Conflicts & War

Myanmar’s armed conflicts have thrown country into chaos, NGO warns

Bangkok, Jun 28 (EFE).- Clashes that have erupted across Myanmar in response to the coup on Feb. 1 have plunged the country into chaos and left hundreds dead and tens of thousands displaced, a nonprofit specialized in preventing and resolving conflicts warned on Monday.

In a report, Crisis Group highlights the Myanmar military’s (known as the Tatmadaw) “heavy-handed, indiscriminate retaliation” to armed civilian groups which, using homemade weapons and hunting rifles, have caused “significant casualties on the security forces.”

The security forces have used heavy artillery, airstrikes and helicopter gunships “in indiscriminate attacks on populated areas” in various regions of the country, including the western town of Mindat in Chin state and towns in the eastern Kayin state.

These retaliatory actions have forced thousands of people, including the elderly and children, to take refuge in forests while the military has blocked any supply of humanitarian aid.

“The Tatmadaw must meet its international obligations to respect the proportional use of force, distinguish between combatants and civilians, and allow unimpeded humanitarian access to those displaced,” Crisis Group notes in the report “Taking Aim at the Tatmadaw: The New Armed Resistance to Myanmar’s Coup.”

“The militias, for their part, should not take the Tatmadaw’s grave abuses as an excuse to commit their own,” it adds.

Almost five months after the coup that ended Myanmar’s incipient transition to democracy, the military has still not managed to take control of the entire country despite brutal repression of the opposition.

At least 883 people have been killed as a result of a crackdown by security forces, according to figures from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.

Tired of the little progress made by the peaceful demonstrations, some protesters have formed militias or joined armed ethnic groups in the country to put up armed resistance to the military, while clashes between the armed forces and ethnic guerrillas – who demand greater autonomy for their regions – have intensified in several areas across Myanmar since the coup.

The opposition National Unity Government, formed in April by politicians and activists opposed to the military junta, created the People’s Defense Force militia in May with the aim of uniting the various ethnic guerrillas in the future and forming a federal army.

The military has justified the coup alleging fraud in elections held in November, in which ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party repeated its resounding victory of 2015, with international observers backing the polls. EFE


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