By: Rahul Adhikari
June 2 2023
The video shows a rebel group engaged in battle with the Myanmar military. It has been maliciously linked to the ethnic clashes in Manipur.
Early May 2023, an ethnic clash erupted in India's northeastern state of Manipur between the Meitei and the Kuki communities. The conflict broke out over the long-standing demand by the Meitei people to be accorded the Scheduled Tribe status under the Indian Constitution. With some spurts of calm in between, the state has been witnessing violence for over a month. The Indian Army and paramilitary forces have remained deployed in the state to control the situation. On May 31, in his first visit to the state since violence broke out earlier in the month, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held several peace meetings to attempt reconciliation between the two clashing communities.
Since the clashes broke out, users have flooded social media with videos and posts claiming to show the situation in Manipur. One such viral post of three men firing weapons claims to show people from the Kuki community fighting with security personnel in Manipur. The caption of the viral post reads, "Armed with AK47 and M16, self-proclaimed 'Innocent Kuki Village Defender' relentlessly fires at security forces." This post alone has received over 15,000 views so far.
We checked the comments on the viral post and found that several users claimed that the video is from Myanmar, not India. Further research revealed that a clearer version of the same video was published by a Myanmar-based news organization, The Hakha Post, on their Facebook page on May 27, 2023. The post, translated from Burmese(through Google Translate), read: "The CNDF/Vakok Battalion reported that 15 members of the Military Council were killed and injured in a battle between the Military Council Army and the People's Defense Joint Force, which was advancing from the Kale City side to the Zinkilin side (translated from Burmese)." The video has been credited to VAKOK-CNDF. The Chin National Defence Force (CNDF) is a paramilitary organization that operates in the Chin State of Myanmar. The CNDF has been involved in armed resistance against the military forces of Myanmar, aiming to oppose the military regime and restore democracy in the country. Vakok is one of the battalions of the CNDF.
On its Facebook page, BBC Burmese also shared a screenshot from the viral video on Facebook, accompanied by a link to a news report. According to the report, a confrontation took place on May 27 in the southern part of Kale City, Sagaing Division, between the CNDF and military forces. The CNDF/Vakok claimed that tens of soldiers from the Military Council were killed after the military entered a minefield and encountered strong resistance.
The evidence suggests that the viral video shows the rebel group Vakok-CNDF fighting against the military forces in Myanmar. On February 1, 2021, the Myanmar military seized control of the government and detained key political leaders, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. The coup led to widespread protests and civil disobedience movements throughout Myanmar. Since then, the people of Myanmar, along with pro-democracy activists and various groups, have been demanding the restoration of civilian rule and the release of detained political leaders.
A video showing a rebel group from Myanmar in the middle of a gun battle with the military has been falsely shared, claiming it to be people from the Kuki community fighting with security personnel in Manipur. The viral video actually shows CNDF forces engaged in combat with Myanmar military forces. Therefore, we mark this claim as false.