The Global Heroes


6th February 2024 By The Global Heroes Conflict

Gains made by armed opposition groups in Myanmar, signaling a potential turning point from the junta's rule, have raised hopes for a brighter future. However, concerns are growing as reports emerge of alleged abuses committed by some resistance factions. Human Rights Watch highlights violations in eastern Shan state, including sexual assaults, forced recruitment, and home robberies, traditionally associated with the military rather than the opposition.

The military seized power on February 1, 2021, ousting the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. In response, various resistance groups emerged, including civilian-founded local defense groups, People's Defense Forces (PDFs), and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs). EAOs, rooted in historical persecution and interethnic conflicts, now unite to resist the military, creating a formidable opposition estimated at 55,000 strong.

Amid the intensified conflict, both military and resistance forces face accusations of human rights abuses. The junta responds with tactics such as recruiting child soldiers, burning villages, and torture, while reports of resistance groups violating international humanitarian law surface. Human Rights Watch cites instances of forced recruitment by an EAO in Shan state and armed groups in Rakhine accused of robberies and abductions.

Efforts to address abuses include education initiatives on the Geneva Convention by organizations like the Kachin Women's Association Thailand and the National Unity Government's training on international humanitarian law. However, allegations against NUG-led PDFs underscore the challenges of coordinating actions when leadership operates outside the country.

As conflict intensifies, aid delivery becomes critical. The junta's restrictions hinder NGOs, making it difficult to provide assistance, and internally displaced persons face starvation and limited access to necessities. The hope for a temporary ceasefire brokered by China faces challenges, with reports of continued military assaults despite the agreement.

The gains made by EAOs raise optimism for aid groups to reach vulnerable populations. However, concerns linger about post-conflict scenarios, with potential resumption of hostilities between EAOs once their common enemy, the military, is defeated. A joint statement by four EAOs calls for a federal democratic union, yet challenges persist in ensuring peace, especially if EAOs operate outside their original territories without a centralized authority.

As has been the third anniversary of the coup in Myanmar, uncertainty prevails regarding an end to military rule and the alleviation of civilian suffering. The complex landscape highlights the delicate balance between gains made by the opposition and the challenges they face in maintaining unity and addressing human rights concerns.

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