Junta statement ‘full of lies’, says KNU spokesperson

A statement published by Myanmar’s junta on Wednesday regarding recent clashes in Kayin (Karen) State’s Myawaddy Township is “full of lies,” according to a spokesperson for the Karen National Union (KNU).

The statement, which appeared in several mouthpiece publications on Wednesday, claims that the regime’s forces have used only “limited force” in the clashes that began on December 15.

The fighting, which erupted in response to a military raid targeting opposition groups sheltering in the KNU-controlled town of Lay Kay Kaw, escalated into airstrikes on December 23.

The regime’s account of its conduct in the conflict, which it claimed was purely defensive, was taken straight out of its propaganda playbook and unlikely to fool anybody, said Padoh Saw Taw Nee, the KNU spokesperson.    

“They’re soldiers. They should at least talk in a way that doesn’t take away a soldier’s dignity,” he said. “They can’t fool the world with blatant lies anymore. The times have changed.”

He specifically denied the junta’s allegation that the KNU was harbouring “terrorists” in Lay Kay Kaw. 

“We only accepted the guests on the basis of human rights. Those people wouldn’t have to seek refuge in Lay Kay Kaw if the military didn’t keep killing and torturing people,” he said.

According to the junta statement, 21 people were arrested during the December 14 raid, including members of the shadow National Unity Government and public servants taking part in the Civil Disobedience Movement.

The KNU spokesperson also denied the group’s responsibility for a confrontation that took place the day after the raid, when junta troops returned to Lay Kay Kaw and soon found themselves under siege.

“Lay Kay Kaw is not fully under our control. There are several organisations operating in the town and we have been able to maintain stability and avoid misunderstanding among them. We didn’t mind them carrying out searches. We let them do so eight times in total without any consequences,” he said.

What triggered the conflict, according to Padoh Saw Taw Nee, was the behaviour of the troops, who didn’t just make arrests, but also stole and destroyed property belonging to residents of the town.

“We couldn’t just stand by and do nothing anymore. They had acted impunity for their actions for too long,” he said

By December 20, the clashes had become so serious that the KNU issued an urgent appeal to the United Nations to declare a no-fly zone over the conflict area, which borders Thailand.

Three days later, however, the regime launched airstrikes and heavy artillery attacks that forced thousands of civilians to flee their homes.

In its statement, the junta said it carried out the attacks in accordance with its rules of engagement—an idea mocked by Padoh Saw Taw Nee.

“What rules of engagement did they follow? The entire world knows that they have been indiscriminately shelling entire villages,” he said, referring to the junta’s routine use of excessive force in other conflicts around the country.

According to the statement released on Wednesday, the military has engaged in a total of 25 clashes in Karen State over the past two weeks. 

During this period, it also took control of the villages of Htee Mei Wah Khee, Mae Htaw Tha Lay, Ingyin Myaing, Minn Lat Pan and Hpalu, the statement said.

Lay Kay Kaw, the town where the current conflict began, remains in the hands of the KNU and its armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army

Regarding the fate of the estimated 15,000 civilians who have been displaced by the fighting, including the thousands now sheltering in Thailand, Padoh Saw Taw Nee dismissed the regime’s claims that it was working to resolve the issue.

“The military keeps sending reinforcements. The battles are bound to continue. If battles continue, the locals can’t come back,” he said.

A resident of the Thai-Myanmar border town of Myawaddy echoed his sentiments about the junta’s professed attempts to repatriate the displaced villagers.

“It’s pure fantasy. Nobody believes a word of it,” said the woman, who did not want to be identified by name.   

“People living here know the real situation, and so do those who fled the fighting. Everyone knows the military even fired shells into Thailand. They’re only telling lies about this to maintain stability inside the army,” she added.

Related Articles

Back to top button