Minorities of Myanmar fear renewed violence after military coup

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    The armed forces are notorious for their brutality and their chief led the brutal 2017 crackdown on the Rohingya.

    The Myanmar military coup launched shocking attacks across the country on Monday, bringing back memories of half a century of secession under direct military rule.

    Perhaps there was no greater fear than the persecuted ethnic minorities of the country.

    A senior UN expert Min Aung Hling has said that he should be investigated along with other senior officials for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, is now the country’s leader and has declared a state of emergency for a year Has given

    “Now, those who are in power are holding arms”, said Mo Mo Htay *, 28, an ethnic Arakanese mother who was fighting between the army, called Tatmadov and the Arakan Army, as an ethnic armed group Known in 2019. “Worried that we will return to the last military era.”

    Under military rule, which ruled from 1962 to 2011, Tatmadaw brutally went after civilians in areas where ethnic armed organizations were rebelling. Violations of systematic rights, including additional murder, sexual violence, torture and forced recruitment drove millions out of the country.

    In 2011, Myanmar began a transition towards quasi-civilian rule and in 2015, the National League for Democracy (NLD), the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, won the election by landslide, making it the country. D. de facto leader.

    Under a military-drafted constitution of 2008, his civilian government was shunned from sharing power with Tatmadov, but worldwide, many believed that global icons would stand firmly in favor of human rights.

    Instead, Myanmar experienced what UN experts call “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. In 2017 the Tatmad launched an “evacuation operation” against the mostly Muslim Rohingya of Rakhine state, killing at least 6,700 people and taking refuge in Bangladesh, 740,000.

    Exactly a month later, Senior General Min Aung Hling told the media that Tatmad’s operations against the Rohingya were “unfinished business”.

    A Myanmar border guard police officer patrols the remains of a burnt house in a clash between suspected militants and security forces on July 14, 2017 in the village of Tin Me, Butahidung Basti, northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. Picture taken on 14 July 14. 2017 [File: Simon Lewis/Reuters]

    The report of an UN independent international fact-finding mission released in August 2018 recommended Myanmar’s top military generals, including Min Aung Hlaing, for the Rohingya arrests and massacres and in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states To be investigated and prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

    “Military necessity will never justify indiscriminate murder, gang rape of women, assault with children, and rape all over the village,” the report said.

    “They are shocking to the level of denial, the general condition and attachment to them. Tatmadaw’s contempt for human life, integrity and freedom, and for international law in general, should be cause for concern for the entire population. “

    By January 2021, the United Nations considered more than 300,000 civilians to be internally displaced in the country, with 129,000 Rohingya forcibly camping in the Rakhine State since 2012, and more than 100,000 ethnic Kachins and Shans, who in 2011 became Myanmar. Had fled into the conflict that began in the north of K.

    Thousands of people in Myanmar have been forced from their homes by the country’s long-running ethnic conflicts in Kachia State. People fear a military coup will mean more violence [Al Jazeera Staff]

    forced out

    A local civil society group estimates that about 180,000 people remain displaced by the conflict between the Tatmadaw and Arakan forces in Rakhine State, with several UN agencies uncounted, while from mid-December 2020, the Tatmadaw and Qara National Union The fighting between at least 4,000 ethnic Karen people migrated from their villages.

    According to Zoya Phan of Burma Expedition UK, they remain trapped in the wilderness and in urgent need of food and supplies.

    Al Jazeera said, “Ethnic people have always been violating human rights.” “Now with the coup, it will become even harder to hear ethnic voices.”

    Aung San Suu Kyi and his government gave very little time to stop Tatmadow or hold him accountable and several times stood by his side, including by the end of 2019, when he defended the armed forces against genocide charges in The Hague. .

    After the Rohingya were forced to pursue their operations against the Arakan Army, the conflict in Rakhine continued, an ethnic Rakhine armed group [Myanmar Army via AP Photo]

    His government also supported the countersynchrony of the Tatmad against the Arakan army which began in late 2018. In addition to providing assistance to conflict-affected areas, officials ordered the world’s longest internet shutdown, which began in June 2019 in parts of the Rakine state, with over one million missed Tatmadaw forms People abused citizens widely without the ability to access or share information.

    Yet as bad as things were for ethnic minorities under civil government, many fear regimes under Tatmad may be worse.

