Analysis. The Burmese military junta is on its heels trying to manage fronts with regional armed groups on all sides, plus a protest movement increasingly responsive to army violence.

As more fronts open in Myanmar, truce is just an illusion

The illusion of a truce announced by the junta lasted a few hours. Then the Burmese army resumed its battle on two fronts: with the peaceful movement that is now becoming more and more reactive to the violence of Tatmadaw (the military which on Thursday burned two businesses in Yangon) and the armed regional autonomies, now openly lined up on the side of the revolt.

The death toll continues to rise—over 540, including (according to Save the Children) more than 40 children. The lawyer of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese leader deposed from the Feb. 1 coup, has announced that, after the “minor” accusations (corruption, illegal possession, violation of anti-Covid regulations) the junta is preparing to try her for violation of the state secret. A law which dates back to the British colony and can mean up to 14 years of imprisonment. Her lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, told Reuters that the Lady, three of her ministers and Australian economic adviser Sean Turnell were charged a week ago by a Yangon court.

As for the proposal by the junta to regional autonomies for a truce, the extent of the announcement on Wednesday evening is not clear: “We saw the news on social media,” says General Naw Bu of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Myanmar Now. “But there are no confirmations on the field.” Instead, there are confirmations to the contrary because last week 20 soldiers were killed and four military trucks destroyed in the clashes between Tatmadaw and KIA. Fights in the North come after the air raids against Karen National Union (KNU) positions in the East. “At least 7,000 are displaced,” writes Mizzima, “of which 2,500 have fled to Thailand who sent them back.”

The armies have announced a unilateral ceasefire from April 1 to 30, to negotiate with the autonomies and celebrate the Thingyan national holiday, but specified that the “defense against actions that undermine security and administration” continues. Truce or no truce, now the military front with the autonomies is open: with the Karen, the Kachin, the Shan and with smaller groups such as Arakan Army (AA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (Tnla) Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (Mndaa ).

UN special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener, who has already warned about an imminent “bloodbath,” fears the “possibility of an unprecedented civil war.” But her words did not break through to the umpteenth session of the Security Council where we saw nothing beyond the “concern” and condemnation of violence and no mention of a coup. The sessions foresee no exemplary actions for a brake to be pulled by Russia, China, India and Vietnam.

But it is also true that concern rises above all to the borders that China would seal, perhaps fearing mass exodus if the civil war began to spread. According to sources quoted Thursday by Irrawaddy, Chinese troops are massing in Jiegao, in front of the city of Muse, on the border of the Shan State. According to the Taiwanese channel TvbsNews, the Chinese want to defend the structures of the double oil pipeline project (gas and oil) along 800 km from Kyaukphyu, in Rakhine (Bay of Bengal), to China through the regions of Magwe, Mandalay and the Shan State.

Beijing continues to look to ASEAN, the Southeast regional association, for possible mediation and this week the foreign ministers of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines are expected to meet with Chinese diplomacy chief Wang Yi in China.

Meanwhile, the activity of several deposed members of parliament continues, mostly from the League of Suu Kyi, who have proposed a federal democracy, thus responding to the demand for autonomy that has come from the periphery for some time. On Wednesday, the Parliamentary Representation Committee (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw-Crph) announced that it had made a scrap of the 2008 Constitution wanted by Tatmadaw.

Finally, the parliamentary questions regarding the Italian Cheddite shells found in Myanmar remain unanswered. Since the company is silent, Amnesty Italia, the Italian Peace and Disarmament Network, Opal and Atlante delle Guerre are pushing for Minister Di Maio to answer in Parliament.

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