One night in August last year. Monsoon rain was falling. Amid such weather, Ouna Kyaw left a military base in Myanmar. A few other soldiers like him were with him. Within hours, they were supposed to be deployed to an area where the junta forces were fighting fiercely with the country’s pro-democracy armed rebels.
The Myanmar military base is located in Karen province. At night when Ouna Kyaw and his colleagues left, the senior officers and army commanders were sleeping. Such action carries a minimum jail term of seven years. There is also the possibility of death penalty. But Ouna Kyaw commented, ‘I believe, if I had not left, I would have died.
It is known that some of the six generals have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment for surrendering.
Not only was Ouna Kyaw fearing joining the fight after a while, he also objected to the military’s violence against civilians. His decision to leave the base was due to two reasons. He said, ‘I didn’t want to stay there anymore. I feel bad for people. People my parents’ age are being killed. Their houses are being destroyed for no reason. I have seen these. Everything happened in front of our eyes.
In the months following the incident at Ouna Kyaw, thousands more of the junta’s troops were reported to have surrendered to the rebels. Many of these soldiers said that morally they could not accept that injustice. Apart from that, political reasons also played a role behind this decision. Many said that they were forced to surrender in the face of enemy attacks.
In February 2021, the junta forces seized power in Myanmar through a coup. Since then, the military government has continued to crack down on the opposition. These opponents include various pro-democracy groups that have taken up arms against the junta’s violence and repression, and armed insurgents from ethnic minorities who have long fought for independence.
The pressure on the junta forces has increased dramatically since October 27 amid these rebel activities. On that day, an alliance of small ethnic groups named ‘Three Brotherhood Alliance’ attacked various parts of Myanmar’s northern Shan State. In this attack, they also received support from groups opposed to the military takeover.
Since then, the military forces have been fighting with the rebels in different parts of Myanmar. Many areas of the country have been captured by the rebels. Their anti-junta campaign has been named ‘Operation 1027’. But the rebel advances mean the military is on the brink of a major defeat—not to be expected early on, many analysts warn.
Regardless of what analysts say, junta fighter jets have been downed by rebels only in northern Myanmar since last October. Arms and ammunition have been seized. Rebels have also captured some major cities. It is an insult to the military. There has also been anger within the country against the leadership of Myanmar.
The Myanmar military is still more experienced than the rebels. They have good training. And in terms of weapons, they are very advanced.
In 2021, former captain Hihat Miyat left the army due to political considerations. “When I was in the military, news of a captain being killed—or even captured—was very rare,” he said. At that time, no warplanes of the military forces were shot down by the enemy, or tanks and missiles were lost.
Earlier this month, anti-junta fighters seized Luakkai, an important town near the Chinese border. Ye Myo Hein, an analyst at the Washington-based think tank Wilson Center, described the incident as “the largest surrender of members of Myanmar’s military.” He said, according to his knowledge, 2 thousand 389 soldiers including six brigadier generals of the military forces have surrendered.
It was later reported that some of the six generals had been sentenced to death or life imprisonment for surrendering. However, such reports have been denied by the Junta forces.
The Minister of International Coordination of the Government of National Unity built against the junta government of Myanmar. According to information provided by Sasa, more than 4,000 Myanmar military personnel have either left the force or surrendered since the start of Operation 1027 by the rebels on October 27 last year. Earlier, another 14,000 army personnel had left the force since the 2021 coup.
It is difficult to verify the authenticity of these information about army personnel leaving the force. According to analyst Ye Myo Hein, at least 10,000 members of the Myanmar army have left the force so far. Apart from this, since the beginning of Operation 1027, there has been an increase in surrender among the troops. He said, the surrender of an entire battalion of troops and finally the surrender of the entire Regional Operations Command is an unprecedented event in the history of the Myanmar military.
However, the Myanmar military is still more experienced than the rebels. They have good training. And in terms of weapons, they are very advanced. The military has fighter jets provided by China and Russia. However, many analysts believe that the recent defeat of various military units by the insurgents will demoralize lower-ranking soldiers and increase discontent among them.
Morgan Michaels, a researcher on Southeast Asian politics at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a UK-based research organization, said that whether or not the defeat of military personnel at the hands of the rebels creates any problems such as morale problems or embarrassing situations, there will be some kind of instability within the junta government.
according to the prothomalo