Friday, September 28, 2007

Burma: the Insurgency Factor

It would seem that Karen and other rebel groups have chosen to seize the moment. The Irrawaddy reports:
Burma’s Karen National Union has issued a call for all ethnic ceasefire groups to rise up against the Burmese regime in solidarity with the people of Rangoon and Mandalay.
Among the ranks of Burma's longstanding rebel groups are some the most hardy, battle-tested, and resourceful fighters in the world. Last year I spoke with a Westerner who fought in the jungles of Burma with the Karen Army. Her story blew my mind.

While on a trip to the seldom-visited northern Burmese state of Shan, I took this video of a battalion of the Myanmar army on the move against the insurgents (my story here). My own encounter testifies to the commonly-held view that the army of Myanmar is notoriously ill-equipped.

Recent reports indicate that some battalions of the Myanmar army have been transferred to urban centers such as Rangoon to suppress the peaceful protesters. More such reports have come in today (see next post).

At this juncture in the history of Burma, it would be unwise to discount the "Insurgency Factor." Especially should Myanmar army regulars -- many poorly trained, poorly equipped, devout Buddhist peasant boys -- start to defect. Zaw Tun, a participant Burma's democracy movement living in Thailand, told Bill Toddler of Pajamas Media: “In 1988 many of the soldiers where ready to switch sides. I think that is the same now. Maybe even more so. . ."

Video: Jotman file video.

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