February 2024

Marking Three Years of Military Rule in Myanmar

February 2024 marked three years since the Myanmar (Burma) military took power in a violent coup following democratic elections. To commemorate this sombre anniversary, the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) in New York, working in collaboration with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), hosted a visit by two Myanmar experts. Z Nang Raw and Billy Ford spent two days at Quaker House providing private briefings to members of the UN community in New York. During frank conversations with diplomats, Nang Raw and Billy shared their analysis of nationwide efforts “to upend the poisonous political system created by the military and build something new and inclusive for the future”.

Diplomats from various UN missions, including members of the UN Security Council, welcomed this opportunity. Nang Raw and Billy emphasized the widespread public perception of the military’s authority as illegitimate. They noted that the military’s constant strategy of violence and displacement has produced a situation of profound instability. This observation resonated deeply with one Southeast Asian diplomat who stated, “Myanmar’s stability is essential to our stability, which makes this a major concern for us”. Furthermore, Nang Raw and Billy highlighted that the military’s territorial control has shrunk dramatically. At the same time, troop size has declined, with widespread casualties, defections, desertions, and surrenders.

Looking towards the future, Nang Raw and Billy noted that the experience of the past three years has built new sources of solidarity, connection, and inclusion among the people of Myanmar, bridging historical divides. They described the mass movement opposing the military and its energetic leadership by doctors, teachers, women, and young people. Additionally, while various groups have been engaged in armed conflict against the military, a national civil disobedience movement and association of national strike committees continue to push for non-violent forms of resistance.

At the close of each meeting, diplomats expressed their profound thanks to Nang Raw and Billy for their work and willingness to spend time in New York to share their research and analysis. They noted that as the UN searches for ways to respond to the rapidly changing situation on the ground, accessing information and having the space for frank discussion is essential. 

As Myanmar moves into its fourth year under military rule, QUNO will continue to use Quaker House as a venue where members of the UN community can access new information and benefit from cutting-edge insights and analysis from our partners.

Photo Caption: QUNO Director, Sarah Clarke, discusses meeting schedule at Quaker House with Nang Raw (right) and Billy Ford (left).

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