Guerillas harass paramilitaries in Burma

Pyu Saw Htee

Faced with a growing insurgency from regional guerilla cells integrated into the resistance network known as the People’s Defense Force (PDF), Burma’s junta has been training its own paramilitary corps made up of conservative Buddhists, Burman ethno-nationalists, and other regime supporters‚ÄĒnamed the Pyu Saw Htee, after a legendary king (also rendered Pyusawhti) of the ancient Bagan Dynasty (also rendered Pagan). Its strongest base of support is in the Ma Ba Tha (Patriotic Association of Myanmar), which has long been accused of fomenting attacks on Muslims and ethnic minorities. (Irrawady, Progressive Voice Myanmar, Mizzima)

But the¬†Pyu Saw Htee’s efforts to establish local control are being met with effective guerilla¬†harassment. On Nov. 5, three were killed as the¬†Twantay Guerrilla Force¬†launched an attack on a Pyu Saw Htee unit patroling the administrative center¬†of Thaban Seik village,¬†in Yangon’s Twantay township. (Myanmar Now) On Oct. 13, some 30 Pyu Saw Htee militiamen¬†reportedly¬†surrendered to resistance fighters of the Yaw Defense Force in¬†Htilin township, Magway region, and handed over their army-issued rifles. (MN)

The junta is resorting to growing brutality, especially in its air campaign against areas of guerilla control.¬†On Oct. 23, regime warplanes reportedly bombed a music festival at¬†Hpakant¬†township,¬†Kachin¬†state, killing some¬†60 people, including musicians. The concert was being held to mark the¬†62nd anniversary of the founding of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). The military called reports of heavy civilian casualties in the attack “fake news,”¬†and insisted that its target was a base operated by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). (The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Radio Australia,¬†Myanmar Now, MN)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is¬†urging governments attending Asian regional summits in November to support tougher sanctions on the Burmese junta, accusing it of¬†“widespread and systematic abuses” since it¬†seized power in February 2021. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will meet Nov. 10-13 in Phnom Penh. G20 leaders¬†will meet in Bali Nov. 15-6, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit will be held in Bangkok Nov. 13-17. At the 2021 ASEAN summit in Jakarta, leaders agreed to a “Five Point Consensus” on Burma/Myanmar, demanding¬†an immediate end to violence, and dialogue among all parties.¬†The Consensus was almost immediately dismissed by the junta as mere suggestions, and a year later the points have gone unfulfilled.¬†(Jurist)

Photo of Pyu Saw Htee militia from pro-junta media outlets, via Myanmar Now