January 16, 2019

Thousands flee to Thailand following Myanmar clashes

The Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge between Mae Sot and Myawaddy where the fighting took place. Complete with refugee type people floating on a tyre for extra authenticity.

About 10,000 people have fled from Myanmar into Thailand to escape fighting between Myanmar government forces and a splinter group of rebels of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army.

The fighting was related to the election in which voting finished on Sunday, but not in a straight forward way.

Myanmar is ruled by an assortment of Generals who think democracy is for losers.

These generals decided to have an ‘election’ to show the world that they really loved democracy after all. Because they are right-wing free enterprise types, they have contracted out some of their border protection security duties to the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army. These dudes quite like the government but they don’t like being told what to do.

In the border town of Myawaddy, which sits across the Moei River from Thailand, DKBA soldiers allegedly took exception to the way some government soldiers were forcing people to vote. Fighting broke out.

Lieutenant Colonel Vannathit Wongwai (a finalist for coolest name of the week), commander of Thailand’s 3rd Region Army, said Myanmar military officials told him they had retaken control of Myawaddy late Monday afternoon after bringing in 500 reinforcements to battle the Karen splinter group.

Lt Col. Wongwai no doubt found out these details when the Myanmar government forces rung him up to explain why their artillery shells were exploding on Thai territory.

At least five Myanmar refugees and five Thais were injured in the fighting, officials said.

Brigadier General Na Kham Mwe, commander of the breakaway DKBA faction responsible for the fighting is quoted as saying “In order to win votes in the elections, [the junta] is bullying and forcing people to vote. But the people want to boycott [the vote], so the soldiers are holding them at gunpoint and our troops had to intervene and take sides with the people.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon denounced the voting conditions for Myanmars first elections in 20 years. In a statement he called them “insufficiently inclusive, participatory and transparent.”

What he was trying to say in his United Nations ‘nice speak’ was that the opposition parties were only allowed to put up some candidates. Other candidates boycotted the thing altogether and no international monitors were allowed to observe the ballot.