Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government (NUG) said it is saddened by its inability to protect Chin State’s mountainous town of Mindat, where there has been intense fighting with junta forces.
The NUG’s Prime Minister Mahn Win Khaing Than said the shadow government is working with rescue teams and the international community to help Mindat.
The NUG is a coalition of democratic forces in Myanmar, including ousted National League for Democracy lawmakers and representatives from ethnic groups.
It was formed in April 16 to defy and discredit the military regime, restore civilian rule and establish a federal union.
The military regime declared martial law for Mindat, which has a population of around 20,000, on Thursday night after bombarding the town with artillery. Resistance forces held the town for a week. Shooting continued until Sunday. At least eight civilians and at least ten junta troops have died during the shootouts, but The Irrawaddy could not independently verify them.
On Saturday, when junta forces raided the town, they reportedly used captured civilians as human shields, forcing the civilian resistance group, the Mindat Defence Force to retreat.
Mahn Win Khaing Than, during his public address to mark a month since the formation of the NUG, on Sunday said: “We are seriously frightened that the military dictators and their forces used artillery and helicopters to attack the people of Mindat and using detained residents as human shields.
“We are saddened that we were unable to fully protect the people in the town. However, we honor those who have resisted the military dictatorship and their atrocities and sacrificed their lives. In the meantime, we are not just standing and watching the people’s suffering. We are communicating with international organizations and governments for help and arranging to bring assistance.”
By Sunday, since the Feb. 1 coup, the regime has killed at least 790 civilians and detained 5,073 people, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
Undeterred by brutal crackdowns, anti-regime protesters are peacefully taking to the streets in defiance of military rule, while civilian resistance forces use homemade weapons against heavily armed junta forces.
Resistance has been particularly heavy in Mindat and Hakha in Chin State since April, and Kale, Tamu, Taze, Yinmabin and Kani townships in Sagaing Region since late March.
Mahn Win Khaing Than asked for public patience in establishing armed forces that protect civilians.
The prime ministerial appointee said: “Any country needs armed forces which protect its people, therefore the NUG has formed the People’s Defense Force [PDF] as a precursor to the Federal Union Army. To build modern armed forces takes time to prepare training, structures, recruitment and weapons and, therefore, we expect your understanding.”
The NUG said it would take responsibility for transforming the security forces and establishing the Federal Union Army.
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