Myanmar Round Up: June 2024
Dr Cchavi Vasisht, Research Associate, VIF

June 2024 has been a tumultuous month for Myanmar, marked by significant military operations, escalating conflicts, and a host of economic and international developments. The country has witnessed fierce battles between the People's Defence Forces (PDF) and the National Unity Government (NUG) against military forces, with notable successes in Northern Shan State and the Mandalay Region. Additionally, the Arakan Army (AA) has intensified its offensive in Rakhine State. In Kachin State, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has launched significant attacks, while Sagaing Region and Chin State have seen devastating airstrikes and military recaptures. Economically, Myanmar is grappling with high inflation, currency depreciation, and widespread unemployment, reversing years of poverty reduction progress as per a recent World Bank report.

On the international stage, Myanmar's situation has drawn significant attention. The UN, EU, and US continue to push for accountability and increased restrictions on the military regime. In contrast, Russia’s approval for constructing a nuclear power plant in Myanmar signals closer bilateral ties. Within ASEAN, member countries stress the importance of dialogue and adherence to the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus, while border issues with Thailand and India highlight the regional impact of Myanmar’s crisis. During the month, China provided patrol boats to Myanmar to enhance maritime security and support military operations and former President Thein Sein visited China to strengthen ties. India's External Affairs Minister met Myanmar's Deputy Prime Minister to discuss violence, human trafficking, and security for Indian projects in Myanmar.

Domestic and Political Issues

In a significant turn of events, the Ministry of Defence of Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) reported that the People’s Defence Forces (PDF) have joined Operation 1027, launched on June 25 in Northern Shan State and Mandalay Region. Known as the “Shan Man” operation, it features PDFs and revolutionary forces penetrating the Mandalay region from northern Shan State.[1] From June 25-27, TNLA joint forces seized the city police station, various departmental facilities, and military positions in Nawnghkio. In Kyaukme Township, they captured multiple military council camps and facilities. In Mogok Township, they took military camps in the western city and are advancing east. In Madaya Township, they occupied key military camps.

Fighting has intensified in Rakhine State’s Maungdaw Township, where the Arakan Army (AA) aims to seize control from the military. The AA has seized small bases near the battalion headquarters in Kyauk Panu and is attacking other headquarters in Inn Din, Myin Lut, and Mawyawaddy. Fighting has also escalated near Thandwe Airport in southern Rakhine State. The clashes moved closer to the airport and military installations. The AA attacked the Ahlaythankyaw border police camp in Maungdaw township, which is significant for the military as it serves as a sea exit and supply route.

In response, the military used fighter jets and warships to defend these positions, leading to civilian displacement. The military also launched airstrikes and artillery shelling near Ngapali Beach, a major tourist spot in Rakhine State. Despite no battles occurring directly at the beach, clashes were reported near Gawt Village. Additionally, Maungdaw Township is experiencing severe clashes involving the army, navy, and air force attacks. Junta reinforcements are arriving by sea due to AA blockades on land routes. In another incident, the military government denied allegations that its troops and allied forces killed 76 people in Byine Phyu village, Rakhine state. The accusations, made by the AA, claim that government forces detained villagers and committed mass killings. Additionally, the Arakan Army has been accused of human rights violations, particularly in the town of Buthidaung, where they allegedly forced 200,000 residents, mostly Rohingya, to flee and set buildings on fire, but the group denies these charges, blaming the military instead.

As the conflict is ongoing in the border areas, Bangladesh's Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan recently stated that both Myanmar's military and the AA have been warned to cease firing across the international border. He emphasised that Bangladesh would respond to any attacks and has instructed Bangladeshi boats to display the national flag when navigating near Myanmar's waters to avoid incidents. The Naf River's poor navigability, particularly from Teknaf to St Martin's Island, has led Bangladeshi boats inadvertently into Myanmar's waters, resulting in exchanges of fire. To address this, Border Guard Bangladesh continues land and river patrols. Furthermore, 134 members of the Border Guard Police (BGP) and the Myanmar military, who had fled to Bangladesh to escape conflict with the Arakan Army, were sent back to Myanmar.[2] In return, 45 Bangladeshis imprisoned in Myanmar were repatriated.

The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) launched a series of attacks on Myanmar military positions in Kachin State's Waingmaw Township, seizing three key locations. These included a checkpoint between Waingmaw and Sadung, a position on Bwan Taung Hill, and an outpost of Border Guard Force (BGF) Battalion 1003 near Kanpiketi. The military responded with missile launchers, howitzers, and Mi 35 helicopter gunships to bombard KIA and allied forces. The conflict centres around strategic control of trade routes and military outposts, with ongoing clashes and tactical manoeuvres reported in the region.

