Authoritarian Impediments to Civil Society in Contemporary Myanmar: Findings from the Myanmar Civil Society Survey 2019
91 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 26, 2020
Myanmar has seen an unprecedented expansion of civil society following its opening-up in 2011. However, on a regular basis, civil society actors still face undue obstacles to their work. Whereas egregious instances of, what we collectively call ‘authoritarian impediments,’ have been documented on a case-by-case basis, comparative knowledge about the day-to-day impediments to free civil society has yet been missing. The Myanmar Civil Society Survey (MCSS) compiles first-hand data about experiences of repression and other unrequited obstacles from civil society organisations active in the country. This paper introduces the inaugural survey and key findings. The data reveals that authoritarian impediments have remained widespread, seriously undermining the function of civil society. Nonetheless, authoritarian impediments seem frequently unintentional and originating from incompetence, or a lack of understanding, rather than being repressive-by-intent. Moreover, many civil society organisations reported improvements, which puts our interpretation into context.
Keywords: Myanmar, civil society, survey, repression, democratisation
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