Interview

Myanmar Resistance Leader in Sagaing Says Monsoon Will Bring Victories

By The Irrawaddy 13 June 2022

Sagaing Region, a resistance stronghold, has seen daily clashes since January with Myanmar junta troops raiding and torching villages where they think people’s defense forces (PDFs) are operating. Numerous civilians have been killed in junta raids which have left thousands homeless.

Bo Nagar, the leader of the Myanmar Royal Dragon Army, recently talked to The Irrawaddy about how PDFs are fighting the regime and the challenges facing them.

Junta troops have torched many Sagaing villages over the past few months. Are they torching every village?

In Budalin Township they torched three villages before we attacked. They broke into houses, boxes and jewel cases.

Residents could not take all of their belongings as they fled in fear. Junta soldiers took what they liked before torching.

To our dismay, we saw ruined villages along the road. Villagers worked hard over many years to build farms and homes. People hide in forests as they have nowhere else to go. They cannot build anything permanent and soldiers torch any shelter they find.
Living conditions are terrible. The rainy season has begun so we are rushing ahead with the revolution. Conditions and violence are worse than on social media. We are fully committed to saving our country from the hands of the sadistic regime.

We heard that you are forming a special task force to prevent arson attacks in Sagaing?

Yes. We plan to form a roughly 150-member force. We have dispatched some of them to acquire military experience. And we are giving special training to those with firsthand experience. But it costs more than US$400,000 to arm 100 fighters so we can only start with what we can afford.

We have nearly $200,000 and we urgently need another $250,000 within two weeks. We have obtained arms but have yet to pay for them. We also want uniforms and protective equipment for the special task force.

We told them that once they are trained they will have to fight repeatedly for the people. They have to do any duty assigned to them to protect the people. I will assign them operations in consultation with the PDFs. It will carry out missions upon request. That force will keep growing in size and area of operations. Its operations will not be limited.

What are the challenges in arming your group?

Every resistance group needs arms and ammunition. I am not being selfish. I share cash donations with smaller groups but I give priority to my groups when it comes to the procurement of weapons.

I have called on the National Unity Government [NUG] to arm all the groups. Every group needs arms and I urge the groups to help each other. We are arming them as much as we can.

Previously we only had traditional hunting rifles but we bought automatic assault rifles with public donations. Members of my group are working in many townships to fight the regime. As our group grows we have a lot of difficulties. We need weapons to continue to fight the revolution and it cannot progress if we lack arms.

People’s defense forces fighters seize a junta checkpoint at Sin Phyu Shin Bridge in Yesagyo Township, Magwe Region, on June 9. / MYG PDF

How are discussions with the NUG on the supply of arms?

They said they would supply us. We still hope they will. We believe they will. We were fighting the revolution before the NUG was formed. We view it as our government and we cooperate with it. The NUG is our leader and we have asked it to command four of our battalions.

It has to take responsibility for battalions under its command. But it cannot afford to arm all those four battalions. We are among the first to start the revolution and we continue to fight. Groups formed after us have received arms so we want weapons too.
We cover a large area. The civilian ministry of defense should at least arm one if it cannot arm all four battalions. We are waiting.

What are the military developments in the region?

Clashes have been going on in Kani since May 20. The regime has sent troops to secure jade vessels on the river. We dispatched troops to wage guerilla warfare on them. They went to Budalin to attack troops after they heard about torching villages. They clashed with troops on the border of Kani and Mingin townships and in Pale.

Is the regime targeting any particular townships in Sagaing?

We assume the junta is targeting Sagaing’s plains since the beginning of the monsoon. Among them are Kani, Yinmabin, Pale, Myaung and Chaung-U. Clashes are also taking place in Tapayin, Wetlet, Khin-U and Taze.

Troops are focusing more on the plains. We know the terrain and gain information first. We fight guerilla warfare. We have gained the upper hand in ambushes and only suffer a few casualties.

Our enemy as usual harms the people when they suffer casualties. People suffer. But we have to fight this revolution. If we don’t fight for fear that the junta will harm the people, it will rule the country as it pleases. We cannot be discouraged by damage caused to the people. We are already dead and we can only be resurrected when we win this revolution.

We gain the upper hand in the fighting but the people suffer because troops torch villages.

What is your assessment of the junta tactics in Sagaing? How much control does the regime have following its continuous attacks?

The tactics are obscene. They have powerful weapons and use tanks, artillery and mortars. But they cannot defeat us. The tactics are the most wicked in the world.

Outside Sagaing, the regime cannot control anywhere in Myanmar. Even in Naypyitaw, there are explosions and attacks. The resistance movement has only paused for a while because the junta is using excessive force and committing the cruelest acts.

It cannot control anywhere, even in its cantonment. The junta cannot imagine controlling Sagaing. We won’t let them get an inch. Sagaing is where humane people have gathered to bravely fight the revolution. The junta cannot control a place of strong-minded revolutionaries.

What is the military situation in Sagaing Region during the rainy season?

It is encouraging. Resistance fighters will gain the upper hand. The regime cannot carry out air strikes in the rain and its troops can only reach easily accessible places.

If they maintain outposts under such circumstances, it is like digging their own graves. They will have to retreat in the rainy season. If they stay, they only stay to be killed.

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