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<p class=People's Liberation Army forces battle Myanmar junta army near Sagaing region , in Myanmar.

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Attacks by armed groups across the country, soldiers surrendering in the thousands, discontented supporters of the Burmese military junta who dare to express it: three years after the coup d'état which plunged Myanmar into a bloody civil war, the The tide seems to be turning in favor of the rebels.

Two-thirds of Myanmar is in a brutal civil war, according to the United Nations. More than 2.6 million people are displaced. Hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee since a series of coordinated rebel attacks began last fall.

One ​​of the moments decisive events occurred on January 5, after two months of intense fighting. An alliance of ethnic Burmese guerrillas has taken control of the town of Laukkai, near the Chinese border. Nearly 2,400 soldiers and officers surrendered.

The images were widely shared on social networks, an essential source of information in a country without a free press and cut off from the rest of the world for three years.

We see in these images looted weapons seized from military outposts and exhausted soldiers surrendering en masse. Brigade commanders were even photographed raising a glass, presumably with their former enemies.

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Nearly 8,000 soldiers and law enforcement personnel have reportedly defected since the 2021 coup, according to the United States Institute for Peace.

Among these, a spy named Yan who had enlisted in the police force in order to provide information to rebel groups. It testifies to the demoralization of the troops.

People started treating us like ghosts. They hated us. They didn't want to talk to us. I did not feel well. The police and army began randomly arresting young people and beating them. They can beat them as much as they want as long as the person doesn't die. Those who have joined the police recently are young people who know nothing, who come from remote areas, or who are petty criminals arrested in the cities. They are asked if they want to go to prison or join the police.

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Myanmar junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing overthrew the elected government during a coup on February 1, 2021, presides over an army parade on Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw.

The military junta has lost territory in the north of the country, but also in the west, near the border with India. It would now only control between 50% and 60% of the country.

An alliance of ethnic rebel groups launched a coordinated operation last October. Some analysts, however, urge caution in the face of these factions which claim to be pro-democratic, but which also have territorial ambitions.

Units of the popular defense affiliated with the pro-democracy shadow government fight with the various guerrillas.

Duwa Lashi La, the head of this shadow government, the National Unity Government in its full name, told a panel of online experts on Tuesday that the rebels are getting closer to victory and that the Burmese army is switched to survival mode. He invites the military to join the revolution.

Some Burmese even dare to express their dissatisfaction with the head of the military junta, Min Aung Hlaing. According to the BBC's Burmese website, an ultranationalist monk demanded the resignation of Min Aung Hlaing earlier this month during a demonstration.

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Members of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) carry an injured person while fighting the Myanmar junta army near the Sagaing region, Myanmar.

As for the junta, it considers that it has not yet lost, it still has Chinese and Russian support, and the resistance will not receive Western equipment. The regime can therefore further increase the intensity of the conflict and the horrors it commits against the civilian population, knowing that it is already hated anyway, affirmed in the magazine Géo< /em>Olivier Guillard, associate researcher at the Institute for the Study of Applied Geopolitics.

Business people from the economic capital of Myanmar, Rangoon, who wish to remain anonymous, believe that the military junta will be able to remain in power as long as it maintains control of the central bank and the economy.

Highways may be blocked, border trading posts may fall to the resistance, but as long as production and commercial activities continue in Rangoon and seaports and airports operate, the economy, and by extension the regime, can survive, believes a leader who met a Nikkei journalist in Rangoon.

Unlike the rural regions of the country, more normal life has resumed in the economic capital and in the country's large cities. In this bubble far from the fighting, restaurants and bars have even reopened and are full.

Wednesday, the Burmese junta once again extended by six months of state of emergency and martial law imposed in the country since the coup.

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, more than 1,600 civilians will have been killed in 2023, that's 300 more compared to the previous year.

In three years, nearly 26,000 people have been imprisoned for political reasons, of whom 19,973 remain in detention, some subject to torture without hope of a fair trial.< /p>

The civil war has thrown Myanmar into a humanitarian crisis. In a report published in December, the UN sounded the alarm. A third of the country needs humanitarian aid, or 18.6 million people. Nearly 6 million are children.

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The Coordination Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has launched an urgent appeal for donations of nearly a billion dollars at a time when the attention of the international community is elsewhere.

We cannot afford a repeat of 2023’s glaring funding shortfall, with only 29% of requests fulfilled, insisted Marcoluigi Corsi, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar. Millions of lives are at stake, and we must do everything possible to prevent Burma from becoming a forgotten emergency.

Beijing has not hidden its anger after the excesses of recent months which have caused Chinese victims. According to some, Beijing supports the Burmese military junta but also helps the armed rebels.

China has even offered to mediate in order to negotiate a cease-fire. fire, but fighting continued after an agreement was reached.

For its part, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will send humanitarian aid to Myanmar for the first time since the 2021 coup.

ASEAN, however, insists that the violence stops and that the military junta begins a dialogue with the rebel forces.

Myanmar army generals have been refusing these demands from ASEAN since 2021 and, as a result, have been banned from participating in the group of countries' ministerial meetings.

A special representative from ASEAN, former representative of Laos to the United Nations, has been appointed to try to promote dialogue between the military and rebels.

He visited Myanmar earlier in January and met with leaders of the military junta. Neither ASEAN nor the Burmese generals have commented on the visit.

Philippe Leblanc is Asia correspondent for Radio-Canada

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