JURIST EXCLUSIVE – JURIST law student correspondents in Myanmar Saturday reported multiple instances of miscreants invading neighborhoods at night after curfew in various Myanmar cities, damaging property, threatening citizens and even setting fires. They say that many of these individuals are prisoners released by the military government on Friday who are being sent in to disrupt and terrorize the general population, a tactic they say that was also used by the military in its successful crackdown against the 1988 Revolution. Our correspondents fear that this activity, and citizens’ attempts to defend themselves, will be used as an excuse by the military government to claim the country is unstable, tighten their grip, and shut down the internet and all external communication.
Myanmar Twitter carried many images and videos Saturday purporting to show this activity and its consequences, along with shots of what some said were monitoring drones overhead. Also appearing Saturday were the first calls seen by JURIST on social media from Myanmar twitterers appealing for US military intervention in the situation. The US has repeatedly voiced support for the civil disobedience movement and Myanmar democracy and on Thursday President Biden signed an executive order imposing sanctions on the leaders of the February 1 military coup. US military intervention of any sort is extremely unlikely, but the multiple calls reflect a rising level of internal anxiety, even as they evoke memories of regional American military deployments in the Vietnam War era. Earlier Saturday, the Myanmar military government announced severe restrictions of domestic civil liberties, arrogating to authorities the right to enter homes and arrest citizens without warrant, and to hold citizens in detention without charge for more than 24 hours.
One of our Myanmar law student correspondents finished a string of communications to JURIST late Saturday this way: “Please, spread the news. Please help us. Our lives are not safe anymore.”