Burma: one year after the coup, the country is bogged down in an endless war

“As soon as you leave Mandalay, you enter war zones”testifies under pseudonym Maung Zaw, journalist in the second city of Burma. “In the surrounding countryside and mountains, clashes between the armed civil resistance and the military are increasingly violent. »

→ ANALYSIS. In Burma, resistance to the junta does not weaken

A year after General Min Aung Hlaing’s coup on February 1, 2021, the major protest demonstrations have turned into a real civil war on almost all of Burma. “It’s total war now in Burma”breathes Maung Zaw.

Burmese young generation is on the front line

Burma has descended into civil war. The historic 1988 revolt against the military had been crushed in six months. But in 2021, the civil resistance is largely led by a young generation of Burmese who have had a taste of democracy, cell phones and social networks for ten years.

“There is a very good relationship between the civilian self-defense groups and the ethnic armies”analyzes a Western diplomat stationed in Yangon for years. “They apply a strategy of harassment which can last for weeks and which causes many losses in the ranks of the police and the army. »

“It’s an infernal spiral that will last a long time”

There are already more than 3,000 victims on both sides, according to a Burmese NGO, the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP). Much more than in 1988. “The fighting is extremely violent”confirms Hervé Lemahieu, Burma expert at the Lowy Research Institute, based in Sydney (Australia), “and it’s an infernal spiral that will last for years to come. »

Especially since “for the first time in history there is national unity against the junta, which brings together almost all ethnic groups”adds anthropologist François Robinne (1), who has traveled across Burma for years.

“Locked up in the bubbles of their barracks, the soldiers did not anticipate the fierce determination of this very connected youth who no longer wants to go back”, recalls the Western diplomat. At the start of the dry season in October, the generals said they would “set everything up in three months”. But the anti-junta front continues to grow throughout the country. “There are even many defections from the army and the policesupports Hervé Lemahieu. This affects the morale of the troops but the military institution remains solid. »

“Only one in four children still goes to school”

In the meantime, the crisis, to which has been added the pandemic, has caused the economy to sink. Daily life is becoming more and more difficult: power cuts, lack of water, lack of doctors, curfew, multiple military checkpoints on the roads, where racketeering is rampant, galloping inflation… not to mention the half-million of displaced persons.

“Only one in four children still goes to school”, deplores Antoine Besson, of the NGO Children of the Mekong. And the repression intensified with more than 12,000 arrests, numerous cases of torture, rape and summary executions. Nearly 500,000 Burmese have fled to the border areas, and several thousand have taken refuge in India, but especially in Thailand.

Faced with this situation of war, the international community has revealed its powerlessness to find a solution to launch dialogue between the civilian government and the army. China and Russia block every single UN resolution calling for an arms embargo. “The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has no influence over the military juntadeplores Hervé Lemahieu, Burma is adrift and running to ruin. It’s a real mess. »


These multinationals fleeing Burma

Oil companiesTotalEnergies and Chevron decided last week to leave the country where they were partners on the Yadana gas field.

Norwegian telecom operator Telenor has chosen, in July 2021, to sell its very profitable local subsidiary.

The British tobacco company BAT, which employed more than 100,000 people, left Burma in October.

Italian Benetton Swedish H & M have suspended any new orders from the country for months.

The Japanese manufacturer Toyota postponed the inauguration of its first factory in Burma.

The Danish brewer Carlsberg, which employs around 450 people on site, “reduces his abilities” of production.


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