More than a hundred border guard force (BGF) members attending military training in Shan State East’s Kengtung have deserted citing the military junta’s failure to abide by its promise given before they became BGF members, according to deserters.
The military junta had promised to support not only for the BGF member but also his entire family, according to a pamphlet issued by the ruling junta.
Junta’s announcement says everyone will receive salary starting from Kyat 35,000 ($35) for a new recruit to Kyat 180,000 ($180) for a major, rations and uniforms from head to feet. In addition, his family members would also have access to health care, education and public transportation for free including accommodations and pensions.
But none of the promises have been so far fulfilled even though their men have already been BGF members and have gone to attend the military training, a source said. “Some people who even finished military training have yet to receive those things.”
“We were informed by our family that they needed money to survive because they did not get anything from the junta authorities. Likewise we also did not get full salary as promised. This is why we decided to leave because there is no benefit in being there if our families are struggling to survive,” said another one.
According to him, all militia units which have been newly transformed into border guard force battalions in Shan State East such as BGF No. 1007, 1008, 1009 were summoned to Kengtung for military training. The training was supposed to last 3 months, starting from June. But the training was now reported to have been cancelled due to desertions. The number of trainees was said to have been over 400, but now only one third of them remained at the training base.
“They did not say any bad things to us, they did not scold us like their own soldiers. However, people keep fleeing every day,” he said. “Some people have fled to Thailand.”
Some fled for other reasons like being forced to build new camps and do other domestic work such as building fence, carrying soil and cutting wood for the army.
Starting from 2008, the Burma Army has been recruiting and forming militia battalions across the country in accordance with its Naypyitaw’s policy to set up 1 militia battalion in each village tract. And it has also been giving military trainings to the militia members.
Later in 2009, some militia units were transformed into Border Guard Forces. It has also been distributing pamphlets informing people and the BGF members about the BGF program saying the program aims to protect Naing Ngan Daw (nation) and to preserve stability along the border regions.
Since 8 November 2009, 10 BGF battalions have been formed.
1.BGF 1001 (formerly New Democratic Army Kachin [NDAK])
2. BGF 1002 (formerly New Democratic Army Kachin [NDAK])
3. BGF 1003 (formerly New Democratic Army Kachin [NDAK])
4. BGF 1004 (formerly Karenni Nationalities People Liberation Front [KNPLF])
5. BGF 1005 (formerly Karenni Nationalities People Liberation Front [KNPLF])
6. BGF 1006 (formerly Kokang ceasefire group, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army [MNDAA])
7. BGF 1007 (formerly Lahu militia groups in Mongton township)
8. BGF 1008 (formerly Akha militia groups in Mongyu subtownship, Mongyawng township)
9. BGF 1009 (formerly Mongkoe militia groups, Tachilek township)
10. BGF 1002 (Markmang township, formerly known as Mawfa area)