In Burma, in the zones “liberated” by the guerrillas of the Chin

By Bruno Philip

Posted today at 03:41

The report from photographer Salai Lian – his name was changed at his request – that The world publication is, in several respects, exceptional: it testifies first of all to the advanced state of the rebellion of the Chin ethnic group which resists, in the west of Burma, the soldiers of the military junta in power since the coup d ‘State of 1is February 2021. Certain areas of the “Chin State” (one of the country’s seven ethnic minority states), where the reporter went clandestinely, appear to be almost “liberated” from the Burmese yoke, the control of which is exercised over place, is reduced to the presence of a few army and police barracks.

The work of Salai Lian also shows that the classic guerrilla strategy practiced by the rebels against a better armed and trained adversary is bearing fruit: supported by an almost entire population won over to their cause, so violent is the regime’s repression, the Chin fighters hold high the soldiers of the Tatmadaw, the armed forces of “Myanmar” – the official name of Burma. “When it comes to weaponry, we are no match for our enemies”, Mai Zacer Mawi concedes. This young woman expert in martial arts, who testifies under a pseudonym, now trains young recruits in jungle combat: “We know the terrain better than the Burmese soldiers and it is easier to ambush them. Because we have courage and determination, we are, in a way, stronger than them. “

Villagers carry chin-made rifles on the back of their motorbikes in Falam County, Chin State, Myanmar on November 28, 2021. The rifles are loaned by local hunters for training and training. fight.
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The struggle of the Chin, who inhabit a remote and poor region of the mountains of western Burma, near the Indian border, is added to that of other ethnic minorities, the latter representing 30% of the population: the Karen guerrillas. and the Karenni of the East, the Kachin of the North, the Kokang of the North-East and the Ta’ang of the East have weakened the regime since the head of the army, General Min Aung Hlaing, decided to instigate a putsch with disastrous consequences. Burma is today an economically kneeling country, a “failed” state whose masters are hated by the overwhelming majority of the population.

Ruthless army

However, the fight is far from won, both for these minority fighters and for those among the Burmese “bamar” (the main ethnic group), who rose up against the soldiers of an army as powerful as it was ruthless. with regard to civilian populations. The latter are paying a high price for their support for the rebels: in Chin State, several hundred houses in Thantlang, an important town near India that the photographer visited, were set on fire by the Burmese army after the attacks. repeated rebel attacks against his troops.

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In Burma, in the zones “liberated” by the guerrillas of the Chin