People Defense Forces

UNDERGROUND – As pro-democracy protesters grew increasingly frustrated and desperate with means of peaceful resistance such as CDM and flash protests on motorbikes, the NUG made a clear break with the non-violence advocated by Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD since its founding.

On May 5th, the NUG announced the creation of a People’s Defense Force (PDF), prefiguring a federal army that would bring together ethnic armies and civil defense groups under a central command to coordinate attacks on the military troops. Since then, thousands of urban youths have left for guerilla combat training in areas controlled by the most powerful ethnic armed organizations opposed to the coup, such as the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the far north and the Karen National Union (KNU) in the east. Rural youths joined local branches of the PDF or integrated resistance militias in Chin State or the Sagaing region.

Aware of their slim chances in an open battle against the experience and equipment of the Tatmadaw, these groups limit themselves to carry out express raids. Since April, hundreds of military-appointed administrators and suspected informants have been murdered across the country. In response to the army’s scorched earth campaign, soldiers, military buildings and vehicles are targeted every day by ambushes and bombings.

Burmese and foreign media workers continue to be relentlessly harassed in Myanmar, but also in Thailand as the two military governments are cooperating. On May 11th, Thai authorities arrested three journalists from the Democratic Voice of Burma who were hiding in Chiang Mai. On May 13th, the junta dropped the charges against detained Japanese reporter Yuki Kitazumi, and deported him. On May 24th, Danny Fenster, Frontier Myanmar’s managing editor, was arrested at the airport as he was trying to leave the country and is since locked up in Insein prison in Yangon.