Myanmar Spring Chronicle – October 15 Scenes
MoeMaKa, October 16, 2023
Ongoing Offensives and Killings in Sagaing and Magway Regions
In the past week, military columns associated with the junta have initiated incursions into villages located in the Yelalkyun region of Yesagyo Township, bordering Mandalay Division and Magway Division. Reports have recently emerged of a tragic incident in which a woman was killed in Nweni Village. Approximately 300 troops from the military council have been conducting operations in the Yelalkyun area since October 12, prompting the residents of nearby villages to flee in fear. The 50-year-old woman, who tragically lost her life, was reportedly left in the village and was shot during the junta’s assault.
The Yelalkyun area in Magway Division is recognized as a stronghold for revolutionary armed groups. Regrettably, the military council frequently conducts raids, resulting in the destruction of villages by fire. Pakokku, Myaing, and Yesagyo townships within the Pakokku District are also areas where People’s Defense Force (PDF) movements are robust, providing an opportunity for mutual support due to their proximity to Myingyan Township in Mandalay Division and Myaung Township in Sagaing Division.
Nonetheless, the revolutionary forces have yet to establish full control over these extensive regions. As a result, whenever military council columns launch incursions, local residents are compelled to abandon their homes. These incidents have led to property destruction, lootings, and arson attacks continuing to this day.
Similarly, areas in Sagaing Division have witnessed an influx of refugees in recent days due to junta columns’ invasions, mirroring the situation in the Yelalkyun region of Magway Division. News reports indicate that over 20,000 residents have fled their homes due to the offensives launched by the junta into villages within Khin-U Township and Shwebo Township in Sagaing Division. The military council’s forces have deployed four columns of hundreds of troops to invade Khin-U and Shwebo townships. During one of the raids, around 30 villagers were reportedly apprehended in Thayet Pin Wun Village in Shwebo Township.
When military council troops descend upon villages, they frequently detain and interrogate local inhabitants found within the village and along roads, subjecting them to torture and executing any men suspected of being PDF members. Furthermore, they plunder food supplies and confiscate valuables from civilian residences. In an effort to evade the risks of detention, torture, and execution, residents hastily vacate their homes and possessions when junta troops approach. However, some local residents, driven by their attachment to hard-earned property and homes, have been unable to leave and have tragically faced arrest and death. Additionally, health and age constraints have left some individuals stranded in their villages, jeopardizing their lives amid the risk of execution, as reported in news accounts.
While the military council engages in peace negotiations and celebrates the 8th anniversary of the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in Nay Pyi Taw, residents in Myanmar’s northern regions are compelled to flee due to ongoing raids. The military council does not recognize recently established armed organizations as partners in peace talks. In post-2011 peace negotiations, the Arakan Army, also known as the AA, which emerged in 2009, remains unrecognized as a dialogue partner. Similarly, armed groups formed after the military coup in 2021 have not been acknowledged as dialogue partners by the military council. Additionally, PDF groups that emerged after the 2021 military coup are labeled as terrorist organizations by the military council and are not considered dialogue partners.
Considering these factors, it is apparent that the 8th anniversary of the NCA agreement signed on October 15, 2015, as observed within the military council’s peace process in Nay Pyi Taw, is primarily a political maneuver aimed at dissuading some armed groups from combat. It appears to be driven by political motives rather than a sincere commitment to achieving peace.