Myanmar Government Issues Directives Restricting Travel from Rakhine State and Tanintharyi Region

New Directive

Regional authorities recently imposed new restrictions from the Ministry of Transport and Communications on people living in both the Rakhine State and Tanintharyi Region. People living in the two regions must have a “certificate of permission” from their ward’s or village’s general administration departments to fly to Yangon. However, these individuals are only allowed to fly to Yangon or other cities to attend colleges or receive healthcare services. Government employees also must receive permission from the agency or department they work for before getting on an outbound flight. Individuals who purchase their tickets online must have the letters when they arrive at the airport.

Myanmar Airways International internal memo outlining that travelers need a “permission letter” to travel on airplanes (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

However, people who cannot prove they received a certificate will not be allowed to board their flights, according to a February 11th Myanmar Airways International internal memo. Another February 9th letter from a district administrator in Tanintharyi Region also outlines the same restrictions as those found in Rakhine State. The letter informs travel agents that they cannot sell airplane tickets to Yangon, Mandalay, or other cities unless the travelers have “permission letters” from their ward or village administrators. However, the directives did not say if the travelers needed a permission letter if they were returning from Yangon or other cities back to the two regions.

Analysis

The new directives are likely a preemptive response to prevent individuals eligible for conscription from fleeing the area. Several individuals stated on social media the day after the law came into effect that they would either choose to flee the country or join the People’s Defense Forces (PDF) instead of conscription. However, the directive would have the opposite effect, with the individuals simply choosing other methods to flee the area or joining local PDFs or ethnic armies. The directive would also likely cause severe economic disruptions due to people requiring a letter to go to Yangon, Mandalay, and other cities for business purposes. Furthermore, the disruptions would also extend to the surviving bureaucratic entities since the directive also extends to government employees.

Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.

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