As these conflicts were ongoing, on 06 June, the Three Brotherhood Alliance issued a warning to the Myanmar Military Council, demanding an end to war crimes like those committed in Byine Phyu village. On May 29, the Military Council entered Byine Phyu, arrested, beat, and killed residents, and raped women, according to reports. The Alliance also advised civilians to remain vigilant against potential threats from the Military Council. Additionally, the "Three Brotherhood Alliance" has accused the military of repeatedly violating a China-brokered ceasefire in northern Myanmar, causing civilian casualties.[3]

On the other hand, the military has increased airstrikes. A military aircraft bombed a wedding ceremony in Myanmar's Sagaing region, resulting in the deaths of 28 people and injuring about 40 others. Subsequently, military troops fired artillery shells into the village, forcing over 2,000 residents to flee. In another tragic incident in Sagaing Township, thirteen people, including three Buddhist monks, were killed and nearly forty others injured in an airstrike conducted by the military on a monastery in Thabyay Thar village.

Additionally, the military recaptured the Taingen camp in Tedim Township, southern Chin State, from the Joint Chin Defence Forces on June 20. The camp was originally taken by the Chinland Defence Joint Forces on January 16, 2024. Following the camp's recapture, the troops also raided Taingen village, causing residents to flee to nearby jungles and villages. Taingen village, located at a key transportation hub, saw significant displacement due to the military presence. Previously, on June 18, the Military Council had recaptured the Kennedy peak outpost in Tedim Township from PDF Zoland. Additionally, the military regime acknowledged responsibility for the killing of Buddhist monk Sayadaw Bhaddanta Munindabhivamsa near Mandalay International Airport.

The military regime has used internet shutdowns to control and censor information during the ongoing crisis according to Access Now’s report, “Shrinking democracy, growing violence: Internet shutdowns in 2023”. The report particularly assesses the situation in Myanmar, where the military has weaponized internet shutdowns to launch brutal attacks against civilians, block access to information, prevent the documentation of human rights abuses, and isolate communities from communication. This tactic has severely hampered civil society’s efforts to track and document these shutdowns. Although 37 shutdowns were officially recorded, the actual number is likely much higher due to the lack of transparency and increasing frequency of shutdown orders from central and local authorities. Disruptions affected 13 out of Myanmar’s 14 states, with 80 townships facing ongoing blockings by the end of the year.

While the world countries are demanding the military to be accountable for war crimes, Min Aung Hlaing has once again blamed Myanmar's escalating crisis on what he termed a "destructive mindset" among the people. In a recent cabinet meeting, he criticised citizens for economic woes such as the sharp depreciation of the kyat and accused them of manipulating currency markets and buying property abroad with illicit funds. He avoided acknowledging the impact of the coup and his regime's human rights violations, which have driven out foreign investment and worsened currency shortages.

Economic Issues

The World Bank's latest report on Myanmar paints a grim economic outlook, highlighting significant challenges and setbacks since 2015. It forecasts a modest GDP growth of 1 percent for the year ending March 2025, down from previous expectations of 2 percent and significantly below 2019 levels by about 9 percent. The report cites ongoing challenges such as high inflation, elevated unemployment, and entrenched poverty affecting over 32 percent of the population. More than half of Myanmar's skilled graduates aged 20-40 express a desire to leave the country due to displacement, job losses, and income declines, which have reversed progress in poverty reduction.

Economic growth forecasts have been revised down significantly, with manufacturing and trade particularly affected by shortages and disruptions caused by conflict and economic policies. There are shortages of imported inputs and electricity deficits, particularly impacting manufacturing sectors. Despite some resilience in agriculture with improved crop yields and prices, overall economic conditions remain precarious due to ongoing conflict disrupting trade and economic stability.

While the World Bank report recorded a bleak future for Myanmar, the Ministry of Commerce stated that Myanmar achieved a trade surplus of $109.633 million by June 14 of the current fiscal year. For the fiscal year 2022-2023, Myanmar's total trade volume was $33.925 billion, an increase of $3.573 billion from the previous year's $30.351 billion. Exports reached $16.575 billion (up $1.084 billion), and imports were $17.349 billion (up $2.489 billion).

Myanmar's military has intensified its crackdown on illegal gold and foreign currency traders in an effort to stabilise the kyat currency, which has plummeted since the 2021 coup. The military has also dramatically increased currency printing, with approximately 30 trillion kyats printed in just three years according to both the civilian National Unity Government (NUG) and Australian economist Sean Turnell, leading to a severe devaluation of the kyat. This contrasts sharply with the previous civilian government's approach, which printed only 3.656 trillion kyats over two years to address economic challenges. The military spending is being financed by money printing, leading to inflation and monetary instability. Myanmar's sovereign debt has also risen significantly, while foreign reserves have dwindled.

