One of Myanmar’s main rebel groups has invaded a military base near the Thai border, raising fears of further clashes with the country’s armed forces. Tension between the military and some ethnic armed groups in Myanmar has increased since the February 1 coup to overthrow leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
On Tuesday morning, members of the Karen National Union (KNU) group broke into a military camp, confiscated weapons and killed several soldiers. Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun confirmed the attack and said “action will be taken.”
Since the start of the conflict, the KNU, which has thousands of members, has positioned itself on the front line against the junta and has even opened training camps to train combatants. She says she has at least 2,000 opponents of the military regime that has taken power.
This is not the first time that members of the KNU have taken over a military base in Myanmar. The last time was in March, killing ten Burmese soldiers. The army responded with airstrikes on the strongholds of this armed ethnic group, increasing tension there as has not been seen for about 20 years.
The situation has caused panic among many inhabitants of the south-east of the country. About 25,000 people have already left the site due to clashes between Karen soldiers and the Burmese army. About 3,000 people have crossed the border, seeking refuge in Thailand.
“No one dares to stay for fear of possible reprisals from the army,” AFP news agency Hkara, who lives in the Thai town of Mae Sam Laep, across the border, said. AFP news agency.
Cease-fire in 2015
Since Myanmar’s independence in 1948, several ethnic factions have come into conflict with the central government because of the demand for greater autonomy, for claiming access to the country’s natural resources or for having integrated the lucrative trafficking. drug.
In 2015, the army succeeded in concluding a national ceasefire agreement with ten militias, including the KNU. However, since this year’s coup and bloody crackdown, several of them have threatened to break the pact.
More than 750 civilians have been killed by police and security forces in the past three months, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP). On Monday evening (26), a trader was shot dead in Mandalay, in the center of the country.
The AAPP also fears an increase in abuses against the LGBT community. The association denounced the case of a trans woman humiliated and abused during her detention.
The campaign of mobilization and civil disobedience continues in Myanmar, despite the repression of the junta. Small groups of protesters took to the streets again on Tuesday. Activists also posted photos on social media with painted faces with anti-military messages: “Free the detainees!” and “respect our vote”.
Promise of dialogue
The country’s army commander, General Min Aung Hlaing, justifies the coup by alleging alleged fraud in the November legislative elections won by Suu Kyi’s party.
The general made his first trip abroad since the leader was sacked last weekend. He attended a summit meeting of the Association of Southwest Asian Nations (Asean), which ended with the release of a five-point document to try to end the violence and promote dialogue.
Myanmar officials said on Tuesday that they would “carefully consider ASEAN’s constructive suggestions”, but that “their priority at the moment is to maintain law and order.”
Thomas Andrews, the UN’s leading independent expert, said General Min Aung Hlaing must publicly declare that he will honor the pledge made at the ASEAN meeting.
“I am writing to demand your public engagement and to honor the fundamental right of the Burmese people to freely express their views, including their opposition to their actions, without fear of being arbitrarily injured, killed or detained,” Andrews said in an open letter. “I ask that you quickly and unconditionally release all political prisoners held since February 1, as requested by ASEAN officials.
The expert also calls on the military junta to accept the visit of an ASEAN special envoy to Myanmar and to authorize meetings with all parties, including President Win Myint and former head of government Aung San Suu Kyi. Asean has announced its intention to soon appoint a special envoy “to facilitate mediation”.