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Coup Watch March 2022 – With No Success in Sight, Junta Digs in with Dirty Tactics

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Key summary points:

  • The illegitimate regime continued to escalate violence in its desperate bid to gain control of the country in the 14th month of its attempted coup. During 1–25 Mar, there were at least 670 armed clashes and attacks on civilians (avg. 26.8 per day), as conflict continued to escalate. In the prior twelve months, there had been an average of 25.43 incidents per day.
  • Junta airstrikes, artillery strikes, and raids displaced tens of thousands more people. UNHCR said that 591,600 people in Burma had been displaced since 1 Feb 2021, likely a significant underestimate based on local information. These people struggled to survive.
  • Junta forces continued to commit grievous atrocity crimes. News emerged in March that junta troops had torched over 6,000 homes and destroyed at least 100 Christian and Buddhist religious buildings. They targeted civilian areas and IDPs, killed civilian women and children, and brutally tortured detainees.
  • On 27 Mar, junta leader Min Aung Hlaing vowed to “annihilate the opposition” as junta forces continued to target perceived opponents and their relatives. As of 31 Mar, the junta had arrested at least 13,040 civilians, including politicians, activists, and journalists, and killed at least 2,053 civilians.
  • The junta got dirtier in its tactics. It funded paramilitary groups, enacted “legislation” allowing it to conscript police into its war, used social media channels to discredit and hunt down its opposition, and demanded that hospitals turn over patient records to undermine treatment of opponents.
  • The regime stripped 10 NUG members of their citizenship and continued to sentence high-profile opponents to prison on bogus charges. As of 18 March, it had arrested 832 NLD members, of whom 16 had died in custody.
  • Cities across Burma struggled with power blackouts as electricity production fell to a quarter of the national demand. Outages disrupted water distribution and business operations, while rising fuel prices made the use of generators unsustainable.
  • Norwegian company Telenor completed the sale of Telenor Myanmar to M1 Group and a crony company. The deal included the transfer of powerful surveillance technology to the new buyers, raising fears that the junta will use it to further crack down on dissent.
  • ASEAN’s Special Envoy to Myanmar, the Cambodian Foreign Minister, visited Burma and met with junta leaders, but not EAOs, the NUG, or other civilian representatives.

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