03/10/2023, 15.20
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At least one airstrike a day in Chin state since the start of 2023

About 53 airstrikes took place in January and February with some 140 bombs dropped on the townships of Mindat, Hakha, Matupi and Thantlang, the Chin Human Rights Organisation reports. Activists are calling for tougher penalties against those who sell jet fuel to Myanmar’s junta; meanwhile, the latter is trying to recruit fresh troops among poor and struggling families.


Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar's military junta, which is desperate for  recruits, has been hitting some townships in the western state of Chin with airstrikes at least once a day over the past two months.

According to the Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO), a local NGO, at least 53 airstrikes were carried out and about 140 bombs dropped on the townships of Mindat, Hakha, Matupi and Thantlang in January and February, killing at least eight people and wounding six.

The most affected place was Thantlang with 41 airstrikes and 115 bombs.

Myanmar's ethnic militias – established at the time of the country's independence and allied with other armed groups in the civil war that broke out when Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup on 1 February 2021 – claim that airstrikes have increased to counter the fierce guerrilla resistance in some parts of the country.

The brunt of the attacks is being borne by civilians, who have had to flee their homes, local sources told Radio Free Asia, while resistance fighters have announced that they will build air-raid shelters for the population.

“[T]here aren’t any clashes on the ground,” said Salai Htet Ni, a spokesman for the Chin National Front. “They mainly launch airstrikes to attack us” because of their effectiveness.

In Kayah, a state in eastern Myanmar, the air force has carried out at least 177 airstrikes since February 2021, targeting both civilians or resistance fighters, said a spokesperson for the ethnic Karenni government.

A report released by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a week ago confirmed the CHRO’s findings that the airstrikes by the junta’s air force have more than doubled, from 125 in 2021 to 301 in 2022.

Earlier this month, several aid agencies called for tougher sanctions against Asian and European companies that sell jet fuel that then ends up in the hands of the junta and allows its planes to fly.

The junta is also trying to recruit new troops from poor families, the most affected by the conflict. They are looking especially among the ranks of poorly educated and unemployed young people, easier to convince for the simple reason that joining the military ensures them food and a regular salary.

At the same time, unlike the first months following the coup, fewer desertions are being reported because in case of capture deserters risk three years in jail, possibly torture, not to mention repercussions for their families.

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