On the Edge of No Escape, The Junta has Lost Control

November 12th, 2021  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  8 minute read
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“The burning of houses and destruction in Thantlang Town in Chin State remind us of the same ‘four-cuts operation’ used by the Burma Army decades ago, which burnt down 3,000 Karen villages, including churches and schools, and forced out over one hundred thousand Karen from their homes.”

Karen National Union

One year since the people of Myanmar, apart from those who were disenfranchised such as the Rohingya, largely voted to return the National League for Democracy (NLD) into power, the military’s desperation following its illegal coup attempt continues to become manifest in brutal scorched earth tactics. The military operation underway in the northwest area of Sagaing, Chin, and Magwe, as well as violence and cruelty seen in Tanintharyi Region and southern Shan State this past week, highlights the urgent need for concrete action from the UN Security Council (UNSC) as well as the desperation of the military junta that is not in control of the country.

The consequences of the military build-up in recent weeks in Chin State, Magwe and Sagaing Regions to crush the strong resistance forces in that area is becoming clear. The town of Thantlang, Chin State, which was already mostly emptied of its 8,000 residents after junta attacks on the town in September in which 18 houses were burned down and a pastor murdered, has been the scene of yet more destruction. The town was again shelled by junta troops and approximately 200 houses burned down due to fires caused by shelling and the torching of buildings according to the Chin Human Rights Organization. Churches, the offices of INGO, Save the Children, as well as an orphanage have deliberately been set alight and shelling continued through the weekend of the 6th of November.

In a statement very familiar to other non-Bamar ethnic communities throughout Myanmar who have experienced the Bamar death project that the Myanmar military calls statebuilding, local residents and resistance groups were blamed for the burning of their own homes. Famously during the Rohingya genocide in 2017 both the military, and it must be said, the NLD-led government of the time, explained that the Rohingya had in fact burned their own homes down. Staged photos of residents pretending to be Muslim Rohingya, burning down homes, were even disseminated and cited as proof. Yet this was quickly established to be fake and sinister propaganda.

The Karen National Union released a statement offering solidarity with the people of Chin State, highlighting how these same scorched earth tactics have also long been used in Karen State: “The burning of houses and destruction in Thantlang Town in Chin State remind us of the same ‘four-cuts operation’ used by the Burma Army decades ago, which burnt down 3,000 Karen villages, including churches and schools, and forced out over one hundred thousand Karen from their homes.” The Northern Alliance – a coalition of northern ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) also released a statement condemning the violence in Thantlang. Indeed, as Operation Anawrahta, as the junta offensive is rumoured to be named, gains momentum, more scorched earth tactics, such as the burning of homes and whole villages, displacing communities and deepening the already dire humanitarian crisis, are expected.

The violence and the brutality of the junta has not been limited to the northwest region of Sagaing, Magwe and Chin. In Pekhon Township, southern Shan State, 4,000 people have had to flee in recent days due to junta shelling, human rights violations, and military assaults, after fierce fighting with local Karenni resistance groups. Torcing of homes, looting properties, destroying rice paddy, and other human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and torture have been reported. The use of local villagers as human shields is also a common tactic. A photograph of 19 abducted people from Kathae Village, Pekhon Township, blindfolded and being led away by junta troops, evidences this brutality. Used as human shields so as to avoid attacks from local resistance organizations, the families of those abducted, who a week later do not know their exact whereabouts or status, fear for their families’ lives. As a relative of two of those abducted told the media outlet, Myanmar Now, “All we know is that the military always beats and tortures the people they take. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for them now.” In Tanintharyi in the south, junta troops burned down the house of an anti-coup protest leader, and abducted the mother of another after failing to find their targets.

The rainy season is ending in Myanmar, and in normal years, this entails the ratcheting up of Myanmar military offensives against ethnic armed organizations (EAOs). This time last year also saw the re-election of the NLD and a triumphant mood in many parts of the country. Despite the fond nostalgia for a seemingly more hopeful time, it should not be forgotten that many people, such as those living in conflict-affected areas in Rakhine, Shan and Kachin States where voting was cancelled, those displaced, and the Rohingya community who were disenfranchised, were not invited to the NLD’s populist victory party.

