Old faces reappear, coup leader declares himself savior of Buddhism and more


A pro-junta/military rally on February 1, 2022 / Myawady

Through The Irrawaddy February 5, 2022

Myint Swe and T Khun Myat continue to serve the regime

Acting Regime President U Myint Swe (left) and Lower House Speaker T Khun Myat

Acting Speaker Myint Swe and former Lower House Speaker T Khun Myat appeared at a meeting of the National Defense and Security Council (NDSC) on January 31. The duo have barely been seen in public since last year’s coup. Former vice-president Henry Van Thio is said to have been on sick leave.

Lt. Gen. Myint Swe was Deputy Chairman 1 of the National League for Democracy (NLD) government, appointed by the military under the 2008 Constitution drafted by the military. When the army seized power from the democratically elected government in a coup on February 1 last year, Myint Swe was appointed by the army as interim president, transferring administrative power, judicial and legislative in Min Aung Hlaing.

He has not been seen in public since then except when a report that he was injected with COVID-19 appeared in junta-controlled media.

At the NDSC meeting on the eve of the first anniversary of the military coup, Min Aung Hlaing proposed extending military rule for another six months. As the nominal head of government, Myint Swe endorsed the proposal and said the country had made progress in development through the systematic efforts of the regime despite various obstacles.

Since the days of former military dictator Than Shwe, Myint Swe has made tireless efforts to uphold the military dictatorship in Myanmar, fulfilling various roles including Commander of Division 11, Chief of Military Intelligence, Vice President and currently acting president.

T Khun Myat, who served as speaker of parliament under the NLD government, continues to work in his parliamentary office in Naypyitaw, a year after the arrest of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and many other NLD government leaders.

The ethnic Kachin man was once the leader of a people’s militia in Kutkai, Shan State, and is also a former member of the Proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party. ‘army. A lawyer by training, he served in the office of the Union Attorney General and the 2008 Constitution Drafting Committee. which the speaker of the lower house will remain in office until the newly elected parliament is sworn in, but because he is loved by Min Aung Hlaing.

Coup leader uses protection of Buddhism as excuse for his coup

Military officials walk past the entrance to the monastery where the Buddha Dhamma Prahita Foundation (formerly known as Ma Ba Tha) held its annual meeting in June 2019. / The Irrawaddy

In his message on Tuesday’s coup anniversary, Min Aung Hlaing claimed that Buddhism had declined significantly under the NLD government in Myanmar.

He criticized the NLD for banning the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, which he hailed as a religious and charitable organization promoting Buddhism in Myanmar.

The group, better known by its Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha, emerged in 2012 from the 969 movement, a nationalist campaign that called for a boycott of Muslim-owned businesses, and was renamed Ma Ba Tha the following year. The group is known internationally for its hate speech against non-Buddhists.

Min Aung Hlaing donated to the charity even after the group was banned in 2017 under the NLD government and changed its name to Buddha Dhamma Charity Foundation.

Recently, Min Aung Hlaing visited former Ma Ba Tha President Ashin Tilawkar Biwonsa at his Insein Monastery in Yangon and even conferred a religious title on him.

The NLD government has also banned paying homage at pagodas and saying prayers in religious buildings, Min Aung Hlaing said in his speech marking one year since the coup. But he did not mention the ban was part of COVID-19 restrictions to prevent crowds. Blowing his own trumpet, he even took credit for reopening religious buildings and pagodas.

Apparently, by presenting himself as the defender and promoter of Buddhism, he hopes to win applause in the Buddhist-majority country. In other words, he abuses religion to score cheap political points.

Min Aung Hlaing accuses PDF of war crimes

Min Aung Hlaing speaks on the anniversary of the military coup.

In his speech, Min Aung Hlaing also alleged that the parallel National Unity Government, its parliamentary body the CRPH and its armed wing the People’s Defense Forces had committed war crimes.

“CRPH, NUG and PDF terrorist groups have committed war crimes in Thantlang and Mindat in Chin State, parts of Sagaing region, Kinma village in Magwe region, Loikaw and Demoso townships in Kayah State and Pekhon and Moe Bye in Shan State.

Earlier on January 12, the regime announced that it would take action against the Karenni National Progressive Party and PDF groups for their war crimes, as defined in the Geneva Conventions and international laws, in the state of Kayah in Loikaw. This time, the coup leader also talked about Kayah and Chin states as well as Magwe region.

He said the military uses as little force as possible to control insurgencies. We should consider ourselves lucky. If he had used more force, these townships could have been wiped off the map. For example, the junta’s airstrikes devastated much of Thantlang.

Thanks to his use of the least possible force, dozens of civilians have been killed and thousands displaced by air raids involving helicopters and fighter jets. In addition to air raids and artillery strikes that cause casualties and damage property, junta troops have deliberately set fire to houses, in addition to looting and torturing civilians in areas where resistance is strong.

While committing such a scale of violence against his own people, Min Aung Hlaing’s accusation is nothing more than the thief shouting “Thief!”

Silent strike successful despite junta threats

One of Yangon’s busiest flyovers and roads was deserted on February 1 as the people of Myanmar staged a nationwide silent strike in defiance of military rule. /CJ

Despite threats of harsh sanctions from the regime, people from many parts of the country joined the silent strike on Tuesday to mark one year since the military coup, demonstrating their resistance to the regime.

Many cities closed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on February 1. But as usual, the junta-controlled media misreported the normal unrest in cities across the country.

To give the impression of heavy traffic on the streets, the regime held more than 170 pro-military rallies between January 26 and February 1 in 140 cities across Myanmar, excluding Kayah State, according to junta media.

A pro-junta/military rally on February 1, 2022. / Myawady

To counter the strike, the regime organized sporting events, told government workers not to come to the office until after 10:00 a.m., forced shops to open and also demanded that people receive COVID-19 injections. on February 1, in order to force people out. streets.

A week before the planned strike, the regime warned that anyone who shut down their business or shop that day could face charges up to life imprisonment, including confiscation of their property.

In an attempt to discourage the protest, the regime arrested more than a dozen shop owners who informed customers they would close their businesses on February 1. In local and wholesale markets, including the busiest in the country, there were no customers, despite these markets and shops being forced to open by the junta.

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