Local Myanmar Officials Quit in Droves Following Threats From Anti-Junta Groups

By The Irrawaddy 8 October 2021

Over 100 local administrators in Sagaing, Magwe and Yangon regions have quit working for the military regime in recent weeks, fearing for their lives and the safety of their families amid clashes between Myanmar’s military and civilian resistance fighters.

The resignations follow a spike in attacks, many causing casualties, on junta forces by People’s Defense Force (PDF) groups across the country since the civilian National Unity Government (NUG) declared the start of a people’s defensive war on the regime on Sept. 7.

Since late March, administration offices in villages, wards and townships have been torched and bombed by civilian resistance groups to prevent the regime from governing the country. These local offices are the primary elements of the government administrative system in Myanmar. Junta-appointed ward and village administrators and informants have also been stabbed to death or shot dead at point-blank range for collaborating with the regime.

Twenty ward and village administrators in Yangon’s Kayan Township filed their resignations after the local PDF formed by civilian resistance fighters warned them on Sunday to quit their posts within 15 days. If they failed to do so, they would be regarded as dalan (military informants), the Kayan PDF warned.

All 13 ward administrators and seven of 56 village administrators resigned.

Another village administrator in Kayan Township resigned from his post on Thursday.

In Yesagyo Township of Magwe Region, meanwhile, all eight ward administrators resigned and around 40 village administrators also quit after the local PDF warned them to leave their jobs by Sept. 30 or risk being killed.

On Oct. 1, the Yesagyo PDF shot dead a regime-appointed village administrator after he announced to the village over a loudspeaker that he didn’t care what anyone said and would continue in his post.

In Yenangyaung Township of Magwe Region, all members of the local administration in Ywar Thit Ward reportedly resigned after their head administrator was gunned down by a guerrilla group. U Maung Ko was shot on the morning of Oct. 4 while entering a tea shop. He was admitted to hospital with gunshot wounds.

In the resistance stronghold of Sagaing, over 40 ward and village administrators in Katha and Htigyaing townships quit working for the regime in a single day on Monday.

On Tuesday, a ward administrator in Katha Township and a 100-household administrator in a village in Htigyaing Township also sought to resign from their posts, saying they could no longer perform their duties as they were in “poor health”.

The PDFs in Katha and Htigyaing townships have both also warned administrators to stop working for the regime. The Htigyaing PDF announced it had killed 20 military informants.

The commander of the Pale Township PDF in Sagaing Region told The Irrawaddy that the mass resignations from the backbone of the regime’s administrative mechanism were a sign that the people’s movement against the regime was making progress.

“However they attempt to assert control, the resignations of the administrators at the local level have surely weakened the administrative mechanism,” he added.

Almost all ward and village administrators in Pale Township have resigned since July.

Khant Wai Phyo, a protest leader in Monywa, Sagaing Region, shared the view that the collective resignations show the regime’s mechanism is gradually collapsing.

He added that he hoped the resistance groups would continue to push the remaining administrators at the township level to follow in the footsteps of their ward and village-level counterparts and quit their posts.

Following the coup, the ward and village administrators who had been directly elected by residents under the ousted civilian government were replaced with regime-appointed officials as the junta sought to shore up control of the local administrative mechanism and revive neighborhood surveillance networks.

The regime-appointed administrators worked as military informants, providing the regime with information on its opponents to help with arrests and raids, and in several cases, leaving accused civilians dead.

They also forced residents to register any overnight guests staying in their homes in a move designed to make it harder for opponents of the regime to evade arrest.

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