Lee, R. (2021), Myanmar’s Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA): An Analysis of a New Muslim Militant Group and its Strategic Communications, Perspectives on Terrorism, Vol 15, No 6. Link to article here. OPEN ACCESS

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) has been central to two major Myanmar military operations against Rohingya communities that have led to large-scale cross-border forced migrations to Bangladesh. This article describes the context for ARSA’s emergence, examining the Rohingya’s history in Myanmar, the nature of political violence in the country, and the history of Muslim militancy in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. ARSA’s emergence as a militant Muslim group is outlined and elements of ARSA’s strategic communications, including its Twitter presence, are analysed, allowing the author to draw some conclusions about the nature of ARSA and its priorities.


Lee, R. (2019), Myanmar’s Citizenship Law as State Crime: A Case for the International Criminal Court, State Crime Journal, DOI: 10.13169/statecrime.8.2.0241 Link to article here. OPEN ACCESS

This article argues that Myanmar’s authorities subject the Rohingya to human rights violations that can be accurately described as the crime of apartheid. Myanmar’s discriminatory application of its citizenship laws and processes is central to this crime, yet while Myanmar is not a signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the court’s jurisdiction remains limited. However, Myanmar’s government has brought this crime to the territory of International Criminal Court (ICC) member state Bangladesh. Because Myanmar’s government insists upon Rohingya participation in discriminatory citizenship processes as a precondition of refugee repatriation to Myanmar, this presents the ICC with an opportunity to assert its jurisdiction. While current ICC investigation focusses mostly on alleged crimes committed by the Myanmar military, crimes associated with Myanmar’s citizenship processes would likely be the responsibility of Myanmar’s civilian government, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, making Myanmar’s civilian political leaders liable for the first time to ICC prosecution.


Ronan Lee & José Antonio González Zarandona (2019) Heritage destruction in Myanmar’s Rakhine state: legal and illegal iconoclasm, International Journal of Heritage Studies, DOI: 10.1080/13527258.2019.1666294 Link to article here.

In this article we map heritage destruction in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. We outline the historic and contemporary political context in Myanmar explaining the background of the Rohingya Muslim ethnic group and addressing the contribution of religion and political change to anti-Rohingya discrimination and violence in Myanmar. We trace patterns of heritage destruction as legal and/ or illegal iconoclasm and specify the key elements of heritage destruction in Rakhine state. Our analysis focusses on the use of heritage destruction in Rakhine state as a tool of genocide, and we suggest that heritage destruction in Myanmar’s Rakhine state ought to be understood as part the authorities’ policies of genocide against the Rohingya. We conclude the article with a call for UNESCO to act to extend its ‘Unite4Heritage’ campaign to include the destruction of heritage by state actors.


Lee, R. (2019). Extreme Speech in Myanmar: The Role of State Media in the Rohingya Forced Migration Crisis, International Journal of Communication. Vol 13, pp 3203-3224.  Link to article here. OPEN ACCESS.

This article considers the role of the state authorities in perpetrating extreme speech and the processes by which state power is used in normalizing hateful expressions against minoritized communities. Drawing attention to Myanmar’s 2017 Rohingya crisis, a human rights and humanitarian catastrophe, the article examines how the state media publication, the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper, has actively produced anti Rohingya speech in its editions and influenced violent narratives about the Rohingya Muslims circulating on social media. It shows how official media contributed to a political environment where anti-Rohingya speech was made acceptable and where rights abuses against the group were excused. While regulators often consider the role of social media platforms like Facebook as conduits for the spread of extreme speech, this case study shows that extreme speech by state actors using state media ought to be similarly considered a major concern for scholarship and policy.


Lee, R. (2016). The Dark Side of Liberalization: How Myanmar’s Political and Media Freedoms Are Being Used to Limit Muslim Rights, Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations. Vol 27, No 2, pp 195-211. Publication Award, Deakin University Faculty of Arts & Education Publication Award 2016. Link to article here.

This article describes how divisive groups have taken advantage of Myanmar’s new political and media freedoms to pursue an agenda that will limit the civil and political rights of the country’s Muslim population. The article argues that enforcement of the four Protection of Race and Religion Laws will disadvantage Myanmar’s already politically marginalized Muslim residents by creating a de facto religious test for full Myanmar citizenship rights. The article examines both the positive and negative aspects of Myanmar’s liberalizations, the nature of the ‘Protection of Race and Religion’ legislative package and how this will interact with Myanmar’s citizenship laws.


Lee, R. (2014). A Politician, Not an Icon: Aung San Suu Kyi’s Silence on Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya, Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations. Vol 25, No 3, pp 321-333.
University Medal – Neil Archbold Memorial Medal and Travel Award for best peer-reviewed journal article of 2015. Link to article here.

In Myanmar (also known as Burma), the Rohingya are a persecuted Muslim minority living mainly in northern Rakhine State. Aung San Suu Kyi, the iconic leader of Myanmar’s opposition party the National League for Democracy (NLD), is championed as the voice of the people. However, on the matter of the Rohingya’s persecution she has been notably silent. This article examines the possible reasons for Suu Kyi’s silence and argues that Buddhist–Muslim political relations in Myanmar are central to understanding the reasons behind Suu Kyi’s position on the Rohingya. It is suggested that various factors, including the history of the Rohingya in Myanmar, the NLD’s attitude towards the Rohingya, Suu Kyi’s sense of obligation to her father’s political legacy, and Suu Kyi’s views on ethnicity, are creating a political environment in which Suu Kyi is presented with pragmatic political reasons for staying silent. Given Suu Kyi has the potential to become a future national leader, an understanding of her behaviours towards a sizeable persecuted Muslim minority is important. This is particularly the case when consideration is given to the contemporary pressures on Muslims to embrace radical politics and the implications this could have for Myanmar and the region.