Additionally, the military has frozen the bank accounts of 39 individuals accused of operating unlicensed "hundi" cash transfer services, alleging manipulation of the foreign exchange market. Due to imposition of higher taxation rates and forcing remittances to be converted into kyat, more people have been driven to rely on hundi services. Furthermore, to monitor and restrict information critical of the regime, the Myanmar military launched a social media app called MySpace[.]mm, developed with the help of Chinese nationals. This app, designed to reduce VPN use and control the spread of sensitive information, mimics Facebook's functionalities but lacks its popularity and trust due to the military’s control. As part of its campaign to restrict freedom of speech, the military has also implemented a new Cybersecurity Law, criminalising VPN use with penalties of one to three years in prison and a fine.

International Developments

At a recent UN Security Council meeting, Myanmar's Permanent Representative, Kyaw Moe Tun, expressed disappointment over the Council's inaction, despite repeated pleas for effective measures to protect Burmese civilians. He highlighted the escalating violence, reckless attacks on civilians by military troops, and the lack of an international accountability mechanism. He urged the Security Council to address the accountability gap by referring Myanmar to the International Criminal Court and to adopt effective measures, such as cutting off the military regime's access to weapons, finance, and jet fuel. Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, identified 16 banks in seven countries processing transactions for the Myanmar military’s procurement over the past two years. Additionally, 25 banks provided correspondent banking services to Myanmar’s State-owned banks under military control.

It has been noted that the Myanmar military's annual procurement of weapons through formal banking dropped from $377 million to $253 million by March 2023. However, the military circumvents sanctions by exploiting gaps and leveraging inadequate coordination among UN Member States. The report highlights a shift from Singapore to Thailand as significant sources of military supplies, with Thai banks, notably Siam Commercial Bank, facilitating increased transactions. But the military government disputed the U.N. report by Tom Andrews. The Central Bank refuted these allegations through a statement published in a state-controlled newspaper.

During the month, the European Union (EU) announced an additional €15 million in humanitarian aid to assist those displaced within Myanmar and Myanmar refugees abroad, amidst escalating armed conflicts. By 2024, the EU has allocated a total of €36 million for this purpose, up from previous years. Additionally, a dynamic three-year project funded by the European Union (EU) significantly improved COVID-19 services and pandemic preparedness across eight Southeast Asian countries, including Myanmar. From 2021 to 2023, the EU contributed EUR 20 million to the project, which was implemented by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In Myanmar, the project emphasised risk communications and community engagement, distributing 10,000 posters and 5,400 kits to flood and conflict-affected populations. In an exclusive interview with Mizzima, EU Special Envoy for Myanmar, Igor Driesmans, discussed the European Union's commitment to supporting the people of Myanmar and facilitating a return to democracy.

Furthermore, Ambassador Michèle Taylor of the United States delegation to the UN's 56th Session of the Human Rights Council addressed the worsening human rights situation in Myanmar during an interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner’s Report. She expressed grave concern over escalating violence and inter-communal tensions in Rakhine State. The Ambassador called on Myanmar’s military and all armed actors to protect civilians and ensure unhindered humanitarian access. She urged the international community to restrict Myanmar military’s access to arms and financial resources, welcoming the Council's resolution on limiting jet fuel access. Ambassador Taylor highlighted the need for preventive measures against potential atrocities in Rakhine, seeking insights from High Commissioner Türk on member states' roles in prevention.

While, western nations imposed sanctions and condemned the military rule, Russia approved the construction of a low-power nuclear power plant in Myanmar. The plant, proposed by Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom), will utilise Russian pressurised water reactors with a capacity of at least 110 megawatts. The approval process culminated recently with the completion of an intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Myanmar's military. Further, a Myanmar delegation, led by transport minister General Mya Tun Oo, attended the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg. The delegation discussed cooperation in trade, investment, transport, infrastructure, direct flights, and the import and production of cancer drugs with Russian officials. Although no official agreements were signed, discussions included topics such as direct kyat-rouble payments to bypass the US dollar and Russian investments in Myanmar’s nuclear power plants and the Dawei deep-sea port project.

