Burmese Media Denies Reports of Mutiny, Attacks BBC
Burma’s state-run media slammed the BBC Burmese Service on Saturday for reporting alleged cases of mutiny in Pegu Division, saying that the ruling regime would “never accept any scheme to break up the Tatmadaw [Burmese armed forces].”
In commentaries run in both Burmese and English, state-run newspapers accused the BBC of fabricating a series of reports of unrest within the ranks of the military that have been broadcast by the BBC’s shortwave radio service over the past month.
“Since the last week of December 2009, the BBC has been airing slanderous accusations with the aim of disintegrating the Tatmadaw,” the state-run New Light of Myanmar claimed.
“In fact, the story put in the Internet including the broadcasting of BBC is a complete fabrication. At the respective regiments and battalions, there was no mutiny, resignation and discontentment.”
Since Dec. 23, the BBC’s Burmese-language service has reported several cases of mutiny involving troops from Light Infantry Division (LID) 66, based in Prome, western Pegu Division; LID 77, based in Hmawbi and Pegu; and Military Affairs Security (formerly known as the Military Intelligence Service).
According to BBC correspondent U Than, who is based in Sangkhlaburi, Thailand, a number of people were killed or injured in exchanges of gunfire or during mass resignations of soldiers resulting from economic hardship.
In response, the state media said: “Although we want the Tatmadaw to be strong and firm, we have noticed that there are still some wicked, narrow-minded people who want to see it become weak and break up.”
“It is crystal clear that skyful liers [sic] made their fabricated news and stories as they are instructed by their stooges inside the country to break up the unity of the Tatmadaw and divide it.”
A resident of Prome, where one of the incidents allegedly took place, said he could not confirm the reports of mutiny. “But it is true that like most Burmese people, Tatamadaw soldiers are suffering economic hardships,” he said.
The gap between ordinary soldiers and officers in terms of salary and opportunities is quite huge. Ordinary soldiers earn just 16,000 kyat (US $16) a month, while the lowest-ranking officers get more than ten times that amount.
Observers say the downfall of the Burmese military regime will probably come from conflict within the Tatadaw rather than from political opposition or any external threat.
According to the influential Economist Intelligence Unit, “Perhaps the biggest threat to the junta’s long-term grip on power is internal strife.”
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Good idea for NCGUB & activists. How to win over foot soldiers? The salary gap is a huge tenfold, not to say of other ranks.