This year however, is not a normal year. The nationwide resistance to the attempted coup, from peaceful protests, strikes, a nationwide civil disobedience movement joined by defectors from the military and police, the National Unity Government, the People’s Defence Forces, as well as EAOs, means that the junta is not in control of the country. It is attempting to rectify this in the only way it knows how – brute force. The build-up of troops in the northwest is reminiscent of the troop buildup before the genocidal wave of violence against the Rohingya in 2017. It is clear that atrocity crimes are going to be committed on a huge scale. And as made clear by 521 Myanmar civil society organizations in a statement addressing the situation in Chin, Sagaing and Magwe, allies of the Myanmar people in the international community must act. The statement urges the UNSC to adopt “a resolution that consolidates international action to resolve the deepening crisis, a global arms embargo to stop the flow of weapons, including dual-use goods, and refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.” Given the impending violence, there is an urgent need for action and as the statement implores, “The UN must not continue to fail the people of Myanmar.” Economically, politically, administratively, and militarily, the Myanmar military is losing on all fronts. It is time to stand with the people of Myanmar and support the Spring Revolution.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

Rohingya Cautions UN Security Council Over Chin Crisis – Do Not Repeat Mistake In Failing To Act

By 29 Rohingya community organisations

Another Wave of Atrocity Crimes in Chin State: UN Security Council Must Act Now to End Myanmar Junta’s Campaign of Terror

By 521 Civil Society Organizations

COP26 Partner Jaguar/Land Rover Linked to Burmese Military

By Burma Campaign UK

Myanmar/Burma: Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union

By Council of the European Union

CDF Kalay-Kabaw-Gangaw ၏ တိုက်ပွဲသတင်းထုတ်ပြန်ချက် (၂၀၂၁ ခုနှစ်၊ နိုဝင်ဘာလ (၈) ရက်။)

By Chinland Defense Force, Kalay-Kabaw-Gangaw

CPA Australia and CA ANZ withdraw from ASEAN Federation of Accountants Conference after grassroots pressure

By Justice For Myanmar

International accounting bodies are reputation laundering for the terrorist Myanmar military junta

By Justice For Myanmar

တိုက်ပွဲသတင်းထုတ်ပြန်ချက် (၂၀၂၁ ခုနှစ်၊ နိုဝင်ဘာလ (၈) ရက်နေ့။)

By Karenni Nationalities Defense Force

ချင်းပြည်နယ်၊ ထန်တလန်မြို့အား ရည်ရွယ်ချက်ရှိရှိ အကြမ်းဖက်တိုက်ခိုက်ခြင်းအပေါ် KPICT ၏ သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက် စာအမှတ် (၃/P-1/KPICT/၂၀၂၁)

By Kachin Political Interim Coordination Team

KPICT Statement on Bombardment of Thantlang No.(3/P-1/KPICT/2021)

By Kachin Political Interim Coordination Team

Message sent by the Hon. Mr. Duwa Lashi La, Acting President of the National Unity Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar for the 26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Glasgow, United Kingdom, November, 2021

By National Unity Government (President Office)

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ အမျိုးသမီး၊ လူငယ်နှင့် ကလေးသူငယ်ရေးရာဝန်ကြီးဌာန အမိန့်အမှတ်(၁၀/၂၀၂၁)

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Women, Youths and Children Affairs and Ministry of Human Rights)

ပြည်သူ့တော်လှန်ရေး အင်အားစုများအတွက် လမ်းညွှန်ချက်

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Defence)

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ ဆက်သွယ်ရေး၊ သတင်းအချက်အလက်နှင့် နည်းပညာဝန်ကြီးဌာန ကြေညာချက် အမှတ် (၆/၂၀၂၁) – အမည်ပျက်စာရင်းကြေညာခြင်း

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Communications, Information and Technology)

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ ဆက်သွယ်ရေး၊ သတင်းအချက်အလက်နှင့် နည်းပညာဝန်ကြီးဌာန ကြေညာချက် အမှတ် (၅/၂၀၂၁) – အမည်ပျက်စာရင်းကြေညာခြင်း

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Communications, Information and Technology)

SSPDF ၏ သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ကြေငြာချက်

By People Defense Force – Southern Shan State

အဝေးသင်ကျောင်းသားများသို့ တိုက်တွန်းနှိုးဆော်ချက်

By Taungoo University Student Union

Attacks in Chin State of Myanmar : The Baroness Cox of Queensbury of London calls on the UK Government to take urgent action

By The Baroness Cox of Queensbury of London

One-year anniversary of the 2020 Myanmar elections: UK statement

By United Kingdom (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office)

One-Year Anniversary of November 8 General Elections in Burma

By United States Department of State



Crimes Committed by the Terrorist Junta in October

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

အောက်တိုဘာလအတွင်း အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်အုပ်စု၏ ကျူးလွန်မှုများ အကျဉ်းချုပ်ဖော်ပြချက်

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”