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‘Our only choice’: Myanmar citizens carry democracy | Conflicting Issues


In the weeks leading up to the February 1 military coup, Andrew joined millions across Myanmar and demonstrated a peaceful return to war.

Less than two months later, a 27-year-old boy was learning how to kill soldiers with a wooden rifle in the jungles of his home state of Kayah on the east east of Thailand and Thailand.

“Before he came to power, I could not even kill an animal,” said Andrew, who is similar to one of Al Jazeera’s activists, who asked not to be named for security reasons. “When I saw the civilians killing civilians, I became very sad and troubled … I came to the conclusion that I was fighting a dictatorship.”

Andrew is one of the few civilians in the country, many of them young people, armed with weapons to kill the soldiers who killed more than 860 people, mostly during anti-government protests, arrested more than 6,000 people, and used methods including torture and coercion since then. received power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Armed members of the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) patrol a Myanmar military vehicle as they bow down to the Myanmar western march [File: Chin World via AFP]

Some of the militants have joined forces occupying the country’s borders, where smaller ethnic groups have been fighting for years against Myanmar’s military, Tatmadaw, for independence and independence. Others, such as Andrew, have joined the security forces stationed in cities and towns since the end of March.

But while armed groups have had years of economic growth and potential, most security forces have a single rifle for hunting and other weapons of mass destruction, and many fighters have had weeks of training to fight.

Confronted with a militant group that has earned more than $ 2bn in its hands and has spent 70 years fighting civilians, the reformers told Al Jazeera that they were willing to try hard because they felt that armed conflict was the only way left for the government.

“We have staged demonstrations across the country and formed an anti-government movement against the military with the hope of restoring civilian democracy, but these measures have not worked,” said Neino, a former university lecturer and now leading the anti-civilian political party in Chin State. and the area around Sagaing. “We’ve done everything we can, and carrying weapons is the only way left to be able to win,” he added.

Salai Vakok, a 23-year-old development worker from Chin State, started firing on his hometown of Mindat shortly after Tatmadaw was able to fire protesters in late October.

“We were hoping that foreigners would come and fight for us, but it didn’t happen,” he said.

“I never thought I would have a weapon in my life… but I quickly changed my mind when I heard of the killings of unarmed, innocent people across the country, especially in the lowlands. I can’t keep quiet. Revengeing the fallen heroes and showing my solidarity, I decided to fight with them. ”

Mr. Tatmadaw responded by fighting with invasion of the atmosphere and the earth and the lack of support, food and shelter for civilians, in the aftermath of the violence in the past. About 230,000 people have fled their homes since the government took over; many hiding in the forest.

In Kayah and neighboring Shan, where human rights activists joined forces with local militias to fight for 10 days at the end of May, killing more than 120 militiamen, Tatmadaw has fired at food donors and shot dead returnees returning to town to retrieve them. rice and other. On May 24, a militant group opened fire on a Catholic church where more than 300 people were hiding, killing four of them.

On June 9, a A UN expert warned of “mass deaths due to famine, disease and destruction” in Kayah district after Tatmadaw denied access to food, water and medical care for more than 100,000 displaced people.

The town of Salai Vakok in Mindat is facing an emergency after Tatmadaw took part in a series of attacks on civilians in mid-May by initiating threats in the area and preventing the supply of food and water to the homeless. They also say they are arresting civilians and using them as human shields to prevent militants.

Human rights activists are facing a powerful armed group that has been charged with ‘human trafficking’ in the 2017 Rohingya brutal war [File: Stringer/EPA]

He said the threats encouraged him to continue fighting, but he had not been able to do so since he was wounded by gunfire last month. “Once I recover, I have made the decision to make sure I will continue to fight even when the government starts,” he told Al Jazeera.

Terrorist tactics

The resistance to the cities also seems to be growing, especially because of the young people who joined in secret places after going to short training camps with the armed forces in the jungle. Back in the cities, they resort to other forms of violence, including bombings, arson, and killings, as well as suspected spies or militants.

A recent report by Frontier Myanmar reports that there are 10 urban terrorist groups in major cities in Myanmar, with Radio Free Asia reporting more than 300 explosions since the bombing, especially in police and administrative offices and other government agencies.

“[The Tatmadaw] they persecute us with guns. Should we bow down or fight? If we refuse to say hello to just three fingers, we will not get what we want, “said Gue Gue, a 29-year-old traditional healer and confidant in Yangon.

But he said he lives in constant fear of those who inform. “We in the cities have to be secretive or we can be killed. We can’t sleep soundly,” Gue Gue said.

Concerns of other civil rights activists and their families: Since the coup, at least 76 people have been detained while security forces have not been able to arrest anyone, according to the human rights group.

“I told my parents that if the military wanted me, they would try to dissuade me from going to war, but I did not listen,” said Salai Vakok. He had been in contact with his family since joining the group, but learned that he was one of thousands of people who had fled their homeland as a result of the May fighting in Mindat and are now hiding in the woods.

Demonstrators in Mandalay with home-made equipment at an exhibition in April. Many critics have joined the rebel movement because they see it as the only way to restore democracy [File: Stringer/EPA]

The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) Representative Committee, made up of elected councilors who have been ousted, announced on March 14 that they were supporting civil rights to protect themselves, and on May 5, the National Unity Government (NUG) CRPH has announced its establishment of the National Security Forces, which will lead the armed forces that may link the country’s armed forces with the security forces. Currently, most groups are working individually or in partnership.

Khu Te Bu, the deputy prime minister of the House of Representatives under the auspices of the NUG, told Al Jazeera that he hoped the war in the country would worsen in the coming weeks and months but worried that the security forces would fail and did not have enough training to defeat Tatmadaw.

“He is using handmade weapons, but he cannot protect people from the military that has been preparing and building his weapons for many years,” he said.

On May 26, NUG announced the code of conduct. Added by all the militant groups, it is said that militants should avoid injuring civilians and minimizing financial losses.

Khu Te Bu says he hopes the opposition will be able to come together against the common enemy, and that NUG plays a key role in ensuring that the groups have adequate knowledge of military law, including how to protect civilians and care for war prisoners.

Some critics have sought training from armed organizations that have been fighting Tatmadaw for years [File: Kantarawaddy Times via AFP]

“[Resistance groups] “They cannot just violate international law because the military does not follow them,” he said. “They must respond to their enemies in an orderly manner … to protect human rights.”

With weapons and funding in short supply, human rights activists say they expect NUG to re-provide human and material assistance in the near future. “If they really want to help us, they can send troops or provide us with modern weapons, or they can help us with food and other necessities,” said Salai Vakok.

As the violence escalates and the death toll rises, militants also hope that Myanmar will not be destroyed by the world.

“Myanmar is now like a slaughterhouse. People are being killed every day like animals, ”said Gue Gue.


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