Myanmar dispatches: ‘We are the City Underground Team for PDF and my specialty is to handle explosive devices’
Myanmar dispatches: ‘We are the City Underground Team for PDF and my specialty is to handle explosive devices’

JURIST EXCLUSIVE – Myanmar law students continue to report for JURIST on challenges to the rule of law in their country under the military regime that took power from the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February. In recent months, armed resistance to the military junta has grown in some northern regions and rural areas, and has manifested itself in bombings in major cities. Myanmar government forces have responded with forceful incursions into the countryside, moving against local resistance strongholds.

Through the good offices of one of our Myanmar law student correspondents, JURIST recently interviewed a member of the People’s Defense Force, serving in an undisclosed location in Myanmar. His name is being withheld for security reasons. The text has been only lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.

1. What was your life like before the coup? Did you have any military experience/aspirations at that point?

I am an engineer who planned to go and work in Japan before the coup. I have no military experience and I didn’t have any political experience at that point.

2. Why and when did you decide to join the PDF, and what was the process of joining?

As soon as the military junta shot and killed peaceful protesters in the most cruel way (including me), commited inhuman acts and arrested people at night without reason, returning dead bodies next morning to family, I knew that we had to protect ourselves no matter what. There was no law to protect the citizens of our country, so starting from that point I wanted to fight back to protect my family, my friends, and especially our freedom and democracy.

That’s why I started volunteering for PDF; now I have become a PDF member.

There are so many processes to join the PDF. As for me, I have a college teacher from the Karen ethnic group. With his support I joined the Karen Rubble ethnic group. That’s how I joined the PDF.

3. What is your specialty within the PDF?

We are the City Underground Team for PDF and my specialty is to handle explosive devices (timers, wifi and radio frequency and GSM module devices) and also chemical agents. I also assemble and provide all the equipment they need. e.g., weapons, food and especially money.

4. What sort of training have your leaders or organizers provided you with?

Until now we don’t have any leader but we have a group that understands each other and provides for each other, sharing our knowledge and protecting each other because our goal is to fight for democracy and freedom. There is no leader in our underground PDF. Just like a snake – we just see each others’ legs.

5. Have you faced any struggles with resources since joining the PDF, either in terms of supplies or food/water? How have you coped with any such shortages?

The biggest struggle that we are facing is budget to buy what we need. We help each other in everything.

6. What is the most meaningful or most disturbing experience you have had since joining the PDF?

My only disturbing experiences as a PDF is that we have to hide our identity as PDF to strangers.

7. Has your experience in the PDF changed your plans for the future? Are you glad you joined?

I am very happy and proud of myself that I am on the side of justice and fighting evil. I am fighting for freedom, democracy, and for our country’s future.