Myanmar junta arrests family of man killed in Yangon bomb blast


Pa-O groups opposed to Myanmar’s military rule have denounced plans by the Pa-O National Organization (PNO) to form a new civilian “security force” on its territory.

The plan, announced in a statement on Wednesday, was seen by many as part of the PNO’s efforts to support the junta that took power in February last year.

The PNO, which has been close to the Burmese army since signing a ceasefire agreement in 1991, controls the three southern Shan townships of Hsihseng, Hopong and Pinlaung that make up the Autonomous Zone. -administered Pa-O.

Calling the move an attempt to create an ethnic Pa-O version of the Pyu Saw Htee militia that has been used to suppress anti-regime groups in other parts of the country, a member of one group called on local people to reject the efforts of the PNO .

“I would like to urge the public to reject cowardly organizations that cannot resist the orders of the junta to exploit the Pa-O people,” said a member of the Pa-O People’s Defense Forces – Kham Dom.

“People should ask themselves if they want to be just grunts under this regime,” he added.

The spokesperson for another group contacted by Myanmar Now, the Pa-O National Federal Council (PNFC), had a similar reaction to the PNO’s announcement.

“The public must know that they are deceived. The Pa-O people have always rebelled against bad systems throughout history, and they must also choose the right side this time,” the PNFC spokesperson said.

Khun Thiha Htoo Zaw, an officer in the Pa-O National Defense Force, suggested that the real reason for recruiting civilians was to deter resistance groups from attacking regime forces.

“Anyone who goes through their military training will inevitably be used as a human shield,” he said, adding that the Myanmar military routinely uses civilians in this way.

He also said civilians should avoid being used by the military for other purposes, including as informants.

Residents say a PNO-affiliated militia was recruitment men since May. Members of the militia have also been accused of demanding money from poor villagers.

Speaking to Myanmar Now last week, PNO officer Lt. Col. Khun Aung Than admitted that civilians living in his territory had to provide financial support.

“We need money to protect our own villages,” he said without giving further details.

He, however, denied that the PNO had formed a militia, saying it had simply imposed compulsory combat and martial arts training on all men between the ages of 18 and 35 “to protect their neighborhoods when needed”.

In May, anti-regime forces that invaded an outpost in Nyaungshwe Township, Shan State, reported that they had captured three members of the Pa-O National Army, the armed wing of the PNO, who were fighting alongside the troops of the junta.

However, Khun Aung Than dismissed allegations that the PNO was collaborating with regime forces.

“It’s true that we were with the military as it is inside our territory. We have never entered anyone’s territory, but we will attack anyone who enters ours,” he said.

Villagers say they are conscripted into a militia operating under the National Pa-O Organization and fighting alongside the Burma Army to crush anti-coup resistance


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