Desperate Junta Resorting to Desperate Measures

January 25th, 2024  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  7 minute read
Featured image

Consequently, the past week has seen the Myanmar military using various ways to forcibly conscript civilians in different parts of the country. In addition, it is implementing the same old playbook of divide and rule tactics by deploying Buddhist ultranationalist groups to stoke conflict around race and religion among ethnic communities.

After suffering major losses from the unprecedented Operation 1027 of the Three Brotherhood Alliance and other resistance forces’ offensives, as well as rapidly losing ground around the country, the military is in an increasingly tough spot with exhaustion among its soldiers along with growing demoralization. Consequently, the past week has seen the Myanmar military using various ways to forcibly conscript civilians in different parts of the country. In addition, it is implementing the same old playbook of divide and rule tactics by deploying Buddhist ultranationalist groups to stoke conflict around race and religion among ethnic communities. Nevertheless, the past three years of the failed coup have proven that the Myanmar people can win this revolution, as there is no way that this illegal military junta will be able to control the country or secure any power.

In a desperate move, the junta is forcibly recruiting individuals, across multiple towns and villages, to join its affiliated militias to counter People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) and sow division among people to weaken their resistance. On 14 January 2024, in Bago Region, the Myanmar military torched over a hundred houses in its attempt to forcibly conscript people in different townships, as people refused to provide their household lists. Around 50 soldiers of the murderous military’s 66th Light Infantry Division burned down 33 houses in Maaukwin Village and 72 houses in Taungkhamauk Village in Bago Region. This incident has caused over 400 people to become displaced and homeless in nearby jungle and mountains. “Those villages didn’t provide the list of the men [to the military] to form so-called militias. So, [the military] burned those villages,” said the head of communication and information from the PDF Battalion 3601 in Paungde Township, Bago Region. According to a local media, Karen Information Center – KIC, on 18 January 2024, in Kyauk Ta Ga Township, Bago Region, the junta’s soldiers have threatened to burn local residents’ houses if they chose not to join the junta-created militias.

In addition, the military junta also imposed a weekly fine of 500,000 Myanmar Kyats (approx. 240 USD) if people fail to join its proxy militias. Young people are running away from their homes as they fear the forced conscription by the junta. For example, 19-year-old Wai Phyo was arrested by the junta at night on 27 October 2023, in Mawlamyine, Mon State, and was later released only after his parents paid 3 million Kyats (approx. 880 USD) to the junta. After that incident, he has fled to Thailand and told Frontier, “[The military] asked us to choose between going to prison for three months or joining the military, and they beat us up when we said we wanted to go home. I was lucky because my parents managed to release me the next day.” These cases certainly indicate desperate measures of the Myanmar military as they are facing a great loss of soldiers and police, with an increasing number of deserters and surrenders in battles with resistance forces.

At the same time, the junta is arming Buddhist ultranationalist groups. It further uses them to implement forced conscription, and spread fake news to instigate hatred and misunderstanding among different religious and ethnic groups – in its attempt to divide and break the people’s unity, hoping to weaken the Spring Revolution. For instance, weeks after the Three Brotherhood Alliance took control of several outposts of the Myanmar military in northern Shan State, pro-military groups and the Buddhist ultranationalist group Ma Ba Tha had carried out protests regarding a video of a solider of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) hitting a pagoda with a hammer that was spread on social media, accusing MNDAA of a targeted attack on Buddhism. MNDAA made a public apology that this was not a command of MNDAA, but its solider did it in his personal capacity, and thus ordered the solider punished. The apology statement further expressed that MNDAA upholds and respects freedom of religion, and no directive or order was made to destroy religious buildings. MNDAA spokesperson Lee Kyar Win told local media Mizzima that “these are usual tricks of the Myanmar military and they have always been trying to damage the image of ethnic [resistance organizations]…People will not believe it anymore.”­

Meanwhile, the resistance forces – including the Three Brotherhood Alliance and other ethnic resistance organizations, and PDFs – are taking over more and more police stations and strategic military outposts. As of 21 January 2024, over 30 towns previously under junta control are under the control of the resistance forces. These victories of the people’s resistance forces overturn the false narrative, common among the international community, that this decades-long murderous military institution is unbeatable, and, working with them is therefore necessary to maintain stability and peace in Myanmar. Now is time for the international community to correct its discourse and stand on the right side of history: Support the people’s struggle to topple the criminal military institution and build a federal democracy that guarantees justice, sustainable peace, and human rights for all people and communities in Myanmar. The international community must address Myanmar’s crisis by listening to the voices of the people, and act promptly and decisively to cut the flow of legitimacy, finance and arms – including munitions, dual-use goods and technology. It must further cease the blanket impunity that this murderous military has enjoyed for decades by holding them accountable under international law.


[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


Statements and Press Releases

ချင်းတစ်မျိုးသားလုံးနှင့်သက်ဆိုင်သည့် ဖွဲ့စည်းပုံကဲ့သို့သော ကိစ္စရပ်များဆောင်ရွက်ရာတွင် ချင်းအမျိုးသားများအချင်းချင်းကြား သွေးမကွဲစေရေးအတွက် သက်ဆိုင်သည့်အစုအဖွဲ့များအကြား ညှိနှိုင်းအဖြေရှာကြရန် တိုက်တွန်းခြင်း

By Chin Civic Movement

Joint Solidarity Statement: Confronting the Influence of Online Hate Campaigns in the Forced Expulsion of Rohingya from Indonesia

By Manushya Foundation, ALTSEAN-Burma, Cambodian Center for Human Rights, ELSAM, Foundation for Media Alternatives, ILGA Asia, Rohingya Maìyafuìnor Collaborative Network, SAFEnet, The 88 Project, Women’s Peace Network

Call for the National Unity Government (NUG) to reconsider its foreign policy statement on China by Milk Tea Alliance Friends of Myanmar

By Milk Tea Alliance Friends of Myanmar

ပြည်ထောင်စုသမ္မတ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော်အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ နိုင်ငံတော် ယာယီသမ္မတ ဒူဝါလရှီးလမှ CDM နိုင်ငံ့ဝန်ထမ်းထုညီလာခံသို့ ပေးပို့သည့် သဝဏ်လွှာ

By National Unity Government of Myanmar 

Formation of the Advisory Board for the Ministry of Human Rights

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Human Rights)



Coup Watch December 2023: Illegal junta’s losing streak continues with no break in sight

By ALTSEAN-Burma, Asia Democracy Network, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Burma Human Rights Network, Initiatives for International Dialogue, International Federation for Human Rights, Progressive Voice, US Campaign for Burma, Women’s Peace Network

မြန်မာစစ်တပ်၏ ဝါဒဖြန့်ချိမှုများ လေ့လာမှုစာစဥ် အမှတ် (၆)

By Burma Civil War Museum

Operation 1027: The Ceasefire Paradox – Issue 136

By Burma News International, Myanmar Peace Monitor

Jan 1-14, 2024 Summary of SAC human rights violations in Karenni State and Pekhon Township

By Karenni Civil Society Network

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.”