Videos showing rebel outfits in Myanmar falsely linked to Manipur violence

By: Chandan Borgohain
June 7 2023

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Videos showing rebel outfits in Myanmar falsely linked to Manipur violence


The Verdict False

The videos are not from Manipur. News reports and our sources confirm that they show Myanmar-based rebel groups fighting the military junta.

Claim ID 8e67678f

More than a month after ethnic clashes erupted in Manipur, incidents of violent skirmishes from the northeastern state are still making headlines in India. According to news reports, the clashes have claimed at least 98 lives so far. Since the start of the conflict, social media has been flooded with misleading photos and videos claiming that they are linked to the recent violence in Manipur. 

Recently, we found two videos on Twitter, shared in connection with the current situation in Manipur. Those sharing the videos claim that they show Kuki militants operating in the state. In one video, shared by a Twitter account @Gisarose90, a group of uniformed men are seen sitting on their knees around guns and other weapons. The user, who shared the video on May 26, claimed that it shows "Kuki Militants with well-equipped arms." The text in the caption read: "Kuki Militants with well-equipped arms preparing for a Warlike. Declare Kuki militants as terrorists for waging war against Meitei civilians and security forces (sic)." The video has gained over 27,000 views and 127 retweets so far.

The second video, shared by @unbelina_s on May 29, shows armed men firing bullets from their sophisticated guns. The text shared within the video reads: "Kuki militants in Manipur, India." The text also claims that the firing occurred in Imphal Valley in Manipur. "Here's a video revealing the so-called innocent Kukis firing nonstop; the gunfire occurred in the Imphal valley, not in the hills," the user wrote. 

In Fact
In the comment section of the first video, which claims to show Kuki militants with well-equipped arms in "warlike" preparations, we noticed several users pointed out that the video shows members of the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) in Myanmar. CDF is an armed rebel group formed to oppose the military coup in Myanmar.

We found the same video uploaded on a Facebook page called 'CDF Thantlang Commando.' CDF Thantlang refers to the Chinland Defense Force Thanthlang group formed in the Thantlang region in Myanmar's Chin state. We checked their Facebook page and found several photos and videos of men dressed in military outfits that match the ones seen in the viral video. CDF Thantlang members can be identified from the organization's red and white emblem on their sleeves, which also shows a black horn attached to a gun with a string. Several men in the viral video can be seen wearing shirts with the same emblem.

Logically Facts reached out to a Thantlang-born Burmese national who is also closely involved with the resistance in Myanmar. He confirmed that it shows the CDF Thantlang group; he also said that the men could be heard praying in a local Chin dialect. While we could not identify the location of the video or the context, the men in the video are not Kuki militants.

For the second video, which shows armed men firing bullets, we ran a reverse image search on one of the screenshots of the video. This led us to a longer version of the same video uploaded on the Reddit page 'Myanmarcombatfootage'— a "subreddit dedicated to footage and photos related to the civil war in Myanmar." The caption of the video, uploaded on May 22, 2023, read: "Anti-Junta Forces attacked a Myanmar Police Station in Sadaung, Sagaing Region."

In the video uploaded on Reddit, we noticed some text in the Burmese script (မေတ္တာရေကြည် လူမှုကူညီရေး အသင်း) written on a wall that the men jump over. According to Bikash K. Bhattacharya, an independent researcher, and journalist who has reported on Myanmar, the text translates to "Metta Ye Kyi Social Welfare Association"— one of Myanmar's many Buddhist social welfare associations. Yangon-based Burmese language teacher Soe Sandar Win also confirmed this to Logically Facts. This further suggests that the incident occurred in Myanmar and not in Manipur's Imphal Valley, as claimed on social media. Win also said, "The language being spoken by the fighters in the video is Burmese. I can clearly understand the last two words...they say, 'Fire...attack.'" 

We also found that the Myanmar-based news outlet Mandalay Free Press published a video report on YouTube on May 22, 2023, which carried some of the same footage. The description of the video, written in Burmese, states that the incident occurred in the Sadaung area in the Sagaing Region of Myanmar. It also claims that about 10 Myanmar military personnel were killed by anti-junta guerillas.

Bhattacharya also noted that the men in the video most likely belong to the People's Defense Force (PDF). PDF is an umbrella term for the resistance groups that have emerged in Myanmar since the military coup in February 2021. We also found a news report dated May 22, where the Myanmar Pressphoto Agency reported that PDF attacked Sadaung Police Station in Sagaing Region on May 21 and killed 12 soldiers, including an army officer.

The Verdict
Neither of the two videos is from Manipur. News reports and sources confirm that they show Myanmar-based rebel groups fighting against the military junta in Myanmar. Therefore, the claim that the videos show Kuki militants in Manipur is false.

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