MARTIAL law was declared in several areas of military-run Myanmar on Thursday, a day after authorities extended a state of emergency throughout the country wracked by violence that some UN experts have described as a civil war.
State-run MRTV television broadcast an announcement by Aung Lin Dwe, secretary of the military’s State Administration Council, imposing martial law in 37 townships across eight of the country’s 14 regions and states.
Eleven of the townships are in Sagaing region and seven in Chin state, areas in the northwest where fighting has been fiercest between the army and guerillas belonging to pro-democracy People’s Defense Forces and their allies in ethnic minority militias.
The army has been struggling to contain a nationwide insurrection by opponents of military rule who took up arms after peaceful protests against the army’s Feb 1, 2021 seizure of power were suppressed with lethal force.
The military has declared martial law before, most notably in early 2021 in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, after which violence escalated against protesters.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an independent watchdog group that tracks killings and arrests, at least 2,948 civilians have been killed since the army takeover.
Aung Lin Dwe said in a statement that it was necessary to declare martial law to effectively carry out security and the rule of law.
Martial law supersedes all other laws, giving the military total authority over a specified area, including administrative, judicial and law enforcement functions.
The other areas where martial law was declared are in Magway, Bago and Tanintharyi regions, and Kayah, Kayin and Mon states.
A spokesperson for the opposition’s underground National Unity Government, which acts as a shadow government opposed to army rule, told The Associated Press that he believes the military will increase killings and torture of people under the pretext of stabilising the country.
“We want to inform the soldiers and policemen who are protecting the junta not to continue fighting the unwinnable war, that the people are fighting them back,” Nay Phone said. — AP