Dozens Killed During Attack on Camp for Displaced Persons in Myanmar

At around 11 p.m. on October 9, the Mung Lai Hkyet camp in Myanmar’s northern Kachin State for internally displaced persons was attacked, leaving at least 29 people dead, half of them children.

The camp, set up in 2011 following the collapse of a ceasefire agreement between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the military, is home to about 850 people who fled the junta. The KIA, one of Myanmar’s most powerful insurgent groups, is the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organisation, an ethnic political group fighting for self-rule in Kachin.

NUG, U.S., U.K. accuse military of artillery strike

The democratically elected National Unity Government (NUG), removed during the 2021 coup, blamed the attack on the junta, as did the U.K. embassy in Yangon, while the U.S. State Department strongly condemned the regime’s ongoing attacks. NUG’s human rights minister, Aung Myo Min, called the attack a “war crime.”

The junta has blamed the KIA’s stockpile of weapons for “probably” causing the artillery strike.

Arms trade persists despite sanctions

The ruling junta has killed thousands of people in Myanmar since the 2021 coup. In October 2022, military air raids killed nearly 80 insurgents and civilians at a KIA-organized festival in Kachin State. And, in the first half of 2023 alone, the junta has been accused of carrying out an average of 30 airstrikes per month. As a result of this violence, some media outlets and humanitarian groups have raised concerns about the effectiveness of international sanctions and embargoes on the junta.

According to a UN report released earlier this year, private entities based in Russia, China, and Singapore topped the list as sources of arms trade to the Myanmar military. While Russia and China have supported the military regime, Singapore has denounced the military’s use of force against civilians.

However, according to the advocacy group Justice for Myanmar, Singapore — a fellow ASEAN member state — is also home to at least nine Myanmar tycoons accused of financing the junta. In a move to stem such financing, Singapore’s United Overseas Bank, one of Singapore’s top commercial banks, stated on September 1 that it would restrict all financial transactions to and from Myanmar.