Kachin State Militia Recruits for Myanmar’s Junta: Villagers

By The Irrawaddy 18 May 2021

The Rawang people’s militia, which is based in Kachin State near the Chinese border and allied to Myanmar’s military, has reportedly been recruiting villagers to fight the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the shadow government’s People’s Defence Force (PDF).

Putao, Nawngmun and Khaunglanhpu townships in Putao District are difficult to access with limited telecommunications. They are controlled by Myanmar’s military and its Rawang militia allies.

He is also a member of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), a military proxy party formed by ex-generals.

Members of the militia have reportedly been visiting villages, persuading civilians to undergo military training.

“They asked us to gather, saying they would hand out masks and soap donated by [the United Nations children’s charity] Unicef to prevent COVID-19. Then they said we had to undergo military training to attack the KIA and the National League for Democracy. They came to Nawngmun around two weeks ago and mobilized every village,” said a resident.

The NLD has been mobilizing citizens into its newly formed PDF to receive military training.

The militia said villagers will be trained with modern weapons in two weeks and afterward be given rifles.

“USDP members were among those who came to mobilize villagers. They said they are suspicious that a Kachin group [the KIA] might be hiding weapons in churches,” said a resident.

The Irrawaddy was unable to reach Tanggung Dang for a comment.

The militias distributed notices in Nawngmun saying junta forces are planning to carry out large-scale attacks on the KIA, warning its members to leave the armed group to remain safe.

“Though it seems peaceful, fighting is looming. [The Rawang militias] are recruiting and those who do not join are told to undergo military training. We don’t feel safe. Some do not want to fight and many oppose the military regime,” said Ah Sai of Khaunglanhpu.

Putao residents have opposed military rule with some young activists being forced into hiding.

On April 22, six young Rawang residents were detained by the people’s militias when they returned from Putao Township. They were accused of having received military training from the KIA and handed to Myanmar’s military. Five were released but one remains in detention.

Tanggung Dang was one of the leaders of the New Democratic Army – Kachin, a splinter group of the KIA. He later left the splinter group and established his Rebellion Resistance Force and allied himself with Myanmar’s military.

When ethnic armed groups were obliged to become people’s militias in 2009, under the military-drafted 2008 Constitution, Tanggung Dang’s group became the Khaunglanhpu people’s militia or the Rawang people’s militia.

The militias are commanded by Myanmar’s military and are used to gather intelligence and help fight ethnic armed organizations. They also have the authority to arrest.

Militias control logging, resource extraction and other controversial industries.

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