Kolkata, May 13: Burmese beauty queen Htar Htet Htet has turned rebel, promising to bring down the brutal military junta in Myanmar or die fighting it.
Htet Htet represented Myanmar in the first Miss Grand International beauty pageant in Thailand in 2013.
Eight years later, the 32-year-old fitness instructor, who contested against 60 participants, has joined ethnic armed groups in Myanmar's border regions.
Hundreds of ethnic Bamars or Burmese, angered by death of protesting comrades in military/ police firings, have joined the newly-formed urban rebel groups like the Federal Army and United Defence Force.
Nearly 800 Burmese have been killed in these indiscriminate firings.
Like Htet Htet, these angry youths are now training in weapons use and guerilla tactics in bases of Myanmar 's old ethnic rebel armies like the Karen National Union.
Some may have returned already to Burmese cities for action.
The former beauty queen recently posted her pictures with an assault rifle in her Burmese Facebook page, in which she wrote: "The time has come to fight back. Whether you hold a weapon, pen, keyboard or donate money to the pro-democracy movement, everyone must do their bit for the revolution to succeed."
It was not clear which rebel base was Htet Htet undergoing training and for how long.
She did not reveal further details, but her appeal to fight the junta may boost recruitment to the Bamar urban insurgent groups.
"Htet Htet is quite an icon among the Burmese youth, beautiful and sexy but very political and socially conscious," said her friend, who is another beauty queen and presents a popular TV program.
But she asked not to be identified for obvious reasons.
"She is quite a draw and very courageous. I wish I could do what she did."
These Bamar groups are believed to be responsible for individual assasinations and select strikes against police informers and on an off-take station in the Chinese financed and operated oil-gas pipeline connecting terminals in Myanmar's Rakhine province and China's Yunnan province.
Chinese interests have become target because most in the pro-democracy movement see Beijing as the principal backer of the Myanmar military regime.
"That will be further reinforced by the junta's recent clearing of 15 foreign investment proposals, almost all Chinese. Beijing is having a windfall backing a blood thirsty junta which is shooting its own boys and girls like flies," said Kolkata-based Myanmar watcher Amrita Dey, who edited a volume on Burmese democracy movement.
Dey says the 2021 generation is different from the 1988 generation that led the country's most powerful uprising in the last century.
"The current generation is tech savvy, better exposed to the world and more educated , having benefitted from a decade of relative openness. And this generation is more passionate about democracy because they have somewhat experienced it and feel they have so much to loose," Dey told IANS. - IANS