BANGKOK (AP) — Myanmar military increasingly turns to airstrikes Two years after seizing power, the deadly consequences of trying to quell stubborn armed resistance A report on Tuesday by the Human Rights Watch Group said it plunged the country into a prolonged civil war.
The military relies heavily on fighter jets and helicopter gunships supplied by allies Russia and China, according to the non-governmental organization Myanmar Witness and other experts. According to a compilation of 135 “air combat incidents,” the number of airstrikes has been on the rise since September.
“As Myanmar’s military struggles to gain control of resistance areas, airstrikes have become an important part of their attacks,” the report said. The military “puts the people of Myanmar in danger, destroying homes, schools, places of worship and other places that should be safe for civilians.”
460 civilians, mostly children, were killed in the airstrikes, according to a statement in January by the Government of National Unity, an underground group that claims to be the country’s legitimate government and serves as an umbrella organization for opposition to the military government.
The Myanmar military has defended its actions as intended to combat what it calls terrorist activities and legitimate military targets.
The military overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, 2021, and was immediately met with widespread civil protests that security forces quelled with deadly force. The futility of non-violent protest spurred opposition to armed resistance. UN experts and others call this a civil war.
According to the independent Political Prisoners Assistance Association, a watchdog group that tracks the killings and arrests of political prisoners, 2,901 civilians have been killed by authorities since the military takeover. The actual death toll may be much higher, as the group cannot easily ascertain casualties in remote or combat areas.
The military has long fought ethnic minority rebel groups fighting for greater autonomy in frontier regions, but its strength has been eroded as it fights pre-democratic guerrillas in central Myanmar. .
Ethnic rebels often team up with pro-democracy guerrillas in the loosely organized armed wing of the National Unity government. They effectively denied that the junta controlled large swaths of the country, undermining any claim to its legitimacy. But they don’t have the resources to unleash his punches to knock him out on the battlefield.
Christina Fink, professor of international affairs at George Washington University, said at a news conference on Jan. 19 that the military was demoralized and had lost control in many parts of the country, but increased air power would be a big deal for the resistance. said it was an issue.Webinar hosted by the Stimson Center, a Washington, DC think tank
The military has air capabilities that it didn’t have 20 years ago, she said.
“They were able to buy planes from both Russia and China. increase.
Members of the Free Burma Rangers, a humanitarian relief organization that provides hands-on medical assistance to ethnic minority villagers in Myanmar’s border areas, were able to see the effects of an airstrike when two Myanmar jet fighters dropped them. I was one of the few outside witnesses I could. On January 12, a bomb was dropped on Reiwa village in northern Karen State. I saw the bombing going on from afar and rushed to the village to offer my help.
“Bombs destroyed two churches, a school and other structures,” Rangers said in a statement circulated to supporters.
The victims included a three-year-old girl and her mother, a Catholic deacon, another pastor, and a villager who was helping out at the church.
David Eubank, a former member of the U.S. Army Special Forces and founder of the Free Burma Rangers, told the Associated Press last week that the Myanmar military “came with unprecedented speed and force” since the 2021 occupation. Told. Thank you for his 30 years of humanitarian work here. ”
“We witnessed the first air strikes in surrounding villages shortly after the coup in Karen State. ‘, said Eubank. And over the last year, almost every day, he has witnessed airstrikes by Yak-130s and MiG-29s and his K-8 jet fighters bombing villages and clinics, strafing and rockets.
“We saw firsthand 10 people killed in various bombings and came out to other areas where many more were killed before we arrived. We also saw a Hind attack helicopter in February. He said he fired rockets and machine guns into villages almost every day.
Those who oppose the junta have virtually no access to advanced weaponry to counter air raids. Their supporters are calling for a ban on the sale of aviation fuel to Myanmar to stop the air raids.
The European Union has imposed an arms embargo Prohibition of devices that can be used for internal suppression or surveillance of communications. The United States prohibits commercial dealings with the Myanmar military and its key associates and agents.
“These air strikes devastated families, terrorized civilians, killed and maimed victims. But if planes can’t refuel, they can’t take off and wreak havoc.” Agnès Calamar, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said in November. “Today, we are calling on our suppliers, shipping agents, ship owners and marine insurers to withdraw from supply chains that benefit the Myanmar Air Force.”