By Subir Bhaumik
Kolkata, March 19 (IANS) An armed insurgent group of ethnic Burmese is likely to surface in Myanmar’s urban centres soon, those connected with it said.
Myanmar has dozens of rebel armies representing ethnic minorities like Kachins, Karens, Was and Shans that have fought the country’s military for decades since 1960s and some even before that.
A youth leader coordinating between the neighborhood watch resistance groups in commercial hub Yangon told IANS that the massacres perpetrated by the Tatmadaw (military) has forced them to weigh the option of armed resistance.
“We have to bring back democracy, we have to bring back Parliament, we cannot let the military rule again, we believe in peaceful protests but what option are we left with if the Tatmadaw kills its own people like flies,” the youth leader said on the condition of anonymity.
He disclosed that a ‘Federal Army’ is being formed to continue the struggle for democracy, though he did not say clearly when will it surface.
More than 200 protesters have been killed in firings by security forces across Myanmar, mostly in cities like Yangon, Mandalay and Dawei, since the February 1 military takeover that prevented Nobel laureate Aung Saan Suu Kyi’s NLD party form a government for a second time.
More than 3,000 protesters and senior NLD leaders, including Suu Kyi, have been detained and formally charged with crimes as trivial as possession of foreign made walkie-talkies and as serious as bribery.
More than 600 protesters have suffered serious injuries, some life threatening or delibitating.
“The Tatmadaw must know there is a cost for everything. They may have guns but what about their families,” the youth leader asked.
Senior NLD leaders that IANS spoke to said Suu Kyi’s party does not believe in armed action but they said the army’s brutal suppression had made it “very difficult for us to control younger Burmese”.
“How do you control young men and women whose brothers and sisters have been shot before their own eyes?” queried an NLD MP. “They are crying for revenge.”
Another NLD leader said that he will not be surprised if “some hotheads targeted families of Tatmadaw generals involved in the forced takeover and subsequent suppression”.
“We are getting such vibes, restlessness is growing among the young who have staked all to fight for democracy. What we do say when they come back at us and argue how long will be take this suppression,” he said.
Angry protesters have also attacked Chinese factories and business establishments and burnt down at least 17 of them.
The Chinese embassy have now asked its businesses to send back “non-essential staff” and asked the Burmese military for stronger protection and punishment for the attackers.
The Burmese social media is agog with anti-Chinese rants with some netizens threatening even to blow up the Kyaukphyu-Yunnan pipeline connecting a China-made port on Myanmar’s Rakhine province with its Yunnan province.
The sight of Bamar (ethnic Burmese) youths fleeing Myanmar’s cities and joining ethnic rebel groups in Kachin and Karen areas is not new.
Thousands of them formed armed groups and sought training in use of weapons after the brutal suppression of the 1988 student-youth uprising by the military.
But they fizzled out after the military allowed elections in 1990, though they refused to honour the poll verdict because Suu Kyi’s NLD had swept the polls.
One such youth leader, Soe Myint, with an accomplice trained in the Karen jungles hijacked a Burmese passenger aircraft on the Bangkok-Yangon route and forced it to land in Kolkata.
Myint was freed by an Indian court after four years and started ‘Mizzima Media’ in exile.
It is now Myanmar’s leading multimedia news group but the military has cancelled its license to publish and broadcast along with three other media outlets after the coup.
Myint, now suffering from cancer, has however vowed to challenge the “illegitimate military government and fight for restoration of democracy” in a statement now available on Mizzima’s website.
By Subir Bhaumik