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The Science Survey

We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

The Forgotten War in Myanmar

With several conflicts going on in the world as of now, the ‘Forgotten War’ of Myanmar is still heavily underreported and continues to not have as much traction as other conflicts going on.
People are protesting for more awareness regarding the conflict in Myanmar and pushing for the military to stop killing their people. (Photo Credit: Gayatri Malhotra / Unsplash)

Myanmar, a nation once praised and admired for its transition towards democracy, has been plunged into a devastating face of violence and political turmoil. Since a military coup on February 1st, 2021, led by General Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar has been in constant chaos. The military seized power from the democratically elected government, detaining civilian leaders including former state counselor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi

What began as a coup quickly escalated into a brutal crackdown on dissent, with security forces deploying lethal force against the peaceful protesters demanding a return to democracy. The military’s response has been ruthless, characterized by arbitrary arrests, mass detentions, and widespread human rights abuses. 

The crackdown has resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests, drawing condemnation from the international community including  countries such as the United States, China, and India. Despite the numerous calls for restraint and sanctions from foreign governments and organizations, the military has shown little willingness to engage in dialogue or compromise, causing more tensions to be formed and prolonging the crisis.

Despite being categorized as a pressing issue, being a brutal conflict, it does not seem to command the attention of the rest of the world compared to other current conflicts. Over the past year, resistance fighters in Myanmar have been actively fighting against the military junta in several battles. The people of Myanmar, undeterred by the military’s brutality, have continued to bravely voice their opposition, sparking a nationwide civil disobedience movement. This gives hope to the people that there is a possibility of the junta being at risk of collapse. 

Ethnic minorities, who have long faced discrimination and marginalization in Myanmar, are at the center of the military’s aggression. In conflict-affected regions within Myanmar such as Rakhine State and Chin State, where several ethnic uprisings have persisted for decades, the situation has only worsened, with reports of civilian casualties and displacement rapidly increasing. The military’s indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure have led to a humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions, with thousands fleeing their homes in search of safe shelters. 

The country now has landmines all over the country and is experiencing extreme inflation. Due to the severe violence, several civilians have been forced to flee to neighboring countries such as India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. This has caused these nations to become more involved in the conflict. 

Despite sanctions and diplomatic pressure from the international community, the military junta has shown no signs of relenting. Instead, it is tightening its grip on power through a campaign of fear and intimidation.

The history of the conflict dates back to the colonial era. Myanmar, previously known as Burma, is a nation of rich cultural heritage and stunning landscapes. However, the current conflict in Myanmar is a continuation of this troubled past, with deep-rooted causes and devastating consequences for its people.

British colonial rule further exacerbated existing ethnic divisions by favoring certain groups over others, similar to what was seen in Rwanda, causing resentment and mistrust among the several diverse ethnic communities within the country. When Myanmar gained independence in 1948, these divisions only persisted, eventually leading to decades of internal conflict between the central government and various ethnic minority groups seeking autonomy.

The military junta seized power in 1962, causing Myanmar to descend into decades of authoritarian rule characterized by widespread human rights abuses and economic mismanagement. Despite a small number of democratic reforms in recent years, the military has retained significant power and influence, maintaining a firm grip on key sectors of government and the economy.

Ever since the military staged a coup government, there has been a reversal of years of progress towards democracy and a cry for the restoration of civilian rule.

However, we have also seen progress from the rebels recently in Myanmar. The rebels have managed to gain back large pieces of territory since October 2023. Ethnic groups near the Chinese border have formed alliances. In Shan State, some of these groups have captured several towns while others within the alliance have attacked the capital Naypyidaw. Rebels from the Karen ethnic group have also recently captured a trading town along the Thai Border – a goal that was once thought to be impossible. However the conflict seems to be in indefinite stalemate. 

The ongoing conflict represents a tragic regression for a nation that seemed focused on progress and democracy. Violence escalates and the humanitarian crisis continues to worsen. Even though several resistance groups have managed to gain back some of the country, the urgency for a peaceful resolution becomes ever more apparent. The people of Myanmar have shown remarkable resilience and courage in the face of adversity, but they cannot bear the burden alone. 

Calls for the international community to stand in solidarity for Myanmar have been increasing, with more awareness of the conflict and rising support in their struggle for democracy and human rights, along with holding the military accountable for its atrocities. Only through joint international action and unwavering support for the democratic aspirations of the people of Myanmar can the country hope to emerge from this dark chapter in its history and rebuild a future based on peace, justice, and democracy. 

The atrocities in Myanmar demand global attention. Despite its severity, the crisis often struggles to gain the same level of news coverage as many of the other conflicts going on in the world today. 

A crucial approach that is needed when talking about the issue is humanizing the conflict. Sharing personal stories of those affected and giving more of a voice to civilians is needed to fully give the international community more perspective on the issue. These personal stories and experiences about the conflict are currently still underreported. By collaborating with local and international journalists, media outlets can provide comprehensive coverage that combines local insights with global perspectives. This would ensure diverse narratives and deeper analysis, offering the world a more nuanced understanding of the complexities of the conflict.

Social media accounts have also been made in order to help further spread more awareness and information about the conflict. Live updates, eyewitness accounts, and multimedia content engage people and bring the realities of the conflict directly to people’s screens, helping to foster greater engagement with the issue.

There has also been an increasing number of media and articles on the issue, in The New York Times, the Diplomat, and other news sources, in order to help further educate the public on this pressing issue. 

The conflict in Myanmar has many regional and international consequences. Russia, among other countries, has sold the Myanmar army several weapons since the coup in 2021. This conflict has affected China, as the state of Myanmar has threatened many of its infrastructure projects that China has funded all across the country. India, meanwhile, is currently deporting several Myanmar refugees. This conflict has also been a burden to several other countries such as Thailand, Bangladesh, and the United States as well. Despite this war affecting so many countries, it still doesn’t have enough global traction from the world and still remains underreported. 

Overall, the conflict in Myanmar needs more attention globally, and awareness needs to be spread. Not only does the current situation in Myanmar present a plethora of humanitarian issues, but it also presents a global issue that everyone should be paying attention to.

Only through joint international action and unwavering support for the democratic aspirations of the people of Myanmar can the country hope to emerge from this dark chapter in its history and rebuild a future based on peace, justice, and democracy. 

About the Contributor
Sophia Nguyen, Staff Reporter
Sophia Nguyen is a Staff Reporter for 'The Science Survey.' What she finds most appealing about journalism is how she gets the opportunity to write on topics for which she is passionate. For Sophia, journalism serves as a platform for her to voice her own opinions, as well as hearing those of others. One of her favorite things about journalism is the connections that she makes during interviews and what she learns about the person she is talking to. She loves hearing people’s opinions on any subject and gaining perspective about the world. Other interests of Sophia's outside of school include playing the piano and competing in Model United Nations.