Myanmar Junta Arrests Almost 100 Urban Resistance Fighters Over Last Six Weeks
By The Irrawaddy 20 December 2021
Nearly 100 civilian resistance fighters in Mandalay were arrested between early November and December 16, as the military regime stepped up its hunt for members of People’s Defense Forces (PDF), according to Mandalay-based resistance groups.
Over ten months after the military takeover, anti-coup resistance remains strong in Mandalay with regular street protests and occasional attacks on junta targets.
“Some 100 urban guerilla fighters and logistical personnel were arrested between early November and December 16. Some of them were arrested stealthily. It is true that some were shot dead and wounded in arrests. Some resistance groups were hit hard. Equipment that resistance fighters had amassed at the risk of their lives was seized. And safe houses were lost,” said a spokesperson for Spring Diary, an anti-regime group monitoring the post-coup situation in Mandalay.
A Buddhist monk who organizes nighttime protests in Mandalay’s Pyigyitagon Township said the regime is attempting to control major cities like Yangon and Mandalay by eliminating any potential threats.
“They are trying to take control of major cities. They want to gain a foothold in places where PDF groups are not too strong. For example, the regime can’t control the resistance of PDF groups in Sagaing Region, Kayah, Chin and other states. So they want to show that the major cities like Yangon and Mandalay are peaceful and under their control,” said the monk.
A 20-year-old woman who was on her way to join a dawn protest in Mandalay was arrested after being rammed by a junta vehicle on December 8. On December 11, a motorbike rider was killed and three others seriously injured when junta troops opened fire on motorbike riders after they refused to pull over. Eight youths were killed and dozens were arrested on December 12 during regime raids on what junta forces described as PDF hideouts in Pyigyitagon and Maha Aung Myay townships.
While some arrests were made possible by junta informants and CCTV cameras, the Myanmar military has also employed ploys such as using detainees as decoys, forcing them to reveal PDF hideouts or luring them to places under false pretenses such as donating money to the resistance, said Mandalay guerilla fighters.
A spokesman for Paddamyarmyay PDF in Mandalay Region said: “It is true that some members were detained. We won’t cover that up. But the regime is trying to drive a wedge between the people and the PDFs by releasing misinformation and portraying the PDFs as terrorist groups. People have to be really careful about that.”
Some of the detained resistance fighters were beaten to death or injured, critically in some cases, during interrogations, said Mandalay PDF groups. Tighter inspections and the rising numbers of arrests are increasingly restricting PDFs.
“We only have each other. Please don’t live like you have nothing to do with it. Don’t cool down. We are really having a tough time on the ground. I would like to ask the people to help and protect us by providing information about the situation on the ground in their neighborhoods,” said a member of the Mandalay Phoenix Force resistance group.
Junta soldiers have recently combed Mandalay for PDF members, raiding houses at night and sealing off homes by alleging that their owners have ties to the parallel National Unity Government, its legislative body the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw or PDFs. Family members of resistance fighters have also been taken hostage and people have been killed while trying to evade junta checks.
A member of the Mandalay Dragon resistance group said: “People should effectively support local defense forces and underground forces near them, rather than speaking out against the coup on the internet. Removing CCTV cameras, guiding and hiding resistance fighters are also acts of revolution. Unity among the people is crucially important. It is time the people provided greater help. Otherwise, more resistance fighters will die. Only the support of people will be able to save the lives of our revolutionaries.”
1,346 people were killed by the junta between February 1 and December 17, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Another 8,100 people were detained in the same period. 399 of them received prison sentences, while 36 were given death sentences, including two people under the age of 18. Arrest warrants and jail terms have been issued for 1,964 people in hiding. Of them, 39 were handed death sentences and 79 given prison terms.
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