Some ethnic Lhaovo leaders are reportedly recruiting youth to form a Lhaovo People’s Militia Force (PMF) with assistance from State Administration Council (SAC) despite facing criticism from their communities.
“We can see it’s obviously for their interest, and they are trying to establish it secretly. This isn’t something that will benefit the entire Lhaovo tribe. They are doing it for themselves. If they have weapons, they can do whatever they want,” a local man said.
Concerns about leaders trying to raise a PMF have come up in the community in the past, he said. The Lhaovo leaders wanting to take up arms under the regime are discussing it among their relatives and at Lhaovo Churches, the source explained.
The man suspects SAC wants the Lhaovo leaders to work with the Lisu PMF. The regime told Lhaovo ethnic leaders in Myitkyina and Waingmaw town to form a PMF aligned with U Shwe Min PMF, the source explained. He said there’s 10 Lhaovo leaders from Lamyang N’jan Dong, Mungna, Labang Kahtawng, Lekone, and Waingmaw town who are backing the scheme.
Efforts to recruit youths have been going on for two months, locals say, explaining that 10 youths from Aung Myay 1, Lamyan, and Wu Yang in Sawlaw Township were forced to join in October. SAC’s Infantry Battalion 321 in Shwe Nyaung Pin of Waingmaw Township has already provided training for 50 people from these villages and Waingmaw and Myitkyina towns, some say.
After facing criticism from the Lhaovo Literature and Cultural Association and the community for exploiting the tribe’s name, the leaders removed Lhaovo from the militia’s name and are now calling it the Sawlaw PMF after the township.
Lamawng Gyung Dai said, “The name ‘Lhaovo’ concerns the whole Lhaovo tribe, and if someone wants to use this name, they must get permission from the Lhaovo Literature and Cultural Association.”
About 10 PMF soldiers led by U Yajaw Dai Lum from Sawlaw and about 30 people led by U Lahuk Hkawng Dau and Laude Lum Hkawng from Waingmaw were seen at SAC’s Northern Military Command Headquarters in Myitkyina in the last couple of months.
Soldiers from the Kachin Independence Army, which is fighting the military regime, have detained some people they say are recruiting Lhaovo youths for the PMF.