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Myanmar’s junta deploys the Buddhist monks in its campaign against civilian resistance forces

Yangon  – While civilians are brutally killed, and residential properties are burned down, local Buddhist monks, who are apparently nationalist hardliners, are reported to have been armed with assault rifles. 

The Tatmadaw, the Armed Forces of Myanmar, has utilized Buddhist nationalism once again to corral the support from the Bamar-Buddist majority over its war against the civilian Defense Forces and ethnic armed organizations that are giving stiff resistance following its February coup in 2021. 

Pictures of Buddhist monks armed with assault rifles in Taze Township of Sagaing region and marched alongside the junta army are going viral amid the junta’s intensified offensive in the area on 01 March, killing seven civilians, destroying 50 motorbikes and 5 cars, and burning down at least four residential properties in Chin Pone village in Taze Township.

The incident was believed to be from the 26 February operation by two Russia made Mi-35 attack helicopters while the local People Defense Force was said to be organizing the graduation of military training. 

Buddhism is rarely associated with extremism or violence, however, some of the nationalist Buddhist hardliner monks were actively campaigning the support for the military’s genocide war against Rohingya in 2017. 

The military junta led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who is responsible for the coup, has attempted to please senior figures of the Buddhist sangha community, who have significant influence over swathes of the Bamar-Buddhist majority in the country. 

Across the country, the Myanmar junta has boosted recruiting militia groups. Pictures coming from Taze are evidence of how the junta has achieved winning the hearts of some nationalist hardliners of Buddhist monks. 

Despite massive efforts to fill the much-needed gap of human resources, Myanmar military junta has no success in finding new recruits as the Tatmadaw reputation has been completely tarnished among the Bamar ethnic majority. 

Due to the Tatmadaw being left with no other options, nationalist hardliners and its associate Buddhist monks target the junta’s heinous strategy of finding new recruits to back up the military offensive against local People Defense Forces and the support network.

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