Government’s militia forcing civilians into uniform

Karen villagers have accused the Border Guard Force, a militia under the control of the government military, of forcibly recruiting villagers.

The Border Guard Force (BGF) militia in the Nabu area, Hlaingbwe Township Karen State is alleged to have conscripted civilians since late October 2012.

Villagers alleged that the four BGF battalions – 1017, 1018, 1019 and 1020 based in the Nabu region, have ordered that five men from each village in the area to enlist in the militia.

A local villager who ask to remain anonymous for security concerns told Karen News that the BGF battalion had tried to get full rations for troop numbers that less than they had. The government’s army officers discovered the fraud and ordered the BGF to increase their troop numbers for all their battalions. The villager alleged that the government was monitoring the BGF’s supplies carefully.

“The government could take the issue to the military court if they don’t have the required troop numbers. They [BGF] are also taking salary from the government for soldiers they don’t have – the government is getting strict.”

A BGF source in the Mae Plah area said that the government army officers held a meeting with the BGF leaders in mid-October at Kokoh Htoo village and told them to conscript new soldiers for each battalion because the government has plans to relocate them.

The BGF source told Karen News.

“The BGF troops will be sent to Kachin State to support the Burma Army. Our battalions with low numbers have been ordered to recruit to meet the required numbers.”

The BGF source said that the date to meet the conscription orders is November 18 – the list will be submitted to Colonel Saw Chit Thu, the Commander of the BGF Regional No 3.

Karen News contacted Major Maung Win, commander of BGF Battalion 1018 to confirm the conscription demands. Commander Major Maung Win confirmed the BGF was recruiting but said it was an order sent to former BGF soldiers to enlist for a further term of service.

“We have three years of service for our soldiers and all have personal ID with us. We have just ordered those who had already served their three-year-term to continue their service.”

Under Burma’s 2008 Constitution, all ethnic armed groups are under the control and command of the Burma Army. The BGF troops in the Nabu area are members of the former Democratic Karen Buddhist Army militia that agreed to operate and to be under the under the control of the Burma Army in August 2010.

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