The military junta in Myanmar has announced on Wednesday that it is implementing a unilateral one-month ceasefire, but made an exception for actions that disrupt the government’s security and administrative operations — a clear reference to the mass movement that has held daily nationwide protests against its seizure of power in February.
The announcement came after a flurry of combat with at least two of the ethnic minority guerrilla organizations that maintain a strong presence in their respective areas along the borders.
Many of such groups have for decades sought greater autonomy from the central government, sometimes through armed struggle. Even in times of peace, relations have been strained and ceasefires fragile.
The movement against the Feb. 1 coup that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi focuses on civil disobedience, calling on employees in the public and private sectors to stop work that supports the machinery of governing.
The movement has been seeking an alliance with the ethnic minority armed groups to boost pressure on the junta. It would like them to form what they are calling a federal army as a counterweight to the government armed forces.
Largely peaceful demonstrators in the cities and towns of Myanmar have been facing police and soldiers armed with war weapons that they have used freely.
Not less than 536 protesters and bystanders have been killed since the coup, according to Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which counts those it can document and says the actual toll is likely much higher.
There was no immediate reaction to the ceasefire announcement from the ethnic minority forces. Several of the major groups — including the Kachin in the north, the Karen in the east and the Rakhines’ Arakan Army in western Myanmar — have publicly denounced the coup and have said they will defend protesters in the territory they control