Shan State: Junta-Backed Militias Ordered to Expand
Militia groups from the Burmese army have been increasing their presence in the Shan State
Below is an article published by the Shan Herald :
All militia groups formed by the Burma Army have been sanctioned to expand their forces since relations between Naypyitaw and the ethnic armed groups that had been at truce have worsened, according to reports coming from northern Shan State.
The Manpang militia led by Bo Mon in Tangyan township, for instance, have been ordered to increase its size from 9 companies (900 men) to 14 (1,400 men).
“Most of those aged 18 and over have fled since Bo Mon began a draft campaign for the Army earlier this year,” said a local who recently arrived on the Thai-Burma border along with others from the same area. “Now they are not sparing even 12 year olds.”
The recruiting situation is such Bo Mon, a former officer in Mong Tai Army (MTA) until it surrendered in 1996, is forcing drugs addicts that have been treated at his centers to join Manpang.
More young men have fled because of two main reasons, according to the sources. “Firstly, there are widespread reports that the militias will be used as assault troops on the ceasefire groups especially the United Wa State Army (UWSA),” one explained. “Secondly, unlike in the past, when families were exempted from tax if they had volunteered a member for the militia, every household has to pay tax these days.”
A family that have a paddy field, for instance, has to pay 8 pails (1 pail= 20 liters) of rice per year and those who do not have paddy fields, 6 pails each, except for those without a husband who are required to pay only 4 pails each.
Manpang is in the Loimaw area, where opium was commercially produced since the British days.
“But since 2006 (when the area was declared opium-free) only those who are well connected to Bo Mon are allowed to grow poppies,” said one. “Others like us are punished if found.”
According to an official report received by SHAN, there are 46 infantry battalions backed by 1 tank battalion, 1 armored battalion and 11 artillery battalions facing the ceasefire groups in northern Shan State. They are expected to be backed by 2,314 strong police force and 396 militia units with 8,365 core members.