Not much to celebrate as they kicked off the Burmese New Year on Tuesday, residents across Myanmar held holiday-themed rallies to defy military policy in one-home. activities called “a funeral for the whole country”, while the right head of the United Nations said she feared the country faced the same fate as war-ravaged Syria.
Opponents of the generals overthrew the country’s elected government on February 1 stripped Buddhist Thingyan Water Festival’s water-related blessings for messages of protest, strike and commemorates military regime victims who threw rifle grenades and battlefield weapons at unarmed civilians.
“Now is like a wake-up call to the whole country for the cruelty of the army,” said a young man from Yangon, calling himself Harry. “More than 700 people died because of their brutality. This is not the time to celebrate ”.
Holidays – which run from April 13 to April 16, and versions held in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and other Asian countries – are often marked with singing, dancing, and partying. and collectively soak in fun underwater battles.
“We don’t celebrate Thingyan as a tradition. We are running various campaigns against them, ”said Harry, referring to the military regime.
Last year, which was hit by crowd restrictions to combat the coronavirus pandemic, this year Thingyan saw at least 4 people killed and dozens more caught in crackdowns across the country. While in the state of Kachin near the border with China, military air strikes have left more than 1,000 of their villagers displaced from their homes.
Fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the reinforcement army on April 10. Nine civilians, including a Buddhist monk, were killed by heavy artillery in night-time air strikes on the day. April 11, in an attempt by Myanmar forces to retake the strategic hills, according to a political leader Kachin.
“War is nothing new for the people of Kachin state. It has been going on throughout life, ”said Dwe Bu, vice president of the Kachin State People’s Party. The state of Kachin has been at war since 1948, when Burma became independent from Britain.
“But the recent fighting has been fierce, and the airstrikes have made the people more nervous. They had to leave their homes, ”she told RFA.
Kachin military analysts say there have been about 30 clashes across the state in the past 60 days, with more than 120,000 civilians displaced by the previous fighting unable to return home.
10 Burmese army soldiers were killed and several others were injured in overnight fighting with KIA fighters in Mogok in the Mandalay region, the Voice of Burma (DVB) reported on Tuesday.
KIA spokesman Colonel Naw Bu told RFA he had yet to receive information about the Mogok clash.
A resident of Kachin’s Sihat village, who did not want to be named for security reasons, said her community was almost deserted.
“They don’t dare stay in the village anymore,” she said of her neighbors. “Some have moved to related villages, and some are hiding in the woods, using logs and branches as temporary bomb shelters. Almost everyone has left our village since yesterday. “
Other locals have fled to larger towns or to monastic complexes, local residents said.
Naing Lin in Nong Kone village said: “Since the start of the fighting, people fled to other villages, and then when the fighting came closer at night, they had to run into the jungle.
“People are living in fear. In this situation, no one can trust anyone, ”he added.
At least 5 soldiers were injured on Tuesday morning when a mine exploded while a military convoy was patrolling the banks of the Uru River in Kachin’s Hpakant jade mining area, a financial source of KIA, who people said.
When the mine exploded in front of the convoy, two of the five soldiers sent to stop the protest immediately fell to the ground, apparently seriously injured, a witness said.
“Two explosions were heard,” he said. “Some shrapnel even hit houses nearby. The ground was shaking, ”the witness said. It is not clear whether the landmines were installed by the KIA or another ethnic armed group.
RFA was unable to contact Major General Zaw Min Tun to comment on the fight with Kachin.
More homicides in ethnic lands
Violence broke out in other parts of Myanmar on Tuesday, with soldiers shooting and killing an ethnic Gurkha couple delivering milk by motorbike in the town of Tamu in northwest Sagaing, near the border with India. Degree, one day after seven years The witness told RFA.
The murder of the couple, members of an estimated 1 million Nepali-speaking descendants of Gurkha soldiers serving during British rule in what was then known as Burma, is the latest in more than 20 people were killed in the town, inhabited by the Naga ethnic group. Rebellion and overrun with weapons, many homemade.
The Naga forces led by the Kukai National Organization and its armed forces, the Kukai National Army – a rebel group operating in northeastern India and northwestern Myanmar – attacked the force. team, killing 18 soldiers in response to a brutal persecution on April 10, residents said.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, on Tuesday called on the international community to take immediate measures to promote a military regime that stops violence against the people, including airstrikes. aimed at civilians in Kachin, Shan and Kayin states.
“There were clear echoes about Syria in 2011,” she said. There we have seen peaceful protests encountering unnecessary and clearly disproportionate forces. The Middle East was broken and still fighting 10 years after the Arab Spring protests broke out.
“The military seems to have the intention of intensifying its policy of brutal violence against the Burmese people, using military-grade weapons and indiscriminately,” said Bachelet.
“I fear that the situation in Myanmar is moving towards a full-blown conflict,” she said in a statement.
Report of RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translation by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.