Over 600,000 war refugees in Karen State alone; Those who posted birthday wishes on social media were arrested again

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – June 20 Scenes

MoeMaKa, June 21, 2023

Over 600,000 war refugees in Karen State alone; Those who posted birthday wishes on social media were arrested again


In Karen State, where the armed conflict is escalating and expanding, the number of war refugees has reached more than 600,000, according to a statement by KHRG (Karen Human Rights Group).


In Myanmar, a large number of new armed groups have emerged after the military coup, and some ethnic armed groups, such as KNU, that agreed to a ceasefire have resumed fighting with the coup military. In two years, the number of war refugees has exceeded 1.5 million, and if it continues to increase like this, there is a possibility that the number will soon exceed 2 million.


If you look at the country’s map, Karen State is a state with long boundaries in terms of territory, bordering Mon State in the south, Bago Division in the center, and then Kayah State and a small part of Mandalay Division in the upper part. Recently, fierce battles have taken place in KNU Brigade-6, Brigade-7, Brigade-1, and Brigade-3, and airstrikes have been launched in almost every area where the fighting takes place. As for the local people, they have to flee somewhere in the country, and in some areas, they also flee into bordering Thailand.


Some KNU leaders once said that when the military council conducts operations or battles of territorial occupation, the junta troops often conduct alleged killings of civilians, targeting and attacking houses and villages with heavy weapons with the purpose of forcing the local residents to flee. In fighting war, not only armed people but also those who support the armed forces or the communities that the armed forces protect are drawn into the war.


Similar to Karen State, another region where many war refugees are fleeing is Sagaing Region. According to UN figures, more than 700,000 people are fleeing the war.


It was reported in some news that, on June 20, World Refugee Day, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized the UN Security Council for not effectively preventing ongoing wars. It was also reported that the Myanmar issue was also addressed. The violence of armed conflicts, civilian deaths, and the number of displaced persons in Myanmar have increased more than 3 times over the past 2 years, and the death toll has been steadily increasing even now.


Another piece of news for today is that, after monitoring from the military council’s propaganda and social media, those who oppose or criticize the military council, those who posted any word or sign of supporting NLD, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, NUG, CRPH and NUCC etc., and those who posted birthday wishes for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday were arrested, prosecuted, or released after bribing.


On June 19, at least two more well-known artists were arrested for writing birthday wishes for Aung San Suu Kyi on social media, according to news reports. Some entertainment websites wrote that the military council arrested TV drama actress Poe Kyar Phyu Khin and actress Khin Wint Wah.


Social media accounts of ordinary people and well-known persons are being monitored by many telegram channels and fake accounts, created by Han Nyein Oo, Kyaw Swar, etc., who are assigned by the junta to disclose those who oppose the military council and those supporting the opposition organizations. These telegram channels incite well-known persons and some ordinary people to be arrested, and they are usually arrested by the police and intelligence agencies of the relevant area within a day or days. Domestically, the military council has been monitoring and arresting those participating in activities to show opposition to the military council or public movements, not by means of weapons. Some are released after bribing and signing commitment letters.