The Lives of People Amid the Rage of Civil War


Myanmar Spring Chronicle – April 11 Scenes
MoeMaKa, April 12, 2024

The Lives of People Amid the Rage of Civil War

As Myanmar traditionally celebrates Thingyan, the annual water festival, this year brings a stark contrast. While some regions may manage to celebrate, hundreds of thousands across the country are enduring the devastation of civil war. These people have lost their homes, livelihoods, and even crops and food supplies. Under the scorching summer heat, they face the added fear of losing their lives and property, compounding their daily struggles for survival.

Millions are fleeing their homes in cities and villages amidst the war, exacerbated by extreme weather conditions. Areas like Myawaddy in Karen State, parts of Kachin State, the northern and western regions of Rakhine State, Sagaing Region, eastern Bago Region, and Karenni State are experiencing intense fighting. People are escaping with whatever belongings they can carry, unable to observe the Thingyan festival. According to UN figures from last December, over 2.6 million people have been displaced by the war, a number that is likely to exceed 3 million soon. This means that out of a population of over 54 million, approximately 3 million are now fleeing the conflict.

In the past, when a single region was affected by conflict, civil organizations and social assistance groups from other areas could provide support. Today, however, such assistance is rare. The widespread impact of the war across Myanmar has hindered the ability to provide help freely.

For war refugees, the primary concern is staying alive, followed by securing enough food and money to survive. Both needs remain uncertain. Even after fleeing their homes, villages, and cities, their safety is not guaranteed, nor is their access to sufficient food. While rural residents usually had enough to eat in their own homes, displacement has left them dependent on aid for survival.

This dire situation is the result of armed conflict. The armed revolution, born from the belief that only armed struggle can remove the military that seized power and oppressed ethnic groups and national liberation movements, has unified various factions against the common enemy—the coup-installed military. Since 2021, these groups have converged to overthrow the military regime.

The sacrifices made in this armed struggle are immense, and the public has been the main supporter, bolstering anti-dictatorship armed groups through taxes, proceeds from resource sales, and sometimes illegal activities. However, this support comes at a significant cost to the people, who lose their property and lives and must contribute hard-earned money to sustain the war effort.

Armed groups rely heavily on public contributions and taxes, willingly given or not. Myanmar’s civil war is a conflict fueled by domestic resources rather than foreign intervention. Therefore, it is crucial for these groups to prioritize the welfare of the public over their own interests, recognizing the sacrifices made by the people.

The dynamics among armed groups are complex. They are not simply divided into “good” and “bad” factions, but rather comprise multiple groups, some aligned with and others against the military regime. As groups fighting against historical villains, they must put the people’s interests first, followed by considerations of inter-group relations, power distribution, and territorial control.

As they plan to govern and manage newly seized areas like Myawaddy—a vital hub for border trade and significant tax revenue—it is essential to prioritize the people’s welfare. The interests of the populace should always come first in their decision-making processes.

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