Almost a year after a military junta took power in Myanmar, the country’s rebels have a new tool in their hands. Photos posted on social media in early December show them armed with 3D-printed rifles, a cheaper way to bolster their arsenals and train new fighters.
In the jungles of Myanmar, resistance is growing. Since a military junta took control of the country in a coup on February 1, 2021, rebel groups have engaged in guerrilla warfare against pocketed soldiers across the country.
The People’s Defense Forces (PDF), the armed wing of the resistance party, the national unity government, have used all the weapons in their possession to fight the military regime in their country.
Some fighters have posted photos of themselves carrying weapons made using 3D printers. A photo posted to Twitter on December 9, 2021 by Jake Hanrahan, a British freelance journalist and founder of the independent media Popular Front, shows a Burmese rebel armed with an FGC-9, a 9mm caliber pistol made using a 3D printer.
Incredible. This is a photo of a rebel in #Myanmar / #Burma armed with JStark’s FGC-9, a 3D printed gun. The fighter is a member of the People’s Defense Forces, which is currently fighting the authoritarian military junta.
(Via @war_noir) pic.twitter.com/HXmXTyAgpO
— Jake Hanrahan (@Jake_Hanrahan) December 9, 2021 The first photo of an FGC-9 in rebel hands, posted by @Jake_Hanrahan. A screenshot of the message was also shared on Reddit, a forum dedicated to 3D printed weapons. If you scroll through the comments, a social media user using the name DaddyUMCD says he was the first to post the image, using an account that has since been deleted. He openly describes himself as a Burmese rebel fighter.
The man’s new Reddit profile features two more photos of 3D printed weapons. These are also FCG-9, modified with an elongated barrel.
“We are mass producing FGC9 to fight the dictator,” the user explained in a post featuring a photo of several 3D printed weapons on Dec. 13.
One of the main advantages of 3D printed weapons is their cost effectiveness, if you have a 3D printer. A printer can cost around $220, plus $88 for other tools and to build a gun, plus another $88 to craft each weapon after that, according to Slate.
Freelance journalist Jake Hanrahan made a 2020 documentary about the person who invented the FGC-9, a libertarian known as JStark, whom he interviews in the film. The man does not reveal his identity, but explains why he created the FGC-9 boss and then posted it online:
The government, or the entity that governs you, has executive power. The police, the army, they have guns. In order to be able to escape this injustice, they [citizens] need to have the same strength, on an individual level.
Thanks to an active and supportive community of supporters, patterns for this 3D weapon are widely available online. So, in just three clicks on Google, you can get the model of an FGC-9 (which stands for “Fuck Gun Control 9mm”) for free.
Our team contacted Jake Hanrahan, who told us he saw the FGC-9 in the hands of Burmese rebels:
I think this is the most believable and real implementation of what JStark intended the FGC-9 to be. He wanted people who are under tyranny – which the rebels who are in Myanmar are undoubtedly under the deep tyranny of the military junta there – he wanted people like that to be able to fight back in some way.
At this time, our team has not seen any photos posted online showing Burmese rebels using the FGC-9 in combat.
Leone Hadavi, an arms expert with the Myanmar Witness collective, which documents human rights abuses in the ongoing civil war, told AXADLETM Observers: “We see a lot of guns, but not a lot of guns printed in 3D and none in a combat operation. ”
DaddyUMCD, the supposed Burmese rebel on Reddit, said the same thing, in response to a comment: “Honestly, we haven’t done many missions with it yet. These are meant to be used in hit-and-run missions and to get better weapons from the enemy. For the training ground, it works very well.
According to the Myawady website, Burmese authorities arrested one person in 2020 for “terrorist actions”. They also seized weapons belonging to this person, including 3D printed guns. The photos show six FGC-9 pistols that have been 3D printed with their magazines.
“The People’s Defense Forces have banded together to respond to the regime’s violence.” In combat videos posted by rebel People’s Defense Forces, the men use military assault rifles of a higher caliber (5.56mm or 7.62mm), Hadavi said. . These are the same type of weapons seen when Rebels share images of the loot they have obtained in an attack or raid.
Weapons captured in a raid PDF, posted in a photo on Facebook on December 11, 2021.
To deal with the organized military junta, different groups of rebel fighters developed and perfected guerrilla warfare techniques, moving in cover and carrying out lightning strikes and small skirmishes, Hadavi said.
Outside the cities, the PDFs gradually formed in response to SAC attacks and harassment. In the second phase of their transformation, they collaborated with different armed ethnic organizations depending on the area in which they are formed and operate. These well-established local groups have weapons, supplies, know the terrain, and are even very involved in the training and formation of the units of these young urbanites and in the planning of their operations, most often carried out jointly.
With better organization and better equipment, PDF elements could also return to cities.
>> Read on The Observers: Myanmar Witness verifies photos and videos of citizens to document human rights concerns
The rebels are not content to manufacture small caliber pistols, they are also seeking to diversify their weaponry. Some social media users have also noticed images of locally made explosives, such as IEDs.
This video shows another example of the group’s decision to diversify its armament. Posted on Twitter by an account that tracks rebel groups, this video shows people in uniform attaching a modified grenade to a DJIcivil drone.
On December 25, 2021, more than 30 charred bodies were discovered in burnt-out cars in Kayah, a state located in the east of the country. Junta soldiers are accused of attacking this convoy in response to rebel attacks.
More than 1,400 people have died since the February 2021 coup, according to local observers.
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