The underground government set up by opponents of Myanmar's military junta says its first group of recruits has completed training for a new defense force, releasing a video footage of them marching in uniform.
The National Unity Government had announced it would establish a People's Defence Force to challenge Myanmar’s junta after it seized power in February from a Western-backed civilian administration under Aung San Suu Kyi.
On Friday, the underground government released the video of the graduation ceremony in the name of Yee Mon, its defense minister.
"This military is established by the official civilian government," an unidentified officer says in the video. "The People's Defense Force must be aligned with the people and protect the people. We will fight to win this battle."
The video footage also shows nearly 100 unarmed combatants parading on a muddy ground in the jungle while wearing new camouflage uniforms behind the flags of the new force -- red with a white star.
Myanmar’s junta has not responded to inquiries about the released video but ruling military authorities have referred to the National Unity Government as “treasonous” and have designated both it and the People's Defense Force as terrorist groups.
The development came as the junta continues to struggle in its efforts to establish order nearly four months after the coup that toppled Suu Kyi – who previously collaborated with Myanmar’s military to brutally attack and drive out of the country’s minority Rohingya Muslim population – plunging the Southeast Asian country into chaos.
This is while anti-military protest rallies continue to be waged daily across the nation as strikes by opponents of the junta have paralyzed business, with skirmishes regularly raging between government troops and ethnic armed groups opposing the military rulers.
This is while two homemade bombs reportedly targeting a police post and an army truck exploded in the main city of Yangon on Saturday, according to the opposition’s Mizzima news service, saying that one person speaking to the soldiers had been wounded in the second incident.
Myanmar’s army forces have so far killed over 800 people since the February coup, according to figures cited by the United Nations, which further estimated that more than 4,000 people have also been detained.
Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, however, has claimed that the civilian death toll stands at nearly 300, adding that around 50 members of police forces have also been killed but mentioning no casualty figures for army soldiers amid reports by groups fighting the armed forces that they have inflicted scores of casualties.
Myanmar’s junta has justified its coup on the grounds of fraud in an election swept by Suu Kyi's party in November. The allegations were, however, dismissed by the previous electoral commission. Suu Kyi, 75, is now on trial on a series of allegations that her lawyers have rejected as “politically motivated.”