Amidst the diplomatic battle between the military junta Government and the shadow National Unity Government to claim Myanmar’s United Nations seat, the war in Myanmar continues unabated as clashes occur in many places simultaneously. The nation has seen deadly bloodshed at an unimaginable pace, with no sight of ending the violence.
Thousands have crossed the border to Thailand from Karen and Karenni State and to India from Chin State due to the rapidly increasing conflict between State Administrative Council’s security forces and People Defense Forces, displacing even older people and children and forcing them to flee their homes in search of safety and shelter.
Sadly, although it is under close watch of the international community, Myanmar is now nearly collapsing into an all-out war, ad time is of the essence for those who have powers to act towards solving this crisis swiftly.
On 07 Sept, the National Unity Government announced the nationwide revolt against the military junta, calling on the people to target, disrupt and destroy the assets of the military elite. Around 70 telecoms towers have been destroyed by People Defense Forces, citing that they are doing this to halt the financial revenue of the MyTel communications company to the military junta. Fierce fighting in Chin State, Sagaing and Magwe regions also ensued.
The international community remains opposed to using lethal force or even more stringent non-lethal options to return Myanmar to the path to democracy. Therefore, most Myanmar people now believe that the only way to restore democracy is through armed resistance. In the beginning, the protests began peacefully after the military coup on 01 Feb. But they didn’t listen to us, and so by June, people defense forces (PDF) started being formed in cities and towns. Civilian forces are also training with ethnic armed groups, many of which are in border areas, where they have fought against Myanmar’s military for self-determination and rights for decades. There are now thousands of them completing their military training from ethnic armed organization.
In addition, mass public boycott of military-related businesses and enterprises continues as part of the Civil Disobedience Movement. A close look at what has been happening in Myanmar over the last eight months shows that people are effectively deploying a multi-faceted approach against the military in order to succeed.
Like many Myanmar people, I believe that we will succeed in getting rid of the military junta, once and for all. There are claims that Myanmar’s military has 350,000 soldiers. That is no longer true. They used to have that many years ago. But nowadays, the actual number of soldiers who have been trained to fight is around 100,000 while the actual numbers of fighting fit soldiers could be much lower than expected – believed to be approximately 40,000 to 50,000 today. Many soldiers have left the military because they cannot support what the military is doing to the people. The civilian forces are getting stronger, but numbers are hard to be accurately known.
The fighting in villages, towns, and ethnic areas demonstrates that the military is now losing badly. Their morale is extremely low, as revealed by those who have defected to People Defense Forces. And even if the military has a fighter jet and we only have a rifle, we will win. Because, we have a stronger mentality. The military is in a very weakened situation. The top brass is panicking, according to defectors. These are the voices of People Defense Forces regularly seen on social media.
Of course, I am very worried about Myanmar. I think it could become like Syria. We know that the military will keep on killing people and that the violence will intensify even further. The crimes against humanity being committed are appalling. In Mandalay last week, a dozen civilians were shot dead in a single day. Already more than a thousand people have been killed, 8184 arrested, and the military has imprisoned 6533 with 1984 evading arrest warrant according to the data published on 15 Sept by AAPP (Assistance Association for Political Prisoners) which is based on the Thai-Sino border.
The current situation in Chin State is terrible, as it is in so many parts of the country. A small town named Mindat, which is home to around 40,000 people and Lungler village with few hundred inhabitants, were attacked with heavy artillery and bombarded by airstrikes. Terrified people fled into the jungle and crossed to India for refuge.
The military then cut off all access to Mindat, and people are still hiding the jungles and surrounding areas since the military bombardment in May. Food and medicines are a big challenge for those seeking shelter in the jungles and border areas. Disease is spreading fast. This exact scenario has been repeating itself across Myanmar. The human-made humanitarian crisis is worsening, and the outbreak of COVID-19 is the unseen threat that is also killing many people in Myanmar.
It is critically important for the international community to provide meaningful, practical support to the civil disobedience movement as the country is heading in the direction of conventional civil war as civilian forces have prepared to fight the military junta and return the country to democracy.
Humanitarian relief efforts urgently need to be stepped up. It is disappointing that the international community has limited itself to issuing statements of concern but not practical on-the-ground assistance.
Like in the 1988 and 2007 bloodsheds, soon this will be too late.