A destructive and massive campaign of violence is escalating in Myanmar, the New York Times reported in a report more than two years after a military coup in the country. The army is to bomb villages and towns more and more intensively, and the vast majority of victims are civilians.
Since a military coup in February 2021 ousted democratically elected power, Myanmar (Burma) is mired in a brutal internal conflict. The army clashes with groups trying to put up armed resistance, but also regularly bloodily suppresses the protests of its opponents.
In its extensive report, published July 31, the New York Times describes how this “campaign of terror” continues to escalate after 2.5 years of violence. As part of a “destructive and massive campaign of violence”, the military is increasingly carrying out airstrikes under the pretext of fighting armed resistance, according to the daily. “In April, May and June there were almost twice as many military airstrikes as in the first three months of the year,” the New York Times reported, calling Myanmar “a country that bombs its own people.”
According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, an NGO, more than 40 military raids were recorded in June alone, the most this year. But also in the previous months, about 30 air strikes were recorded, which is more than in previous years of the conflict. Most of the raids take place in opposition-held areas.
There are many indications, however, that the targets of the airstrikes are not only places that the junta considers to be associated with the resistance movement, but also schools, hospitals and places of worship. Among them, e.g. bombed in June a monastery in the village of Nyaung Kone. Residents of many of the attacked areas assured the “NYT” journalists that there were no resistance fighters in their villages, although the newspaper admits that these claims cannot be conclusively confirmed.
Civil War in Myanmar
“NYT” journalists reached out to many victims of the ongoing conflict. “Until the military dictatorship is overthrown, we are tormented by the uncertainty that our lives could end any day,” said U Maung Maung, 25, who was injured while fleeing an airstrike in February. Ngun Hoi, 40, was also injured in the airstrikes and is now confined to a hospital bed. The woman admits that she escaped military bombings many times, which is “a common experience in Myanmar”.
Hoi An was also the victim of the junta’s “scorched earth” tactic of burning entire towns so that any resistance would have no source of support. Anthony Davis, an analyst at the military publications group Janes and an expert on the Burmese military, estimates that “at least 85 percent of the victims of airstrikes are civilians.” According to Davis, the strategy of the military is to “punish the civilian population for any alleged support of the opposition.” “It’s about burning villages, bombing villages, driving civilians out of villages,” he told the New York Times.
Coup in Burma
Myanmar “has experienced near-constant conflict since its independence in 1948,” notes the New York Times. And he adds that the ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in 2017 “started one of the greatest refugee crises in history.”
The current stage of the internal conflict has been going on since the coup in February 2021, which saw a military junta overthrow the democratically elected government of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and take power again. From the beginning, the military bloodily suppressed mass protests against their power and brought the former leader of the country to justice Aung San Suu Kyi, who was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
Since then, there have been regular reports of civilians being killed in the streets, people being kidnapped from their homes in the middle of the night, detainees being tortured, or executions of democratic activists. “Myanmar’s military committed war crimes and crimes against humanity on a daily basis, including sexual violence, torture, deliberate targeting of civilians and murder,” a special report said in September 2022. UN rapporteur on human rights in Burma Tom Andrews.
The New York Times, tvn24.pl
Main photo source: EPA/PAP