Nationalist monks have been forming militias in the resistance stronghold of Sagaing Region to counter people’s defense forces (PDFs) fighting Myanmar’s regime, according to residents.
Led by influential monk U Wasawa from the ultranationalist Association for Protection of Race and Religion (APRR), better known by its Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha, monks have been rallying villagers to support military rule.
The monk has formed militias in Kyunhla, Zigon, Kantbalu and Taze townships, according to residents who refer to the groups as Pyu Saw Htee militias.
A Kyunhla resident said: “Ma Ba Tha monks have been forming Pyu Saw Htee groups. They call them people’s militias. They are designed to crush the National League for Democracy [NLD] and other anti-regime forces in the name of race and religion. It is easy to sway rural communities under the pretext of religion. Villagers are being exploited.”