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The Unfreedom Monitor: A Methodology for Tracking Digital Authoritarianism Around the World

April 1, 2022

Digital communications technologies have been a powerful tool in the advancement of democratic governance, but in recent years there is concern that they are being used to undermine democracy as well. The Unfreedom Monitor, part of Global Voices' Advox project, aims to study and report on this growing phenomenon. This briefing document provides an overview of key developments in digital authoritarianism in a sample of 10 countries, while explaining the theoretical framework and methodology behind the project. The document also provides a basis for expanding this research to other countries so we can deepen our understanding of digital authoritarianism globally as well as its crucial implications for the future.

No One Is Spared: Abuses Against Older People in Armed Conflict

February 1, 2022

This report describes patterns of abuses against older people affected by armed conflict in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, South Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine. It also draws on the situation of serious protracted violence in two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, Myanmar security force atrocities against older ethnic Rohingya in Rakhine State, and the experiences of older refugees in Lebanon displaced by conflict in Syria. It also includes abuses against older people in the 2020 armed conflict in the ethnic-Armenian-majority enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Polarising Narratives and Deepening Fault Lines: Social Media, Intolerance and Extremism in Four Asian Nations

March 1, 2021

The use of social media platforms and chat applications in Asia has grown exponentially in recent years. Throughout the 2010s, violent extremists (VEs) in different parts of the continent exploited this growing access to audiences, disseminating their divisive messages broadly, while targeting individuals in fringe online groups. Technology companies and governments eventually imposed relatively effective measures to moderate overtly terrorist content, remove accounts and limit reach. However, the dynamics of broader communication on platforms that reward contentious engagement is continuing to inflame domestic political polarisation and societal division.Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, and India are four Asian nations with unique but comparable experiences regarding the impact of online communications on social fault lines, extremism and violence. This report outlines and analyses these respective contexts.

Lockdown and Shutdown: Exposing the Impacts of Recent Network Disruptions in Myanmar and Bangladesh

January 13, 2021

This white paper provides an overview of the human rights situation for these populations in Myanmar and Bangladesh and the causes of the internet shutdowns in both countries. The report illustrates that, by impeding the rights of IDPs and refugees, violations of digital rights are violations of human rights. At the heart of Lockdown and Shutdown are sixteen semi-structured qualitative interviews, conducted with Rakhine, Rohingya, Chin IDPs in conflict-affected areas in Myanmar, and Rohingya refugees residing in Bangladesh, which give a voice to those who have been deprived of one, as well as reveal the devastating impacts of the internet shutdowns in the two countries.The report also demonstrates that there are commonalities in the impacts of the shutdowns in Myanmar and Bangladesh, specifically in the areas of public health information around COVID-19, education, and access to reliable news in misinformation-rich environments, as well as differences in areas like work, access to healthcare, and physical security and offers key recommendations to the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh. 

Supporting children in child labour through child-friendly spaces in Myanmar

December 17, 2020

This case study describes how child-friendly spaces provided holistic (prevention) activities and psychosocial support for children in child labour in Rakhine State, Myanmar.

The Rise of Online Censorship and Surveillance in Myanmar: A Quantitative and Qualitative Study

November 1, 2020

This research study seeks to identify the various surveillance and censorship technologies and strategies deployed by the government and military in Myanmar. In doing so, the study utilizes a diverse combination of analytical methods including technical network measurements, interviews, and key research analysis of newspaper archives, media reports, and government publications. Throughout the overall assessment process, the study focuses not only on technology but also on offline spaces and legal loopholes which tend to obscure transparency and allow the authorities in Myanmar to implement surveillance and censorship practices in unchecked manners.The goal of this project is to shine a light on these troublesome tactics helping both the people of Myanmar as well as other internet freedom researchers around the world. In countries such as Myanmar where information on existing surveillance practices is limited this type of research is all the more difficult - and important - to conduct. It is therefore the hope of this study the information produced by this research serves as a seed that will ultimately sprout and grow into a tree of resistance hope and change.The study begins with an overview of Myanmar's relevant political and internet-based background. Next the study's methodologies and limitations are discussed. The core of the study is then devoted to findings from research and measurements followed by findings from interviews. Finally, the study finishes with concluding thoughts and key acknowledgements.

MSF and the Rohingya 1992-2014

November 1, 2020

The Rohingya people live in northern Rakhine state (formerly Arakan), located in western coastal Union of Myanmar (formerly Union of Burma) bordering Bangladesh to the north. The stateless Rohingya are predominately a Muslim minority, in a majority-Buddhist country. Since the late 70s, the Rohingya have fled persecution and violence to seek refuge in Bangladesh.The case study "MSF and the Rohingya 1992 - 2014" brings to light two decades of MSF advocacy activities as part of its humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya people in Bangladesh and Myanmar and explores the questions and dilemmas the organisation was confronted with surrounding speaking out.

