Ethnic Organizations Call For Myanmar Military No Fly Zone and Civilian Safe Areas

By The Irrawaddy 21 January 2022

Three of Myanmar’s oldest ethnic political organizations have urged the United Nations (UN), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the international community to declare a military no fly zone, and to internationally guarantee the protection of civilian safe zones due to the junta’s increased use of indiscriminate airstrikes on civilian targets.

Myanmar’s military is now escalating its airstrikes and attacking People’s Defense Forces (PDF) and ethnic armed organizations (EAO), as well as civilian targets including residential areas and refugee camps, especially in Magwe and Sagaing regions and Chin, Kachin, Shan, Kayah and Karen states.

As of January 17, an estimated 200,000 civilians have been displaced by regime aerial attacks and many resistance fighters and innocent civilians have been killed or injured by the air raids.

A building storing rice burned down after three junta jet fighters bombed Moetar Village in Katha Township, Sagaing Region in January. Photo- Katha Revolution Page

The UN Special Envoy for Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer, in a virtual discussion with Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of Cambodia and the current ASEAN chair, expressed deep concern about the continuous intensification of the junta’s operations, including aerial attacks, in many areas of Myanmar.

Noeleen Heyzer also proposed a UN-ASEAN “humanitarian plus”, an aid program that could coordinate and deliver assistance to affected communities through all existing channels.

In response to the UN envoy’s proposal, three senior Myanmar ethnic organizations: the Karen National Union (KNU), the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and the Chin National Front (CNF), on Wednesday jointly urged the international community to declare a series of internationally negotiated humanitarian corridors in order to provide support to those civilians most in need.

Supporting the UN envoy’s proposal, the three ethnic political organizations used their joint statement to urge the international community, including the UN and ASEAN, to declare an internationally enforced military no fly zone to protect civilians from air attacks.

The ethnic groups have said that villages, camps for the internally displaced, hospitals, clinics and schools need to be specified as internationally guaranteed civilian safe zones, so that they can have access to unhindered international humanitarian assistance.

They also proposed a series of internationally negotiated humanitarian corridors to expand the provision of humanitarian assistance to those civilians most in need across the country.

The KNU, the country’s oldest ethnic political organization, was founded in 1947, while the KNPP, the political wing of the Karenni Army, was established in 1957. The CNF was founded in 1988.

Since late March when the military regime begun lethal crackdowns on peaceful anti-coup protesters, the junta has been facing increasingly intense attacks from PDF’s and EAO’s including the KNU’s two armed wings, the Karen National Liberation Army and the Karen National Defense Organization, the Kachin Independence Army, the Chin National Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation army and the Karen Army.

Meanwhile, the junta is continuing its atrocities including arrests, torture, massacres, arbitrary killing, using civilians as human shields, shelling residential areas, looting and burning houses and committing acts of sexual violence, especially in Sagaing and Magwe regions and Chin, Shan, Kayah and Karen States.

As of Thursday, 1,488 people have been slain by the junta, while 11,650 people, including elected government leaders, have been detained, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

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