10,000 Karen Flee Myanmar Military Airstrikes

By The Irrawaddy 29 March 2021

Yangon — More than 10,000 ethnic Karen villagers have been forced from their homes after Myanmar’s military regime carried out airstrikes on Karen State’s Papun District.

Military tensions are running high between the Karen ethnic armed group, the Karen National Union (KNU), and Myanmar’s military in Papun District but the air raids targeted civilians, not the KNU personnel, according to Karen civil society organizations and residents.

Around 3,000 residents have crossed the Thai border while some 80,000 have fled into forests in Papun.

“Day Pu No villagers are going through a nightmare. The military carried out three airstrikes on the village last night and early this morning,” said the Karen Women’s Organization website.

The airstrikes followed the KNU’s blocking of food deliveries to military troops based in Papun. The KNU signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2015, however, the tensions in Papun have risen due to the construction of a road by the military.

Tensions grew after the KNU announced that it would stand by the people against Myanmar’s military after the February 1 coup.

At least three civilians were killed and nine injured in airstrikes in Papun since Saturday.

David Eubank, director of the Free Burma Rangers, a multiethnic humanitarian movement, said more people are being displaced by military attacks in Kachin, Karen and northern Shan states.

“The capability of the military is increased with help from Russia and China and other nations. And that is deadly,” Eubank said in a video.

Houses in Day Pu No were flattened in air raids, according to villagers’ photos. Over 3,000 riverside villagers crossed the Salween River into Thailand on Sunday.

Papun is one of the ancestral lands of the Karen people and is home to Salween Peace Park, a sanctuary of globally endangered wildlife, flora and trees.

The Karen Peace Support Network has released a statement calling for an end to airstrikes in the park and human rights violations against the Karen. The network also called on the military to withdraw its troops.

The network called for a UN Security Council resolution to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court and impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar.


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