    “Before the coup, we were living under the influence of the army in Rakhine State and I was really scared when I saw the Tatmadov soldiers,” said Khing Lin, * Arakani IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp leader . “Originally, we used to run here because we were afraid of Tatmadaw. Now, they have full power. How will they react to us? “

    Risk of aid

    Apart from the possibility of escalating violence, the basic needs of IDPs are also in crisis. Less than a week before the coup, the United Nations and humanitarian partners released their annual Humanitarian Response Plan, which called for $ 276m during the following year to assist more than one million people in need of humanitarian aid. So to receive. Since the coup, several international aid groups have suspended operations, while governments, including the United States, are reviewing aid to Myanmar.

    In Kachin State, around 100,000 people live in displacement camps, most of the people had fled their villages about 10 years ago. Tired of staying in the camps, the displaced want to return to their homes, but many now fear that the coup will ensue and already move towards peace [Al Jazeera Staff]

    A UN spokesman in Myanmar told Al Jazeera, on condition of anonymity, that the United Nations “will continue to explore all possible ways to ensure that our humanitarian and COVID-19 related efforts under the Humanitarian Response Plan reach about one million people.” Keep on reaching ”. . He said it was too early to comment further on the possible impact of the coup on the delivery of humanitarian aid.

    Even under the civil government, aid was strictly prohibited: according to UNOCHA, more than one-third of the camps in Rakhine and Chin State were under the control of ethnic support for all aid groups other than Kachin state areas, but for some aid groups Were cross-border. The groups were also blocked.

    Local civil society organizations, largely funded by international donors, have played a key role in reaching the hard-to-reach population, but the secretary of a Rakhine state-based civil society organization, named for its security withholding Granted, said he fears that organizations such as he can now be extinguished, face difficulty reaching vulnerable populations or see his international donor drying up funds.

    “I am concerned that if international aid is halted due to the military coup, it will have a major impact on the displaced people,” he said.

    “I am also concerned about the role of civil society, which is operating under democratic culture. Now civil society organizations will only work accordingly [the Tatmadaw’s] Will. It depends on where they let us work … We face an uncertain situation. “

    Mo Mo Htay, 28-year-old Arakanese IDP, says the already meager food aid was stopping him abruptly with a coup.

    “We are facing a worse situation. Generally, some international NGOs support us with food, health and essentials… they have not come since the coup, ”she said. “I don’t know what will happen next.”

    When it came to power in early 2016, the National League for Democracy promised to make peace with ethnic armed organizations its first priority, and in its five-year term, four unions aimed at bringing ethnic armed organizations – held peace talks. A nationwide ceasefire agreement.

    Staggering peace process

    Although 18 ethnic armed organizations attended the first conference in 2016, the process faltered and many of the country’s most powerful ethnic armed organizations boycotted the latest round of talks in August 2020.

    The situation was further complicated by Tatmadaw, only days after its proxy party faced a crushing defeat to the NLD in the November election – resulting in a challenge – parallel to the government-led peace process Announced its own peace negotiation committee.

    Myanmar’s efforts to pacify numerous ethnic conflicts created a limited edge under Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government. Last year, Tatmadaw announced that it set up its own peace negotiation committee, moving the process forward. [File: Aung Shine Oo/AP Photo]

    The Burmese campaign UK Phan is calling on international donors to stop their funding for Myanmar’s peace process, and instead Tatmadov called for an immediate end to their attacks in ethnic areas, humanitarian aid to displaced civilians and Allowed to withdraw his army from the ethnic region.

    “The situation in ethnic areas never received proper international attention,” he told Al Jazeera. “Peace can never be achieved under military dictatorship. Displaced people in conflict-affected areas will continue to suffer under a military dictatorship and civilian government, but the road to real peace is still further. “

    She Urged “strong international action” to pressure Tatmadaw, including approving military companies and building support for global arms. “The lack of action by the international community has allowed the military to act impotently. This has got to stop.

    * A displacement of about 10 years has been sufficient for a 23-year-old man, Hapung Ding * in the northern Kachin State on the China border.

    “I have no idea about politics, but I am worried that our status as IDPs will be worse than ever,” he said. Apart from the worry that humanitarian aid will not reach his camp, which is home to more than 8,000 people, he also worries that the fighting may resume.

    “How many more years do we have to stay in the IDP camp? How many years do we have to migrate from our villages? “

    * Pseudonyms were used for Mo Mo Htay, Khing Lin and Hapung Ding for security reasons.


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