“I would not be surprised if the refugee flows will soon exceed the Rohingya crisis”, Dutchman Ole Chavannes refers to the more than one million Rohingyas who fled the country a few years ago because of violence by the army. Chavannes is a journalist for the independent news channel Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) and regularly visited Myanmar until the February coup.
“For weeks you have seen the violence increase. More and more bombs are going off, more soldiers are killed in an ambush. Conversely, you see that the reaction of the army is more intense, with more aerial bombardments. It is about to go into full civil war. become,” he says.
It is important to mention that in various states, various rebel movements have been fighting against the government army for decades. Some of these groups say they want to cooperate with the protest movement that is aimed at the perpetrators of the coup. Because some citizens have also taken up arms among the demonstrators.
‘Divide and conquer’
“But because it is all so fragmented, it is difficult to start up a joint fighting force,” says NOS correspondent Annemarie Kas. Nevertheless, a number of militias have already joined forces. And that is remarkable given the history of Myanmar, says Chavannes.
“The population has let themselves be played off against each other,” he explains. The Tatmadaw has been in power for decades so far. And according to the Dutchman, the contradictions, whether created or not, between the various ethnic groups in the country were always hammered out. For example, the Rohingya minority was labeled as a group of illegal invaders from abroad.
“The army always emphasized the differences and labeled itself the great protector, in other words: divide and rule. Even now there is not complete unity between the Myanmar people, but there is a much greater urge to do so,” says Chavannes. The main motivation is the shared dislike of the military rulers.
Incidentally, there are also peaceful protests against the military dictatorship every day. But after the wave of deadly violence against protesters by security forces, citizens are more cautious.
“They no longer take to the streets in thousands, but organize a flash mob-protest”, explains correspondent Kas. “Then you see, for example, protesters with banners running through a street. The photos of it are widely circulated on social media, and as a result you can see that the aversion to the army is fully alive.”
The lion’s share of the population still sees the democratically elected Suu Kyi as the true leader of the country. But she faces 15 years in prison or house arrest if the court in Naypyidaw convicts her. The hearings should be concluded by the end of July, and the verdict is expected before the end of this year.