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Psychological Warfare

June 5th, 2021  •  Author: Progressive Voice  •  8 minute read
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From a broader perspective, these vicious tactics employed by the Myanmar military are a means to an end – subjugation of the people of Myanmar by fueling anxiety, uncertainty and ultimately fear. It is a type of psychological warfare, as part of the junta’s nationwide terror campaign to attempt to take full control of the country.

The intensification of offensives by the Myanmar military in ethnic areas is reaching extreme heights, with the illegal junta waging war on multiple fronts in Karen, Chin, Kachin, and more recently in Karenni and southern Shan States. During February to April, there were nearly 16,000 attacks against civilians in ethnic conflict areas. From 21 May to 26 May, over 70,000 people were displaced as a wave of new military operations launched by the military junta in and around Pekon and Moebye in southern Shan State and across the state border in Loikaw and Demoso in Karenni State. In Karenni State, there have been reports of the Myanmar military using armored vehicles, helicopters, drones and mortar attacks against civilians. For the Myanmar military, no place is sacred, opening fire and shelling a church in Kayan Tharyar village, killing four people and St Joseph’s Church in Demoso which housed people sheltering from conflict. In another incident two unarmed young men were gunned down attempting to retrieve food aid for displaced villagers seeking refuge in the jungle after fleeing Demoso. All incidents making a mockery of the Geneva Convention, and adding to the mounting examples of war crimes.

From a broader perspective, these vicious tactics employed by the Myanmar military are a means to an end – subjugation of the people of Myanmar by fueling anxiety, uncertainty and ultimately fear. It is a type of psychological warfare, as part of the junta’s nationwide terror campaign to attempt to take full control of the country. This is reflected in the 842 people executed in cold blood, and also in the targeting of civilians in ethnic conflict areas. Since the beginning of the coup attempt on 1 February, 2021, the junta has snatched bodies of those they kill, mutilated them, carried out illegal autopsies, falsified death certificates, removed evidence from bodies, conducted cremations and exhumations without families’ permission and extorted money from families in exchange for the bodies of those murdered. Other victims are abducted in the night or off the streets in unmarked vehicles, disappeared or arrested, and then returned to loved ones with signs of torture and mutilation. These actions fulfill two aims, one is to instill fear among the populace to silence activism and the second is to conceal their crimes or fabricate ambiguity surrounding their crimes. The junta has even gone as far to suggest that the people they have killed died suddenly of cardiac arrest or other illnesses, and have forged death certificates. They want to create a climate of fear, a tactic used for decades – one they erroneously believe will make them successful.

Meanwhile, the military is using the death penalty to desperately try to quell activism and protests, from the likes of the Civil Disobedience Movement, General Strike Committees and the wider pro-democracy movement. Military-owned television Myawaddy TV announced in April that 19 individuals had been convicted under articles 396 and 397 of the archaic, 1861 Penal Code for dacoity (banditry) and sentenced to death. Two detainees Aung Aung Htet and Bo Bo Thu and 17 others in absentia were convicted and sentenced after the mass protests in Yangon’s North Okkalapa Township. These convictions were conducted extra-judicially under court martial, without any of the necessary elements for a fair trial. Aung Aung Htet’s mother claims he was not involved in the protest and was merely a bystander. Myo Aung, a lawyer in Myawaddy, Karen State, said “They mainly want people to fear them. They want people to be scared of them and bow to them.” The total number of those sentenced to death has reached 50, with no signs of abating.

The international community must call out these crimes and ensure the perpetrators, including the top leaders of the attempted coup, are held criminally accountable through international law. It is absolutely apparent that domestic justice and accountability against the junta is not possible, now more than ever. This was not possible in the wake of the Rohingya crisis when the Myanmar military perpetrated a genocidal clearance operation, used sexual and gender-based violence against women and burned villages to demoralize the Rohingya community. This was also not possible in the decades preceding this, in the wake of brutal conflict in Karen, Karenni, Chin, Kachin, Mon and northern Shan States. The Human Rights Council-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar has laid out evidence of grave atrocity crimes in meticulous detail in preparation for future, and yet to be realized, prosecutions. Yet, justice and accountability is elusive and has been laid to waste, causing immense consequences for the people of Myanmar and further emboldening the military to commit more grotesque acts with blanket impunity. The international community must break the cycle of entrenched impunity that the Myanmar military has enjoyed for decades and refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court through the UN Security Council or establish an independent international tribunal to hold the perpetrators to account, support the ongoing Genocide Case at the International Court of Justice and take coordinated actions to financially isolate the junta. If not, the past is doomed to repeat itself.

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[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.