Additionally, China has provided six patrol boats to Myanmar's military regime, a move aimed at enhancing maritime security and law enforcement capabilities amid increased naval operations targeting coastal areas. Chinese Ambassador Chen Hai handed over the boats to Deputy Home Affairs Minister Ni Lin Aung, emphasising their role in improving water transport safety, sea rescue operations, and the protection of water resources. They were supplied following a 2018 proposal by Myanmar's ousted National League for Democracy government, with an agreement formalised during Chinese President Xi Jinping's 2020 visit to Myanmar. Military analysts suggest these boats will bolster Myanmar's navy in operations against groups like the Arakan Army in Rakhine State and potentially in anti-regime activities along major rivers.

Finally, during the 70th-anniversary celebrations of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with former Myanmar President Thein Sein in Beijing. Wang Yi expressed China's willingness to collaborate with Myanmar to strengthen these principles and build a China-Myanmar community with a shared future. Thein Sein echoed this sentiment, stating Myanmar's readiness to deepen cooperation with China and jointly promote these principles. This is Thein Sein's first foreign trip since the military coup three years ago, visiting China. In addition, a Myanmar delegation led by Union Minister for Information U Maung Maung Ohn visited notable sites in Kunming and Yunnan Province, China, after attending the fifth Lancang-Mekong Audiovisual Week. The delegation observed various learning sessions, AI research, and language interpretation labs.

ASEAN Responses

Cambodia is actively advocating for dialogue and the implementation of ASEAN’s 5-point Consensus to address Myanmar’s escalating conflict through the "Phnom Penh Peace Process." This process seeks regional collaboration to pressure Myanmar's junta towards peaceful resolutions. The initiative includes upcoming ASEAN meetings in July, where Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia will discuss Myanmar's crisis. Prime Minister Hun Sen has been instrumental in these efforts, advocating for dialogue and expressing concern over Myanmar's socio-economic challenges. In addition, as Malaysia prepares to chair ASEAN in 2025, Malaysia's Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, reiterated calls for ending violence and political marginalisation in Myanmar and urged adherence to the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus (5PC).

During the month, U Hau Khan Sum, Myanmar’s Ambassador to Canada and the current Chair of the ASEAN Committee in Ottawa (ACO), hosted the 285th Meeting of the ASEAN Committee in Ottawa’s Heads of Missions (ACO HOMs). The event, held at the Royal Ottawa Golf Club, was attended by ASEAN heads of missions and members of the ACO working group. During the meeting, they reviewed the activities conducted under Myanmar’s ACO Chairmanship and discussed future plans. They also exchanged views on enhancing ASEAN’s interests and identity in Canada and shared updates on ASEAN's relations with dialogue partners. U Hau Khan Sum expressed his gratitude to the ASEAN heads of missions for their support and cooperation during his tenure as chair. He then passed the chairmanship to Ms. Maria Andrelita S. Austria, the Ambassador of the Philippines to Canada.

As the fighting in Myanmar continues along the Thailand-Myanmar border, the House Armed Services Committee Chair and Move Forward MP, Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, expressed concerns about the Thai army's inadequate drone capabilities to counter modern threats. While plans are in place to procure 10 additional drones by fiscal 2025, Wiroj noted this is insufficient against the advanced drones used by Myanmar’s military troops and armed ethnic groups. Additionally, traders reported that hundreds of trucks are waiting for the Myanmar-Thailand border gates to reopen at Pago Thyusu in Khyin Peygyi Township, Karen State. The border was closed by Myanmar on June 17, halting the movement of trucks on both sides. Despite the main border gate closure, some goods continue to be transported through alternative gateways. However, roads between Trisu, Kyin Pyaygyi, and Mudong are in poor condition, leading to delays and extended travel times.[4]

India-Myanmar Interactions

India's External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, met Myanmar's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Than Shwe, in New Delhi. This meeting has marked the first high-level interaction between India and a senior military member since the military coup in February 2021. Jaishankar expressed India's deep concerns over the ongoing violence and instability in Myanmar. He highlighted the issues of narcotics trafficking, arms smuggling, and human trafficking as priority challenges. Jaishankar also called for the protection of Indian nationals trapped in Myawaddy, who were lured by job scams linked to Chinese criminal syndicates. These scams, involving forced participation in cyber fraud, have affected Indian nationals in several Southeast Asian countries.

The meeting comes amid intensified fighting between Myanmar's military and resistance forces, raising concerns in New Delhi about the security implications for Manipur and Mizoram. During talks, Jaishankar expressed the need for credible security for India's projects in Myanmar, particularly the Kaladan multimodal transport project in Rakhine and Chin states, which is crucial to India's Act East Policy. He emphasised the need for Myanmar to return to democratic governance and reiterated India's willingness to assist in this transition. India's engagement with Myanmar's military regime aims to balance security cooperation and prevent the regime from aligning more closely with China, while also reaching out to resistance forces and Myanmar’s government-in-exile.

