Insurgents from the Karen ethnic minority attacked and burned a Myanmar army outpost on the Thai border. It was some of the most intense violence since the military, led by General Min Aung Hlaing, seized control of the country.

Saw Taw Nee, the foreign affairs head of the Karen National Union (KNU), told media members that just before dawn on Tuesday, Karen troops attacked, occupied, and then burned down the outpost. He added that fighting was ongoing in other areas but didn’t elaborate.

The Guardian posted a video, reportedly taken from across the Salween River which separates Myanmar from Thailand, that showed several fires and smoke rising from a Myanmar military outpost. Gunfire and explosions can be heard in the background.
Deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with the head of the military coup General Min Aung Hlaing in an earlier photo. (Voice of America)

The Karen National Union (KNU) and its armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), represent the Karen people. They operate out of the eastern mountainous region of Myanmar and have been fighting for self-determination against Myanmar’s government since 1949. They have also clashed with other insurgent groups.

One month ago on March 27, Karen insurgents attacked and occupied a base housing troops of the 394 Light Infantry Battalion. They killed 10 troops, including the deputy battalion commander. The military responded with airstrikes targeting Karen villages. Forty thousand people were displaced from their homes as a result. Between 2,000-3,000 attempted to flee to Thailand but Thai authorities forced them to return to Myanmar.

Myanmar’s Military Breaks Agreement With Ethnic Groups

In 2015, the KNU, several other insurgent groups, and the Burmese government signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) that promised an end to the violence. 

However, after the February 1 coup against the duly elected government, the Myanmar military attacked one of the NCA signatories’ camps, breaking the NCA. 

Amid this backdrop, the Burmese military coup members said they would give “careful consideration” to suggestions from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that held a special summit last weekend. ASEAN leaders called for an end to the violence and urged dialogue with the overthrown duly elected officials.

The military has killed more than 750 protesters, including dozens of children, since the takeover. Nearly 3,500 people have been arrested. 

The military has also arrested and detained key government officials including civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. 

Kyi’s National League for Democracy party had won by a landslide victory in the last democratic elections. 

Obama Speaks Out
Former President Barack Obama, with then-VP Joe Biden in the background, addresses a joint session of Congress. (IANS)

On Monday, former President Obama posted his thoughts about the violent situation in the country his thoughts on Twitter.

“The world’s attention must remain on Myanmar, where I’ve been appalled by heartbreaking violence against civilians and inspired by the nationwide movement that represents the voice of the people.”

“The military’s illegitimate and brutal effort to impose its will after a decade of greater freedoms will clearly never be accepted by the people and should not be accepted by the wider world,” Obama added. 

“I support efforts by the Biden Administration and like-minded countries to impose costs on the military and support a return to a democratic path.”

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Obama was the first and only U.S. president to visit Myanmar.

Furthermore, he urged Myanmar’s neighbors to recognize “that a murderous regime rejected by the people will only bring greater instability, humanitarian crisis, and the risk of a failed state.” In this way, Obama hopes to bring even more pressure on the generals. 

“These are dark times, but I have been moved by the unity, resilience, and commitment to democratic values demonstrated by so many Burmese, which offers hope for the kind of future Myanmar can have through leaders who respect the will of the people,” Obama said.