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Myanmar’s jungle battle: ‘If I don’t die now, when will I?’ | Battle Information


Demoso, Japanese Myanmar – The insurgent commander research a rooster bone in a seek for clues as to the destiny of his coming assault towards the Myanmar army.

Scraggly bearded Reh Du, 27, frowns. The indicators from the bone are blended.

However, his underlying confidence within the plan of assault towards Myanmar’s army within the hills of jap Kayah state is steadfast.

“I imagine we’ll win,” the shrapnel-scarred fighter says after his act of divination – a observe these ethnic Karenni fighters embrace in unsure occasions.

“At present or tomorrow,” he says.

Round Reh Du and his prophecy ritual, villagers within the conflict-torn township of Demoso have a good time Karenni new 12 months, dancing underneath totem poles to the beat of conventional drums and the distant thunder of artillery shells.

Like the opposite ethnic minorities of Myanmar’s borderlands, the Karenni have fought towards persecution by the army for many years in Kayah state, which is situated between Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw and the border with Thailand to the east.

Kayah has additionally witnessed certainly one of essentially the most coordinated rebellions within the nation since Myanmar’s army seized energy from an elected authorities in February 2021.

The brutality of the crackdown on these protesting peacefully towards the army’s energy seize evoked outrage, which has since boiled right into a nationwide revolt.

Ethnic armed teams, such because the Karenni, have supplied army coaching to on a regular basis protesters who’ve risen towards the army underneath the banner of the Folks’s Defence Power (PDF).

A placing characteristic of the rebellion has been the vary of individuals leaving from Myanmar’s cities – baristas, health instructors, advertising and marketing managers – to participate in fight coaching within the jungle.

Because of this, the army authorities has misplaced management of most of Kayah, the smallest of Myanmar’s seven states, together with western border areas and even swaths of the army’s conventional recruiting grounds within the Magway and Sagaing areas.

Sporting a contemporary tattoo of a Kalashnikov assault rifle on his forearm, ethnic fighter Reh Du is a number one determine within the Karenni Nationalities Defence Power (KNDF) – an ethnic armed group.

Interviewed earlier this 12 months, Reh Du tells Al Jazeera he fights to guard Karenni identification and to take care of the independence of their lifestyle free from domination by Myanmar’s army and the authorities of the nation’s majority Bamar ethnic group.

He spent eight years in a refugee camp, he says, earlier than being jailed underneath the earlier administration of Noble laureate Aung San Suu Kyi for protesting towards the development of a statute of her father and founding father of the army, Aung San, in Kayah’s capital Loikaw.

Now Aung San Suu Kyi is herself detained by the army, lately being positioned underneath home arrest and her 33-year jail time period on corruption expenses decreased by six years.

Reh Du advised of worrying that if Aung San Suu Kyi was launched, she would possibly name off the rebellion and the PDF’s armed operations.

“In Myanmar, the cult of persona could be very robust,” he says. “If she says cease, they are going to cease.”

He additionally sees a distinction within the dedication of fighters with monetary means and different choices in life in contrast with those that have been grass-roots recruits to the battle.

City recruits to the resistance usually drop out, Reh Du says, leaving fight after a time to pursue different paths, comparable to academic and employment alternatives.

This handout from the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF) taken on May 28, 2022 and received on May 30 shows members of the KNDF watching a demonstration on how to operate weapons during a training session for female special forces members and women battalions at their base camp in the forest near Demoso in Myanmar's eastern Kayah state. (Photo by Handout / KARENNI NATIONALITIES DEFENSE FORCE (KNDF) / AFP) / -----EDITORS NOTE --- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT
Karenni Nationalities Defence Power (KNDF) recruits watch an indication on function weapons throughout a coaching session for feminine particular forces members and battalions in 2022 at their base camp within the forest close to Demoso in Myanmar’s jap Kayah state [File: Karenni Nationalities Defence Force/handout/AFP]

“Not solely are wealthy folks afraid to die, however our dedication just isn’t the identical,” he says, telling how working-class Karenni folks drive the revolution in Kayah state.

He has misplaced shut mates in battle and he not sees his household as a result of he believes the sight of their poverty will weaken his resolve to proceed with the armed battle.

“If you’re a revolutionary, you can’t return residence,” he continues, explaining to Al Jazeera how being a fighter had required sacrifice in each side of life.

“You will notice your loved ones don’t have anything and you’ll by no means get robust. If you’re preventing you have to keep robust,” he says.

This photo taken on October 16, 2021 shows members of the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF) taking part in training at their base camp in the forest near Demoso, in Myanmar's eastern Kayah state. - Young anti-coup recruits line up at a secret camp in Myanmar, hands behind their heads and stomachs braced, waiting for a drill instructor to deliver a punch to toughen them up for their fight against the military. (Photo by STR / AFP) / TO GO WITH MYANMAR-MILITARY-POLITICS-COUP-CONFLICT, FOCUS - TO GO WITH Myanmar-military-politics-coup-conflict, FOCUS
Karenni Nationalities Defence Power members practice anti-coup protesters at their base camp within the forest close to Demoso, in Myanmar’s jap Kayah state in 2021 [AFP]


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