The military junta’s establishment of militia battalions is to use them as front line forces in its military operations against ethnic ceasefire groups that may continue to resist Naypyitaw’s BGF program, according to Ta Ai Nyunt, Secretary General of the non-ceasefire Wa National Organization (WNO).
On 30 March, the military junta held ceremonies to mark the establishment of two militia units, one based along the Thai-Burma border and the other along the Sino-Burma border.
A Lahu militia unit which is based in Mongton township, which is also where the United Wa State Army (UWSA)’s 171st Military Region is active, opposite Chiangmai’s Chiangdao district, was promoted as BGF No.1007. Another militia unit which is based in Mongyu, Mongyawng Township, opposite the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA)’s 911th Brigade base, became BGF No. 1008, according to a report from the New Light of Myanmar.Ta Ai Nyunt said, “It will be difficult using the militias to pressure us [the Wa] to transform into BGF, because even the junta itself can’t force them. The militias are only meant to become the junta’s front lines just like they are being used in the fighting against the Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’ last month.”
In mid March, a member of the junta-backed Lahu militia unit based in Namyoom, Shan State East’s Mongphyak Township, 51 miles from Tachilek, opposite Thailand’s Maesai, was wounded in the fighting against the SSA because the junta had used the group as its advance guard during the operation.
Hseng Merng, a spokesperson of the SSA, also commented that the militia men would be used to fight against their own ethnic groups like the Wa had been used to fight the SSA for years until 2005.
On 4 April, the recently promoted Mongton militia battalion was ordered to move their camp to Loi Khilake, a mountain range facing UWSA’s 772nd brigade. The group was reported to have been escorted by hundreds of Burma Army soldiers during their way to the location, a source from Mongton said.
Last month, the group was told to set up a base at Loi Kawng Hona Kyaley, halfway between Loi Khilake and Nakawngmu.
The movement is likely because of the Wa defiance of the junta’s BGF program, a border watcher from the Thai-Burma border said.
However, Panghsang submitted a new proposal to Naypyitaw on 1 April. As yet, there has been no information from the Burma Army. Nevertheless, the group expected its new proposal would be considered by the Burma Army because one junta officer would be allowed to command a BGF battalion, unlike before when the Wa rejected having junta officers at the battalion level.