An Army that Bombs Its Civilians is Out of Control

The Burma military increased its airstrikes in Karen State, the latest attack in the gold mining area near Shwe Kyin Township killed 11 workers and injured five. Villagers in northern Karen State can’t protect themselves against the air attacks and say they have little choice but to try to hide in nearby jungles.

A local aid worker told Karen News since the airstrikes people live in fear of the Burma Army attacks and bombing raids from the air. “We estimates that there are now a total of 20,000 displaced villagers in the whole Mutraw district. This is since the beginning of the year.”

Burma Army ground attacks began in December 2020 and the aid worker explained to Karen News that “around 7,000 people were forced from their homes prior to the airstrikes in Mae Way and Ler Mu Plaw/Saw Mu Plaw areas in recent months.”

The local aid provider said nighttime air attacks have “displaced 10,000 people from the Day Bu Noh areas and another 3,000 were displaced from Ei Tu Hta IDP camp.”

Villagers said when they hear helicopters on reconnaissance flights in their areas they know airstrikes will follow.

“People hear the helicopters and know what comes next…bombs and death. They prefer to hide in the jungle than wait for the airstrike.”

They are in need of food supplies and other assistance, as they dare not go back to their homes.

Karen National Union secretary, Padoh Saw Hla Tun, in an interview with Karen News, said the Burma’s military’s using fighter jets to bombs on unarmed civilians is against international humanitarian laws.

“Burma Army using airstrikes in a civil war is as we all know against international laws. Their targets are not military, but is our civilians, this is not acceptable and it is also unethical. The military’s offensives, including airstrikes has caused displacement to thousands of our Karen civilians.”

Padoh Saw Hla Tun said the Burma Army ignores international conventions and because it has got away with it for decades has now increased its aggression against not its own citizens in the cities but has been responsible for attacks in ethnic areas.

“The recent escalation in fighting in the 5th Brigade area is the result of Burma Army increased aggression. It has repeatedly broke ceasefire agreements. This has led to the current situation.”

Padoh Saw Hla Tun said the number of displaced people in need of medical, shelter, food and security has placed a huge burden on the KNU.

“We are trying to help our civilians as much as we can… we call on international humanitarian aid providers to come and help our people, they are in desperate need.”

The local aid worker agreed with Padoh Saw Hla Tun call and urged international community to advocate for Thailand to allow displaced people to cross into Thailand for their safety. “ We will need to have to open access for international humanitarian aid providers to help displaced people who fled the attacks by the Burma Army.”

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