Myanmar’s parallel National Unity Government (NUG) is offering cash rewards to junta soldiers who defect with anti-aircraft weapons, as the regime increasingly uses airstrikes on both resistance fighters and civilian targets.
Thousands of civilians are being displaced monthly in the resistance strongholds of Karen, Kayah, Chin and Kachin states and Sagaing and Magwe regions because of regime airstrikes, while many civilians are also being killed or wounded in the bombings.
On Saturday, the NUG’s defense ministry announced that any junta soldier who defects with anti-aircraft weapons will be rewarded.
Although the ministry didn’t detail the specific rewards, it said they will be a “worthy amount”.
The price of a Chinese-manufactured FN-6 portable air defense system missile was estimated at US$75,000-90,000 on the international weapons market in 2019.
In April, the NUG also offered huge monetary incentives to regime soldiers who desert from the military and manage to destroy or steal vehicles on their way out, in an effort to encourage more defections from the Myanmar military.
The military regime is struggling with a growing number of defections, as soldiers face public hatred for their brutal suppression of the anti-regime revolution. Since last year’s coup, around 10,000 soldiers and police have defected including some battalion commanders, the highest-ranking soldiers to defect so far.
Elected lawmakers from the National League for Democracy and their ethnic allies set up the NUG in April last year to challenge the junta’s legitimacy at home and abroad.
Many Myanmar people regard the NUG as their legitimate government, while many western countries have shown support for it, although they have stopped short of offering the NUG official recognition.