The Great Fragmentation

SITTWE // In a televised address, Myanmar’s junta leader declared himself prime minister and extended the state of emergency for two years. The Tatmadaw reorganized itself as a “caretaker” government, and announced that it will remain in power until August 2023, when, it claims, new elections will be held.

In Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, the Arakan Army announced on the same day that it would establish a justice system parallel to the existing one managed by the new regime, with the aim of ruling over the whole of Rakhine. Plagued by high levels of poverty and instability, the state, rich in natural resources, is a strategic asset for the sub-continent, China and the Burmese central government, while conflict between the AA and the Tatmadaw could erupt again anytime. The battle for legitimacy between the central state and regional powers repeats itself in almost every ethnic state and is spreading to the central Bamar plains for the first time in sixty years.

Four years ago, 800 000 Rohingya people were forced to flee across the Rakhine border to Bangladesh, after they had been targeted by a brutal ethnic cleansing Tatmadaw operation.

After the coup hundreds of thousands more people from dozens of different ethnicities were forced to flee their villages after military assaults and are surviving in forests and jungles during the monsoon. Half of Myanmar’s residents are expected to fall into dire poverty at the end of 2021.

Six months after the coup, a full-blown civil war has swept over Myanmar while its people mourn thousands of dead in the hands of the military and are still battling a virulent pandemic without relief in sight.

Most members of The Myanmar Collective Project stopped reporting from the street, because of acute danger as they have been identified as local journalists and went into hiding or because they lost their material, which was stolen or destroyed by soldiers or thugs for hire. But they keep documenting the events unfolding in their area despite the lack of resources and safety. As Myanmar is living its darkest times, we offer a way to support the journalists working to keep the light on.