Biden Must Recognize Myanmar’s Shadow Government. 2021.
Sai Rajagopal & Ronan Lee. Newsweek.

A nation on the brink: Myanmar’s people need urgent international support to avoid state failure. 2021. ABC.

Myanmar’s democracy protesters may need more than Milk Tea Alliance tactics to defeat the military coup. 2021. ABC.

Myanmar’s protests have unified a disparate country, but including the Rohingya can help defeat the coup. 2021. ABC.

Myanmar’s Coup Has Led Many to Rethink Their Previous Exclusion of the Rohingya. 2021. Georgetown University Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs.

COVID coup: how Myanmar’s military used the pandemic to justify and enable its power grab. 2021. The Conversation.

Blaming Victims: Bangladesh’s Hardline Approach to Rohingya is Misguided. 2019. The Globe Post.

Facebook is Hurting Democracy in Myanmar. 2018. AsiaGlobal Online.

‘They shot my two daughters in front of me’: Rohingya tell heartbreaking stories of loss and forced migration. 2017. The Conversation.

Myanmarmy Genocide. 2017. Village Magazine.

World Needs to Speak up Against Myanmar’s Crackdown on Rohingya. 2017. The Globe Post.

Renshaw, Catherine, Lee, Ronan, and Roose, Joshua. 2017. Four Steps Australia Must Take to Address Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar. New Matilda.

Rohingya Crisis: ASEAN’s Problems go beyond a Religious Rift. 2017. IAPS Dialogue.

Violence obscures policy proposals for Rohingya. 2017. Policy Forum.

How Militants Blew Change to Improve Rights of Rohingya Muslims. 2017. The Globe Post.

Reports on Genocide in Myanmar Highlight the Need for Change, E-International Relations

Myanmar’s Rohingya need tomorrow’s fairer world today, Policy Forum.

Myanmar’s new leaders could end Rohingya conflict by tapping into reserves of goodwill (with Anthony Ware), The Conversation

Once Suu Kyi takes power, her party will need to re-engage the people to manage sky-high hopes (with Anthony Ware), The Conversation

Why consultation is crucial to building a stronger democracy (with Anthony Ware), Myanmar Times

Between the devil and the deep blue sea: the Rohingya’s dilemma, The Conversation

How Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is allowing U Thein Sein to become Myanmar’s smartest politician, Mizzima

What the Melbourne by-election tells the Greens, Online Opinion, 2012

Burma and Bipartisanism, Online Opinion, 2012

Burma’s changes must go beyond the political, National Times, 2011

Meeting Aung San Suu Kyi, 2010

Tasmanian Premier praises Ronan’s election campaign strategy for the Greens



Lee, R. (2021). “Myanmar Citizenship Laws: Making Rohingya Muslims Stateless”. Association for Asian Studies New England Regional Conference.

Lee, R. (2021). “Hate Speech in Myanmar: Facebook and the Rohingya Genocide”. Bangladesh Liberation War Museum 7th International Conference on Bangladesh Genocide and Justice.  

Lee, R. (2021). “How techniques of denial and distortion were weaponised to enable the genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya, and why education about the Holocaust and its denial must be part of a democratic Myanmar’s future”. Never Again Association symposium Identifying and Countering Holocaust Distortion: Lessons for and from Southeast Asia.  

Lee, R. (2021). “Heritage destruction in Myanmar’s Rakhine state: legal and illegal iconoclasm”. Interdisciplinary Myanmar Conference 2021: Myanmar’s Transition – from Where to Where?

Lee, R. (2021). “A failure to protect: Myanmar’s Rohingya, genocide, forced deportation and R2P”. 5th Responsibility to Protect in Theory and Practice Conference.

Lee, R. (2018). ““They shot my two daughters in front of me”: Rohingya stories of forced migration from Myanmar”. Southeast Asia Meets Global Challenges, Association of Southeast Asian Studies in the UK Conference 2018, Leeds, UK.

Lee, R. (2018). “The consequences of Extreme Speech in Myanmar state media, the example of The Global New Light of Myanmar and the Rohingya Muslim refugee crisis”. Working paper for the Global Digital Media Cultures and Extreme Speech workshop 2018, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany.

Lee, R. (2017). “Could Myanmar’s Buddhist nationalists achieve what IS could not – the radicalisation of Myanmar’s Rohingya?”. Addressing the New Landscape of Terrorism Conference 2017, Bangkok, Thailand.

Lee, R. (2015). “Holding Back the Tide: Can Myanmar’s Democratic Political Leaders Prevent a de facto Religious Test for Full Citizenship Rights?”. Burma/Myanmar Conference 2015. Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Lee, R. (2014). “Visions of an Icon: Aung San Suu Kyi and the Rohingya”. International Burma Studies Conference 2014. Singapore.

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