“An Open Prison without End”: Myanmar’s Mass Detention of Rohingya in Rakhine State

October 1, 2020

This report is based on research conducted by Human Rights Watch in the city of Yangon and Rakhine State, Myanmar, and Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, since late 2018.We conducted interviews with 32 Rohingya living in the townships of Sittwe, Pauktaw, Myebon, Kyauktaw, and Kyaukpyu in central Rakhine State, and in the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar who had fled the central Rakhine camps. Because Human Rights Watch is restricted by the Myanmar government from visiting the central Rakhine camps, all interviews with people detained there were conducted by phone.Interviewees were informed how the information gathered would be used and that they could decline the interview or terminate it at any point. The majority of interviews were conducted directly in the Rohingya language. Some were conducted in Burmese with English interpretation. The names of Rohingya interviewees have been replaced with pseudonyms for their protection.We also conducted more than 30 in-depth interviews with staff from United Nations agencies, international and local humanitarian organizations, and Rohingya and Kaman civil society groups, in addition to activists, community leaders, and local and regional analysts. Follow-up interviews were conducted over the phone and via other secure means of communications. Because of concerns of official backlash and security considerations, we have withheld the names and details of sources.In researching this report, Human Rights Watch obtained, reviewed, and analyzed over 100 internal and public government, UN, and academic documents and reports related to the situation in central Rakhine State. 

GEWEP II: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Programme II Final Report

August 31, 2020

The Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment Program (GEWEP) II was implemented over four years from March 2016 through February 2020. GEWEP II worked with and for poor women and girls in some of the world's most fragile states: Burundi, DRC, Mali, Myanmar, Niger and Rwanda. By the end of the program period, GEWEP IIreached more than 1 161 869women and girls, mainly through Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs). Norad has supported VSLAs since they were first piloted by CARE in Niger in 1991. Since then, Norad has supported over 49 722 groups encompassing more than 1 150 625 women. This includes GEWEP II and previous programming, which GEWEP II builds on. During GEWEP II, more than 16 070 new groups were established. This is a key method for providing financial services to poor women and girls, and an important contribution towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 2, 5, 8 and 9, which all mention access to financial services.This report includes results on outcome and output level, of which the outcome level results were presented in detail in the GEWEP II Result Report submitted in May 2019. The table below summarizes the results at outcome level, for the global indicators that were collected across all program countries. These indicators were collected at the population level in the intervention zones. Overall, there has been positive change in the perception and attitude to women's economic, political and social empowerment in the intervention zones. On a national level, there has been positive changes in legislation, but implementation remains a challenge. A few indicators saw negative change. In Burundi, the percentage of women who state they are able to influence decisions went down from baseline, although it is still high at 88%. In Niger, the patriarchy remains strong, but despite challenges in changing men's attitudes, women have reported increased participation and social inclusion. The indicator focusing on women's sole decision-making saw little progress as the program worked more towards joint decision making. 

The Displacement Continuum: The Relationship Between Internal Displacement and Cross-border Movement in Seven Countries

June 1, 2020

The twentieth of June is World Refugee Day, dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees. There are nearly twice as many internally displaced people (IDPs) as there are refugees, but there is no International Day of Internal Displacement.To bring attention to the invisible majority of displaced people, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is investigating the relationship between internal displacement and cross-border movement. Based on primary research conducted with refugees, returning refugees and IDPs from Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen, we arrive at the following key findings:Cross-border movements are often a symptom of the failure to protect and assist IDPs in their country of origin. More than half of the refugees and returning refugees surveyed were internally displaced before leaving their country of origin. Many suffered multiple internal displacements and were unable to find safety in their country of origin.Restrictive migration policies combine with the high cost of irregular migration to limit opportunities for IDPs seeking refuge abroad. Instead, IDPs are exposed to repeated incidents of internal displacement. Nearly 47 per cent of IDPs surveyed were displaced multiple times. Border closures resulting from COVID-19 act as a further barrier to international protection.Difficult conditions abroad can push refugees to return prematurely to their countries of origin. Family reunification is the most powerful motivation behind returns, but refugees who are unable to make ends meet in their host country may feel they have no choice but to return to insecurity in their country of origin. Under such circumstances, return assistance runs the risk of encouraging premature returns.Refugees who return prematurely to their country of origin often find themselves in situations of internal displacement. Over three-quarters of returning refugees surveyed were living outside their area of origin, often because of continued insecurity and housing destruction. Returning refugees and IDPs face similar challenges in terms of accessing durable solutions to their displacement.

A Gender-Transformative Response to COVID-19 in Myanmar

May 27, 2020

On 27 April, the Myanmar Government published the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP) which aims to mitigate COVID-19's impact on the macroeconomic environment and the private sector and to ease the impact on laborers, workers, and households. The CERP action plan should pay explicit attention to gender discrepancies to avoid unintentional harm or aggravating existing gender inequalities.

The Rule of Law: Retreat from Accountability

December 23, 2019

This is Security Council Report's fifth research report on the rule of law. In it, we continue to explore the Security Council's work in upholding individual criminal accountability as an aspect of its rule of law agenda in the context of its primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. Through an examination of four situations the Council deals with regularly—Myanmar, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen—the research report takes stock of and assesses the Council's current attitude and actions in respect of accountability.The report shows that in some of the most devastating conflicts of recent times, Council members have–apart from general rhetoric–often ignored issues of accountability.