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Minorities in Myanmar’s border areas face new fears since the coup



Jakarta, Indonesia (AP)-Before the onset of each rainy season, Luluang Aung and other farmers living in the camps for internally displaced persons in the northernmost Kachin State of Myanmar will return to the villages they fled from and plant crops to help them prepare for the upcoming Grain provides sufficient food for years.

However, after the military coup in February this year, farmers seldom walked out of their temporary residences or dared to leave their camps due to not far from the rain. They said this was too dangerous to risk escaping from the Burmese army or its unified militia.

Luluang said: “Since the coup, we have nowhere to go and nothing to do.”

; “Every night, we hear the sound of jet fighters flying so close above the camp.”

The military’s fatal strikes against protesters in large central cities such as Yangon and Mandalay have received much attention because of the coup that overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government. But in Myanmar’s border areas, Lu Lu Aung and millions of other people from Myanmar’s ethnic minorities are facing increasing uncertainty, and due to the long-term relationship between the military and ethnic minority guerrillas. Conflict broke out again, and security gradually weakened.

In the past week, thousands of people have been displaced and civilians have been forced to flee to neighboring Thailand as the military launched deadly air strikes on their Karen guerrillas at their homes on the eastern border. This situation has been pushed to the forefront.

If the killing of civilians is not stopped, several rebels threaten to unite, and a group of deposed government members proposes the idea of ​​forming a new army that includes the rebel group. At the same time, the UN Special Envoy for Myanmar warned the country of the possibility of civil war.

Among Myanmar’s 52 million people, ethnic minorities account for about 40%, but the central government and military leaders have long been the Burmese majority. Since independence from Britain in 1948, more than a dozen ethnic groups have been seeking greater autonomy, some of which maintain their own independent military.

This makes them run counter to Burma’s supranationalist generals. They have long ceded territories, especially in the border areas rich in natural resources, as treason, and relentlessly fought rebel forces, only occasionally for a period of time. . Ceasefire.

Violence has led to allegations that all parties have been abused, such as arbitrary taxation of civilians and forced conscription. According to the United Nations, 239,000 people have been displaced since 2011 alone. This does not include the more than 800,000 ethnic Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh to escape the UN military operation called ethnic cleansing.

Since February, anti-coup protests have taken place in every border state, and security forces have reacted like tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to other places. But residents and observers say that the situation has worsened after the coup in the geographically remote border areas as the conflict between military and armed ethnic groups fighting for power and territory intensified.

Lu Lu Aung from Kachin State said that she participated in the protest but stopped because it was too dangerous now. She said that Myanmar’s security forces and allied militias had recently occupied their old villages, where they were growing crops and no one had left the camp because they feared that they would be forced to work for the army.

She said: “Our students are no longer able to go to school, and it is so difficult for adults to find a job and earn money.”

Since the coup, due to the pandemic and the inherent difficulties faced by outside groups in many areas, humanitarian assistance has been provided to civilians in border areas.

The head of a Myanmar organization that supports the displaced said communications has been paralyzed, banks have been closed, and security has become increasingly uncertain.

She said: “There is no more humanitarian help and support.”

In the eastern Karen state, thousands of people have been displaced by air strikes. People are worried that the rainy season may exacerbate the humanitarian situation. According to reports, Thailand has repatriated many civilians who fled, which has made the humanitarian situation difficult. Thailand stated that those who returned to Myanmar did so voluntarily.

However, parts of the country’s borders were hardly affected by the coup.

In Wa state, which borders China and Thailand, has its own government, military and ceasefire agreement with the Myanmar military. Videos shared online show that life is as usual, including the launch of a coronavirus vaccination campaign.

Near Bangladesh, near Rakhine State, the Rohingya were deported and violent conflicts with the Arakan Army have been going on for many years. Last month, the military government removed them from the list of terrorist organizations, thereby increasing Hopes to reduce hostilities. Unlike many other armed groups, the Arakan Army did not criticize the coup.

However, the organization issued a statement announcing its right to defend its territory and civilians from military attacks, which made some people fear that the fighting would escalate again.

Other armed groups have also issued similar statements. Organizations like the Karen National League provide protection for civilians marching in anti-coup protests.

This action led to a call for the establishment of a “federal army” to bring together armed ethnic groups across the country. But analysts said that due to logistical challenges and political differences between groups, it is difficult to achieve such a vision.

Ronan Lee, a visiting scholar at Queen Mary’s International University in London, said: “These groups cannot provide the necessary support to the Burmese army in populous urban centers or too far away from their area.” National Crime Initiative.

Although uncertain about the future development, some ethnic minority activists said that since the coup, they have been encouraged by the increasing concern about the role that ethnic groups can play in Myanmar in the future. They also said that, at least among the anti-coup protesters, people seem to have a better understanding of the struggles ethnic minorities have faced for a long time.

A human rights activist said: “If there is a silver lining to all of this, it is it.” Worried about his safety, he spoke on condition of anonymity.


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