YANGON: Myanmar is preparing its first census in decades, giving a vital snapshot of the ethnically diverse society but inflaming tensions in a nation where suspicions of government run deep after years of junta rule.
Cheerful information posters festoon roadsides ahead of the 12-day survey, which will see tens of thousands of census takers—mainly teachers—fan out from the mountainous north to conflict-scarred jungle borderlands and the tropical south.
With even basic information like population based on estimates, the survey—which begins on Sunday—aims to visit every household to plug information gaps that hamper policymakers.
But it has already sparked violent protests in a western region blighted by sectarian violence, and there are concerns it could also undermine peace talks with ethnic minority rebels.
Local people, repressed under decades of secretive military rule that ended in 2011, have expressed suspicion of the collection of household information including questions on movement and economic activity.
“Despite reforms and am–nesties, peaceful protesters and political activists are still subject to arbitrary detention and other human rights abuses by state security forces,” said Daniel Gray of risk ana-lysts Maplecroft.
“Equipping Myanmar’s largely authoritarian government with up-to-date information on its citizens is therefore a cause for concern,” he added.