Increased militarisation on Thai-Myanmar Border under cover of COVID-19

Dec 22, 2020


On the Thai-Myanmar border, the Myanmar Army and Thai security forces have increased their presence, escalating tensions and fear for migrant workers and refugees. Meanwhile in Myanmar, the government is using the cover of the Coronavirus pandemic to push through economic stimulus packages that include major infrastructure projects.
Watch this exclusive interview between two activists – Debbie Stothard and Charm Tong – as they talk about the impact of COVID-19 recovery projects on ethnic minorities and how tensions have escalated.



The Thai Burma Border is not the only region where the government is using COVID-19 as a cover to increase militarisation and implement policies that harm vulnerable communities. Here’s how other governments in South-East Asia and beyond are using the cover of the Coronavirus pandemic to push through anti-worker legislation and increasing police and military activities against marginalised communities:

  • Zimbabwe is facing a worsening crisis. The security forces have seized control of economic and financial policy at a time of shrinking GDP and skyrocketing inflation. Basic livelihood items are scarce.
  • In the Philippines, trade unionists, human rights activists and journalists continue to be targeted, jailed or killed as they organise or speak out against pandemic management by government.
  • Cambodia’s already terrible human rights record is under further pressure with new state-of-emergency laws and union leaders being tracked with ID requirements and jailed for organising protests.
  • In Indonesia, new anti-worker laws have enabled more outsourcing and contract work, reduced job security, leave entitlements and severance pay for permanent employees, and abolished the five-day working week.

But people are standing up! In Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Zimbabwe and along the Thai-Myanmar border, Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA partner organisations are continuing to collectively organise against these threats. And your solidarity helps!

If you haven’t made a donation but wish to support these projects and others around the globe, you can still donate to the Coronavirus Solidarity Fund to help stop repression and militarisation under the cover of COVID-19.


As the crisis continues to unfold across the globe, we will continue to work with our global network of partner organisations to protect vulnerable communities from the Coronavirus and defend their rights. Because we know that it is during times of crisis that our solidarity is most powerful. 

For your efforts, your contributions, and your solidarity, we say thank you!

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