Villages torched by military . . .
On October 29, the Myanmar military shelled the town of Thantlang in Chin State to suppress local resistance, burning hundreds of homes and causing thousands of people to flee near the mountainous areas bordering India. Similar attacks were carried out in the neighbouring Sagaing region last weekend. In recent months, northwestern Myanmar had become a stronghold for armed resistance against the military. After local media outlets and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights raised concerns over reports of a substantial deployment of heavy weapons and troops to the area, violent clashes between anti-junta and military forces intensified. The recent destruction of residential areas appears to be the largest such attack on civilians since the military seized power in a coup on February 1.
Military atrocities likened to ‘crimes against humanity’ . . .
On Friday, the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, a body established by the UN Human Rights Council, announced that it has collected more than 1.5 million pieces of evidence suggesting a widespread and systemic attack on the civilian population tantamount to crimes against humanity. The UN’s aid chief warned that more than three million people in Myanmar need life-saving assistance due to the worsening conflict and deteriorating humanitarian situation. More than 37,000 people in Myanmar’s northwest have been newly displaced. Concerned that recent military action mirrors similar campaigns against the Rohingya in 2017, the UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Monday to discuss the situation.
What a difference a year makes . . .
It was almost exactly one year ago today that the National League of Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won a landslide victory in an election deemed free and fair by all domestic and international monitoring groups. Many countries, including Canada, have issued statements calling for the immediate cessation of violence and the restoration of democracy. The military government says it is determined to wipe out civilian resistance fighters and the People’s Defense Forces, the armed wing of Myanmar’s parallel government, within three months. But with fighting becoming more frequent, and with growing evidence that the military has suffered an increasing number of casualties from civilian militias across Myanmar, the armed struggle seems likely to continue.