Minorities in the Myanmar border have faced new fears since the coup

Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) —Before the rainy season, Le Le Aung and other farmers living in internally displaced persons camps in northern Kachin, Myanmar, return to their fleeing villages, plant crops and come. Continued to feed. Year.

However, this year’s military coup in February triggered the rain not so far, so farmers rarely leave temporary housing and never dare to leave the camp. They say it is too dangerous to risk encountering soldiers from the Myanmar army and their allied militias.

“Since the coup, we can’t go anywhere and we can’t do anything,” Lu Lu Aung said. “Every night we hear jet fighters flying just above our camp.”

The military’s deadly crackdown on protesters in big cities such as Yangon and Mandalay has received a lot of attention since the coup that defeated Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government. But in the distant Myanmar border, Le Le Aung and millions of others from Myanmar’s minority groups gathered as the long-standing conflict between the army and the minority guerrilla army reignited. People are facing increasing uncertainty and declining security.

This is at the forefront of the past week as the military launched deadly airstrikes on Karen guerrillas in their eastern border hometown, expelling thousands and sending civilians to flee to neighboring Thailand. It is a situation pushed out to.

While some rebels have threatened to join forces if the killings of civilians do not stop, a group of government members whose testimony has been taken has launched a new army, including rebel groups. The idea of ​​creating it emerged. Meanwhile, the UN special envoy to Myanmar warned that Myanmar is facing the possibility of a civil war.

Ethnic minorities make up about 40% of Myanmar’s 52 million people, but central government and military leadership have long been dominated by a majority of Myanmar’s Burmese ethnic groups. Since independence from Britain in 1948, more than 12 ethnic groups have sought greater autonomy, and some ethnic groups have maintained their own independent military.

It confronted them with Myanmar’s ultra-nationalist general. They have long equated territorial ceasefires, especially those in border areas rich in natural resources, with treason and have fought ruthlessly against rebels for only occasional periods. Ceasefire.

Violence has led to accusations of abuse in all aspects, including arbitrary taxes and forced recruitment of civilians, and according to the United Nations, about 239,000 people were evacuated in 2011 alone. This does not include the more than 800,000 Rohingya ethnic minorities who fled to Bangladesh to escape a military operation that the United Nations calls ethnic cleansing.

Since February, anti-coup campaigns have taken place in all border states, and security forces have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition in the same way as elsewhere. However, residents and observers say the post-coup situation in geographically isolated borders was exacerbated by increased skirmishes between military and armed ethnic groups competing for power and territory.

Lu Lu Aung, a Kachin native, said she participated in the protest, but stopped because it is now too dangerous. She said no one left the camp because militias lined up with Myanmar security forces recently occupied their old village where they planted crops and were afraid they would be forced to work for the army. Said.

“Our students can no longer continue schooling and it is very difficult for adults to find a job and make money,” she said.

Humanitarian assistance to civilians in border areas has already been strained by pandemics and the inherent difficulties faced by out-of-group activities in many areas, but has been difficult since the coup.

The director of a Myanmar-based organization is helping displaced persons who speak anonymously for security reasons, resulting in lost communications, bank closures and increasingly uncertain security. Said.

“There is no more humanitarian or support,” she said.

In eastern Kayin State, where thousands of people were evacuated by airstrikes, reports that Thailand sent back many fleeing civilians could exacerbate the humanitarian situation, which has already made it difficult for the rainy season to arrive. there is. Thailand says that those who returned to Myanmar did so voluntarily.

Still, there are some border areas of the country that are largely unaffected by the coup.

In Washington State, which borders China and Thailand, which has its own government, military, and armistice agreements with the Myanmar Army, videos shared online live as usual, including the deployment of a corona virus vaccination campaign. Is shown.

Near Bangladesh, coastal Rakhine State, where Rohingya have been expelled and violent clashes with Arakan army groups have continued for years, military junta removed the group from the list of terrorist groups last month, hoping for less hostility. I raised it. The Arakan army, unlike many other armed groups, did not criticize the coup.

However, the group then issued a statement proclaiming the right to protect the territory and civilians from military attacks, leading those who feared a new expansion of the fighting.

Other armed groups have issued similar statements. Some, such as the Karen National Union, provided protection to civilians marching in anti-coup protests.

Such actions contributed to the call for a “federal army” to gather armed ethnic groups from all over the country. However, analysts say it will be difficult to achieve such a vision due to logistical challenges and political disagreements between groups.

Ronan Lee, a visiting scholar at Queen Mary University of London, said: National Crime Initiative.

Despite uncertainties about what will come, some ethnic minority activists have been encouraged since the coup due to increased attention to the role that ethnic groups can play in Myanmar’s future. Some people say. They also say that there seems to be a deeper understanding, at least among anti-coup protesters, of the struggle the minority has faced for a long time.

“If all of this has a silver lining, that’s it,” said one activist who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of safety.

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