Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ousted Myanmar lawmakers announce 'people's defence force'



Ousted Myanmar lawmakers announce 'people's defence force'

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A group of ousted lawmakers who call themselves the ‘National Unity Government’ (NUG) announced their own ‘people’s defence force’. COMMITTEE FOR REPRESENTING PYIDAUNGSU HLUTTAW/AFP

Ousted Myanmar lawmakers announce 'people's defence force'

A shadow government of ousted Myanmar lawmakers on May 5 said it had set up a "people's defence force" to protect civilians, as the police and military deploy deadly arms against anti-coup protesters.

The country has been in turmoil since the military deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, triggering a mass uprising of daily protests and a nationwide boycott from civil servants.

So far, nearly 770 people have been killed in deadly crackdowns, according to a local monitoring group – though the junta has a far lower death toll which it blames on "rioters".

A group of ousted lawmakers who call themselves the "National Unity Government" (NUG) and are working underground to oppose the junta announced their own "people's defence force" to "stop the use of violence against people".

It is intended as a precursor to a "Federal Union Army", the NUG said in a statement – referring to a long-touted idea of bringing anti-coup dissidents together with Myanmar's ethnic rebel fighters into an army.

Some in the anti-coup movement have called for unity among Myanmar's myriad rebel armed groups to defeat the military's well-trained soldiers.

A few of the groups have condemned the military coup and the use of violence against unarmed civilians. Some are also providing shelter and even training to dissidents who flee into their territories.

But the more than 20 groups – made up of disparate ethnic minorities agitating for more autonomy – have long distrusted the ethnic Bamar majority, including lawmakers affiliated with Suu Kyi's government.

An official of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) – which has said it is sheltering anti-coup dissidents – expressed scepticism at the NUG announcement.

"As far as I know, it is the people themselves who walk into the jungle and receive the training from the [ethnic armed organisations] … it is not decided by the NUG," said KNPP vice-chair Khu Oo Reh.

He added that while the NUG has spoken with many rebel groups about a militia made up of civilians, "I have no idea what their intentions are".

Another group along Myanmar's eastern border, which declined to be named, said the statement was "confusing".

Before the NUG's announcement on May 5, some communities across Myanmar – especially in townships that have seen a high death toll at the hands of police – have announced local "defence forces" for their areas.

State media reported on May 4 night that five protesters – including a former member of Parliament with Suu Kyi's party – were killed when they tried to plant a bomb in the southern region of Bago.

Bombs have exploded sporadically across the country in recent weeks, especially in Yangon. Authorities have blamed some of the blasts on "instigators".

MOST VIEWED

  • Restrictions re-imposed in capital as Covid cases surge

    Amid the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has shown no sign of subsiding with 750 infections and 10 deaths reported on June 2 alone, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has decided to re-impose the suspension of all occupations and business activities deemed as posing high risk of

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway 51% complete

    The construction of the nearly $2 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway is 51.35 per cent complete and is expected to be finished in 2023, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state Vasim Sorya. Invested in by Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd, the first expressway in

  • First 7-Eleven store to open mid-June, ambassador says

    Thai retail conglomerate CP All Pcl will open Cambodia’s first 7-Eleven convenience store in mid-June, Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sorphorn told The Post on June 1. The Bangkok-listed 7-Eleven franchise operator, the retail arm of Charoen Pokphand Group Co Ltd, granted CP All (Cambodia)

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • US embassy guard gets Covid despite two doses of Pfizer jab

    The Covid-19 tracking commission on June 4 said a security guard at the US embassy in Phnom Penh had contracted the novel coronavirus, despite having received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot two weeks ago. Embassy spokesperson Chad Roedemeier confirmed the SARS-CoV-2 infection to The

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy