Increasing Civil War in Myanmar Takes Aim at Gambling Industry

Posted on: November 28, 2023, 07:43h.

Last updated on: November 28, 2023, 07:43h.

In Myanmar, the conflict against the military junta that took control three years ago has grown into a multifaceted resistance, involving various militias and forces. Beyond the overarching goal of ending military oppression, a unique aspect has emerged – the resistance’s determination to eradicate widespread online gambling fraud in the country.

Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army members pose on a tank they captured from the country's ruling military government
Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army members pose on a tank they captured from the country’s ruling military government. Militia groups are as determined to rid the country of illegal gambling as they are the government. (Image: Kokang News)

Leading the anti-gambling initiative is the Three Brotherhood Alliance, comprised of groups such as the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army from Kokang. Their focus extends beyond the oppressive political regime, aiming to dismantle the “widespread online gambling fraud” plaguing Myanmar.

The Three Brotherhood Alliance has accused China of being involved in a significant portion of the illicit gambling activities along the border shared by the two nations. Allegedly, junta militias, financially backed by Chinese criminal organizations, lead many of these fraudulent activities.

The Criminal Element Takes Root

Resistance forces, making gains by seizing border towns and military positions, seek not only political change but also the eradication of criminal enterprises. Human trafficking has been a major part of the illegal gambling scene and has become an increasingly larger problem in Myanmar over the past several years.

This has been due, in part, to the military junta’s unwillingness to address the issue. Instead, it has been dedicating almost all of its resources to maintaining its power over the country. This has led to an almost single-minded military exercise against the increased resistance.

It has reached the point that the government no longer provides updated data on human trafficking and other crimes. The US State Department explains that it has lumped most crimes for which individuals were punished into one large group.

When international NGOs have attempted to intervene and understand human trafficking patterns, government forces have run them out of the country.

The anti-gambling stance within the resistance reveals a broader commitment to reforming Myanmar, addressing both political and socio-economic issues. As the conflict unfolds, the dynamics of this multifaceted resistance continue to shape Myanmar’s trajectory.

Resistance Gains Ground

Operation 1027, initiated in October, represents a collaborative effort among three rebel armies, steadily advancing and capturing cities and towns nationwide. The offensive, aimed at overthrowing the military government in favor of a democratic alternative, has become the largest and most extensive series of armed clashes since the coup, as reported recently by the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs.

One significant player in the resistance, Burma National Revolutionary Army Commander Bo Nagar, told CNN that this marks “the beginning of the end” for the State Administrative Council, the ruling junta body. The resistance movement is gaining momentum, not only challenging the military’s political control but also confronting the illicit financial networks associated with online gambling.

However, the conflict will also likely have a wider impact on the entire region. The conflict has the potential to create a ripple effect across Southeast Asia, impacting various facets of regional dynamics, such as economic stability and diplomatic relations.

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