News ID: 302785
Published: 0118 GMT May 05, 2021

Myanmar's anti-junta unity government says forms defense force

Myanmar's anti-junta unity government says forms defense force

Anti-coup protesters stand at a barricade as they clash with security forces in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, on March 16, 2021.

Myanmar's National Unity Government, set up by opponents of army rule, said on Wednesday it had formed a "people's defense force" to protect its supporters from military attacks and violence instigated by the junta.

Since the military seized power and ousted an elected government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1 there have been daily protests and a surge of violence with security forces killing hundreds of civilians, according to Reuters.

The National Unity Government said in a statement the new force was a precursor to a Federal Union Army and that it had a responsibility to "make effective reforms in the security sector in order to terminate the 70-year long civil war."

It also said it has a responsibility to deal with "the military attacks and violence from state administration council on the people”.

The unity government, established last month by an array of groups opposed to the junta, has pledged to end violence, restore democracy and build a "federal democratic union".

Myanmar was ruled by the military for nearly half a century from 1962 before the generals launched a tentative transition to democracy a decade ago. That process was brought to a halt by the coup, to the anger of many people unwilling to put up with another phase of military rule.

The National Unity Government did not provide details of how the new force would be organized or armed, or how it would try to achieve its objectives.

Myanmar's well-equipped Army is one of the region's most battle-hardened forces.

But despite that, opponents of the coup have in some places been using crude weapons to fight troops while others have sought training with ethnic minority insurgents who have been battling the military since independence in 1948 from remote border areas.

Myanmar has in recent weeks seen an increasing number of small blasts in cities and towns, some targeting government offices and military facilities.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) rights monitoring group says security forces have killed 766 people since the coup.





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