Thingyan Amid the Civil War: Pyin Oo Lwin Attacked from a Distance

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – April 14 Scenes
**MoeMaKa, April 15, 2024**

Thingyan Amid the Civil War: Pyin Oo Lwin Attacked from a Distance

During the fourth Thingyan celebration since the military coup, towns and villages unaffected by the war continue to celebrate the festival. However, those in conflict zones spend Thingyan in monasteries, schools, forests, and mountains, which have become refugee camps. While Burmans and Buddhist ethnic groups often celebrate Thingyan, Christian ethnic groups are less likely to participate.

In times of peace, Myanmar’s citizens would typically return to their hometowns, reunite with their families, and embark on leisure trips during Thingyan, the country’s longest holiday. However, ongoing civil wars across various parts of the country have made traveling daunting. The situation is particularly dire in Rakhine State, where the entire region has been cut off from land and water transportation, making it impossible for many people to visit their hometowns during the Thingyan holidays.

Fighting continues in Karen State, Kachin State, Karenni State, the Mandalay Region, and many places in the Sagaing Region. Even during Thingyan, there has been no ceasefire, with attacks, heavy weapons fire, and the arrest and killing of civilians ongoing.

News reports indicate that many residents are fleeing due to military council troops in Ayadaw Township, one of the townships in the Sagaing Region. Similarly, in Chaung-U Township, villages are being burned down as military council troops are attacked during their marches. Revolutionary forces are fighting to capture some military council battalions and towns in Karenni State, with people fleeing the war to southern Shan State’s Pinlaung and Hsihseng, only to flee back to Karenni State due to fighting in southern Shan State.

In major cities such as Yangon, Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Taw, the Thingyan festivals sponsored by the Military Council are being held. However, fear of political strikes and explosions has resulted in less crowded celebrations than usual. Some areas and pavilions are busy, while others show empty streets. Compared to past Thingyan festivals, participation is significantly reduced.

On the afternoon of April 14, a bomb exploded at a motorcycle parking area near Mandalay City’s Thingyan Pavilion, injuring 12 civilians. The attack, targeting the City’s Thingyan Pavilion, involved two detonations, injuring civilians both times. The responsible organization has not been identified. During such times, explosions, time bombs, or remote-controlled detonations in crowded places occur without the perpetrators being revealed, leading only to political exploitation and propaganda.

Although this explosion may cause some people to hesitate in celebrating the Thingyan Festival, there are no signs of a significant decrease in participation.

Another news story on April 14 that drew considerable attention was the report of an attack on Pyin Oo Lwin on the night of Thingyan’s second day, involving what are believed to be missiles. Given that Min Aung Hlaing, the military council leader, had recently arrived in Pyin Oo Lwin, the timing of the attack seems deliberate. Reports indicate at least 30 explosions from what are believed to be shock missiles or heavy weapons, aimed at the Defense Service Academy. However, a monastery was also hit, killing at least one monk, and a civilian hospital was struck, injuring some staff or patients.

It is possible that the Defense Service Academy, where the military council leader was believed to be staying, was the target, with the civilian hospital and monastery being unintentionally hit. The responsible armed group has not been identified.

Around 10 days after the bombing of locations such as the Military Council headquarters in Nay Pyi Taw and the Alar Airfield, Pyin Oo Lwin was attacked with heavy weapons or shock missiles.

The top leaders of the military council did not attend this year’s Thingyan celebrations, possibly due to fears of drone attacks and remote attacks like shock missiles.