The chairman of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) urged people not to join or support People’s Militia Forces (PMFs) under the military regime during the Kachin armed group’s 63rd anniversary on October 25.
“They are creating hatred among the public, sowing mistrust,” Gen N’ba La said in his speech. State Administration Council (SAC) is using as these groups as the enemy of the people in Kachin State, he explained.
Since the coup, the SAC has assembled as many PMFs as it can in villages across the state, which operate as a crutch for its military already overstretched across the country, battling multiple resistance fronts. In some cases, villagers have been forced to join these militias.
An anonymous political analyst commented that “SAC has been using the PMFs for a long time to attack the ethnic armed groups,” muddying the political landscape of these hyper-localized areas of the state. In turn, the PMFs are allowed to get involved in organised crime like poppy cultivation or taxing farmers engaged in these illicit industries. Another issue is allowing Chinese nationals to illegally extract natural resources.
PMFs have proliferated in Waingmaw, Tanai, Warazup areas on the Lido road, and in the Karmaing area, where they have clashed many times with the KIO’s military wing, the Kachin Independence Army.
As SAC begins a national census, believed to be a precursor to the upcoming elections, Gen N’ban La has asked people to boycott it, citing its unfairness amid the political crisis the country faces after nearly three years since the coup. The chairman promised that the KIO would continue their fight against the military dictatorship while continuing to cooperate with other groups resisting SAC to build a federalist nation along the Panglong Agreement.