more difficult for civilians on the ground.
(Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region)
Over the years, the Chinese government has tried to take over this land, handing economic power to those of the Han community, and eliminating any power the minority Muslim communities enjoyed. The Chinese government’s campaign of discrimination against these communities has a long history and began to escalate in 2012. Following the 9/11attacks in the U.S., China claimed that it too was a target for global terrorism. Between 2012-2017, China doubled its spending for domestic security nationwide, and tripled it in Xinjiang. Thus began a new and more concentrated campaign to crush Uyghur identity.