New Tricks, Same Desperate Attempt

September 15th, 2023  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  7 minute read
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The dramatically increasing number of aerial attacks, including air-dropped cluster bombs, demonstrate the junta’s heightened desperate attempt to obstruct the resistance movement’s fast-growing operational tempo.

The junta’s relentless and devastating aerial attacks, which last month alone involved over 149 deadly fighter jet operations across the country, in addition to the documented use of widely banned air-dropped cluster bombs, highlight both the brutality of the junta’s campaign of terror against the people of Myanmar and the desperation reached by its leadership. While most of the democratic countries are still sitting on the fence and regional neighbors are directly engaging with the murderous junta, the Myanmar people’s resistance movement is rapidly expanding its operational territory, pushing out the junta’s military administrations and troops from villages and townships, and soon from regions and states. ASEAN and the international community must contain the junta’s capacity to wage war against the population and step up their support to the people’s resistance movement, including grassroot and civil society organizations, people’s revolutionary forces, Ethnic Resistance Organizations (EROs), and the National Unity Government (NUG).

The Myanmar military has been increasingly relying on artillery shelling and airstrikes in its ongoing and failing attempt to gain control over the country. Recently, on 29 August 2023, the military junta fired three rounds of 122 mm mortar into Pyin Ye Gyi Village in Nyaunglebin Township, Bago Region, killing a seven-year-old girl and her mother. Two days later, in Karenni State, junta fighter jets bombed an internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in East Demoso, killing one civilian. The junta’s systematic and widespread aerial campaign has deliberately targeted unarmed civilians, vulnerable minorities and displaced people. Nyan Lynn Thit Analytica, a local independent monitoring organization, reported at least 149 airstrikes in August alone, with a peak of 84 attacks in a single week.

The disturbing tactics employed by the military junta to inflict immense suffering on the civilian population include the use of air-dropped cluster bombs. Since the attempted coup, local media and civil society organizations have documented multiple junta’s cluster munition attacks in Chin, Karen, Karenni and Shan States. The most recent attack was recorded on 6 June 2023 in Kawkareik Township, Karen State, where a junta fighter jet bombed Kedong Village with 12 cluster munitions, damaging a school and several houses. As recently suggested by the Cluster Munition Coalition’s report, the cluster bombs might have been produced directly by the Myanmar military’s weapons production factories, also known as “Ka-Pa-Sa”.

Over 100 countries around the world have joined the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, an international treaty that prohibits the production, stockpiles, transfer and use of cluster munitions due to their immediate and long-term devastating effects on civilians, especially children. As recently happened in Kedong Village, when cluster bombs failed to detonate, unexploded submunitions remain active on the ground for decades, becoming de facto landmines.

Despite the junta’s nationwide terror campaign against the people of Myanmar, the Spring Revolution is unwaveringly gaining ground. 7 September 2023 marked the two-year anniversary of the National Unity Government’s declaration of “people’s defensive war” against the military junta. Within an extremely short timeframe, revolutionary forces, together with allied EROs, have vastly extended their operational territory, establishing locally-led people’s governance structures, and inflicted severe damage to the junta’s logistic and supply lines. Furthermore, the latest on-the-ground multipronged offensives, supported by air and ground forces, launched by the junta to counter the revolutionary forces have been ineffective. A clear example is the military junta’s failed operation in Karenni State, launched in March 2023.

The dramatically increasing number of aerial attacks, including air-dropped cluster bombs, demonstrate the junta’s heightened desperate attempt to obstruct the resistance movement’s fast-growing operational tempo. In addition to losing military ground on the multi-front battlefield, the murderous junta has been paralyzed for over two years. The successful, ongoing and nationwide effort of the political resistance Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) to hinder the junta’s ability to govern the country shows the people’s determination to dismantle the terrorist military institution. The Myanmar trajectory is set, and the military, which has been terrorizing the people of Myanmar for decades, will inevitably collapse.

It’s past time regional and international actors shifted their policies toward Myanmar. The dire humanitarian crisis requires immediate and coordinated actions to provide urgently needed emergency aid for most vulnerable populations and communities deliberately targeted by the junta. While the latest figure from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated 1.9 million IDPs across Myanmar, the actual numbers of IDPs documented by the humanitarian responders on the ground with direct access to the affected populations are much higher. Democratic countries must move beyond the current “empty rhetoric” approach, actively support the people’s resistance movement including People’s Defence Forces and EROs, and officially recognize the NUG as the legitimate government of Myanmar.

The BURMA Act, as planned in the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, for example, represents “a critical step in holding the murderous Burmese military accountable,” as stated by Rep. Gregory Meeks. However, in order to effectively implement the Bill, the Biden administration should prioritize tangible and concrete actions designed to increase direct funding towards the resistance movement, including technology and communications support. Furthermore, ASEAN and Myanmar’s regional neighbors must cut ties with the murderous junta, halt flows of dual–use goods, including jet fuel and arms and ammunitions, into Myanmar, restrict the junta access to foreign revenue, especially to Singapore’s financial system, and isolate Naypyidaw from any diplomatic platforms. Only by supporting the people’s aspiration for a federal democratic country will it be possible to break the ruthless cycles of violence and hold the military accountable for the decade-long atrocities committed against the people of Myanmar.


[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

Open Letter to G20 Member Nations on the Urgency of the Myanmar Crisis

By 44 Regional and National Organizations

Presentation of analysis, findings, and recommendations from Myanmar Day: Hearing from People on the Ground and Experts in the Region

By ALTSEAN-Burma, Asia Justice and Rights, FORUM-ASIA, Initiatives for International Dialogue, KontraS, Myanmar National Organizing Committee for ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF), Network for Human Rights Documentation Burma, Progressive Voice and YAPPIKA

ASEAN’s ‘review and decision’ on Five Point Consensus falls short of what is needed to resolve Myanmar crisis, Southeast Asian MPs say

By ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Chairman’s Statement of the 43rd ASEAN Summit

By Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

ASEAN Leaders’ Review and Decision on The Implemention of The Five-Point Consensus

By Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

G20 Summit: Modi Must Face Pressure Over Arming and Support for Myanmar Military

By Burma Campaign UK

G20 Summit: India must end complicity with Rohingya genocide

By Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

Cluster Munition Coalition Condemns Myanmar’s Use of Cluster Munitions

By Cluster Munition Monitor

Myanmar junta imposes record 20-year jail sentence on photojournalist

By Reporters Without Borders



30 Months of Myanmar Military Coup – A Comprehensive Analytical Report on India’s Approach and Relations with Myanmar

By Burma Affairs and Conflict Study and India for Myanmar

Cluster Munition Production and Use in Myanmar/Burma

By Cluster Munition Monitor

Myanmar Humanitarian Update No. 32

By UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

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.”