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MYANMAR JUNTA ATTACK IN SAGAING REGION FORCES THOUSANDS TO FLEE

Region of Concern: Myanmar

Written By Marisol Negrete; Edited by Elena Alice Rossetti, Iris Hautaniemi Forsberg

Date: September 1, 2023


Myanmar[1]


Event: On August 30, the pro-junta Pyu Saw Htee militia raided 14 villages in the Southern Kantbalu Township, Sagaing Region in Myanmar, forcing thousands of residents to flee. The troops looted properties, burned villages, and killed civilians. They forced them to do military training and expose People’s Defense Forces (PDF) members.[2] Pro-regime militias have confronted resistance strongholds on multiple open fronts. The People's Defense Forces (PDF), the armed wings of the civilian National Unity Government (NUG) and Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs), lead the resistance offensive.[3] This event adds to the ongoing violence against civilians, as the US ambassador to Myanmar recently stated: “The last months have seen unrelenting violence across Myanmar. We strongly condemn the killing of civilians and in particular the continued use of air strikes, and reaffirm the need to respect international law and protect civilians.”[4]


Significance: Despite international condemnation and sanctions, following the 2021 coup, it is very unlikely China will join the actions to guide Myanmar toward democracy because it has economic and geographic interests in the country. China's influence on the military junta will very likely increase through its multiple foreign direct investments (FDIs) in critical infrastructure projects, to exploit the country's natural resources. Myanmar's strategic location, due to its maritime connectivity to the Indian Ocean Route, will likely increase the economic dependency between both nations. Singapore will likely increase sanctions against the junta and decrease foreign investment in Myanmar. Western countries will very likely maintain sanctions on the junta’s trade, FDI, and banking system, to stop funding Myanmar’s genocide and humanitarian crisis. It is unlikely the restrictions imposed on Myanmar will lead to democratization in the short term since the junta will continue its aggressive military posture to consolidate power. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEN) members will very likely continue to legitimize the military rule in Myanmar.


Recommendations: The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) recommends the international community, especially Singapore, continue sanctioning the military junta to weaken its funding. The UNHCR should increase aid distribution to displaced people such as housing, food, water, sanitation systems, healthcare, and protection. The international democratic community should carefully open communication channels for empowering Myanmar’s opposition. NGOs from various sectors should increase their involvement to protect civilians and mitigate the sanction's impact on the Myanmar population. The international community should continue to enforce the UN Security Council Resolution 2669 to find a peaceful solution. Among the pending initiatives are the immediate release of the democratically elected President and the State Counselor, respect for human rights, and defense of the rule of law.

 

[1]Myanmar” by Google Maps

[2] Thousands of Civilians Flee as Myanmar Junta Forces Raid Villages in Sagaing, The Irrawaddy, August 2023, https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/thousands-of-civilians-flee-as-myanmar-junta-forces-raid-villages-in-sagaing.html

[3] Myanmar Junta Goes on the Defensive in August, Resistance Gains Ground, The Irrawaddy, August 2023, https://www.irrawaddy.com/opinion/analysis/myanmar-junta-goes-on-the-defensive-in-august-resistance-gains-ground.html

[4] Joint Statement on Myanmar, US Embassy in Burma, August 2023, https://mm.usembassy.gov/joint-statement-on-myanmar/

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