One of the most welcoming news at the start of the new year in none other than the graduation of Kokang or Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) Ethnic Nationalities’ Brigade 611.
Myanmar National Truth and Justice Party (MNTJP) is the political wing of the MNDAA.
It has been formed in January 2022 and after a full year the over 1200 strong brigade is ready for combat, to uproot the Burmese military junta and establish a genuine federal democratic union, according to the various media reports recently.
The Kokang News Network on January 3 reported that at 9 a.m. January 1, the non-Kokangnese 611 Ethnic Nationalities’ (Taingyinthar) Brigade held a graduation ceremony at military training ground attended by 1,229 soldiers, including officers, overseen by Yang Guanghua, deputy chief of staff of the MNDAA.
The gathering first held a flag raising ceremony accompanied by the MNDAA anthem. Subsequently, the deputy political commissar of the 611 Ethnic Nationalities’ Brigade made a summary report on the training of new soldiers, and a comprehensive review of the training and the work involved. Then Deputy Brigadier Zhao read out the general order in praise of the outstanding cadre and the leaders of the gathering and issued certificates of honor to the comrades who have preformed outstandingly.
After that the gun presentation ceremony was held where the recruits who have successfully graduated were presented with necessary weapons, which was a military man’s ritual rite taking on a mission, followed by all officers and soldiers taking oath to the revolutionary cause in front of the gathering.
The deputy brigade commander of the 611 Ethnic Nationalities’ Brigade also delivered a speech at the ceremony. First he congratulated the successful completion of the training and acknowledged the achievements made. Then, he put forward specific requirements of strengthening unity, observing party discipline and military rules to strengthen the organization. Emphasize was made that all officers and soldiers must earnestly implement the guidelines and policies formulated by the Justice Party Central Committee and the Central Military Commission, and to closely unite around the Party’s Central Committee with General Secretary Peng Daxun as the core, and adhere to the party’s principle and military command.
Yang Guanghua, Deputy Chief of Staff of Allied Command, gave the final speech, where he conveyed good wishes to all officers and soldiers on the occasion of three festive moments, namely the New Year, the founding day of 611 Brigade and the closing, graduation ceremony, all in one. He stressed that the revolution is a long-term cause, so all officers and soldiers must keep in mind their mission and never forget their original intention. As in the past, he said all will continue to harbor firm belief in the revolution, prepare themselves for the long-term revolutionary struggle, and jointly shoulder the historical burden to liberate the people of all ethnic groups from the military dictatorship.
After the ceremony all officers and soldiers held a friendly volleyball match followed by a dinner party ending the day in a beautiful festive atmosphere.
The 611 Ethnic Nationalities’ Brigade was founded on January 1, 2022, although the establishment was relatively short, the personnel developed rapidly, and has gained the ability to operate independently after military training, according to the Kokang News Network.
The Three Brotherhood link
While this might seem to be a sole undertaking of the MNDAA to play an important and extra-ordinary role in the Spring Revolution, the Bamar People Liberation Army (BPLA) leader Maung Saung Kha, whose outfit is also trained and armed by the MNDAA, explained to the Radio Free Asia (RFA) in a recent interview that the military alliance Three Brotherhood, which is made up of the Arakan Army (AA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and MNDAA, are also involved.
According to the RFA, Maung Saung Kha said that the three alliance members have jointly conducted the training, including training batch number 1, which is Brigade 511, and batch number 2, the Brigade 611, with about 1000 trainees, and have been fully equipped with weapons.
In a query on the issue by RFA on January 4, Maung Saung Kha explained: “In reality, the three Brotherhood Alliance was behind the Spring Revolution scene from the early stage. They didn’t help every group in particular. They watch the (resistance) teams, if they can really do it and if they really are willing to form an army. I think they are observing to see if they are conducting revolution in an ought to be revolutionary way. After watching it, I think they might have thought about training them in a place where weapons are easily available and equipping them at once in the (future) war game. It’s not just us, there are at least 6 organizations like us here, together with our alliance brothers, we are pondering and doing military exercises, training, and cooperating together during the Spring Revolution on how to stand and fight together.”
“This was officially announced yesterday by the alliance, so I am also able to elaborate it too. Actually, these matters are very difficult (sensitive) to make public. And one have no right to talk about it. However, since the alliance has already spoken, we are also in a position to speak and explain on it accordingly within the given context. Definitely the second batch is over now. We will continue to produce third batch and more batches and so on. A lot of (new) recruits will be forthcoming. We are preparing to send the soldiers and those who have already completed the training to the battlefield in the near future. Generally speaking, the situation now is more visible to the public. I can roughly explain that the participation of the Three Brotherhood Alliance in the Spring Revolution has been proven not by words but by deeds,” he added, explaining the nature of sensitive information and the political posture of the Three Brotherhood Alliance.
FPNCC dissolving or dividing different roles to play
Frankly speaking, the seven-member Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) which are political alliance and made up of United Wa State Army (UWSA), National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Arakan Army (AA), may either be in a state of dissolution or cleverly dividing the different roles to play in the Myanmar’s political arena.
For example the UWSA, NDAA or Mongla and SSPP are actively involved in peace talks with the military junta. The three have met the junta thrice already and the last is just recently.
After the military leader invited the ethnic armed organizations to peace talks last April, the UWSA delegation met on 30 May 2022, the NDAA Mongla group met for the first time on 4 June 2022, and the Shan State Progressive Party SSPP on 4 August 2022. In September 2022, the leaders of these three groups and military leaders met for the second time in Naypyitaw. Lt. Col. Sai Hsu said that the third meeting was held for 3 days from 5 to 7 January 2023.
Among other issues, the junta discussed with the three on holding of the general election during the second half of this year reportedly. The outcome of the possible cooperation from the three is unknown, although the SSPP said it wouldn’t be against it, with Mongla and UWSA non-committal according to the reports.
The MNDAA is firmly in Spring Revolution camp training PDFs and even forming brigades to fight the junta under its wing and in collaboration with its Three Brotherhood Alliance members.
The KIA is also in league with the parallel National Unity Government (NUG) and particularly more decisively after the junta in October last year made airstrikes in A Nang Pa, where about more than 60 of civilians and KIA troopers were killed.
The MNDAA pitching in with training and arming the new brigades under its wing can be seen as upgrading its political involvement from just regional to national-level and at the same time, aiding the resistance forces in general in fighting the military junta.
While it is not clear where its newly formed brigades will operate geographically, it will definitely be beyond Kokang area, which means quite broadly within the northern Shan State. Generally speaking it shouldn’t be a problem where the TNLA operates. But if it will be the same in KIA and SSPP operational areas is too early to speculate, given that the MNDAA and KIA, also TNLA and KIA frictions over territorial argument that arose quite often happened in the past.
Whatever the case, it is fair to conclude that the MNDAA has filled in the most important gap of giving military training and equipped those who wanted to help fight the military junta and uproot its autocratic rule with necessary weapons.
We may even say that it is treading a bold revolutionary path to fulfill the people’s aspirations in words and deeds.