From the March-April 2023 issue of News & Letters
I am originally from Burma, also known as Myanmar. Very gross human rights violations are happening there. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPPB), there are 13,613 political prisoners in Myanmar. So far 2,750 prisoners have been tortured and killed since Feb. 1, 2021.
TERRORIST MILITARY FIGHTS CIVILIANS
T]he military attempted a coup in Burma on Feb. 2, 2021. The people overwhelmingly rejected it and are still resisting. The military has degenerated into a terrorist group and is committing crimes against humanity, subjugating the people by extreme force of arms. They are arresting, torturing, raping and killing civilians. They are burning crops to starve the people and burning whole villages to make people sick by depriving them of shelter. People have taken up arms to defend themselves.
A civil war has started and there is a humanitarian disaster in the making. The military is blocking humanitarian aid to areas where the people resisting reside. We don’t even want to call them the military. They are just a gang of criminals and only deserve to be called military terrorists.
The military terrorists have a very clear strategy. This strategy is not to fight the armed resistance called the People’s Defense Forces but to fight the civilian population. This is a typical Russian military strategy. Russia does not fight the armed opponent. Russia fights the civilian population.
The weapons which are killing the civilians have been provided to Myanmar. If somebody looked at how Russia conducted the war in Chechnya, how Russia helped Bashar al-Assad of Syria survive, how Russia is today fighting in Ukraine, it was always systematic targeting of the civilian population on a massive scale. This is what the junta is doing.
The junta is intentionally creating a huge humanitarian disaster. This is not a secondary consequence of the war, this is their primary goal—to create a huge humanitarian crisis. They want to burden every single stakeholder in Burma who is challenging them. What the junta is doing is criminal!
The other part of their strategy is approaching Ethnic Resistance Forces with the carrot of humanitarian aid and saying to them: “Hey, if you do even a temporary ceasefire with the junta, you will be able to get humanitarian aid.” We see a very dirty misuse of humanitarian aid for political purposes in order to break the alliance of forces against the junta. The UN is helping them.
To the junta aid is a means to achieve as many ceasefires as possible so that they can concentrate all their military power to crushing the people’s resistance in the Burmese heartland regions of Sagaing and Magway.
We are struggling now to make the public more aware of the junta’s strategy. We need international assistance, especially from our neighbors, to get around this but we are getting very little cooperation from China, India and Thailand. This lack of assistance could make the unrest spread throughout the region.
—Burmese woman activist