10,000 Burmese to flee to Thailand

Apr. 7: About 10,000 Burmese people have fled to Thailand to escape fierce fighting between the military and units of a powerful ethnic armed group.

The military is battling established ethnic armed groups in border areas that have been at war with the military for decades, and recently-formed anti-coup militias that call themselves People’s Defence Forces (PDFs). Many thousands of people have been killed and about 1.4 million have been displaced since the coup.

The latest fighting broke out after the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) launched attacks on military outposts. More than 80 people have been killed on both sides. Aid workers in the border regions have called for urgent humanitarian assistance as refugees seek shelter in schools, monasteries and rubber farms. The KNLA has also closed the highway, one of the main roads to the border for two weeks.

Earlier this week, the military said it had arrested 15 teachers who had been giving online classes for a school supported by the exiled National Unity Government (NUG). In July, about 30 teachers were arrested because they worked for a NUG-recognized online school.

Education has been a battleground in Myanmar. Teachers were among the first, along with health workers, to walk out in protest against the coup, and were in the front line of the huge protests called by the Civil Disobedience Movement in the first weeks after the military takeover.

In May 2020 around 150,000 teachers and university lecturers were dismissed from their jobs. Many decided to go underground, joining schools and clinics in areas where communities had begun an armed struggle against military rule.

Official figures suggest the number of students taking the 10th-grade exam in state-run schools is now only one-fifth of the number doing so before the coup. Teachers working outside the state sector have been named as terrorists.

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