According to the Progressive Voice campaign group, the international community risks allowing the junta to arm aid by channeling all aid through the junta and ignoring the national unity government and other anti-junta forces, despite the atrocities committed by the junta.
The situation on the ground for the people of southern Shan State has rapidly deteriorated over the past few weeks as the military junta intensifies its assaults and creates mass displacement.
Likewise, those across the Irrawaddy River in the Sagaing region face a relentless barrage of arson from the junta.
Meanwhile, the failure of the international community, particularly ASEAN and the UN Security Council, to reckon with the military junta is costing lives and exacerbating human suffering in Myanmar.
According to Progressive Voice in the Sagaing region, towns and villages that shore the Irrawaddy River have been deliberately burned and bombed, including the shelling of a Buddhist monastery and the demolition of a mosque, as the junta continues its campaign to burnt earth.
Nearly 6,300 homes have been burned down in the past two months by the military junta in 19 townships in the Sagaing region alone. A well-worn tactic of the junta’s physiological warfare is to burn homes, livestock, crops, places of worship, and to slaughter civilians and burn their remains.
Tayawgyin village, Yinmabin township was set on fire by the junta on May 15 and 24, with residents fleeing for their lives. A villager from Tayawgyin said, “They burned down 25 houses the first time. 15 other houses were burnt down yesterday. We cannot understand why they did this. It’s just cruelty to people.
Similarly, Tin Maw village, Kanbalu township, was burnt down on May 17, with 500 baskets of paddy burned and villagers forced to flee and pitch makeshift tents in the nearby forest. A member of the local PDF group told Radio Free Asia that the junta is burning villages “…when they couldn’t fight the PDF, they were burning down every house they came across.”
Meanwhile, the junta has been expanding mine clearance operations and airstrikes in southern Shan State since mid-May.
More than 20,000 people have been displaced by the offensives in Moebye and Pekhon townships. Now is the start of the rainy season when road access is dangerous and temporary shelters are unable to withstand the elements.
At an IDP camp in Pekhon, southern Shan state, 700 displaced people have fled junta attacks to their village for deep jungle cover, but are struggling with supplies and medicine limited, unstable shelters and no vehicle access to the camp. All had to abandon their homes, crops and livelihoods after the junta’s shelling and airstrikes.
Overwhelmingly, more than 200,000 people are now displaced in Karenni State and the Karenni/southern Shan State border area.
In response to the continuing and rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Disaster Management Wing (the AHA Center) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) are preparing to conduct needs assessments and deliver humanitarian assistance programs – an outcome of the May 6 closed-door consultative meeting on ASEAN humanitarian assistance to Myanmar.
Basically, this plan was decided and continues by excluding Myanmar’s main stakeholders – the National Unity Government (NUG), ethnic revolutionary organizations and local humanitarian and civil society organizations.
Under this plan and by the structure of the AHA Center, it only partners with the junta task force, which has the final decision on where aid is distributed and who can facilitate the distribution.
Maddeningly, the plan completely ignores the fact that the military junta is behind this crisis and continues to commit atrocities against the people for whom the aid is intended.
In a statement, the NUG and three long-standing armed ethnic revolutionary organizations from Karen, Karenni and Chin states strongly opposed the plan for failing to consult with key local stakeholders and allowing a plan that would allow the junta to militarize aid and whitewash its atrocities.
In a press release in support of the above statement, Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), Karenni Civil Society Network (KCSN), Karen Peace Support Network (KPSN), Progressive Voice and ALTSEAN-Burma called on UN OCHA and the AHA Center to cease associating with the junta and suspend their assessment immediately, or risk being complicit in the militarization of aid and atrocities by the military junta.
The groups highlighted the need to consult and work with local organizations, with Naw Wahkushee representing KPSN noting that “distributing aid without including local stakeholders in decision-making and implementation undermines the efficiency of aid delivery and denies agency to local actors – representing a continued colonization of aid in Myanmar.
Despite decades and decades of cycles of conflict and displacement, particularly in ethnic areas resulting from aggression and militarization by the Myanmar military, international humanitarian organizations and UN actors have failed to not stop associating with the junta, even when this results in the junta militarizing aid. for their own political and military strategic gain.
These organizations continue to apply the same model of humanitarian aid distribution and engagement in Myanmar, even though they are aware that they are contributing to evil.
This was no more evident than during the Rohingya genocide, where an independent UN-commissioned Rosenthal report determined that the UN’s engagement in Myanmar before and during the Rohingya genocide was a “systemic failure”. “dysfunctional” and that UN actors were silent. on ongoing atrocities against the Rohingya, so as not to threaten their access to government and Rakhine State.
These systemic failures remain unaddressed by the UN and, in the current humanitarian crisis, are causing irreparable harm to people on the ground.
As people fight for their lives on the ground in Myanmar, the UN Security Council hesitates and is unable to reach consensus on Myanmar, failing in its duty to maintain global peace and security.
Russia and China have blocked the release of a statement expressing concern over the violence, the dire humanitarian situation and the limited progress in negotiating peace through the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus . Civil society groups have called on ASEAN to move beyond the five-point consensus, which after more than a year has yielded no results and is no longer relevant in the current context in Myanmar.
If the root cause of the political crisis in Myanmar is not addressed, the humanitarian crisis will only worsen.
Progressive Voice believes that the failure of the international community to holistically resolve the humanitarian and political crisis, through a coordinated response to hold the junta – the main perpetrator of the suffering – to account under international law, does than prolong the humanitarian crisis.
Increased targeted sanctions against junta leaders, companies and their allies must be enforced, along with a global arms embargo and cutting off access to jet fuel.
Progressive Voice affirms that the people of Myanmar, their representatives and trusted local humanitarian organizations must be consulted and included in decision-making and implementation – channeling the agency of the local people over the distribution of aid within their communities.
The message is very simple: UN OCHA and AHA Center must refrain from becoming complicit in the junta’s violations of international law, instead of relying on outdated notions of neutrality and impartiality, they must focus on protection of human rights, localization of aid and ‘do no harm’ guarantees as guiding principles of engagement in Myanmar.