Myanmar junta plans October national census

The Myanmar junta’s announcement of a national census scheduled for October has sparked controversy and concerns among critics and observers. The move comes amidst ongoing unrest and resistance to the military rule that followed the coup in 2021.

The military, led by top general Soe Win, has emphasized the necessity of conducting a census before holding fresh elections, which junta-backed politicians have hinted could occur in 2025. The military has used the alleged fraud in the 2020 elections, won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, as justification for its takeover.

However, critics argue that the census could be exploited by the junta to increase monitoring and control over opponents of the regime, including civil servants and professionals who have been protesting against the military rule. The announcement of the census follows a pilot census conducted in selected areas in 2023.

Myanmar remains deeply divided and unstable, with ongoing conflicts, bombings, targeted killings, and clashes between the military and anti-coup forces. The military’s acknowledgment of its lack of control over certain regions, coupled with its activation of conscription laws, underscores the volatile situation.

International responses to the junta’s plans vary, with the United States condemning any elections held under the military rule as a “sham,” while Russia, a key ally of the junta, has expressed support for the military’s election plans.

As Myanmar prepares for the census and potential future elections, concerns persist about the legitimacy of the process under the military regime and the potential for further violence and repression against dissenting voices.