Support the Burmese peoples’ struggle against the military junta – People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty

March 13, 2023

Joint statement initiated by the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), the Int’l Indigenous People’s Movement on Self-determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), PAN Asia Pacific, Mekong Solidarity, and Cambodian Youth Network Association (CYN).

We, rural peoples organizations of the Global South, stand with the peoples of Burma in their luminous struggle against the military junta of the Tatmadaw. 

We believe that ASEAN’s recently unveiled plan to “carry out engagements with all stakeholders in Myanmar” towards “the possibility of carrying out an inclusive national dialogue in Myanmar” will only serve to legitimize the junta and exonerate General Min Aung Hlaing’s clique from its war crimes. 

Since the coup in 2021, at least 3,000 noncombatants, including children and the elderly, have been confirmed to have been murdered by the junta, over 19,000 arrested, and 1.6 million have been displaced, the majority of whom are farmers, indigenous peoples, and rural food producers. In the Karenni state alone, over 84% of the population is now internally displaced, forced to flee their livelihoods by the junta’s attacks. 

We condemn the Tatmadaw’s brutal and fascist attacks against the Burmese people and call on the international community to isolate the junta, support the indigenous peoples’ and ethnic nationalities’ struggle for self-determination, and stand for a just and lasting peace in Burma.

We support the call of the office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Myanmar to diplomatically isolate the military junta and for the UN and its member states to engage directly with ethnic revolutionary organizations.

Starvation as a tool of war

The Tatmadaw is engaged in starving the Burmese peoples by blocking aid, food supply, and trade routes in the Kayah, Kachin, Karen, Chin, and Sagaing states, among others. Last year, junta soldiers in the Karenni-Shan State border area burned down a school where they had stored rice for evacuees. 

The junta’s scorched earth campaigns have razed farms and rural villages, with at least 29,000 houses torched, bombed, and drone-striked. According to an estimate, at least 1 million acres of farms have now been seized or razed by the military in 2021. 

Food prices in areas blockaded by the junta have become untenable, with rice prices rising by 10-50% — making it more unaffordable for those who need it. 

Starving peoples amid conflict and blockading aid has no place in today’s society, and should be prosecuted as a war crime, a direct violation of the fundamental rights to food, life, and human dignity. 

We support the UNSR for the Right to Food, Michael Fahkri, in their appeal for enhanced and expanded food aid for displaced and affected Burmese people. 

Business as usual

Despite the global outrage against its illegitimate takeover, some states and companies have expanded partnerships with the military junta. Worse, companies from China, Russia, Japan, Singapore, Israel, and South Korea continue to arm the junta, lending their warfare technology and raw materials to slaughter and bomb rural communities. 

Chinese-funded rare earth mining have sprawled in their thousands at their borders since the coup. Oil, gas, and diamond trading giants of the United States continue to rake in billions of dollars in profit in Burma, working with the junta for their “security”.

International institutions including the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund, Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank Group have been named by Burmese activists as enablers of the junta, legitimizing its fascist rule in the country.

In fact, ASEAN’s erratic position reflects an era of unresponsive multilateralism, bogged down by decades of corporate capture and overshadowed by a renewed Cold War and superpower militarism.

Toward just and lasting peace

The ethnic revolutionary organizations and indigenous people’s in Burma are at the frontlines of the struggle for democracy and self-determination. As the junta murdered activists and violently shut down protests after it took power in 2021, ethnic armed resistance took center stage and served as the revolutionary base of anti-junta forces. 

Despite the most brutal tactics of the junta, including an average of 280 bombings, airstrikes, and shellings of communities, ethnic armed groups remain in control in the majority of Burma, denying the junta its legitimacy and area of operations. 

Since mid-2022, the junta has unleashed its most brutal attacks in the Dry Zone in Sagaing and the Kachin and Karen people’s ancestral lands. Aside from the 297 PDF guerilla groups that are composed mainly of indigenous people’s, the Kachin Independence Army and Karen National Liberation Army have been the most effective in isolating the military regime through engagements. 

The junta’s fascism has only sparked and energized ethnic armed struggles for self-determination, unraveling decades of concerted efforts towards just and lasting peace. 

We stand with the indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities in their struggle for ancestral lands and self-determination, and with all Burmese peoples in their struggle for democracy and the end of the military junta.

Reject ASEAN’s framework of peace without justice!
Support the IP’s right to self-determination!
Pull-out military troops in ethnic territories!
Uphold the people’s right to food amid conflict!
End the military junta in Burma!

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