Myanmar’s anti-coup forces say they are moving closer to victory over generals who seized power in a coup three years ago, energized by successes in a major offensive which began at the end of October.
Speaking from an undisclosed location in Myanmar during an online forum, NUG acting president Duwa Lashi La said anti-coup forces had made “staggering progress” since the start of Operation 1027, launched at the end of last year by an alliance of ethnic armed groups and resistance fighters.
“After three years, the Spring Revolution is stronger than ever,” Duwa Lashi La said on Tuesday. “With each passing day, we get closer to victory. The criminal army will never crush the will of the people.”
The NUG includes elected politicians who were removed from office in the February 2021 coup and who created the so-called Popular Defense Force (PDF) of civiliansafter the army responded with brutal force to peaceful protests against its takeover.
Duwa Lashi La added that the army was facing a growing rate of desertion, which was a “deep humiliation for the junta”.
As anti-coup forces advance in several parts of the country and take control of military outposts and several cities, the generals face their biggest challenge since overthrowing the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, sparking a mass opposition movement.
The military has claimed that those fighting them are “terrorists,” while reports of military abuses, casualties and desertions are “fake news” intended to “discredit” the military.
At least 4,468 civilians have been killed since the coup and nearly 20,000 people are detained for political reasons, according to local monitoring group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
The United Nations and human rights groups have accused the generals of serious human rights violations, including crimes against humanity, in their crackdown on the opposition.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, said the country’s human rights crisis was now in “free fall”, with the military “systematically” targeting civilians, medical facilities and schools. The world, he added, is not paying “enough attention” to the situation.
“Amid all the crises across the world, it is important that no one is forgotten,” Turk said in a statement Tuesday. “The people of Myanmar have suffered for too long. As the army suffered setback after setback on the battlefield, it went on a rampage, launching waves of aerial bombardments and indiscriminate artillery strikes.
Entire villagers were burned to the ground and air attacks, where the army enjoys overwhelming superiority, have intensified.
“Where the dictatorship ends”
On Wednesday, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were among those calling on the international community to take additional steps to end the military’s access to jet fuel.
“Relevant governments should do more to limit the junta’s ability to commit appalling violations of the laws of war,” Elaine Pearson, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “UN member countries should urge the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar, including sanctions on jet fuel that facilitates illegal air attacks against civilians. »
Amnesty said an analysis of satellite data on shipping, trade and customs from 2023 suggested there had been “significant changes” in the way aviation fuel entered Myanmar over the past year. he past year after the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and others implemented sanctions. .
The military was engaged in multiple sales and used middlemen and storage units, particularly in Vietnam, to mask the origin and destination of the fuel, the statement added.
“After the international community took action against this deadly supply chain, the Myanmar military is taking a page out of the sanctions evasion playbook to continue importing jet fuel,” said Montse Ferrer, deputy regional director of the research at Amnesty, in a press release.
“Airstrikes have killed or injured hundreds of civilians across Myanmar in 2023, and many of them feel nowhere safe. The best way to stop the Myanmar military from carrying out deadly airstrikes is to stop all jet fuel imports into the country.
Calls are also growing for the international community to step up efforts to hold military leaders accountable for their abuses.
“Since the February 1, 2021 coup, the military junta has killed unarmed civilians, razed villages, destroyed religious structures, and arrested activists, journalists, and politicians with impunity. After Operation 1027, it continued to target and kill innocent civilians and displace entire communities across Myanmar,” John Quinley III, director of Fortify Rights, said in a statement calling on the international community to take action. “concrete measures” to hold the generals accountable. .
Quinley said member states of the International Criminal Court (ICC) should ask the court to investigate the military’s alleged crimes in Myanmar. Although the country is not part of the ICC, the NUG filed a declaration with the court in 2021 accepting its jurisdiction.
“Without adequate intervention from the international community, the well-oiled killing machine that is the Myanmar junta will continue unabated,” he said.
Duwa Lashi La of the NUG also called for accountability as well as recognition of the NUG by governments.
Any attempts at negotiation by the military should also be treated with caution, he added.
“The military has no place in our politics,” said Duwa Lashi La. “It must be permanently subject to a civilian government. The dictatorship is now ending.