Escalation in the fight against the military government in Myanmar

Myanmar map Myanmar map Photo by szabolcs via iStock

Violence between army forces and rebel groups has escalated in Myanmar

As Al Jazeera reports, Myanmar's military government is facing one of the biggest challenges since it seized power in a coup more than two years ago, following the new formation of an alliance of ethnic minority rebels with anti-coup militias. The fighters are challenging the junta after disrupting the country's main trade routes, occupying towns and dozens outposts. Opposition forces are for the first time carrying out operations in areas that the military considered government strongholds, managing to control half of the country.

UN News reported the words of the UN High Official for Human Rights, who sounded the alarm over escalating violence between the military junta and opposition forces in Burma's Rakhine State. The region was the site of a brutal crackdown on the Rohingya population by the military in 2017, resulting in the killing of some 10,000 men, women and infants, and the exodus of nearly 750,000 community members, many of whom continue to languish in refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh. 
The breakdown of a one-year informal ceasefire between the military and the Arakan Army (AA) last November plunged 15 of Rakhine's 17 commercial towns into conflict. The military's loss of territory in the northern and central parts of the province led to intensified fighting in the towns of Buthidaung and Maungdaw, setting the stage for a potential battle in the capital Sittwe.

Faced with initial defeat, the army started to recruit the population by force, bribing and forcing the Rohingya to join their ranks. Reports suggest that villagers, including ethnic Rakhine, were forced to burn their homes, causing tensions and violence to rise.

OHCHR is trying to verify the news, with little success due to the communications blackout. Furthermore, the High Commissioner spoke of a widespread disinformation and propaganda campaign by the rebels.

According to The Guardian, rebel fighters used 40 mm machine guns and dropped 20 bombs from drones to hit about 200 junta soldiers who had retreated to Myawaddy, along the Burmese border, forcing thousands of civilians to flee to Thailand. The Thai Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, in light of the dramatic situation, announced that his country is ready to provide humanitarian assistance if needed.



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