MINDAT RESISTANCE: The spirit is empowering the people’s revolution

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If the February 1 military coup has done any good for the people, it will be the awakening-heightening of their fighting and unyielding spirit against the dictatorship, even though tremendous sacrifices and tragedies that come with the military junta’s merciless crackdown cannot be avoided. It has also changed the people’s inward and outward psychology which happened in an unthinkable short span of time.

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For example the inward positive affect is the people led by Generation Z has questioned the mass acceptance of racism and some even began to apologize to the non-Bamar ethnic nationalities and minorities, including the Rohingya,  for their silence and indifference when they were met with gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Burma or Myanmar army, known also as the military or Tatmadaw.

This comes about after the massive crackdown of the military in Bamar populated urban centers like Mandalay, Yangon and also non-Bamar big towns and cities, including those in ethnic states. Previously, the Bamar population were spared from such crimes against humanity. But for the first time, the whole country has been affected without exception and discrimination.

The military crackdown that resulted in some 800 killed and thousands detained countrywide have shown the Bamar population what it was like in the ethnic states for decades, where the military has been waging repressive occupational wars against the ethnic nationalities and minorities.

Another positive outcome, which cannot be overseen,  from this people’s tragedy is the spirit of solidarity achievement among the ethnically diverse people that wasn’t easy to construct in the past, due to the divide-and-rule implementation of the successive military regimes.

The Karen and Kachin resistance armies have sided and protected the protesting people and even started to heightened the wars in their respective areas, out of solidarity with the people and may as well be taking advantage of the situation to drive the Burma army out of their territories.

Of all these assorted resistance modes, the heightened war of the ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), the striking people in towns and cities countrywide, the gearing up of the Generation Z to launch urban guerrilla warfare, Mindat’s armed resistance clearly distinct itself out as the people’s collective call to uproot the military dictatorship by all means. Thus, this might be seen as a booster for the people’s aspirations and revolution which we all could take as an example and multiply it.

As such, let us first delve a bit deeper into recent Mindat’s armed resistance undertakings.

Mindat Resistance Unfold

According to the report of BBC Burmese section on April 28, Mindat Town in Chin State is different from other places concerning the public demonstrations which have been taking place nationwide. Reportedly, the people of Mindat and the local governing junta or State Administration Council (SAC) agreed on peaceful demonstration and their democratic rights to strike.

However, this understanding was disrupted as the junta started to crackdown on the demonstrators.

“The junta restricted the prior negotiated understanding between the two sides. They forbade demonstrations. Peaceful demonstration is our rights and we said we cannot stop it. They issued arrest warrants of our leaders, even though our demonstrations are very peaceful and we never have problem. No violence whatsoever,” said Salai Tumi, who has changed his name, to the BBC.

On April 24, some youth were arrested by the police as they pasted photos of the National Unity Government (NUG) ministers and slogans that they endorsed them.

“They started the fight. From our side 8 youths pasted (anti-junta) posters and when they (police) came to arrest them but one noticed it and ran away. The remaining 7 were arrested as they were unable to flee,” said who called himself Nway Oo Zalat to the BBC.  Reportedly, 4 females and 3 males were arrested.

In response the town people gathered in front of the Myoma Sanpya Market and marched en masse to the police station to release the detained youth. The township chief said they were arrested because they have breached the law of supporting the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH).

“If it is because of breaching the law all of us should be arrested. We told them if all will not be arrested they should release our youth. To that the township chief promised in half an hour they will be released. Good if it is half an hour we will sit and wait and we waited,” said Salai Tumi.

But after half an hour they were still in custody and later postponed until 6 pm and again to 9:30 pm, which were also not followed according to the promises made.

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In between, the local crowd became disillusioned and lost confidence with the police officials as they have broken their promises twice. Because of that the protesters of Mindat called on U Maung Ha, a member of the State Administrative Council in Mindat, to intervene. He is the son of Chin national leader U Wan Thu Maung and has been included in the State Administrative Council.

U Maung Ha intervention by phone was not fruitful as the junta side said it will not prosecute the seven detainees under heavy section like 505 but instead with less heavy sections, but bail could not be provided.

In between, around 5:30 pm two youths riding motorcycle were shot at by the police. But luckily they were not harmed as they were able to speed away from it.

The Attack

“If this is so we understood the promise that they will be released by 9:30 pm is also a lie. Besides, they also began to shoot at our citizens who are riding motorcycles. So it is time for us to respond,” said Salai Tumi.

