Report Published: 19 Jul 2022
Investigation into the use of pamphlets by the SAC in Myanmar
Since April 2021, Myanmar Witness has documented the dissemination of pro-regime propaganda pamphlets in areas associated with resistance to the military coup in Myanmar, including at sites in Yangon (ရန်ကုန်), Sagaing (စစ်ကိုင်းတိ), Magway (မကွေးမြို့), Chin (ချင်းပြည်နယ်), and Kachin State (ကချင်ပြည်နယ်). These pamphlets sew religious and political divisions, promote anti-Muslim rhetoric, and include graphic imagery and threats to life. The pamphlets contain misleading or unverified information, which is often accompanied with a ‘fact-checked’ stamp. The alleged distribution of these pamphlets at times occurred at the same time as internet cuts, limiting the ability of the target populations to fact check the information. Common narratives in the leaflets included allegations that the NUG and anti-regime groups were vote-stealers, terrorists, committing grave acts of violence against the civilian population and associated with the drugs trade.
This research has identified a number of ‘warnings’ to the public contained within the pamphlets, including threats of potential attacks or legal action against those helping Pro-Democracy Forces (PDF) or those involved in anti-regime activities, such as the Silent Strike. At the time of reporting, Myanmar Witness is aware of one location where such a warning was reported and where Myanmar Witness was able to verify footage showing damage to the village consistent with allegations of a military attack. These attacks came one month after the pamphlets reportedly appeared in the village. However, Myanmar Witness cannot confirm that this attack was linked to the pamphlets disseminated.
Myanmar Witness has documented and investigated trends in the pamphlets’ aesthetic appearance, discourse, imagery and methods of distribution. While Myanmar Witness cannot officially verify the source of these pamphlets, this investigation suggests that many of the pamphlets originated from the same, pro-regime source. This investigation has indicated that there is a desire to control the narrative within Myanmar, as seen through the concurrent shutdown of internet and the dissemination of pamphlets which seek to intimidate, suppress and divide populations.