Myanmar is facing a surge in the spread of COVID-19. Government-introduced restrictions and public health measures had, until now, been widely praised for the relatively limited impact of the disease on Myanmar. In states where the institutions and norms of democracy have yet to take root, there is a risk that crisis might be used to justify the restrictions on the freedoms and rights normally enjoyed by citizens – in particular the freedoms of movement, assembly and expression. This risk is heightened during a period of political flux, such as during an election.
Civic rights and civic space were already in decline in Myanmar before the arrival of COVID-19. On this backdrop, this paper looks specifically at how the government response to COVID-19 has impacted on civic space, peace process, election, political rights and vulnerable populations in Myanmar.