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Anti-coup Burmese protesters take up military training in jungles of Myanmar




Burmese military camp via CNN

Members of Myanmar’s Civil Disobedience Movement, including doctors and students, are taking up military training in the jungles, where they fled to escape a violent crackdown by the junta. Crawling on the ground towards their target of a small village isn’t just in preparation for a simulated clash-the training is to help protect them while they continue to resist the February 1 coup.

Small villages in the country’s ethnic border regions are now hosting white and blue collar workers as they learn how to survive military style in the wake of the Tatmadaw, or Myanmar army’s, takeover. The coup, came after opposition to last November’s democratic election which saw the National League for Democracy party win in a landslide. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Laureate, and head of the NLD party was arrested, along with other leading members of the party. The Tatmadaw argued that the elections were riddled with fraud, but has yet to give any evidence.

Since February 1, the situation in Myanmar has been dire, with innocent civilians being murdered in the streets, with the UN saying the military is likely committing crimes against humanity. As the news of the political situation in the Southeast Asian country hit worldwide, several countries have issued sanctions against the army and its leaders. But, so far, those sanctions have been in vain as the junta is refusing to compromise at the very least.

Now, as the situation continues to escalate, people from all walks of life are fleeing into the jungle with some taking up the Karen National Defense Organisation’s free basic training programme to arm themselves with military-style skills, including learning how to shoot a gun. The chief of staff, Nerdah Bo Mya, seems to be doing his part in helping civilians fight back against the junta.
“This is a responsibility to protect life. If we don’t train them who’s going to help them?”
Nerdah says none of the 200 anti-coup demonstrators that he has seen at the camp, have ever held a gun before, with many still attending university. He says the free training also teaches them first aid techniques and basic marksmanship.
“They’re quite young, their age is around 24, 25 and some are nurses and also some doctors and medical staff.”
For students to seek training from ethnic armies shows how dangerous the situation is in Myanmar. Now, those being trained in the camps say they will come back and train the rest of the protesters. But Nerdah says he is aware that a bit of basic training is no match for the Tatmadaw. He says the CDM members need weapons in order to have a chance in standing up against the Tatmadaw, but would not say whether his group was supplying any, or whether learning how to make a bomb was included in the basic training.
“We told them they have to be wise and we have to fight with our head and not with our heart.”
The KNDO is not the only ethnic group offering CDM members free training. Videos from other ethnic areas show recruits chanting things like “for the people,” “for our freedom,” and “for our independence.”
Nerdah says anti-coup protesters are worried that, if the situation drags on, the world will forget about them.
“They all look up to the American government for democracy and freedom and if Chinese and Russian governments can help the brutal corrupt military regime why the American government cannot help these people who are striving for freedom and democracy in Burma.”
So far, the junta has not commented on the knowledge of protesters receiving basic training, but did publish a statement in the state-run New Light of Myanmar, asking those who have travelled to ethnic areas or even overseas, to return home. But as the tactics to quell the opposition are bloodier by the day, such a request remains in vain. Since the coup, more than 760 people have been killed, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, also noting that the actual death toll is probably much higher.


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  1. Avatar


    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 11:16 pm

    Old news. In a comment under an article about the situation in Myanmar on the 15th of April I already said that protesters went to the jungles for combat training. It was very much doubted by another commenter by the name of Niko who assumed educated young people from the cities would do this. The recent developments are so horrible that I have no doubt they will.

  2. Avatar


    Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 1:57 am


  3. Avatar


    Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 10:00 am

    If it’s something they believe in, that’s what they’ll do. As a previous enlisted person back home, I was willing to go wherever and anywhere after 9/11. What these people are doing would come naturally to me. And yes, I am white with a college education. I’m not sure where it got started that we don’t fight.

  4. Avatar


    Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 10:48 am

    At this time, in this condition, a perfect opportunitist can live longer and prosper after dusts settle. Keep a cool head.

  5. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 11:29 am

    All fearless risk takers, except for one. Can you spot him?

  6. Avatar


    Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 5:33 pm

    @Ray – I didn´t say there would be no young people would go to the country side trying to fight the army.

    They are young and naive and being a generation that grew playing war video games they probably think that in wars when you get hit you just loose a little energy and keep going and if you die you have more lives

    What i said is that even if they don´t get into firefights they will find life in wood huts in the jungle very unpleasant and that alone will change the minds of many.

    I actually seen a recent video on that RFA network of a group of 5 young Burmese (4 guys 1 girl) probably in their early 20´s along with a old American guy, that i saw in other videos, talking about how they will do this and that.

    It is quite immoral to have then people from Burmese origin encouraging these young naive people to risk their lives for nothing saying that they will “win”. It is insanity

    But this is not new apparently because the other day i saw a video by a quite known Burmese scholar called Thant Myint-U which is the son of the former UN general secretary U Thant and he said that back in the 80´s THOUSANDS of students after the military crackdown in 88, went to Thailand and organize some kind of resistance.

    But eventually after months many gave up other were arrested by the Thai police and the ones that adventured in the Burmese jungle got capture during the years 89 and 90.

  7. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 7:50 pm

    I disagree. Early twenties have always been the average age in battles for the last 100 years.
    Some might fight battles they cannot win, but they will still fight.
    When I was young an old guy told me, “The old know it cannot be done, but the young do not know it cannot be done, and do it anyway.
    What is the alternative for the early twenties youth of Myanmar?
    They are in good hands, the rebels groups who have fought off the Myanmar Army since WW2

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Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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