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  • Mikuláš Vochozka

Over 140 Deaths as Myanmar Stands on the Brink of Civil War

Since the military siezed control at the start of February 2021, Myanmar has become a chaotic nation. The country is now facing a threat of leading itself into a civil war as unarmed protesters are being shot dead on the streets. Even the Chinese embassy in Myanmar urged Myanmar’s ruling generals to stop violence and ensure the safety of people and property.

Protesters in Myanmar helping after a military shooting (Source: AFP)

Recent developments on the 2nd of March include 12 soldiers who deserted and joined the Karen National Union (KNU, one of the armed ethnic groups in Myanmar), while three police officers took refuge in the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram, citing they do not want to carry out the shooting orders.

The military has been knocking down doors at night and arresting people in the previous weeks. They had arrested people for purposes of interrogation, but in several cases only dead bodies were returned to the families. On the 9th of March, Zaw Myat Linn, a member of the National League of Democracy (NLD) died in custody. The military said he died by jumping off the fence while trying to escape, but the body of Zaw Myat Linn had a large wound to his abdomen, according to his wife.

Zaw Myat Linn, an official from ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD party, the second party figure to die in detention in two days.

On the 14th of March, 38 protesters were shot with live bullets in the Hlaingtharyar district of Yangon after the military had quickly announced martial law, making this attack the deadliest crackdown since the coup. Two Chinese garments factories caught on fire at the Hlaingtharyar district and the Chinese embassy requested the military to take effective measures to handle the violence and protect the Chinese fund companies and personal in Myanmar.

The local media outlets were also raided by the military forces and have been banned by the authorities.

Despite the lethal forces against the crackdown, thousands of protesters are still going out everyday in the streets of Myanmar and they even continued the demonstrations into the night. There have been a total of 140 deaths (mostly young people) and more than 2,100 arrested so far according to The Assistance, a political prisoner advocacy group.

Young man trying to help other protestor

The military had shut down the internet everyday since the 7th of February 2021 from 1 am to 9 am and had announced the cut would last for a month, but in recent days it had renounced the shutdown from 1 am to 6 am.

On Monday, March 15th more people were killed in the cities of Yangon and Mandalay. Protesters took to the streets despite the massacre that happened the day before after arson attacks on Chinese-owned factories. According to Reuters martial law had been imposed in Hlaingthaya and a few more districts of Yangon and other places outside the capital city.

On the 15th of March, According to VOA Burmese, there has been escalations in fighting between the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Burmese army in the Karen State. In Karen State, clashes between KNU troops and Burmese troops near Hpa-an townships in Hpapun Township have intensified, said Phado Saw Hla Tun, joint secretary-general of the Karen National Union (KNU)

According to Mr. Hla Tun, “it had happened as minor clashes here and there, and as a result, the Myanmar military had opened fire with heavy machinery on the civilians. What is happening now is there have been shootings at the places where Brigade 1, Brigade 3 and Brigade 5 are located.”

Throughout the country where places like Yangon, Mandalay, Bago, etc, which are dominated by the insurgents armed forces(KNU, KIA and TNLA), these places has seen that the military is using lethal forces against the peaceful protesters. The leaders of these insurgencies condemned the crackdown and would do their best to help and support the protesters.

Myanmar‘s military moves against unarmed protesters (Source: AFP)

Western countries have called for Suu Kyi’s release and condemned the violence. Asian neighbors have offered to help resolve the crisis. Myanmar in the past rejected outside help many times, so there is not a big chance of reaching for help now.

This article was written with the valuable help of an anonymous citizen of Myanmar.

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