Mandalay (Agenzia Fides) - With the imposition of martial law in 37 other townships throughout the country, including the strongholds of the resistance in the regions of Sagaing and Magwe, the pressure of the military government of Myanmar on the civilian population is decidedly stronger, in order to "crush any possible rebellion", notes a source of Fides in the country. "The suffering of innocents and the displacement of civilians, women, children and the elderly is reaching unbearable levels. The cruelty of the military towards the people is terrible, as are war crimes", notes the source of Fides who resides in the area of Mandalay.
Martial law came a day after the regime extended its "state of emergency" for another six months, two years after its February 1, 2021 coup. Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing said publicly that "security must be strengthened in 65 of the country's 330 townships to restore the rule of law" and, with the approval of the new measure, martial law is officially in force in 37 new municipalities, spread across eight states, which are under the direct control of the regional commanders.
The regime had declared martial law in parts of Yangon, Mandalay and Chin State provinces in 2021.
Of the new martial law municipalities, 11 are in the Sagaing region, on the Irrawaddy River, southwest of Mandalay. Here, military action by the army has intensified in recent weeks, forcing an additional 6,000 civilians to flee their homes before the troops advance. According to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in the battered region of Sagaing - considered one of the strongholds of the resistance of the People' Defense Forces - in two years the fighting has forced nearly 650,000 people to flee their homes and live in refugee camps, makeshift shelters, or in the forests.
The junta also announced that the military courts will examine all cases of violation of martial law, warning the population that penalties such as life imprisonment and the death penalty may be imposed. Furthermore, in such cases, no appeals will be allowed for verdicts, except for the death sentence, for which an appeal may be submitted directly to General Min Aung Hlaing, head of the junta, for a final and unappealable decision.
Hlaing told the National Defense and Security Council that 198 of the country's 330 townships are currently "stable and peaceful" and that increased efforts are needed to quell any protests.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), of which Myanmar is a member, gathered in Jakarta in recent days, addressed the Burmese issue during the summit: the current president, the foreign minister of Indonesia Retno Marsudi, proposed to the members of the Association the immediate implementation of the five-point peace plan, agreed with the Burmese junta itself in April 2021, which calls for an end to violence and dialogue between the military and rebels. ASEAN has announced a "broad consensus by all countries" on the proposal. Although Myanmar continues to be part of ASEAN, the nation has been excluded from high-level summits precisely because it has not implemented the 2021 plan. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 9/2/2023)
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