First modification: 06/29/2021 – 17:01
Five months after the military coup, violence continues in Myanmar, where at least 860 civilians have been killed. Meanwhile, fighting is spreading across the country and ethnic groups, defying the authority of the central government, have taken up arms again. But a new element has been added: the creation of self-defense militias in various localities, which are mobilizing against the Army.
Despite repression by the military junta, the new self-defense militias have managed to launch localized attacks against the Burmese military. The consequence, warns the NGO International Crisis Group in a report published on Monday, June 28, is that there is now a great risk that the population will suffer “indiscriminate reprisals” from the Tatmadaw, the official name of the government Army. This would cause the displacement of thousands of people.
“Several of these groups have been formed in reaction to the brutal repression of peaceful demonstrations by the Burmese Army,” explains Richard Horsey, a researcher at the International Crisis Group and a specialist in Burma, in statements to RFI.
These militias have also been created “in rural areas, where farmers, villagers and hunters have come together to protect their communities … Very often, they are only armed with hunting rifles or homemade equipment, but they know their environment very well, which gives them an advantage over the military ”, he adds.
These self-defense militias have inflicted heavy casualties on Burmese troops, taking this cycle of violence to a new dimension. “Some of these militias are carrying out commando attacks, assassinating government officials, planting bombs and using guerrilla techniques to destabilize the regime,” Horsey said.
230,000 displaced by continuous fighting
The regime’s retaliation has already displaced tens of thousands of men, women and children. “But the real questions are for the Burmese Army,” says the International Crisis Group researcher. “When will they stop attacking civilians? When will they respect international law and the will of the people? It is highly unlikely that they will relinquish power. , but that is what the majority of the people want ”, he emphasizes.
Some 230,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in the country and need help, the UN warned last week. The price of the fighting has been high for communities in northern Myanmar such as Kachin and Shan states, where ethnic minority armies have a long history of hostilities with the Burmese army, reports Deutsche Welle.
Aid operations have been hampered by armed clashes and violence, according to the UN. “Local networks and humanitarian agencies cannot adequately assist these people,” says the International Crisis Group, “due to restricted access and coercive measures, which include arrests by the military, confiscation of supplies and killings of those who try to lend. help”.
This article was originally published in RFI