Eight resistance fighters surrender to Myanmar military in Pakokku

Eight members of two guerrilla groups in Magway Region’s Pakokku Township defected to the Myanmar military last week, according to other sources within the local resistance movement.

The men were from the Earthquake People’s Defence Force (PDF) and the Defence Team Pakokku, and surrendered to the junta’s forces on May 24 with four guns and conflicting reports of cash.

The leader of the Earthquake PDF said four members of his group, including its deputy commander, turned themselves over to the army at a checkpoint in Inpin village, six miles north of Pakokku town, ahead of a planned attack on the troops in the area.

“I feel bad to have lost two guns which were bought by donations from the public,” he told Myanmar Now.

He claimed that the men had not absconded with funds from the Earthquake guerrilla group. However, a previous statement released by the prominent local Pakokku PDF—which identified the men as deputy commander Akar Soe Myint and members Win Min Aung, Myat Min and Thet Naing Oo—said that they stole some 200m kyat (US$95,234) from their organisation.

Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify either account regarding the funds at the time of reporting.

The statement said that the first defector of the eight was Defence Team Pakokku leader Aung Thu, also known as “Snake,” who reportedly left the group on the pretext of undergoing medical treatment in April before turning himself over to the military. Three more members from his team—Sai Ton Chit, Thaw Zin Khant and Wai Phyo Paing—followed in May with the Earthquake members.

They also took two guns, and allegedly stole 40m kyat ($19,045) of the group’s funds. 

At the time of reporting, the men were all believed to be in the Pakokku headquarters of the military’s Light Infantry Division 101.

A May 19 junta statement offered resistance fighters up to 7.5m kyat ($3,570) to surrender their weapons to the Myanmar army and renounce their loyalty to the guerrilla forces. It is not known if the Pakokku-based fighters received any financial reward.

An official from the Pakokku PDF said that while the defectors had been involved in the anti-coup resistance movement since 2021, they had been accused of violating codes of conduct and kidnapping and extorting money from civilians. He did not elaborate on the alleged crimes except to say that there were around 15 incidents in question and that they had been reported to the defence ministry of the publicly mandated National Unity Government.

“I cannot provide specific details about those cases for security reasons, but those who surrendered [to the military] had asked for money from civilians, and there were some cases of robbery among their groups,” the official explained. “We cannot forgive those who pursue wealth, guns and power, betraying the people who feed and protect us.”

As a result of the defections, the Pakokku PDF urged other resistance groups in the township and in neighbouring Myaing to be vigilant and prepare for potential information leaks. More than 20 resistance groups operate in the area, located on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River, where they frequently carry out coordinated attacks on military checkpoints and bases.

In February, the Earthquake PDF, alongside the forces including the Myaing PDF, captured and took five junta soldiers prisoner in an ambush on a military livestock unit in Myit Chay town in Pakokku. In an alliance with PDFs from Myaing, Yesagyo, and Salingyi, the Earthquake group also carried out a collaborative attack on a police station in Linkataw village in Myaing Township last October.

The leader of the Earthquake PDF said that the defections would not slow the group’s mission to overthrow the junta and its occupation of Pakokku, a known resistance stronghold.

“We still have a leader—only four members surrendered. There are many comrades left. We will continue to participate in the fight against the military,” he told Myanmar Now.

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