Resources from the past week

actions

Statements and Press Releases

NCA လက်မှတ်ရေးထိုးထားသော EAOs (၈) ဖွဲ့ မှ စစ်ကောင်စီနှင့် ဆွေးနွေးရေး အဆိုပြုမှုအပေါ် လေးနက်စွာဆင်ခြင်ရန် မြန်မာပြည်အရပ်ဘက်လူထုအဖွဲ့အစည်း ၁၉၁ ဖွဲ့မှ သတိပေး အိတ်ဖွင့်ပေးစာ

By 191 Myanmar Civil Society Organizations

Open letter from 191 CSOs urging the Eight NCA-signatory EAOs to reconsider their proposal to negotiate with the Military’s SAC Council

By 191 Myanmar Civil Society Organizations

အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်ကောင်စီမှ ကရင်နီပြည်နှင့် ရှမ်းပြည်နယ်စပ်တွင် ထိုးစစ်ဆင်သည့် စစ်ပွဲများအပေါ် ဖက်ဒရယ် ဒီမိုကရေစီ လိုလားသော ပအိုဝ်းအင်အားစုများ၏ သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By 11 Pa-O Youth Groups

Myanmar: Cease persecution of journalists

By Amnesty International

New briefing uncovers how Rohingya genocide continues after Myanmar military coup

By Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

Nine international banks invest over US$24 billion in companies linked to Myanmar regime and atrocities

By BankTrack and Justice For Myanmar

Chevron’s View on Myanmar

By Chevron

Myanmar arrests US editor Danny Fenster at Yangon airport

By Committee to Protect Journalists

All parties must ensure unimpeded access to healthcare in Myanmar

By Doctors Without borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Myanmar: Chevron, Total Suspend Some Payments to Junta

By Human Rights Watch

UN General Assembly Action Needed on Myanmar

By Human Rights Watch

JFM responds to suspension of Yadana pipeline dividends

By Justice For Myanmar

Left Behind: Ethnic Minorities and COVID-19 Response in Rural Southeast Myanmar

By Karen Human Rights Group

NCA ကို လက်မှတ်ရေးထိုးထားသောအဖွဲ့ ၈ ဖွဲ့က စစ်ကောင်စီနှင့် ဆွေးနွေးရန် နိုင်ငံတကာကို အကူအညီတောင်းခြင်းသည် ဥပဒေစိုးမိုးရေးအခြေခံနှင့် ဆန့်ကျင်ကြောင်း သုံးသပ် ထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By Legal Aid Network

ရှမ်းပြည်နယ်မြောက်ပိုင်းကျောင်းသားသမဂ္ဂများကွန်ရက် ကြေညာချက် (၁/၂၀၂၁)

By Northern Shan State Students’ Union Network

သတင်းထုတ်ပြန်ချက် (၁/၂၀၂၁)

By National Unity Government

Press Statement (1/2021)

By National Unity Government

Statement to TOTAL’s Press Release, stopping MGTC’s dividend payments

By NUG (Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment)

TOTAL ကုမ္ပဏီက မုတ္တမဓာတ်ငွေ့သယ်ယူပို့ဆောင်ရေးကုမ္ပဏီလီမိတက် ( MGTC) ၏ အမြတ်ငွေခွဲဝေမှုအား ဆိုင်းငံ့လိုက်ကြောင်း ကြေညာခြင်းနှင့် စပ်လျဉ်း၍ သဘောထားမှတ်ချက်ထုတ်ပြန်ခြင်း

By NUG (Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment)

In connection with the illegal approval by the Myanmar Investment Commission of investments and projects in Myanmar, the National Unity Government (NUG) states the following

By NUG (Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment)

အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်ကောင်စီ၏ လက်အောက်ခံ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံရင်းနှီးမြှုပ်နှံမှုကော်မရှင် (MIC) သည် တရား၀င်ခြင်းမရှိသည့်အတွက် ယင်းအဖွဲ့အစည်းက အတည်ပြုလိုက်သော ရင်းနှီးမြုပ်နှံမှုများ၊ စီမံကိန်းများအား အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရက အသိအမှတ်ပြု လက်ခံမည်မဟုတ်ကြောင်း ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By NUG (Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment)

နိုင်ငံ့ဝန်ထမ်း (အမြဲတမ်း) များကို လစာ(၂)လစာ အတိုးမဲ့ ကြိုတင်ထုတ်ချေးငွေများအား ပြန်လည်ပေးဆပ်ရန် မလိုအပ်သည့် ချီးမြှင့်ငွေအဖြစ် သတ်မှတ်ထားပြီးဖြစ်ကြောင်း ထပ်မံအသိပေးထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By NUG (Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment)

ကြေငြာချက်အမှတ် ၁/၂၀၂၁

By Pa-O National Defense Force

Myanmar: Shareholders of Moattama Gas Transportation Company Limited Vote to Suspend All Cash Distributions

By Total

reports

Reports

REPORT CARD #3: Ignoring ICJ provisional measures, Burma/Myanmar’s military turns violence against entire nation

By ALTSEAN Burma

The Human Cost of Failure: Myanmar’s Continued Non-compliance with International Court of Justice Provisional Measures

By Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

Investing in the Military Cartel: Nine international banks invest over US$24 billion in companies linked to Myanmar regime and atrocities

By BankTrack and Justice For Myanmar

Update: One Child Killed by Landmine in Tedim, Chin State, While Five Adults Die in Burma Army Shelling of Mindat, Chin State; 7000 People Now in Hiding in Mindat Area Alone

By Free Burma Rangers

Terror From The Skies: Coup regime’s escalated offensive cause mass displacement across Mutraw

By Karen Peace Support Network

Left Behind: Ethnic Minorities and COVID-19 Response in Rural Southeast Myanmar

Karen Human Rights Group

Myanmar: Thai State-Owned Company Funds Junta

By Human Rights Watch


Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”

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