Junta training civilian militias for security patrols in Bago region

The military junta is recruiting civilians for militia training across central Myanmar’s Bago region, where they plan to use the trainees for security patrols and to transport injured troops from the frontline, local residents said. 
Junta soldiers recently trained about 40 people from eight villages from Thayarwady district in western Bago, according to a person in charge of a local anti-junta People’s Defense Force, or PDF. 
The junta has also been recruiting from some townships in eastern Bago, local residents told Radio Free Asia. 
Junta spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun told RFA in June 2022 that the military was organizing civilian militia groups and providing systematic training to protect villages in Bago, where intense fighting with anti-junta forces continues.
Nearly 100,000 residents of eastern Bago have been forced to flee their homes since the February 2021 military coup d’etat, according to the United Nations
The majority of the recent trainees are members of either the pro-junta Pyu Saw Htee militia or the Union Solidarity and Development Party, or USDP, which is also aligned with the military, residents said.
Members of a civilian militia attend a weapon equipping ceremony in Bago region in September 2023. Credit: Myanmar military
After one month of training, the military gives them weapons and assigns them watch duty near a local PDF, according to a Kyauktaga township resident who refused to be named for security reasons.
“The first batch completed the training just last month. I have heard that about 14 or 15 Pyu people left Kyauktaga for training last week,” he said, referring to Pyu Saw Htee members.
Most of the villages in Kyauktaga between the Sittaung River and the old Yangon-Mandalay highway are controlled by the joint forces of a regional PDF – that’s why the junta is organizing some towns into defensive positions, he said.
Training in Taungoo
Junta troops also began doing militia training in a field near the police station in Taungoo city in September, according to a local resident who refused to be named for security reasons.
Most of the trainees were members of the USDP, the resident said.
USDP spokesman Hla Thein said he was unaware of the recent training sessions.
“To be honest, I don’t know about this yet,” he said. “I think the locals are saying what they think and what it seems. But political parties like us are not legally allowed to get involved in the civilian militia.”
The PDF official in Thayarwady district urged the new militia trainees to consider joining anti-junta forces.
“I think it is time for them to come to their senses and join the people in the revolution,” he said. “Those who join the military junta or work with them are the enemies of the people. So I think they should avoid being in such a position.”
RFA telephoned Tin Oo, the junta’s economic minister and Bago region spokesman, regarding the militia recruitment, but he did not respond on Tuesday.
Translated by Myo Min Aung. Edited by Matt Reed.


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