During the month, India issued a new advisory warning against fake job rackets targeting Indian youths in Myanmar, particularly in the Pha Lu area near the Myanmar-Thailand border. The Indian embassy in Yangon emphasised the importance of adhering to advisories and consulting respective Indian Embassies before accepting job offers. This advisory is a continuation of previous warnings issued since July 2022, with locations like Myawaddy, Yangon, Laukkaing, Lashio, and Tachileik also flagged as dangerous areas. The embassy highlighted the emergence of Pha Lu as a new trafficking hotspot, where Indian victims, along with individuals from countries like Malaysia and the UAE, are being trafficked.

In order to secure borders and maintain national security, the Manipur government deported 38 Myanmar nationals back to their home country through the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Moreh. Previously, similar deportations occurred in May and March. Earlier, the Indian government announced suspension of the Free Movement Regime in February 2024. This move has been vehemently opposed by ethnic groups in the Northeast. During the month, five Kuki-Zo organizations from Manipur issued a joint statement opposing the government's decision to abolish FMR with Myanmar and to fence the India-Myanmar border.[5] The organisations urged people to boycott FMR-related activities, arguing that the move would separate families across the border. They also opposed the Manipur government's plans for autonomous district council elections, seeing it as a divisive tactic.

Though the Mizoram government has passed resolutions against abolition of FMR, the Mizoram government has agreed to record biometric details of approximately 34,000 Myanmar refugees who have been in the state for over three years. This decision awaits instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).[6] Around 10,550 refugees are staying in 111 relief camps in six districts, while 9,300 others live with relatives, friends, or in rented accommodation. In Manipur, about 8,000 Myanmarese have taken shelter in various districts, and the state government has already recorded the biometric details of most refugees.

Finally, at the UN Human Rights Council, Kshitij Tyagi, First Secretary of India's Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva, India reaffirmed its commitment to supporting Myanmar's transition to an inclusive federal democracy, emphasising its backing for ASEAN-led initiatives and the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus to address the humanitarian and security crisis in Myanmar. He also called for an immediate cessation of violence by all sides, the release of political detainees, and the resolution of the crisis through dialogue and Myanmar-led solutions. He reiterated India's commitment to peace, stability, and development in Myanmar through humanitarian assistance, people-centric projects, and capacity-building efforts in democratic systems and practices. India has also started importing corn (maize) from Myanmar without any import duties. Several ships have already docked at VO Chidambaranar Port in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, and more are expected to arrive by the end of July.


Since the military coup on February 1, 2021, Myanmar people have endured severe human rights violations, resulting in over 3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). On the occasion of the 2024 World Refugee Day, The Border Consortium (TBC) acknowledged the urgent need for humanitarian aid to support these displaced populations. Addressing the Human Rights Council, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, emphasised that Myanmar’s crisis reflects a legacy of military domination, repression, and division. This ongoing crisis is looming into a regional problem and the ASEAN leaders along with regional players like India and China must play a pragmatic role. Furthermore, the crisis within the country can be resolved by an inclusive dialogue involving all stakeholders.


[1] Key participating groups include the People’s Defense Force (Mandalay), Mogok Strategic Battalions, Kyaukme District’s Special Combat Forces, Pyin OO Lwin District’s PDF, Mogok Township’s PDF, Madaya Township’s PDF, and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).
[2] This follows previous exchanges on April 25, where 288 BGP and army personnel were returned to Myanmar and 173 Bangladeshis were repatriated, and on February 15, when 330 BGP, army, and customs officials were sent back to Myanmar.
[3] TBA had agreed to a truce in January after extensive fighting displaced over half a million people near China’s border.
[4] The Thai-Myanmar regional authorities have coordinated to open 22 unofficial border trade points, including the Pagoda Three Su border point, despite frequent shutdowns. Officially open trade points include Tachilek-Mae Sai, Myawati-Mae Sot, Hat Khe-Nam Phu Ro, and Kaw Thaung-Ranong, where passports or temporary travel permits are required.
[5] The organisations, including the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) and Committee on Tribal Unity (COTU), emphasised that the removal of FMR would disrupt the unity of border communities.
[6] The MHA had instructed both states in 2022 to record biometric data of Myanmar refugees. While Manipur started the process immediately, Mizoram, under the previous Mizo National Front (MNF) government, initially refused, citing cultural ties with the Myanmarese. However, the new government led by the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) has now agreed to start the process. The Manipur government aims to repatriate the refugees, whereas the Mizoram government has urged the Center for financial assistance and to accord "refugee" status to the Myanmarese.

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