KNU Calls for Int’l Arms Embargo as Myanmar Regime Targets Civilians in Airstrike

By The Irrawaddy 3 April 2021

Myanmar’s oldest ethnic armed organization, the Karen National Union (KNU), has condemned repeated airstrikes by the Myanmar military that have forced thousands of Karen civilians to flee their homes, and urged the international community to impose an arms embargo on military regime.

More than 12,000 ethnic Karen people fled their homes after the military regime carried out airstrikes on villages in Karen State’s Papun District and Bago Region’s Nyaunglebin District between March 27-31.

The KNU said it strongly condemned the military’s air raids targeting civilians.

The inhumane killings of civilians and destruction of schools, homes and villages were in blatant violation of domestic and international law, it said.

Military coup leaders are pushing the country into a full-blown civil war with the potential to destroy the country’s stability, unity and independence, the KNU said.

Fourteen civilians including ethnic Karen villagers died and at least 12 others were injured in the military airstrikes in Papun and Nyaunglebin. The air raids followed the seizure by the KNU’s military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), of a hilltop outpost previously held by the regime’s Light Infantry Division 349 in Thi Mu Hta on March 27.

The KNU earlier rejected an invitation to attend the Myanmar military’s Armed Forces Day celebration on March 27, saying the group would meet with coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing only after his troops stop killing civilians and his regime frees all those detained following the coup, including Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint. Tensions have risen between the Myanmar military and the KNU’s Brigade 5, Brigade 1 and Brigade 3 in Papun District, Nyaunglebin District and Thaton District.

“We call on the international community to ban the sale of weapons of mass destruction, artillery, fighter jets and any advanced technology used for the propagation of war to the military, which is committing acts of violence against unarmed civilians,” the KNU said.

It also urged all ethnic peoples and the international community to take strong action and impose effective sanctions against the regime, saying the junta is destroying civilized society.

Since the coup, human rights groups have been demanding the UN Security Council (UNSC) urgently impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar. As of Saturday morning, at least 550 civilians had been killed by the military during its security forces’ crackdowns on peaceful anti-coup protesters across the country.

On Friday, the UNSC issued a statement condemning the military for the use of violence against anti-government protesters in Myanmar, following a closed-door meeting. The meeting was called in an attempt to impose sanctions on the military regime to stop the bloodshed in Myanmar.

However, China again ruled out “sanctions or other coercive measures” against the regime at the UNSC meeting. At China’s insistence, the UN also softened the language of the statement, removing words such as “killing” and “deplore” to describe the use of violence against peaceful protesters.

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