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Accordingly, on April 24 night battles erupted at township general administration office, east gate of the town, west of the town including Kanpetlet road junction, altogether at four places, according to the locals.

According to Burma Associated Press, April 24 attack by the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) killed 3 junta troopers and wounded 9.

Reportedly, April 25 was quiet and no fighting occurred as the junta troops did not come out and both sides were only observing each other’s movement.

On April 26 junta’s reinforcement coming in from Pakkoku was ambushed where at least 10 junta soldiers were killed. Some military vehicles were also burned.

On April 27 the junta reinforced its troops and started shooting using RPG launchers and heavy artillery at CDF positions from 9 am. But 20 junta soldiers were shot down with single-shot traditional rifles called “tumi” used by the locals.

Altogether at least 30 junta soldiers were said to be killed while the SAC said only two of its soldiers were killed.

“Surely more than 30 from their side were killed. We can’t tell exactly as we were unable to collect the deaths,” said Salai Francis of Mindat who participated in the attacks against the junta troops.

A slightly different report by the BBC said the ambushes occurred on April 26 on the junta troops reinforcement columns from Pakokku and Matupi, as the former only suffered one dead a burned military vehicle, whereas the latter suffered heavy casualties of 10 killed, with one burned out vehicle.

Truce and Negotiation

Because of heavy casualties from junta side it’s battalion commander contacted Mindat’s local for ceasefire and negotiation on April 27.

Following the negotiation, the 7 arrested youths were released in exchange for free passage of some 30 junta soldiers blocked by the CDF. The Mindat locals decided to accept the deal as they gave priority release of the 7 youths detained. The negotiation for the freedom of remaining 6 captured earlier by the junta was agreed to follow later.

In the negotiations, from Mindat people’s side U Shwe Naing, U Shwe Htan and Law Shein Ha were represented, while from the SAC side deputy commander of the Northwest Division, state chairman, state police chief, and military strategist were involved, according to the BBC report.

Since then several rounds of negotiations have been conducted but the two sides were unable to reach a solution at this writing.

CDF Ultimatum

On May 2, CDF General Headquarters issued eleven-point statement addressing the military council and its subordinates, to refrain and avoid the following acts.                        

  1. violating human dignity and basic rights;
  2. arrest, torture, threaten, suing and shooting at Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) protesters;
  3. using public facilities such as road, place, hospital, school, home, office,  illegal confiscation of businesses and using them as watch posts, including camping;
  4. threatening the town and village people fully armed with military might;
  5. disruption, interrogation, arresting and robbing the towns’ people and travelers;
  6. mingling with the public wearing civilian clothes and armed;
  7. forcefully conducting search bearing armed at homes, religious parameters and churches; 
  8. prohibiting and disrupting people’s healthcare and humanitarian undertakings;
  9. going against the people and helping military council mechanism through threatening and soliciting the CDM civil workers;
  10. cooperating with military council and becoming spies and informers; and
  11. continuing to detain the people in custody.

In conclusion, if the military council and its subordinates refused to heed the said eleven points necessary actions will be taken, according to the statement.

Perspectives

Given such political scenarios, one would say that the situation may have changed the ethnic traditional armed resistance to more wide spread civilian revolution, encompassing the whole country pitting against the military council or coup-maker junta.

It is also a blessing in disguise, as the people’s revolution has instill the spirit of anti-racism, ethnic solidarity and anti-dictatorship.

The Mindat resistance may have gained inspiration from Tamu, Sagaing Region, on the Indian border, where at least 18 members of junta soldiers were killed by the town’s people earlier on April 10, when the military council was cracking down on the demonstrators. It was said the Kuki National Organization (KNO) armed group was said to be involved from the people’s side.

But the people of Mindat have done it better through solidarity of the local people and fighting in unison to protect the local people.

Adding to this is the rocket attacks on air force bases in Magwe and Meiktila in central Myanmar and an explosion detonated at a  military arsenal depot facility near Bago city, some 70 kilometers north of Yangon.

Practically, the junta is under siege from all sides and it can’t see any way out except more killing and threatening the people, in the hope it will be able to cow the population, which has not been successful.

Nobody knows for sure what the future of the country will look like in the near future. But one thing is sure, the spirit of Mindat will spread far and wide across the country, in collaboration with the ethnic armed organizations, as the Karen National Union and Kachin Independence Army have shown by giving military training to hundreds of the Generation Z.

Moreover, insider sources said the Karenni National Progressive Party and Restoration Council of Shan State are said to be doing the same.

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