How did Burma become independent

Chronology of the crisis in the Rakhine State

1942 - The Japanese conquer the British colony of Burma (today's Myanmar) during World War II with the support of a Burmese army led by father Aung San Suu Kyis. The British are withdrawing to India. During the withdrawal of the British from Arakan, today's Rakhine state, and the advance of the Japanese there were several massacres; both from Buddhists to Muslims and from Muslims to Buddhists. As a result, there is an ethnic separation. Two administrative districts on the border with today's Bangladesh have since been predominantly inhabited by Muslims, the rest is dominated by Buddhists. The massacres left deep marks in the collective memory of both population groups.

1948 - Burma is becoming independent. All members of the "indigenous ethnic groups" are considered natural citizens. This includes eight named groups who lived in the country before the beginning of the British colonial era. For everyone else, including Indians, Chinese but also the Rohingyas, complicated special rules apply, which in practice mean that they are not recognized as citizens. For a large part of the population this is of little practical importance, because the state does not intervene in the daily life of its citizens and the borders are hardly controlled. Migration across the borders of the new state is common. After independence, a civil war began in the country, in which Muslims in the Rakhine state also took part. There are calls for autonomy.

1961 - The northern, predominantly Muslim-populated areas of Rakhine are given a special administration under the supervision of the central government of Myanmar.

1962 - The military is doing a coup. This is followed by the "Burmese Road to Socialism" under the leadership of General Ne Win.

1964 - The special administration is canceled.

1977 - The Ministry of the Interior initiates a control of the citizenship of residents in the border regions of the country. When the action began in Rakhine in February 1977, 250,000 Rohingya members fled to Bangladesh, which gained independence from Pakistan in 1971 after a war. Six months later, Myanmar and Bangladesh sign a repatriation agreement. Most of the refugees, now commonly referred to as Rohingya, return as a result.

1982 - A new citizenship law is passed. It provides three forms of citizenship with graduated rights and aims to register residents who are not recognized as indigenous. Officially, the new law should enable the descendants to fully integrate. Due to the distrust between the population groups and bureaucratic obstacles, the number of those who register is small. The status of statelessness for the Rohingyas is thus established.

1988: popular uprising in Myanmar

1988 - A military coup after a popular uprising ended the socialist regime. After entering politics, Aung San Suu Kyi embodied the people's hope for a new beginning, also in Rakhine State. She became the leading opposition politician against the military and spent more than 15 years under house arrest.

1991 - Tensions in the northern Rakhine state and reports of the violent crackdown by the Burmese army trigger another mass exodus of around 250,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh.

1992 - A repatriation is being prepared together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). A year later, Myanmar and Bangladesh sign a repatriation agreement. Around 230,000 refugees return over the next twelve years, accompanied by allegations that the refugees will be forced to return.

Political new beginning

2010 - The Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) created by the military wins the elections. Aung San Suu Kyi is then released from house arrest.

2011 - The newly elected President Thein Sein announces comprehensive reforms.

2012 - Violent clashes between Buddhists and Muslims broke out in June in Rakhine State. More than 150 people die, around 100,000 are displaced and housed in separate camps, mostly Rohingyas. In August, Thein Seine set up a commission of inquiry.

2013 - There are anti-Muslim riots across the country. At least 50 people die. In April the commission of inquiry publishes its report. She states that the ethnic groups in Rakhine State are not ready to live together and calls for the living conditions of all people in Rakhine State to be improved.

2013: Boat refugees from Rakhine State off the Thai coast

2014 - Myanmar is conducting a census. In Maungdaw and Buthidaung, the most heavily populated districts of Rohingya, many people refuse to attend because their ethnicity is not listed. In August, the UN refugee agency UNHCR published a report according to which almost 90,000 Rohingya have fled, mostly over the sea, from Myanmar to Thailand or Malaysia since 2012.

2015 - In the November elections, the National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, clearly wins. Your party has not put up a single Muslim candidate. Unlike 2010, there is no Rohingya representative in parliament. In Rakhine State, the Arakan National Party, which represents the interests of the Buddhist population, wins the most seats.

Another escalation in Rakhine State

2016 - In September, Aung San Suu Kyi sets up an expert committee chaired by ex-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Its purpose is to make suggestions on how the situation in Rakhine State can be improved. In October, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked a number of border guards. According to official information, nine security forces are killed. The military is responding with large-scale operations. 87,000 Rohingya flee to Bangladesh.

2017 - Almost at the same time as the publication of the final report of the commission chaired by Kofi Annan, ARSA again attacked 20 police outposts and one military base. The armed forces respond again with military operations. There is a mass exodus. By October 600,000 refugees are counted in Bangladesh. UN officials speak of ethnic cleansing. Human rights organizations collect reports of mass executions, rape and other atrocities in the refugee camps. In September, Aung San Suu Kyi made a televised address about all kinds of human rights violations. But more time is needed to find out what actually happened in Rakhine State. Her attitude earns her sharp criticism in the West. An overwhelming majority in the country appears to support their position and also the actions of the military. In November, Bangladesh and Myanmar sign a general treaty for the repatriation of refugees, modeled on the previous agreement of 1993.

2018 - Human Rights Watch released satellite footage showing the destruction of 55 abandoned villages, formerly mostly inhabited by Rohingya. The Myanmar government rejects all allegations of brutal behavior by the security forces. At the beginning of April, Aung Tun Thet, the government's chief coordinator for the resettlement of the Rohingya, announced that his country was ready to accept the refugees. Two arrival centers have been set up in the immediate vicinity of the border since February.

In May 2018, AI published a report that ARSA was believed to be responsible for the murder of around 100 civilians in August 2017.

2018: Arrival centers in Myanmar

The chronology was last updated in August 2018.