Myanmar Resistance Fighters Sacrifice Themselves to Save Comrades

By Yuzana 20 January 2023

Ever since Hnin Si Hlaing joined the armed revolution against the military regime, she said she would do anything she could to kill the junta soldiers she referred to as “military dogs”.

The 20-year-old member of the logistic group of Kawlin Township’s People’s Defence Force (PDF) in Sagaing Region proved her words on January 7, when she and her comrade blew themselves up when confronted by regime troops.

The two women were riding a motorcycle and transporting homemade bombs for the resistance when they unexpectedly encountered a regime column patrolling in Kawlin Township, one of the strongholds of the resistance to the military dictatorship.

Rather than surrender and face brutal interrogation which might have led them to give up information about their comrades, the women blew themselves up as the soldiers approached them.

A number of soldiers were injured in the bombing, while the remains of the two women have yet to be returned to their families, according to local PDF the Kawlin Revolution Team (KRT).

Hnin Si Hlaing worked as a sales clerk in a Kawlin store and was preparing to take the parallel National Unity Government’s (NUG) matriculation exam, while also serving in the Kawlin PDF.

Her comrade who died alongside her was Daw Su Su Yee. The 45-year-old is survived by her 20-year-old son and 70-year-old mother. Before the coup, Daw Su Su Yee worked as a betel nut seller in Kawlin Township.

But after the military takeover, she took part in anti-junta protests and then became a member of the Kawlin PDF logistics group, as well as acting as a scout for the KRT.

Daw Su Su Yee said she felt sorry for young comrades who gave their lives for the revolution, saying she would rather die instead of them, according to KRT.

Her house was sealed off by the regime the day after she died. Her son and mother are now under the protection of the Kawlin People’s Administrative Body, the NUG’s administration in the township.

The PDF said in a statement that Daw Su Su Yee and Hnin Si Hlaing had sacrificed their lives for the revolution and honoured them as heroes.

The attack by the two women stands out as the latest example of the fighting spirit of the revolutionary forces battling to restore democracy to Myanmar.

But there are other resistance fighters who have also sacrificed their lives for their comrades and the revolution. These are some of them.

Ko Moe, Yesagyo Revolution Group (YRG)

The remains of Ko Moe and his motorcycle.

Ko Moe attacked regime soldiers by blowing himself up with hand grenades in Magwe Region’s Yesagyo Township in early July last year.

The father of two was a member of local PDF the Yesagyo Revolution Group (YRG) and a village defense force volunteer. The 45-year old encountered junta troops near Thae Taw Village monastery on the border of Yesagyo and Pakokku townships on July 8. Ko Moe did not know that nearly 80 Myanmar military soldiers were deployed at the monastery.

After being shot and injured by regime troops near the monastery, he fell off his motorcycle. As the soldiers approached him, Ko Moe exploded three hand grenades, killing seven soldiers instantly. Another eight troops died later in hospital, according to YRG.

“He wasn’t a combatant. He was in the supply force, but he always carried three grenades. He always said that he would rather die than be captured,” said Ko Zero, a YRG spokesperson.

YRG leader Ko Pathay told The Irrawaddy that Ko Moe helped scout for the PDF when it laid mines to ambush junta forces.

“We have all thought about how to kill as many soldiers as possible if we were captured by them,” he said.

Eze, Moe Nyo Revolution Force

Eze from the Moe Nyo Revolution Force.

Eze, 19, a student who passed the matriculation exam with two distinctions, joined the Moe Nyo Revolution Force in Myinmu Township, Sagaing Region last year in order to topple the military dictatorship.

He wanted to be an engineer and his parents intended him to go and work in Japan. But he said that he would go to Japan only after the revolution succeeded, said Ko Tay Zar, a spokesperson for the Moe Nyo Revolution Force.

“He said that he would never surrender as long as the revolution is ongoing. He refused to return home when his parents asked him to come back,” said Ko Tay Zar.

Eze was a mine technician and led the mine attacks on the Sagaing-Myinmu Road. He died in late October 2022 while he was covering his comrades during a clash with junta forces. He and four other comrades were surrounded as they prepared to detonate a mine to attack a column of 150 regime soldiers.

After being hit in the thigh, he refused attempts from his comrades to rescue him and instead told them to retreat and to leave him. His friends left him a homemade shotgun with five bullets. Just one bullet was left when his body was found.

“He might have been captured alive, but he didn’t let himself be interrogated,” said Ko Tay Zar, who told The Irrawaddy the resistance group wasn’t raided after the attack.

Eze’s corpse was found the day after the attack far away from where he was captured. Three gunshot wounds were found in his chest and heads, while his legs were torn from being dragged by the soldiers.

“He told us that if he was arrested by the military dogs, he would not talk to them but only spit in their faces,” recalled Ko Tay Zar.

His fellow fighters remember Eze as a young man with a good attitude who always smiled, and as someone who sacrificed his life in order to save his comrades.

“People like Eze are a rare breed. Although he was young, he was also mature,” Ko Tay Zar told The Irrawaddy.

Bo Thanmani, Shwebo Defense Force (SBDF)

Bo Thanmani sacrificed his life to save his comrades during a clash last June in Sagaing Region’s Wetlet Township.

The 49-year-old founder of the Shwebo Defense Force (SBDF) was killed in action along with a fellow fighter. More than two dozen junta soldiers opened fire on Bo Thanmani and his troop of 15 fighters. Bo Thanmani and fellow fighter Ko Soe Paing were injured.

With the regime troops just 20 feet away, Bo Thanmani ordered his comrades to retreat while he and Ko Soe Paing covered them, according to Ko Yan Gyi, the commander of Battalion 23 of the SBDF.

“If Sayar [Bo Thanmani] and Ko Soe Paing hadn’t covered us, we wouldn’t be alive now,” Ko Yan Gyi told The Irrawaddy.

The pair were found dead and holding hands. Bo Thanmani had been shot twice, once in the heart and again in the head.

“The death of Sayar [Bo Thanmani] is an irreplaceable loss for us,” Ko Yan Gyi told The Irrawaddy.

Bo Thanmani treated his SBDF comrades like his own children. His fighters wanted him to command them from their base camp, but he insisted on leading missions from the front.

“He thought about his comrades until his last breath and he gave his life for us,” said Ko Yan Gyi.

Along with his comrades, Bo Thanmani resisted the regime forces with only MA-1 rifles and homemade weapons.

A lack of sufficient arms is one of the reasons why resistance fighters are dying in battle. Ko Yan Gyi urged the NUG, which is responsible for arming the over 300 PDF battalions currently operating, to provide them with more weapons as soon as possible.

He explained that if SBDF had had around 10 automatic weapons, the group would have been able to defeat the junta soldiers and save the life of their leader Bo Thanmani.

Ko Tay Zar of the Moe Nyo Revolution Force in Myinmu Township also called for more and better arms. “If we had automatic rifles, our comrades like Eze might not have died,” he said.

The NUG has admitted that while it can’t supply the resistance with all its needs, it is trying to support them as much as possible.

“We will have to give more lives until we get better weapons,” said Ko Tay Zar.