The Burma Army is forcing villagers in southern Mon State to form Pyithu-Sit or People’s Militia, a local armed group controlled by the military.

Villagers forced into forming People’s Militia

A recruitment order from the Sakakha 19 (Military Operation Command 19), was given to the village headmen of Sinku (Changu in Mon), southern Ye Township. On this order, the local Mon villagers have to raise money for the militia operations including their salary, food allowance, and armed equipment and uniforms. The Sinku villagers have to buy 12 arms (6 Automatic Rifles AR 15/M-16 and 6 AK 47) and 45 mm pistols from the Burma Army.

“We are ordered to form 10 militias and every household has to share the cost. The village headman started collecting money from 5,000 to 100,000 Kyats per household,” said a villager who spoke under condition of anonymity.

Sinku village is comprised of over three hundred households and is located between Hangam and Khawza sub-town where Burma Army’s Battalion No. 31 is based.

Mon villagers are reluctant to join the Pyithu-Sit because they do not want to be sandwiched between the BA and armed opposition groups.

Pyithu-Sit or People’s Militia is notorious among the rural population for extortion and abuse of power. Its main role is to act as buffer for the BA and is used to guide the BA column in its military operations against armed groups. Most militiamen are retired soldiers from the BA or local poor men who are unemployed and unable to feed their families. http://www.kaowao.org/march-8-2009news.php

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