We wished the rain stopped for our Karen sisters and brothers who had to hide under the bomb shelters in the woods. But the shower did not stop until the morning, and displaced Karen civilians continued to suffer from the shower of the junta’s airstrikes despite the army’s unilateral ceasefire declared on April 1, 2021, and around 20,000 civilians are in hiding and fleeing into Thailand. In northeastern Myanmar, in northern-Shan state, the fight between two Shan and Ta’ang ethnic armed groups, RCSS/SSA against SSPP/SSA and TNLA, destroyed 28 civilians’ houses and many were also prepared to build bomb shelters as they feared the attacks from both the military and from the ongoing battle of two ethnic armed groups. This came at a worse time when civilians are already fighting against the common enemy, the Burmese military. The battle between these ethnic armed groups had also led to more than 5 civilian dead, and 10 injured.
In today’s Myanmar, we are seeing a new phenomenon of mass displacement from urban centers to rural villages. People have fled to a safe haven from neighbourhoods, wards, townships and villages due to the military’s indiscriminate firing, airstrikes, and the fight between the military vs the ethnic armed groups, and the fight between different ethnic armed groups. In the townships that have defended the attacks from the military in Sagaing’s Kalay and Pinlebu, the village people have fled due to the brutal crackdown and indiscriminate firings to the neighbourhoods. In the Kalay township alone, more than 20 people have been killed. As of 5 April, the death toll has risen to 570 with 3442 arrested and 2728 still detained according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
Despite all the violent suppression and rising death toll, Myanmar people have not given up, and we continue to defy the junta in any way possible. Nationwide protests in various forms continue from the northern highlands Kachin and Shan states, across central dry-zone to southern Mon and Karen states. Today’s protest theme was blood red paint to remind the military of their evil killings of unarmed protestors and innocent civilians. Youth in Yangon today were seen splashing the red paint in junctions and at the bus-stops writing words that warn the soldiers that they are being used by the generals who continue to exploit them. Creativity is inexhaustible — launch of prayer campaigns, paper sailboats, banners, wearing face-masks saying “Stop Violence”, pre-dawn protests, candlelight vigil, and sinking under the water are continued. Military did not fail to respond with crackdown and suppression, they raided Kachin baptist churches which held prayer campaigns, and they continued terrorising the people who joined the protests.
Military also continued to abduct journalists, medics, politicians and activists. Medical covers are targeted for saving lives. In north Okkalapa township in Yangon, four young men were taken as they were giving treatments to the wounded. Examples of shooting at ambulances, torturing and killing the medics continue to pile up since the coup on Feb 1. The junta’s forces prevent the medic teams from saving lives of injured persons. It is reported that many civilians shot died from massive bleeding and loss of blood.
Next key target is journalists including civilian journalists (CJ). To stop the information flow from the public to the public, the military cut down the internet service, wireless broadband, and public wifi. Since live videos on social media are no longer plausible, courageous CJs continue to film their atrocities and upload them when the internet is available. However, there is still intimidation and threats of firing when CJs are seen taking videos. Today, two more journalists are detained and are sued with Article 505A — sedition law.
On the international front, 45 international non-governmental organizations have issued a collective statement calling for an end to violence, which many locals feel is a long overdue responsibility from the INGOs. In a few coming days, ASEAN will hold a summit on Myanmar’s crisis. We, Myanmar, long for support from our neighbours and ASEAN brothers, and we hope they will stand on the right side of history.