The Border Guard Force’s support for the Tatmadaw in fighting the Karen National Union appears to have paid off, with the group getting the green light to resume its controversial businesses along the Thai border.
Instability and anti-Chinese sentiment are endangering Beijing’s plans in the country, but rivalry with the West and its own domestic problems may prevent it from engaging the democracy movement, which remains wary of China.
Volunteer networks and cross-border ethnic and family ties have ensured a refuge for thousands who’ve fled overland to India’s Mizoram state, but some long to return to Myanmar to rejoin the anti-coup struggle.
The Karen National Union’s foreign affairs chief says only since the Tatmadaw’s brutal crackdowns on protesters are the majority of people changing their views about armed groups, and seeing them as partners and allies instead of “rebels”.
A brutal crackdown in Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar Township in mid-March triggered an exodus of migrant workers. As protests subside, many are heading back to the big city but are finding that work is scarce.
Sagaing Region residents equipped with single-shot traditional rifles known as “tumi guns” – and in some cases more modern weaponry – are resisting security forces’ attempts to crush anti-coup protests.
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.