Regime Soldiers Defect To Karenni Army

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By Kantarawaddy Times

Soldiers from the military regime who voluntarily surrendered to the Karenni Army (KA), under the Karenni National Progressive Party, have been granted freedom and even allowed to keep their weapons if they’re willing join the fight against their former fellow soldiers in the Burma Army (BA) in Karenni State.

“If they no longer want to fight and want to work somewhere, we’ll arrange it for them and send them to the National Unity Government’s area after an investigation,” Daniel, head of the KA’s department of defense, told Kantarawaddy Times.

Three BA soldiers from Infantry Battalion 11, attached to Light Infantry Division 66, surrendered to KA on 9 September in Demawso Township. They brought with them 3 MA-3 rifles, 13 magazines, 1,000 rounds of ammunition and 3 grenades.

“They told us that they were tortured by their officers and now they want to fight against the military dictatorship,” said a KA soldier on condition of anonymity.

One of the three soldiers from Demawso told Kantarawaddy Times that the regime forces many minors to join the ranks of the BA and sends them to the front line. “We had to undergo six months of military training and had no chance to escape because the instructors monitored our every move.” When they were sent to the battlefield, he explained that they deserted and took their weapons to defend themselves, knowing that the BA would try to find and kill them.

According to Daniel, since the coup last year, nearly 100 soldiers have surrendered to the KA, the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force and the People’s Defence Force and about 40 soldiers have joined the resistance to fight the dictatorship. As the Karenni people have been fighting for their freedom for 70 years, he said, many BA soldiers that surrendered have joined their group or resettled to a third country.

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