Residents of villages and wards in Hpa-an say they were recently forced by the army to undergo basic military training at Burma Army and Border Guard Force bases in the township.
The camp was also attended by pro-military groups including the Pyusawhti militia and the Buddhist extremist Ma Ba Tha organization, participants allege.
Locals said that the army had previously announced the formation of new militias throughout many villages and wards in the township yet it is currently unknown how many new militias were formed from, or how many military battalions partook in, the training.
“I had to attend because I was pressured to [by the military]… The key thing they want us to do is to monitor PDFs, and anyone else opposed to the junta, and report back to soldiers. They will arm us if it is necessary. I do not want to be involved, and I do not want to go back to the training. I only have one life to live,” one attendee told DVB.
A source close to the security forces said that civilians completing the training will be deployed to high-risk areas of Hpa-an; the towns intersections, battalion bases, and administrative buildings; to monitor the situation on the ground in cooperation with local military bureaucrats.
The military is reportedly offering payments of K7,000 (US$3.78) a day, meals included, to those willing to sign-up to its new militias.
There has been an increase in reports of soldiers assaulting civilians at Hpa-an’s military checkpoints, whilst IED blasts are now an almost daily occurrence across the township.