Would Armed Conflicts Escalate Into Whole Southern Shan State?

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It was the noise of helicopter gunships flying over the blue sky, a type of MI-35 produced by Russian, and they were shooting rigorously at their targets on the ground.

helicopter gunships flying over the blue sky Phaikhun Township
helicopter gunships flying over the blue sky Phaikhun Township

The sound of the explosions, shelling, and gunfire was overwhelming while houses and properties were burning – the smokes could be seen from miles away.

Phaikhun township, one of the towns in Taunggyi district, has been peaceful for many years until recently where gun fight has been ongoing between the Myanmar junta army and People Defense Force.

Moebye is another town in Southern Shan State, Taunggyi district which is facing the same fate – the whole town is empty with burned houses and properties.

The consequence of the Myanmar military brutal crackdown on the peaceful civilians was that thousands of youth fled to the liberated areas in the ethnic regions in order to revolt against the illegal military regime.

The people resistance armed forces were formed within a few months along the Southern Shan State and Karrenni (Kayah State) border in order to fight against the military junta. As a result, the intense fight is ongoing in Phaikhun town, Taunggyi District, Southern Shan State.

PDF help villager
PDF help villager

Since after World War II, almost no armed conflict occur in Southern Shan State regions; however, it has faced wrath of it recently.

While the gun fight is heavy in the Phaikhun town, about 170 kilometers away from the Shan State capital Taunggyi, the Myanmar army used airstrike shooting at the two Shan armed forces when they were fighting one another at Kyuak Gu area, Lawksawk township, the center of Shan State and a best strategic location for military operations.

The TAI PDF, formed on 8 February 2022 and represents Southern Shan State, participated in the fight against the Myanmar junta army in Phaikhun battles.

At the same time, more activities of the local PDF are reported in the Da Nu self-administrative region, Ywarngan.

It was officially announced that some members of the TAI PDF, who took part in Phaikhun battles, lost their lives. TAI PDF was formed with different ethnicities and religions from Southern Shan State including CDM teachers.

“Most of the youth in Southern Shan State gathered in Karrenni (Kayah State). After the brutal crackdown on the protestors in the city, they fled into Karrenni (Kayah State) where they think it is safe for them,” a Nyaung Shwe resident, Ko Zaw Zaw, who is now with KNDF told SHAN.

A 22 years old Aung Pan resident Ko Aung Ye said that youth from various parts of Southern Shan State gathered in Karenni (Kayah State) as a group, and they will be dispersed into their respected townships when ready.

“Most of my friends are on the run and end up in the jungle, so they get depressed sometimes. They often request to top up their mobile phone, to buy them this and that, and other things. For me, I do not have time to be depressed. I drop out of school and help my family business; meanwhile, I am helping my friends as much as I can. I hope that my friends would be able to return home soon,” a 19 years old Nan Thida who lives in Taunggyi told SHAN.

If we compare Shan State with other regions, it is very clear that PDF in Shan State is still very weak.

“In Shan State, two Shan armed forces and Pa-O armed force, PNLO, are the main groups. There are many militia groups formed after their ethnicities. As long as these groups have good relationship with the Myanmar military junta, it will be hard for the PDF force to survive. However, PDF has strong civilians support, those militia and armed groups will have to recognize PDF one day. Civil war is unavoidable; at last, they will have to fight,” a Shan political analyst, U Sai Kyaw Swar told SHAN.

Fighting at Phaikhun
Fighting at Phaikhun

He also analyzed that PDF could be stronger in a short period of time if the armed groups and militia groups in Shan State are politically united because those PDF are formed and scattered in each respective townships.

RCSS/SSA announced that the activities of CSSU, one of main political groups in Shan State, will be temporarily suspended on 26 February 2022. It is assumed that there will be a deeper different political views among Shan armed groups.

Pa-O National Army (PNA), which is a militia group under the Myanmar junta’s ministry of defense, is now expanding its troops into the Panglaung town, in order to prevent PDF forces entering into the area. The area is in the Pa-O self-administrative zone.

According to Pa-O youth, youngsters do not like Pa-O National Organization (PNO) and Pa-O National Army (PNA) being controlled by the Myanmar military junta, and they are now attempting to form their own local PDF.

Sai Hein Khant, a student from Taunggyi Technology University and who actively participated in the demonstration, said that even though the universities resume, very few students come back to study.

“Universities resume. Even though I do not go to study, I sometimes go there to look around and talk to students who decided to come back and study. It is not that we young people have forgotten what happened, it is just that we are waiting for the right time. That’s why we are quiet. We do not expect much for the Shan armed groups. We have to try not only for our own freedom but also for our friends behind bars,” the above student expressed his hope.

SHAN contacted a number of youth living in Taunggyi and its nearby townships regarding the current political and the revolution situation, and they expressed their thoughts that they are not satisfied with the current resistance. They expressed their readiness to take part if the armed revolution becomes nationwide.

Some political analysts are reminding the civilians that the armed conflicts in Southern Shan could escalate into the whole region due to the fact that many Myanmar military bases and institutions including the air base are located in Southern Shan State.

(Note: For security purpose, official names were not used in this articles)

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