Myanmar’s anti-coup government establishes the ‘People’s Defence Force’ to protect civilians from army

Myanmar’s National Unity Government has said that it is setting up the People’s Defence Force, a precursor to a Federal Union Army, which will protect its supporters from attacks by the ruling military junta.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Myanmar’s National Unity Government, a group claiming to be the legitimate rulers of the country, said its new force aimed to protect its supporters from violence instigated by the army. 

The anti-coup government said it had a responsibility to “make effective reforms in the security sector in order to terminate the 70-year long civil war.” According to the statement, the ‘People’s Defence Force’ is a precursor to a Federal Union Army. 

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The National Unity Government was formed last month by those in opposition to army rule, including imprisoned former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The group has pledged to build a “federal democratic union,” ending the violence and restoring democracy.

The country has witnessed large-scale, daily protests since an elected government led by Suu Kyi was overthrown by the military on February 1. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners claims that 766 people have been killed in the violence, with security forces taking a heavy-handed approach to dealing with popular protest movements. 

The country had been under the control of the military from 1962 before the army gave its backing to democracy a decade ago.

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