Myanmar army helicopter attacks ‘force thousands to flee’

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Local media reports civilians were forced to take refuge in the forest and other places after airstrikes on more than a dozen villages in the Depayin, Sagaing area.

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According to local media, thousands of civilians have fled their homes after helicopter gunship attacks in Myanmar’s Sagaing region, the center of resistance to the country’s military regime.

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Reported attacks over the weekend targeted 15 villages in Depayin Township, the same area where around 70 supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party were killed by a military-backed gang during a 2003 Nobel Peace Tour. was murdered. award winner

After years of detention, Aung San Suu Kyi led the NLD to a massive electoral victory in 2015 and won re-election in 2020 by an even bigger margin.

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But the military refused to recognize the most recent election results – instead the February 1 coup that plunged the country into 10 months of chaos. The mass protests have been met with violent action, believed to have killed more than 1,000 civilians by the military, which soon gave way to an armed rebellion.

Sagaing, one of the first areas to take up arms against the military government, has been the site of frequent conflicts, military-led massacres, and killings of military-commissioned local officials.

The most recent airstrikes on Saturday killed at least seven civilians, According To Myanmar Now, which cited three local sources and also reported that “thousands” have been displaced.

Armed opposition groups, known as the People’s Defense Forces (PDF), have continued to fight back. Depayin PDF claimed he bombed a military convoy on Sunday, killing 20 soldiers.

Myanmar’s parallel national unity government, appointed by legislators elected in the 2020 elections, said airstrikes would have killed at least 20 civilians, but continued strikes have hampered search and identification efforts.

“Human rights and international law have been completely ignored,” a statement from NUG’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs said.

Displaced Depayin residents have Allegedly They have taken refuge in forests and other villages. A report by a local Irrawaddy news outlet quoted “resistance groups” as saying that the number of people forced to flee their homes was up to 30,000. It was not possible to independently verify the figures.

“Junta attacks in Depayin may constitute a war crime and are in line with attacks on civilian populations that we are seeing across the country,” said Patrick Fongsathorn, a human rights advocacy associate for Fortify Rights, who called for an international arms embargo. Was.

a Statement The order, issued on Friday by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, called on the international community to “suspend all operational support to the military”.

“We are concerned by allegations of weapons stockpiling and attacks by the military, including shelling and airstrikes, the use of heavy weapons, and the deployment of thousands of troops,” the statement said.

While internal conflict and large-scale attacks on civilians were rare before the coup in areas such as Sagaing, which were mostly populated by the Bamar ethnic majority, they have long been common in Myanmar’s ethnic minority states, where ethnic armed groups have fought for decades. fought for greater political autonomy. ,

“The fact that the [Myanmar military] The use of helicopters, fighter jets and heavy weapons against bummer civilians is a sign of widespread resistance to the coup and the indiscriminate and illegal lengths to which it will go to remain in power,” Fongsathorn said.

Kayan state resumed airstrikes this year for the first time in 25 years amid rising tensions between the military and the Karen National Liberation Army, which opposed the military takeover. New one report good A release on Wednesday by the Karen Peace Support Network (KPSN) outlined the rights abuses, including shelling against civilian targets in Mutrao district, which it said have displaced more than 82,000 people.

The KPSN also accused the army of arbitrarily abducting civilians, beating them up and using them as human shields.

“Most IDPs are taking refuge in the jungle, don’t dare” [to] Returning home in case of renewed airstrikes after rain, the report said, noting “frequent flyovers” by military aircraft.

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