Concerns of brutal clashes intensify as rebel groups continue resistance
Myanmar’s military government will allow civilians it deems “loyal” to carry guns, local media reports, in a potential move to enlist veterans and other supporters in its crackdown against the armed resistance.
According to a Jan. 31 document attributed to the Ministry of Home Affairs, people aged 18 or above can be licensed to carry certain weapons and ammunition needed for their safety as long as they are loyal to the state.
Legally formed security forces, counter-insurgency groups and militias can receive permission to hold automatic rifles and submachine guns.
Individuals and groups that receive licenses must comply when asked to participate in law enforcement activity, according to the document.
The scheme could better arm the Pyu Saw Htee, a military-backed militia, for potential combat with armed rebel groups operating across Myanmar. There is concern that the increased availability of weapons could stoke further violence in the already volatile country.
The Home Affairs Ministry has not officially released the document to the public. But a spokesperson for the military government confirmed its content to local media, saying citizens were asking to carry weapons to protect themselves. Many with ties to the military have been targeted by rebel groups.
The Myanmar military considers stabilizing the country its top priority. It announced a six-month extension to a nationwide state of emergency on Feb. 1, then put 37 of the country’s 330 townships under martial law the following day. The new license system is seen as its latest attempt to boost its authority.