Myanmar dispatch: the military junta’s repressive rules ‘make our lives harder’ Dispatches
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Myanmar dispatch: the military junta’s repressive rules ‘make our lives harder’

Myanmar law students are reporting for JURIST on challenges to the rule of law in their country under the military junta that deposed the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021. Here, one of our correspondents who must remain anonymous comments on the repression of people’s daily lives, including even their available forms of transportation, under rules imposed by the military junta. The text has only been lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.

Following the coup, it is a known fact about my country Myanmar that the situation there remains unstable. Due to brutal suppressions and the day-to-day struggles people are facing, protests have become less common in the city areas, and more places in the country are becoming active war zones between the defense forces and the military. I believe it is safe to say that the State Administration Council (SAC) is currently in control of the main city areas of the country and taking all measures to maintain their power. Together with the gain in their power, more and more suppressions are starting to take place in the daily lives of city dwellers. These suppressions usually take the form of ridiculous rules designed to make our lives harder.

The followings are some of the suppressions I have personally experienced:

  • I was required to inform the Ward Administration Department and acquire a recommendation letter from the Administrator just to leave town for a week.
  • I was required to bring my NRC [National Registration Card] anywhere I go, just in case I might be stopped at one of the checkpoints manned by soldiers holding loaded guns.
  • I was asked to get out of the car and walked at every checkpoint to show my NRC and sometimes even my phone to be checked by soldiers who sometimes love to pay extra attention to young women.
  • I was required to inform the Ward Administration Department just for staying a few nights at my parents’ home.

So I had to make sure that my devices are free of any pollical content or pictures whenever I have to go out of my home. I would also intentionally wear unflattering clothing not to attract any attention because I was disgusted by the invading eyes of the soldiers at the checkpoints.

I would say that obeying these rules still does give the abuser the control they want. The general public in the area I was living is composed of simple-minded people who lead a slow lifestyle. They are timid, nice, agreeable, and in a way, faint-hearted. In other words, they are ready to abide by the rules as long as they can lead life as usual. Most of them make a living out of trading, transportation services, farming, and running small restaurants.

They also rely heavily on motorbikes to perform their daily tasks. Despite such fact, the Ward Administration Department started making rules to restrict the use of motorbikes because some SAC-appointed officers were targeted by local activist forces using motorbikes. At first, they prohibited riding motorbikes with a passenger, and then, they restricted using them altogether. This has tremendously affected people’s livelihood and some people had to start using regular bikes, electric bikes, and auto-rickshaws to get around. The soldiers would seize motorbikes and store them at the department for their officers to use or even to resell.

I have witnessed young kids being arrested for riding a bike. At night, patrolling soldiers would randomly shoot at anyone who uses motorbikes if they refuse to stop. Therefore, the people have no choice but to obey the exaggerated and unfair rules.

This is just one of the many incidents of suppression the people of Myanmar are facing.