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Myanmar's ethnic groups have long suffered from military brutality. The junta gave them a common foe

March 6, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 21.4%. 2 min read.

For many of Myanmar's ethnic minorities, the bloodshed inflicted across the country's towns and cities this week is a continuation of the oppression they have suffered at the hands of the military for decades.

In 2019, the United Nations said "grave human rights abuses" by the military were still continuing in the ethnic states of Rakhine, Chin, Shan, Kachin and Karen.

We hope that the current fight against the military coup in 21st century might be a new hope for our people," said Chin activist Sang Hnin Lian.

But minority people, of which there are 135 official groups, say these demands are largely made by the country's majority ethnic group, the Buddhist Bamar, who traditionally live in the country's heartlands -- which includes large cities like Yangon and Mandalay -- and say the fight goes deeper than just the military verses the NLD.

"Ethnic people don't want dictatorship, we don't want to bring back military government to rule the country because we already know the consequences of military rule in ethnic areas," said Chit, a GSCN member.

Its people have recently been caught up in fighting to its south between ethnic Rakhine rebels and the military.

Sang Hnin Lian said Chin people have been used as human shields in war in the past, and forced to porter or guide the military.

Since then, Myanmar's ethnic groups have fought for self-determination of their ancestral lands, where states are run by ethnic people, not by the central government in Naypyidaw.

On Tuesday, a statement from more than 2,500 Karen people in 34 villages protested against the army "occupying our land and threatening our lives and peaceful existence. " In solidarity with the anti-coup movement, they demanded the army "immediately withdraws from our territory" and the regime be "held accountable for the crimes that have been committed against ethnic people. "

Though an uneasy ceasefire is now in place, fighting in western Rakhine state between the ethnic Arakan Army and the military from November 2018 became one of the most serious and intense conflicts in the country, leading to civilian casualties, 200,000 displaced people and a prolonged internet blackout.

And while ethnic people have united in protests against the military coup, attitudes in western Rakhine state are more complex.

Khine said the move "totally damaged" the state's political reputation, so he formed the Arakan Against Dictatorship protest group in Yangon "to show we are against the coup and dictatorship and show solidarity with people here. " Though he said an outcome in which the NLD returned to power under the 2008 constitution would not be worth risking lives over.

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