Many of you will have seen disturbing images of continuing escalation of violence and bloodshed in Myanmar in recent days. A particular flashpoint was Armed Forces Day on 27 March. Originally a celebration of Burmese resistance against Japanese occupation in WW2, the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s armed forces) used this year’s occasion to put on a show of force, with particularly brutal crackdown against peaceful demonstrations across the country.
We are devastated to see not only the violent repression of the non-violent civil disobedience movement, but also the reversal of a decade of rapid economic progress, political opening and social transformation.
We are in regular contact with our friends at the ZMF bank in Kalaymyo. They report that they remain safe for now, but very worried about the uncertainty and worsening political situation. Blockaded streets and the sound of gunfire are not uncommon, and the usually bustling streets are quiet.
The ZMF offices continue to open when it is safe (although they have been closed for the past week or so with increasing unrest). Although repayments are being made by clients, repeat loans are not currently being disbursed. The result is a temporary hiatus in new lending as ZMF looks to safeguard its capital pool for maximum benefit once the political climate improves (the closure of commercial banks has also meant that we have been unable to send funds to ZMF since the 1 February coup).
For those wondering what this means for funds contributed to ADC, we are confident that donations will continue have massive impact despite the current slowdown in loan circulation.
As with disruptions caused by COVID-19 lockdowns across the past year, the ZMF staff are committed to supporting clients get their businesses back up and running.
ZMF has been part of the local community now for almost fifteen years, and has operated under military rule before. Recent events mean that its work – providing affordable financial services to those who are economically marginalised and living in poverty – will be even more crucial in the months and years to come as the people Kalaymyo, like the rest of Myanmar, recover from the current unrest and adjust to whatever the future brings.
We’ll send further updates as the situation develops, and hope to be able to share some exciting developments on the ADC front in the coming weeks.