04/10/2024, 17.03
Send to a friend

Myanmar troops surrender near Myawaddy, while civilians and soldiers flee to Thailand

Fighting is still ongoing after the military junta bombed the city, in Karen State. Thai authorities said yesterday that they expect 100,000 displaced people. Struggling in the country’s border regions, the generals are betting everything on conscription, forcing civilians to enlist.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The latest reports from Myanmar note that dozens of regular troops who had attacked the city of Myawaddy, in Karen State on the border with Thailand, have surrendered to resistance militias.

In Thailand, the government said that it had granted permission for a special flight from Yangon to Mae Sot – the Thai city across the border – to transport “passengers and cargo” without giving further details.

In his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis mentioned Myanmar’s “forgotten” war again today.

The border crossing linking Myawaddy to Mae Sot saw more than US$ 1 billion in trade in the last fiscal year, a drop of 30 per cent over the previous year, according to Thai officials.

"We are concerned about border trade with Thailand and hope we can stabilize the situation quickly," said a source in the Karen National Union (KNU), the local ethnic militia.

KNU, along with the People's Defence Forces under the command of the exiled National Unity Government (NUG), defeated the regime's soldiers, about 600 according to local sources,

In other areas freed from the military’s control, local ethnic organisations have already set up independent administrations.

However, as in other occasions, after the surrender, the military junta launched bombing raids in the Myawaddy region in an attempt to regain control and force the local population to flee to neighbouring Thailand

Tai authorities expect in fact the number of displaced people to rise, up to 100,000 people, Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-nukara said yesterday.

“We have prepared for a while and we can accommodate about 100,000 people in Thailand's safe area temporarily," he explained.

Like other countries in the region, Thailand is not a signatory to the Geneva Convention on Refugees. But last month, it began shipping humanitarian aid to Myanmar, albeit deemed insufficient by some and linked to the logistical facilities of the military regime.

Over the past three years, the Thai government has often been criticised for supporting the junta. In reference to the flight from Yangon, the Thai Foreign Ministry issued a statement.

“Upon considering the urgency of the situation and the possibility of an evacuation of Myanmar personnel and their families to safe areas, a decision was made at the government level to approve the request from Myanmar on humanitarian grounds.”

The defeat in Myawaddy is further confirmation of the weakness of Myanmar’s military junta in the country’s border regions since it seized power in a coup in February 2021).

“The current regime is starting to lose some strength,” said Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin last week, acknowledging the junta’s weakness; yet, “even if they're losing, they have the power, they have the weapons.”

Since Thailand would benefit from a stable and prosperous Myanmar, Mr Srettha noted that, “Maybe it's time to reach out and make a deal.”

Since October 2023, ethnic militias have captured large swathes of territory in several states: Shan (bordering China), Rakhine (bordering Bangladesh), and now Karen state.

In recent months, thousands of soldiers have been killed or deserted, forcing the military to impose the draft for both men and women to compensate for the losses.

As a result, people in their hundreds are trying to flee to neighbouring countries, to the point, writes Nikkei Asia, that the demand for foreign currency has further depreciated Myanmar’s national currency, the kyat.

According to some observers, it is likely that in the coming weeks, the military will intensify its harassment of civilians to force them into the ranks of the army.

Recruitment has so far not achieved the results the generals hoped for, which is why, according to some experts, "Military officials will need to rely on entrapment, arbitrary abductions, and other repressive methods” to get people into battle dress.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Monks flee fighting in Kayah State
17/01/2022 14:13
Torture and mass killings, the crimes of the Burmese junta
20/12/2021 11:34
Myanmar’s military junta no longer wants displaced people
13/10/2022 14:26
Bangkok: growing number of Burmese refugees at the border
03/01/2022 14:01
Civili conflict in Myanmar: over 11,000 fatalities in 6 months
18/08/2022 12:36


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”