The ongoing conflict in the country between the military and opposition forces has resulted in a number of deaths and causalities and increasing human rights violations. The military forces are accused of killing around 1300 people and arresting more than 10,000 individuals. The UN Security Council has called for an end to violence in Myanmar. More than 500 rights groups have urged the United Nations (UN) to stop Myanmar army offensives. The military is also accused of blocking aid to displaced civilians. During the month, Myanmar also confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Domestic and Political Situation
On 10 December, Human Rights Day, a “silent strike” was organised to shutdown towns and cities as a sign of rejection of the military rule. Earlier also, a silent strike was organised on 24 March to disapprove of the military’s coup. In addition, a “Black Campaign” was also staged as individuals posted their pictures wearing black and flashing three-finger salutes of resistance. 
Myanmar’s many regions, such as the Sagaing region, Karen State, Shan State, and Kayah State, witnessed violent clashes between the military and ethnic parties. The Karen Peace Support Network (KPSN) released a report outlining human rights abuses; including helicopter gunship attacks against civilian targets, arbitrary abductions and use of civilians as human shields in Mutraw district. The ethnic Kokang army clashed with Myanmar’s military in Shan State. The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) is also fighting around Kokang, Mongkoe and Hsenwi to gain control to the west of Salween River.
The military is also resorting to old tactics and creating anti-Muslim and anti-Christian tensions.  According to International Christian Concern (ICC) reports, many incidents against Christians in Chin State are recorded, comprising 90 per cent of the Christian population. Myanmar is positioned at 19 on Open Doors 2021 World Watch List of places that are most difficult to be a Christian. Myanmar military continues to burn houses and churches in the Chin State. The Chin Human Rights Organisation reported burning of the Thantlang town in Myanmar’s Chin State. According to Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), the Assembly of God Church and one of the Thantlang Association of Baptist Church buildings and many others were burned down by the military on 30 December. Further, a township court in Rakhine State sentenced 199 people (most of whom are Rohingya Muslims) to five years in prison under the Immigration Act for “illegally trying to migrate” to Malaysia. 
On the one hand, the military is attacking EAOs, and on the other hand, the military regime met with members of the Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee (FPNCC), excluding a few, in Shan State. The meeting was with a view to re-establish links with the EAOs. It has also been reported that China had aided in negotiations between the Myanmar military and members of the FPNCC. A representative from China was present at the meeting.  However, the same day, the military attacked the Karen peace town Lay Kay Kaw in Myawaddy Township, controlled by the Karen National Liberation Army Brigade 6. Earlier, the FPNCC member group MNDAA was attacked by a helicopter in Muse District in northern Shan State. 
The NUG is also taking steps to cooperate with different EAOs and providing them with military training and support. For instance, on 12 December, Duwa Lashi La, the acting president of the NUG, stated that they would like to work with the Arakan National League (ULA/AA) to overthrow the military dictatorship. Earlier, on 10 December, the Arakan Army (AA) warned the people that fighting could break out in Rakhine State and therefore, the people should be alert.
The military recalled former service members to military duty as many soldiers are defecting. Former military dictator Senior General Than Shwe, rejoined the military, who had stepped down in 2011.  The country is also reeling under economic crises. During the month, it has been reported that the military is printing notes to address the monetary deficit. According to sources, an Uzbekistan Airways plane carried paper to print banknotes.  Further, on 24 December, the Myanmar military leader commissioned airplanes and helicopters marking the 74th anniversary of Myanmar Navy. Within this, Myanmar commissioned China’s Type 35B Ming-class submarine aka ‘UMS Minye Kyaw Htin’. Myanmar’s military has also sought China’s assistance to build an internet firewall to curb the spread of information against the military.
This month, Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to a four-year jail on the first of the series of charges filed against her. However, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing reduced the four-year sentence to two years of house arrest. She faces ten other charges that could sentence her for the rest of her life.  In the case of possession and illegal importation of walkie-talkies, the verdict has been postponed until 10 January 2022. Further, during the month, another letter claimed to be by Suu Kyi was leaked, which stated that neither the CRPH nor the NUG is entitled to use the name of the NLD. But the authenticity of the letter is hard to prove.
Justice For Myanmar called for an investigation and a global arms embargo over arms and military aircraft being sold to the Myanmar military. The report highlighted the involvement of the UN Security Council members including France, Russia, China, Holland and Italy in supporting the Myanmar military.  In addition, the United States with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, and the United Kingdom called for the international community to “suspend all operational support to the military”. The US is also exploring additional sanctions against the ruling military rulers in Myanmar. Further, the European Union (EU) has stopped renting its official ambassador’s residence from the family of late Myanmar dictator General Ne Win after eight years. 
