Sunday, July 21, 2024

The Myanmar Military Junta’s Divide and Rule Tactic

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“12 people from each village or ward must be enlisted” quoted by a woman who lives in Pindaya township. It has been ordered by the military junta to form Danu militia or Danu Army.


Danu region, Ywar Ngan and Pindaya township, has been free of armed conflicts in the past years. After the military coup, local People Defense Force (PDF) was formed and clashes with the military junta occurred occasionally. After that, the military junta is trying to form a local militia force by enlisting 12 young people from each village and ward in the region.

Tatmadaw persuade Danu ethnic to form Danu Militia
Tatmadaw persuade Danu ethnic to form Danu Militia

Religion has been used to brainwash the natives for generations, and it seemed to be peaceful in the past. However, during this dictatorship revolution, the Danu region actively participated in the revolution.

During April 2022, Myanmar military army raided a village called Pae Yin Taung, and brutally killed nine innocent villagers. The inhumane incident enraged the Danu young people according to a Pae Yin Taung resident, Ma San Kyein (not official name).

“The young people have been infuriated and no one is left in the village now. The military soldiers are stationed at a monastery in the village. They are raiding the house they want and taking anything they want,” the above Pae Yin Taung resident told SHAN.

The local military informants have been killed, and the junta is suffering many casualties from the occasional clashes with the local PDF. Since the junta is operating its warfare nationwide, it becomes difficult to control the Danu region. Therefore, the junta is trying to form a local militia force by giving an excuse of security and safety reasons for the people in the region.

“This strategy is not something new. It has been used in many of the ethnic regions in the past to divide and rule. The government tried to accomplish this in the past without success. One reason could be that there were no armed conflicts in the region, and they might think forming a militia was not necessary,” a person who is studying Shan politics told SHAN.

According to the Ywar Ngan ward administrator, some of the Danu National Democratic Party leaders and the local businessmen will support the uniform, some other materials, and food supplies to the newly formed Myanmar military junta militia group, and they will be trained and armed.

Concerns mounted among the locals that the Danu ethnicities will be divided and fought one another in the future.

For many generations, the Myanmar military junta has been using the tactic of divide and rule in Shan State by giving locals opportunities to form militia groups so that they are fighting one another in the end. The locals are afraid that the same would happen in the Danu region in the future.

Danu ethnic were persuaded to form Pyu Saw Htee militia
Danu ethnic were persuaded to form Pyu Saw Htee militia

“They are demanding 12 young people from each village, and those who do not want to join are fleeing. Those who are supporting the military, alcoholics, gamblers, thugs, and addicts could join the militia group. The military junta threaten to capture the young people if no one joins the militia army,” a Pindaya native told SHAN.

Even though there has been no armed groups in the region before, Pa-O National Organization (PNO) forces occasionally come to some of the villages, and some of their members are the Pa-O national living in the Danu region. Therefore, the locals are worried that racial or ethnicity conflict will occur in the future.

Some Pindaya residents also shared their views on the current issues that the military junta has trained and armed some of the locals and named them “Pyu Saw Htee” militia. This junta has been using its militia force to search and arrest people in the region. That forced the young people to flee and take armed revolution.

“I am tired of being on the run. The military back leaders have been ruling the Danu region for many generations. So, it is our young people’s duty to take up arms and resist this regime in order to gain self administration. We young people are ready for that, and the only issue we have is inadequate weapons,” a young Danu ethnic told SHAN.

A woman from Pae Ying Taung village said that as the whole country’s situation is deteriorating day by day, the Danu region has also been struck by the skyrocketing price of gasoline, fertilizers, and other consumer goods. Farmers are having a hard time deciding if they should invest in their farms this year because there is no demand for the fresh produce.

“Everything is expensive, and business is really bad these days. Due to the high inflation, it is hard to decide to farm. I also cannot go back to the village at the moment. The situation is really bad. Only if we could overthrow this military government, there will be peace, and we will be able to govern our own region – that is my only hope for now,” the above Pae Yin Taung female resident told SHAN.

A young local told SHAN that even though there are six People Defense Force (PDF) forces active in the Danu region, they do not have enough weapons for everyone. This makes it difficult for other young people to join the forces.

“Currently, the military government is trying to resume the studies at university, and my parents would like me to join. Some of my friends are forced to go to school by their parents. However, we will always be ready for the fight for our region’s self administration,” quoted by the above young local.

The Danu region has been administered by the military’s people for many years. Since the U Thein Sein and NLD government administration, a former military major Arr Kar Tun has been the chairperson of the region administration. He has been corrupting and taking the region’s development budget for his personal use. Even though he has become wealthy, the region’s development is yet to be seen.

“The reason it has been peaceful is that it has been systematically oppressed and ruled by brainwashing the locals. The local leaders were religiously brainwashed that they only act in the favor of the military regime. We young people would like to be free from that, we would like to be developed like other countries. If we cannot be free from this military regime this time, we never will. I will try my best to take part in the revolution,” a young woman from Pae Yin Taung village told SHAN.

“Danu Army is something Danu people are hoping to achieve. The Myanmar military is taking advantage of that and planning to form a militia force using the “Danu Army” name, and it is quite worrisome if the locals are not aware of that. If their strategy is successful, Danu people will fight one another, and Myanmar military will win easily,” a Shan State political analyst told SHAN.

He also added that we will have to wait and see if the young people nowadays will be able to overcome the military’s old divide and rule tactic because of the easy access and availability of information, and the knowledge of the young people these days.

On 3 May 2022, the local militia force was called for a meeting at the Eastern Command base in order to explain about the strategy; however, it was not able to and postponed it to 9 May 2022.

“The informants in Inn Lay area are usually murdered, and it was commanded to monitor the activities of PDF and inform the Eastern Command base,” quoted by a resident about the meeting on 3 May 2022. He also added that the two people who were killed are the leader of the military militia group and a military informant.

Another military informant called U Tin O who lives in Ywar Ngan township was killed by the Danu Guerrilla Force (DGF) on 4 May 2022.

As the armed revolution in Southern Shan State gets its momentum, the military junta is also deploying more troops to oppress the people in the regions. However, the People Defense Force (PDF) is getting stronger and more active than usual according to a native in the area.

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