Myanmar’s junta is escalating its campaign of airstrikes against schools in resistance strongholds, carrying out at least six attacks in the past five weeks.
Military aircraft have launched attacks on schools across Sagaing Region, Northern Shan State and Karen State since the beginning of May. The airstrikes killed eight civilians and injured another eight, including three children.
In May, regime fighter jets and Mi-35 helicopter gunships attacked three village schools in Sagaing – Htan Taw Basic Education High School in Ye-U Township, and Chaung Ma and Pauk Inn Myaing schools in Kani Township – destroying buildings and injuring four civilians, according to local sources.
Sagaing Region is a stronghold of armed resistance against the regime.
Two fighter jets open fired on Htan Taw village school, controlled by the civilian National Unity Government, on the afternoon of May 9 when students should have been in mid-term classes. Fortunately, there were no casualties as the children had been allowed to leave school earlier in the day because of hot weather.
Children and staff from Pauk Inn Myaing school also had a lucky escape as it was closed when two warplanes launched an airstrike there on May 17, according to a local.
The regime is targeting schools in resistance strongholds to crush the NUG’s education infrastructure, according to teachers from the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM).
The horror of airstrikes on schools struck home last September when junta jet fighters massacred seven children and six adults in an attack on Let Yat Kone village school in Sagaing.
Staff at the school, which serves 200 students, now get alerts if warplanes are approaching so they can evacuate the children, said a teacher at Let Yat Kone.
“After suffering the terrible massacre, we are really scared that this kind of airstrike will happen again,” the teacher told The Irrawaddy.
This month, the school and clinic in Yanbo village, located in Northern Shan State’s Mabein Township, were destroyed in a regime bombing raid that killed seven civilians.
On Monday, an Mi-35 helicopter gunship attacked Shu Khin Thar in Kalay Township, Sagaing as the village head was holding a meeting to open the school. One villager was killed and four others injured, according to the Chin National Organization-Upper Chindwin Region.
“There are no words to condemn such an attack in a public place. It simply should not happen,” a spokesperson for the organization told The Irrawaddy.
The junta’s indiscriminate airstrikes have left managers of community schools in Kalay Township too afraid to hold classes, he added.
“This is why we recognize them as terrorists,” he said of the junta military.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners which monitors the junta’s human rights violations, said on Monday that regime forces are increasing aerial attacks on civilian targets, including schools.
On Tuesday, a junta airstrike hit San PaLar village primary school in Kawkareik Township, Karen State, destroying the school and surrounding houses.
U Aung Myo Min, Human Rights Minister of the civilian National Unity Government (NUG), said they are working to take all possible action against the military attacking schools.
Targeting children in schools is not only a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, but also a grave violation of children’s rights, the minister said.
“Myanmar is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Therefore, we are sending information on the violations against Myanmar children to the [UN] Committee on the Rights of the Child. I am also meeting with the committee and working for action on these cases,” U Aung Myo Min told The Irrawaddy.
Schools are open in both junta-controlled areas and resistance strongholds, though managers of interim schools under the NUG are worried about regime airstrikes and ground attacks.
A school and houses in the Sagaing village of Na Be Pin in Wetlet Township were torched by regime troops on Saturday.
Source – Irrawaddy