Mindat People’s Administration defies regime’s martial law

The junta imposed martial law in the southern Chin State township of Mindat this week, after ongoing clashes broke out between local resistance fighters and the regime’s soldiers.

After 10 days of unsuccessful negotiations between the Mindat People’s Administration Team and the military, clashes reignited on Wednesday and were still underway as of Friday.

The Thursday declaration of martial law in Mindat makes it the seventh township in Myanmar to be put under such restrictions; six of Yangon’s townships were given the same designation in March after considerable anti-coup resistance grew out of those areas. 

In a statement published on Thursday night, the Mindat People’s Administration Team rejected the military council’s announcement of martial law, describing it as ‘illegitimate’ and declaring themselves the only legitimate local administrative mechanism of the area.

The Mindat People’s Administration Team is a local administrative group formed in February by residents after the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) urged people across the country to set up interim people’s administration teams. 

The CRPH consists of elected lawmakers who were unable to take their seats in parliament after the military seized power in a coup on February 1.

In late February, the Mindat People’s Administration Team announced that they would govern the township under the 1948 Chin Special Division Act after the previous administration, legislature and judiciary were annulled in the military coup.

“The Chin Act has never been revoked so it is still legal. There are still existing laws though. For example, if there are [crime] cases in our region, the plaintiff and the accused can deal with it at the court or the two sides can discuss through emissaries in accordance with Chin tradition,” a spokesperson of the local administrative team told Myanmar Now.

He added that there were around 2,000 government staff who had defected from the junta regime in Mindat and that there would be no logistical difficulties in running the area’s local administrative mechanism with them in tow. 

Since the end of April, when the regime suffered heavy casualties in clashes with local resistance forces, soldiers and police officials in Mindat have been reluctant to go out in public, the spokesperson said. The individual added that locals had already declared martial law against the regime.

“Let’s say that the soldiers from the military want to go to the market. They inform our responsible persons each step of the way, for example that three women and a man will go to the market with a white truck, and they will request that we not shoot at them. They only dare to come into the town this way,” the spokesperson said.

Ceasefire breaks down, negotiations fail and fighting reignites

Since late April, the Mindat People’s Administration Team had been requesting the release of five locals who had been detained for anti-coup activities, signifying Wednesday at noon as the deadline. 

The military council said they would release four of the five but in return asked that their 17 military trucks that were coming from Matupi be allowed pass through Mindat, according to locals.

As the two sides could not agree on the demands, clashes resumed at 7pm on Wednesday in front of the police station and Myanma Economic Bank in Mindat. 

One 17-year-old boy was killed and five people were wounded, suffering injuries to the head, leg and abdomen, as of Thursday afternoon, a member of the local resistance said.

The teenager, Salai Thang Hung Thang, was killed after sustaining injuries he endured when artillery shells were fired by the military. 

17-year-old Salai Thang Hung Thang who was killed in clashes between the local Mindat resistance force and the regime’s forces

Five military trucks coming from Pakokku with reinforcement troops were ambushed by the local resistance force under the People’s Administration Team near Htin Chaung Street, three miles east of Mindat, at around 6:30am on Thursday. Shootouts took place until Thursday afternoon, leaving the trucks unable to move forward on the road. 

The military council’s armed forces used shoulder-fired missile launchers and other heavy weapons from an artillery camp in Kyauk Htu, 18 miles from Mindat, a member of the Mindat People’s Administration Team said.

“They were probably firing RPGs and Howitzers. It was very loud. We could also hear echoes like there were planes flying around us as the noises got louder. From the noise, which was long-range, we can assume that they were coming from Kyauk Htu,” he explained.

Locals said the shelling could be heard within a 2-mile radius of Mindat.

As the clashes intensified to the east of Mindat, locals and the military engaged in shootouts near Myanma Economic Bank starting at 2pm in central Mindat on Thursday.

On Friday, the junta-run newspaper described the clashes on Wednesday and Thursday as having been instigated by between 40 and 100 “armed terrorists,” a reference to the local resistance movement.

Meanwhile on Thursday, six military trucks coming from Matupi, to the west of Mindat, had clashes with local resistance fighters who ambushed them at an area some 30 miles from the town. The clash continued on Friday and local forces were forced to retreat, as the military was fighting with heavy artillery.

Two junta soldiers are at the Public Health Department at Mindat (CJ)

Locals have pointed out that their own resistance fighters continue to use traditional handmade hunting rifles, double barrel shotguns, and makeshift explosives to fight off the Myanmar military, despite the armed forces’ use of heavy weapons.

Myanmar Now confirmed that on Friday four members of the local fighters were killed, and at least five were injured. 

“Other towns are coming out as well to fight against them. We’re hearing the military is deploying more reinforcements. If the other regions could ambush or hold them off, in places like Yaw District, we could fight off the military council,” a member of the Mindat People’s Administration Team said.

On April 24, fighting broke out when a group of protesters near the town’s statue of independence icon Aung San demanded the release of seven of their comrades who had been detained. A member of the regime’s forces reportedly shot at someone, leading protesters to retaliate. 

It quickly escalated into a four-day battle as the junta sent reinforcements to the town, with Chinland Defence Force members ambushing their trucks before they arrived. 

There were no casualties reported on the locals’ side but at least 30 members of the military council’s armed forces were killed. Heavy casualties on the military’s side led to a ceasefire deal with the resistance after seven youth were released.

The local resistance force continued to demand the release of five more civilians who had been detained and clashes resumed after their demand was not met on Wednesday.


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