Myanmar’s Shadow Govt Offers Huge Cash Rewards to Encourage More Army Defections

By The Irrawaddy 8 April 2022

In an unprecedented move to encourage more defections as well as to protect civilians from junta forces’ airstrikes and shelling, Myanmar’s shadow government is now offering huge monetary incentives of up to half a million US dollars to regime soldiers, who have been warring against their compatriots since last year.

The National Unity Government (NUG) announced on Thursday that it will pay US$500,000 to airmen or sailors who defect from their unit with a military airplane or navy vessel.

A $300,000 per vehicle reward will go to anyone who causes serious damage to a parked jet fighter, military helicopter, logistics plane or warship—or to anyone who is able to destroy one while it is being used in a military mission.

Among the other incentives is a $100,000 reward for anyone who can sabotage a jet fuel reserve tank, blow up a regime armory or weapons factory, or defect with a tank or armored personnel carrier.

The Myanmar military has responded to popular resistance against its rule with airstrikes and artillery and tank attacks in many part of the country since last year. Since its coup against the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) government in February 2021, the regime has faced growing armed resistance in many part of the country.

To challenge the junta’s legitimacy at home and abroad, the NUG was set up by elected lawmakers from the NLD and their ethnic allies in April of the same year. Many in Myanmar take the NUG as their legitimate government and many Western countries have shown support for it, though they have stopped short of offering official recognition.

The NUG’s monetary offer comes at a time when the regime is struggling with a growing number of defectors, as soldiers are facing popular hatred for their brutal suppression of the anti-regime movement. Nearly 3,000 soldiers have defected from the army so far, including some battalion commanders—the highest position among those to defect so far. Making matter worse for the military, Australia has accepted army defectors.

Former army captain Lin Htet Aung, who has been on strike against the regime since last year, said the NUG’s offer would deal a strategic blow to the regime. The former captain who is now helping regime soldiers to defect via his People’s Embrace Facebook page, explained that the new incentives had the potential to be very impactful because they appealed directly to the military personnel operating the tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery and aircraft whose bombing and shelling pose such a serious threat to resistance fighters on the ground.

“The [resistance fighters] have no problem fighting against the regime’s infantry troops. But they can’t compete with the regime’s airstrikes and tanks. If the pilots and soldiers with tanks and armored carriers grab the incentive, it will have a very positive impact on the revolution,” he said.

NUG Acting President Duwa Lashi La said in the statement that any team or individual who can submit evidence of sabotage or defection as stated above would be entitled to monetary rewards.

“Any action carried out and earning a reward as dictated by this order shall not be punishable under the Public Property Act,” the notification reads.

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