Conflicts & War

Myanmar civilians train near India border to fight military for democracy

By Sangzuala Hmar

Aizawl, India, Feb 21 (EFE).- Hundreds of Myanmar youth, including teenagers, are undergoing arms training for a fight to restore democracy in the military-ruled country, says an insurgent group spokesperson, as they prepare for a major assault from the army.

In a telephonic interview with EFE, Salai Htet Ni said the young recruits were receiving weapons training at Camp Victoria in a mountainous region of the Chin province across the border that connects the northeast Indian state of Mizoram with Myanmar.

Htet Ni said the recruits from the Chin state include civilians who previously were IT professionals, cab drivers, schoolteachers, or owned small businesses.

They are now preparing to fight the Myanmar military that staged a coup d’etat after ousting an elected government on Feb.1 last year.

“Hundreds of teenagers have left home to battle the junta. The military ransacked and burned down many villages in the Chin state. These young men have nowhere to run but to train with us and restore democracy in Myanmar,” Htet Ni told EFE.

“They (the Myanmar army) can attack us anytime. We need to be prepared.”

He said the Chin Defense Force, a civilian militia group that is a part of the shadow National Unity government’s defense wing, was resolved to fight the military.

Htet Ni said the militia did not have enough arms and ammunition, and the recruits were being trained “with wooden guns, country-made firearms.”

The high-ranking official of the militia group said they were anticipating bloodier battles in the coming days.

“The CNA has trained young volunteers to put up a brave resistance. We have become a major obstacle in the Tatmadaw’s suppression. We have to prepare for bigger battles,” said Htet Ni, referring to the Myanmar Army’s official name.

Khamong, a young recruit at the camp, who only uses his first name, said he was “sure” what he was up to.

“I know for sure that I will not run nor will I live under the military rule again. I will resist until the rightful government is restored in Myanmar,” he told EFE emphatically.

Many teenagers like Khamong have now become the face of the anti-junta resistance.

They undergo two to three weeks of training at the camp headquarters.

The junta has declared the civilian militia and other resistance groups as terrorist organizations.

The military government sent thousands of soldiers to Chin in October last year to kill the rebellion.

The military coup and civilian uprising in Myanmar directly impacted the frontier regions of India that share 1,700 km of border with the neighbor in trouble.

Some 20,000 Myanmar refugees have escaped the military crackdown and sought shelter in Mizoram of India. The refugees include deposed lawmakers and government officials.

The Chins and Mizo people share similar ancestry, culture, and language, and both states, influenced by Western missionaries, are majority Christians.

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