YANGON (Al Jazeera) – At least 20 people have been killed in fighting between militias and Myanmar’s security forces, according to witnesses and Myanmar media, in the worst violence since opponents of the military government called this week for a “people’s defensive war”.
The latest violence comes as activists and anti-military forces urged the international community on Saturday to take action, saying the lack of any “meaningful outside intervention” has led to the armed resistance.
“The young people of Myanmar [have] no choice but to fight back with what they have,” the Civil Disobedience Movement said in a statement early on Saturday, as it called on the United Nations and representatives of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to “directly engage” with the opposition National Unity Government (NUG).
Ahead of a UN General Assembly meeting to decide who represents Myanmar as a special envoy, opposition forces are also launching a campaign this weekend to press for the recognition of the NUG as the legitimate government representative.
The NUG, formed to resist the army’s February 1 takeover, had earlier called for a revolt against the military rule, in an apparent effort to coordinate groups fighting the army and convince soldiers and state officials to switch sides.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, which sparked nationwide anger, strikes and protests, and saw the emergence of militia groups that have attacked security forces.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors the human rights situation in Myanmar, at least 1,058 people have already been killed since the uprising against the military began. More than 6,300 others are currently in detention.
More arrests were reported on Saturday morning across the country, including in the country’s largest city of Yangon and in Sagaing Region.
Fighting since Thursday between the military and defense volunteers allied with the unity government in Myin Thar village resulted in casualties among local militias and villagers as troops used heavy artillery, according to media and a witness.
Social media posts on Friday and Saturday paid tribute to the people killed, including young men who appeared to be minors.