Despite announcing a one year ceasefire, the Myanmar junta continues to use heavy weaponry and aerial firepower in a failing attempt to bomb the Myanmar people into submission. And while the resistance remains resolute, international governments must step up and sanction aviation fuel so as to make it harder for the junta to wage their campaign of violence and destruction.
The junta announced a nationwide ceasefire on 1st January but its aerial bombing in all corners of the country demonstrates how such utterances are nothing more than a “skyful of lies“. The junta has bombed the headquarters of the Chin National Front (CNF) – Camp Victoria on the border with India – twice in the past week, killing five people and destroying several buildings, including a clinic. One bomb landed over the border with India. People in the nearby town of Hakha protested in a ‘silent strike,’ refusing to open their shops in the town while the CNF itself remained defiant. A spokesperson, acknowledging the imbalance in firepower, particularly aerial capabilities, told Myanmar Now, “It doesn’t matter what strategy or technology the military council uses to attack us. The people are always on our side, and that is the driving force for us.”
The CNF headquarters was not the only location where the Myanmar junta has dropped bombs from the sky since its ‘ceasefire’ announcement at the start of 2023. On 12 January, four fighter jets conducted an airstrike in Hpapun District, northern Karen State, killing five people including a two-year-old child according to documentation by the Karen Human Rights Group. The bombs also destroyed 10 houses, a church, and damaged a school. The junta had also launched airstrikes on the 4th and 5th of January in Dooplaya District, Karen State, injuring two 16-year-old twin sisters and an elderly man. Airstrikes were also launched against Kachin Independence Army bases in Sagaing Region and Kachin State on the 9th of January.
According to the NUG, 460 people have died because of the aerial bombing of the military junta since the coup attempt nearly two years ago. This includes the killing of more than 80 people attending a concert near Hpakant, Kachin State in November last year. As the KNU spokesperson, Padoh Saw Taw Nee, stated in response to the bombing in Hpapun, “The junta’s military council continues to target civilian areas and religious sites and has practically admitted to committing war crimes.”
However, the international response to such atrocities has been ineffectual. The UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution passed at the end of 2022 was weak, not actionable, and crucially, did not include any language related to an arms embargo or the sanctioning of aviation fuel. Given that in the past few months, violations of neighbouring countries’ airspace, including causing the Thai Airforce to scramble its own fighter jets and temporarily close a school in June last year, as well as shells landing in India from the recent bombing of the CNF base, are a clear threat to regional stability. This lies well within the mandate of the UNSC. Yet with no effective Resolution forthcoming, it is up to individual countries to make greater efforts to prevent the supply of aviation fuel to the junta as well as attempt to coordinate a global arms embargo.
In addition to aviation fuel, a recent report by the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar presents how domestic arms manufacturing is dependent on imports of raw materials, parts and components, software programs and computer hardware from companies domiciled in Austria, China, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine, and the US. The recent imposition of sanctions by Canada on the Asia Sun Group, a partner of the Myanmar military that procures and supplies the jet fuel used to launch these airstrikes is a welcome move that other countries must follow, including the materials and parts that are used to manufacture small arms. Quite simply, by making it harder for the junta to purchase and fuel their attack helicopters, fighter jets and other weapons, the more lives will be protected on the ground.
 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.
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
Interim Chin National Consultative Council
Justice For Myanmar
Justice For Myanmar
Karen Women Organization
National Unity Government of Myanmar
National Unity Government (Ministry of Human Rights)
National Unity Government (Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration)
National Unity Government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
National Unity Government (Ministry of Defence)
Palaung State Liberation Front
Ta’ang Political Consultative Council
ALTSEAN-Burma , Asia Democracy Network , Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development , Burma Human Rights Network , Initiatives for International Dialogue , International Federation for Human Rights , Progressive Voice , US Campaign for Burma , Women’s Peace Network
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.”