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Thai-Burma bridge shut down as civilians flee military attacks; Thailand says fighting mustn’t violate its ‘territorial integrity’

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Thai-Burma bridge shut down as civilians flee military attacks

One civilian was killed and a child was injured by regime airstrikes carried out on Myawaddy Township over the weekend. The No. 1 Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge was closed on Sunday, as more than 3,000 civilians fled across the border into Thailand since Friday, local media reported. 

“I think the Thais are legitimately very concerned that errant artillery shells will land on their side of the border [and] that Myanmar military jets will violate Thai airspace, or drop bombs in Thailand,” said Zach Abuza, a specialist in security and politics in Southeast Asia and a professor at the National War College in Washington, DC. 

Fighting between the military and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) – along with its allied resistance forces – has been taking place in Myawaddy since the last outpost there was seized from the military on April 11. Fighting along the Thai-Burma border intensified on April 19.

Thailand says fighting in Burma must not violate its ‘territorial integrity’

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin stated on social media that he does not want to see Thailand affected by the fighting in Myawaddy. He added that his government is prepared to accept up to 100,000 “refugees” and is providing humanitarian assistance at two sites in Tak Province to those fleeing the violence.

“I do not desire to see any such clashes have any impact on the territorial integrity of Thailand and we are ready to protect our borders and the safety of our people,” he wrote in a post on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter).

A group called Burma Concern sent a letter signed by 150 academics to the prime minister. The letter called on the Thai government not to force the repatriation of Burma nationals due to the fact that they may face persecution and torture. It also called for those aged 18 to 35 evading military conscription to be allowed temporary refuge in Thailand. 

The tiny dictator and his generals face the unbearable weight of keeping Burma’s aging elected leaders locked up during a heatwave.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s son Kim Aris wants proof of life from regime

Kim Aris, the son of jailed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, spoke to DVB about his mother’s alleged prison transfer in the capital Naypyidaw, where she’s been held for over three years since first being detained on Feb. 1, 2021 – during the military coup.

“I truly hope that for whatever reason she has been moved. That she is in a better place, if she has actually been moved. From what I can gather, she’s had no air conditioning, and I don’t think there were even windows in her cell,” said Aris.

Regime spokesperson Zaw Min Tun stated on April 17 that Aung San Suu Kyi, 78, and President Win Myint, 72, were moved to house arrest due to extreme heat. Kim Aris called for the immediate release of his mother, or for the regime to at least provide evidence of her transfer from a prison cell to house arrest.

News by Region

ARAKAN—At least 80 residents of Sittwe Township have died from an outbreak of acute diarrhea at villages and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps since early April. Residents reported that there’s a lack of clean drinking water and medicine to treat the illness.   

“The shortage of medicine in Sittwe is now in a very dangerous situation due to the blockade by the military,” said the Ohn Taw Gyi IDP camp spokesperson. A local aid group claimed that the number of IDPs dying has increased in each township due to the lack of medical attention.

CHINLAND—Rikhawdar residents said the No. 2 India-Burma Friendship Bridge, located along the border, was closed on Friday due to the India government’s plan to scrap the Free Movement Regime (FMR). “I believe it will have a big impact on the people living on the border and IDPs who need medical treatment,” said a Rikhawdar administrator. The FMR allowed Indian and Burma nationals to travel up to 16 km on either side of the border for up to two weeks without a visa, using a border pass.

KACHIN—Regime spokesperson Zaw Min Tun confirmed that former Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) chairperson Hkalam Samson was detained at his home on April 17 after his release in a prison amnesty for Burmese New Year. “This is not an arrest but we took him to discuss the peace process,” said Zaw Min Tun. Samson was sentenced by a regime court to six years under the Counter-Terrorism Law and Unlawful Associations Act in April 2023.

Five civilians, including three Christian pastors, were arrested by the Burma Army in Oakmawphaung village of Myitkyina Township on Saturday. “Five people including two pastors from Kachin Baptist Church were arrested that night,” said a Myitkyina resident. The reason for the arrest is unknown.

KARENNI—Six family members, including two children, were killed and ten others were injured in airstrikes carried out by the regime on Kontha village of Loikaw Township on Saturday. “One of 500 pound bombs dropped over a home and the whole village was shaken. The whole family in that home was killed,” said a Kontha resident. Twenty homes in the village were destroyed. Residents claimed that there was no fighting with Karenni resistance forces in the area.

Read this: UN Human Rights Chief warns of escalating tension in Arakan. Follow DVB English News on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Watch this: Vital Thai-Myanmar border town held by resistance forces in Karen State. DVB English is on X, Facebook, Instagram, Threads & TikTok. Subscribe to us on YouTube.

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