A UK-based NGO submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) under Article 15 of the Rome Statute. The evidence proves that Myanmar military leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is guilty of crimes against humanity. Under the Myanmar Accountability Project (MAP), the organisation urged the court to open a criminal investigation into the widespread and systematic use of torture as part of the regime’s violent crackdown against the protest movement in the country. Similarly, the NUG is also working to prosecute Myanmar’s military at the ICC. Furthermore, despite the military ruling authority numerous attempts to replace envoy of the previous NLD government at the UN, the nine-nation Credentials Committee of the General Assembly deferred a decision on applications.
During the month, Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Senmet Myanmar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wunna Maung Lwin, in Phnom Penh on 07 December. Hun Sen will assume the chairmanship of ASEAN next year, and he stated that he would visit Myanmar in the year 2022. ASEAN members denied Myanmar’s military attendance at the ASEAN Summit and the ASEAN-China Summit due to “insufficient progress” on implementing the peace plan. However, Hun Sen justified his engagement stating that Myanmar is a “family member of ASEAN” and therefore, it is essential to work with authorities of Myanmar. Hun Sen’s adoption of “cowboy diplomacy”, a term referring to risky and harsh diplomatic tactics, has worried the regional partners.
Following the explosion that landed on the Thailand side, Thailand warned that it would return fire if more artillery shells by the Myanmar military landed again in Thailand. Thailand has also deployed troops along the Thai-Myanmar border and is conducting regular patrols.  Further, due to the increasing fleeing of individuals from Myanmar, Thailand has sent over 600 Myanmar refugees back across the border.  To date, around 2500 people have fled due to intense fighting between the Myanmar military and Karen National Union (KNU). 
Further, Japan has been condemned by Human Rights Groups for training Myanmar military cadets. According to the Defence Ministry Official, the National Defence Academy of Japan was still hosting eight cadets from Myanmar. The Human Rights Watch has suggested that the Japanese government cut ties with the Myanmar military and immediately suspend military study-abroad program involving Myanmar cadets. Also, Japan’s Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa has said that Japan will continue to work for the repatriation of Myanmar nationals who have been forcibly displaced from Bangladesh. 
India in Myanmar
In the first such outreach since February 2021, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla visited Naypyitaw and Yangon and met State Administration Council (SAC) chaired by General Min Aung Hlaing. As part of humanitarian support, India has provided 10 lakh doses of ‘Made in India’ COVID-19 vaccines and grant of 10,000 tonnes of rice and wheat to Myanmar. He also met members of civil society and political parties, including the NLD. However, the request to meet Aung San Suu Kyi was denied.  Before the visit, the Myanmar military handed over five militants of banned Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) to India. RPF is the sister wing of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). A police official, on condition of anonymity, said that a special flight brought the five Manipur-based RPF militants from Myanmar and handed them over to Manipur police. 
However, varied accounts were reported about the visit outcomes. The State-run Myanmar News Agency reported that the two discussed how the Myanmar military could discharge its State responsibilities, take efforts for counter-terrorism, and ensuring peace and stability in the border regions of both countries. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs stated that the Foreign Secretary had “emphasised India’s interest in seeing Myanmar’s return to democracy at the earliest; release of detainees and prisoners; resolution of issues through dialogue; and complete cessation of all violence.” However, no comment was made on the difference between the statements issued in Yangon and New Delhi.
Data from ACLED, analysed by Altsean Burma, shows a 632 per cent increase in armed clashes and attacks compared to 2020. However, the prevalence of violence cannot be the answer to the current crisis. Myanmar is experiencing one of the worst crises since its independence. Furthermore, the new variant of COVID-19 can expose the country’s health care system to risks. According to the United Nations emergency relief coordinator, three million people across Myanmar need life-saving humanitarian assistance because of rising conflict and insecurity, the pandemic, and a failing economy. The military is also accused of blocking humanitarian aid from reaching displaced people. The military has imposed new travel restrictions on humanitarian workers, blocked access roads and aid convoys, destroyed non-military supplies, attacked aid workers and shut down telecommunications services. Therefore, the military must reverse its actions and engage in constructive dialogue with all stakeholders.
Other members of the FPNCC include the United Wa State Army and the Arakan Army. None of the seven groups has signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. However, the KNLA’s political arm, the Karen National Union, signed the peace agreement in 2015 and the Burma Army is still attacking its troops. https://www.bnionline.net/en/news/junta-meets-fpncc-mongla