The deadly battles that tipped Myanmar into civil war - article for the BBC 01.02.22

By Soe Win, Ko Ko Aung and Nassos Stylianou BBC Burmese and BBC Data Journalism


Myanmar is seeing increasingly deadly battles between its military and organised groups of armed civilians, new data suggests. Many of those fighting the military are young people who have put their lives on hold since the junta seized power a year ago.

The intensity and extent of the violence - and the coordination of the opposition attacks - point to a change in the conflict from an uprising to a civil war.


Violence is now spread across the country, according to data from conflict monitoring group Acled [Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project]. Reports from the ground also suggest the fighting has become increasingly co-ordinated and has reached urban centres which have not previously seen armed resistance to the military.


Although precise death tolls are hard to verify, Acled - which bases its data on local media and other reports - has collated figures to suggest about 12,000 people have been killed in political violence since the military seized power on 1 February 2021. Clashes have grown deadlier month on month since August.


In the coup's immediate aftermath, most civilians died as security forces cracked down on nationwide demonstrations. Now, however, the rising death toll is a result of combat - as civilians have taken up arms - Acled figures show.


UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet agreed in an interview with the BBC that the conflict in Myanmar, also known as Burma, should now be termed a civil war and called on the UN Security Council to take "stronger action" to put pressure on the military to restore democracy.


She said the international response to the crisis had "lacked urgency" and described the situation as "catastrophic", warning that the conflict now threatened regional stability.

The groups fighting government forces are known collectively as the People's Defence Force (PDF) - a loose network of civilian militia groups largely made up of young adults.


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The deadly battles that tipped Myanmar into civil war - article from the BBC 01.02.22
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