12/05/2022, 12.43
MYANMAR
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Yangon, Card. Bo to military junta: dialogue with opposition needed

The archbishop said he was "saddened" after bombings hit his home village in the Sagaing region. While in Rakhine the army has signed a truce with the local ethnic militia, in other regions of the country the civil conflict continues indiscriminately. In recent days, the head of the shadow government-in-exile has called for anti-aircraft weapons, comparing the war to that in Ukraine.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Card. Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon, has appealed for a peaceful solution to the civil conflict in Myanmar after an attack by the military on his home village in the central region of Sagaing. 

The cardinal told Radio Free Asia that he was 'saddened' by the raid that hit Mon Hla village in Khin-U municipality on 23 November and killed several civilians, including a seven-year-old boy.

Six members of the People's Defence Forces, the armed wing of the National Unity Government made up of deputies from the National League of Democracy, ousted after the army coup in February 2021, also died.

Military troops razed about 200 buildings to the ground, including a school and a church that had been built with donations collected by the cardinal.

The Christians living in Mon Hla and the nearby villages of Chaung Yoe and Chan Thar are called Bayingyi and are of Portuguese origin: they have lived along the Chindwin and Mu rivers since the beginning of the 17th century.

The offensive against the municipality of Khin-U began in mid-November: three military columns entered from the west and set hundreds of houses on fire with the support of air strikes.

After the bombing on 23 November, the military continued its march southwards, occupying one village after another. In the village of Myin Daung, occupied by the soldiers for three days, the charred remains of several civilians were found inside a shop after the troops left.

According to residents, the military burnt them alive, because the bodies were found with their hands tied behind their backs.

Meanwhile, in the western state of Rakhine, the generals signed a truce with the area's main ethnic militia, the Arakan Army, in recent weeks. The ethnic militias, which have opposed the Burmese state since the country's independence from the British Empire, are allied with the People's Defence Forces against the army. 

The ceasefire was signed to allow aid and medicine to be sent to the population. It was brokered by the president of Japan's Nippon Foundation, Yohei Sasakawa, a diplomat who has contacts with the junta chief (General Min Aung Hlaing), and who had already facilitated the ceasefire between the Arakan Army and the army in November 2020, before the last elections.

According to some resistance figures, however, the pause in the fighting will serve the junta's troops to reposition themselves in Chin State and in the regions of Magwe and Sagaing, where fighting has never ceased.

Last week, the head of the Government of National Unity in exile, President Duwa Lashi La, speaking at the Reuters Next conference, compared the situation in Myanmar to that in Ukraine, saying that anti-aircraft weapons were needed to force the army to sit at the negotiating table.

The Burmese regime has so far refused to enter into dialogue with the National Unity Government and the People's Resistance Forces, which it regards as terrorist organisations.

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