More than 6,600 battles broke out in Myanmar since last year’s coup, report says

Kayin state has seen the most conflict, according to ISP-Myanmar.
By RFA Burmese
2022.08.29
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More than 6,600 battles broke out in Myanmar since last year’s coup, report says Sagaing region’s PDF Battalion 3.
PDF Battalion 3

UPDATED at 2:10 p.m. EDT on 8-29-2022

More than 6,600 armed clashes have broken out across Myanmar since the military seized power in the Feb. 1, 2021, coup, an independent think tank reported Monday.

Kayin (Karen) state saw the highest number of clashes, with 3,993 recorded in the past 19 months, 3,734 of them in Hpapun township alone, according to the Institute for Strategy and Policy-Myanmar (ISP-Myanmar).

Sagaing region, which has become a key hub of the conflict between the Myanmar military and pro-democracy resistance forces, saw 641 clashes. Fighting also broke out in central Myanmar’s Magway region and border areas with different ethnic groups, such as Kachin, Kayah and Chin states.

Kayin state is no stranger to conflict. Ethnic armed groups like the forces of the Karen National Union have been fighting for more autonomy against central rule for more than seven decades. But violence has intensified since the coup, as the KNU has provided sanctuary to opponents of the junta and has joined forces with anti-junta People's Defense Force militia.

Less predictable was the upsurge in violence in the previously peaceful Sagaing region in northwestern Myanmar, where more than 20,000 homes have been reported burned down in a scorched earth campaign by junta forces. The U.N. says 470,000 people have been displaced.

Junta forces have also come under widespread attack. Junta leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing said last week there had been more than 4,000 "violent incidents" in Sagaing.

ISP-Myanmar senior research officer Kyaw Htet Aung told RFA that fighting had erupted in most of Sagaing’s townships.

“In some townships fighting broke once or twice,” he said. “There are 37 townships in Sagaing region and 34 townships have seen fighting. The only townships with no battles are Nanyun, Lay Shi and Lahe townships, which are very remote. Many local People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) have been established in Sagaing region. Therefore, the fighting has become widespread. There are more battles because there is more resistance.”

RFA’s calls to State Administration Council spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun went unanswered on Monday.

Nya Gyi, the battalion commander of PDF Battalion 2 in Sagaing’s Pale township, told RFA that resistance is rising because most people supported the previous National League for Democracy (NLD) government.

“Sagaing Region is a strategic place. It is a place with both plains and mountains,” he said.

“The NLD won control of most of the 37 townships in Sagaing region. People don’t like the military dictatorship. Sagaing has a lot of farmers who are an oppressed class and they do not accept the state of things. They have learned that armed revolution must be achieved along with political knowledge. Therefore, a lot of people have got involved in the revolution.”

Military analysts told RFA in the past Sagaing was previously peaceful, so it only had one army battalion and one division based at the regional military headquarters. They said this is why the military junta cannot control the region.

At the same time, observers and regional PDFs said the military is making use of its land, naval and air forces to crack down on its opponents in Sagaing.

This story has been updated to clarify data and add background

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