Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi and his National League for Democracy government and launched a brutal crackdown on dissent.
A group of ousted lawmakers subsequently set up a shadow ‘national unity government’ that sought to reunite anti-coup dissidents with Myanmar’s myriad ethnic rebel fighters to form a federal army to challenge the military government.
On Saturday, the National Rebel Chin Front signed an agreement to “demolish the dictatorship and establish a federal democratic system” in Myanmar, NUG said in a statement.
They promised “mutual recognition” and “equal partnership,” the statement added, without giving further details. A CNF spokesperson could not be reached immediately for comment.
The group – which represents the predominantly Christian Chin minority in western Myanmar – signed a ceasefire with the country’s military, also known as Tatmadaw, in 2015.
In recent years, its fighters have declined.
“The CNF has no real military force, so this decision is symbolic,” Richard Horsey, senior advisor for Burma to the International Crisis Group, told AFP news agency.
” More [it is] nonetheless important because the CNF played a leading role in the peace process, due to its highly respected political leaders in exile.
Several armed rebel groups in Myanmar have condemned the military coup and the use of violence against unarmed civilians.
Some also provide shelter and even training for dissidents fleeing to their territories.
New armed forces marched
On Friday, NUG released a video it said showed the first batch of fighters from its “People’s Defense Force”, trained to protect civilians, completing their training.
The video shows around 100 fighters marching on a muddy parade ground in the jungle. They march in new camouflage uniforms behind the flags of the new force, red with a white star. They are not shown carrying arms.
“This army is established by the official civilian government,” an unidentified officer said at the ceremony. “The People’s Defense Force must be aligned with the people and protect the people. We will fight to win this battle.
In this undated video, members of the People Defense Force (PDF-Southern Command), an armed wing of Myanmar’s government of national unity (NUG), take an oath during a graduation ceremony. (Video: CRPH) pic.twitter.com/wCGPopIyQR
– L’Irrawaddy (Eng) (@IrrawaddyNews) May 29, 2021
The military authorities say that the NUG is a traitor and have designated it and the People’s Defense Forces as “terrorist” groups.
Coup leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing justified his seizure of power on February 1 by citing electoral fraud in the November elections won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party. Independent observers dispute the allegations of widespread irregularities.
Myanmar security forces have killed more than 800 people since the coup, according to figures cited by the United Nations. Over 4,000 people have been arrested.