‘We need to create a chain of command and unify under one flag’ – NUG defence minister 

As Myanmar’s new junta murdered hundreds of peaceful protesters in the weeks and months following its February coup, civilians across the country took up arms to form guerilla resistance groups.

At the same time, the underground National Unity Government (NUG), formed with the help of elected MPs who were ousted by the military, pledged to create a national People’s Defence Force (PDF) to challenge the junta.

Since then, the exact relationship between the NUG and the numerous self-organising armed groups fighting the junta has been unclear. 

Many appear to have acted independently, arming themselves as best they could and teaching themselves how to wage war by launching attacks against junta targets. Others have declared an official affiliation with the NUG. 

Yee Mon, Minister of Defence for the NUG, says efforts have been underway to unify the numerous PDF chapters across the country and set up a chain of command. In a telephone interview with Myanmar Now he urged everyone engaged in armed resistance to the junta to come under one flag, and urged soldiers to defect and join the revolution. 

Yee Mon, Minister of Defence for the National Unity Government (NUG)

Myanmar Now: When does the revolution start? When is ‘D-Day’?

Yee Mon: The fact that they staged a coup on February 1 was a declaration of war with the people. Therefore, it is safe to say that the revolution started on February 1. Many Myanmar civilians and youths have been protesting against the military council in any way that they can. Youths were forced to find an alternative approach to defend against the junta’s inhumane oppression as peaceful diplomacy was not working anymore. You could say, they have started practising their right to defend.

The only thing that the people want is for the military to transfer the power back to the people. I feel that this responsibility falls on the shoulders of the National Unity Government. We are currently trying to form the People’s Defence Force in order to unify the youths’ self-defence movements and are also planning to collaborate with the ethnic armed forces in political and defence actions.

What is this D-Day that the people are waiting for? I understand it as a nation-wide, strategic, and subsequent movement that will manifest in various forms to overthrow the dictatorship.

Therefore, for the moment, I would just like to let the people know that we are speeding up the process of forming the army, assigning military positions and arming our troops.

What is the difference between the junta’s soldiers and the PDF troops?

The junta’s soldiers are just brainless, faithless, immoral and disposable living weapons that the military council employs. They don’t deserve to be called the army anymore. The people have already recognised them as a corrupt terrorist group. The main difference between the PDF and the junta soldiers is morality. The PDF troops have great morals as well as faith. They value ethics and integrity and they are intelligent. 

Is there any hope for the military council?

No organisation or personnel could exist without the people’s approval and recognition. I’d say there’s no hope left for the military council. The fact that they can’t even decide on whether they should be called a military council or a caretaker government just highlights their incapability. It’s time for them to choose whether they would like to go peacefully or not. It’d be a lot easier for them if they just gave the people the power back and went back to their barracks.

What would you like to tell their soldiers?

What I want to say to the junta soldiers is: try to use your own intelligence. I just hope they can see what’s right and what’s wrong soon. You can see how much the people despise them by looking at everyone calling the junta soldiers “military dogs.” As long as you’re staying faithful to the military council, know that you’re on the wrong side of history. 

You don’t have much longer to decide whether you’re going to be on the people’s side or not. So join the people’s defence force if you can. If you can’t, stop taking orders from the military council. Stop oppressing the people. Don’t fight against the revolutionary forces. Help the people’s defence army.

What is your message to PDF troops across the country?

We need to understand that the PDF troops’ biggest asset is their morality. We have to maintain our integrity at the highest level possible. We need to demonstrate our faithfulness, perseverance, morality, integrity, intelligence and professionalism.

We also need to protect ourselves against the pandemic. Take great care not to fall into the junta’s traps and to minimise damage on our side and be very cautious.

Which on-the-ground local defence forces and other revolutionary forces have you made contact with?

What’s important in a revolution is the chain of command. I understand that it’s very important to create a hierarchical supervision system. Our duty is to create this chain of command. If only we could have a chain of command, each military officer could negotiate easily about matters regarding defence and warfare. The ministry staff will do nothing but lead them and show them the way. The rest of the responsibilities will fall upon the officers down there.

We could say we’ve connected with most of the on-the-ground organisations. There are still some that we can’t contact or those who’d like to stay private. Because the creation of a chain of command is important for the success of the revolution, I’d like to urge everyone to unite under the same flag once and for all.

Will you be able to arm the on-the-ground revolutionary forces with the necessary weapons?

We are planning to arm the on-the-ground revolutionary forces with as many weapons as possible right now. The basis of guerilla warfare is using our own weapons to get more weapons from the opponent. 

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