Myanmar junta imposes tough new measures on resistance strongholds

Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing talks during the National Defense and Security Council meeting Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. Myanmar’s military government announced Wednesday that is extending a state of emergency originally imposed when it seized power two years ago, a move that appears to set back its plans for an election that had been expected in August. - AP

YANGON, Feb 4, 2023 (AFP): Myanmar's junta has introduced tough new measures in resistance strongholds under which people accused of treason and "spreading false news" will be tried by a military court, state media said on Friday evening.

In the 37 townships affected by the measures, no appeals will be allowed for convictions handed down by military tribunals, with the exception of the death penalty, which must be approved by junta chief Min Aung Hlaing, according to the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since a 2021 coup ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's government, and a subsequent crackdown on dissent has sparked fighting across swathes of the nation.

The latest announcement signals the junta is looking for new ways to stamp out resistance in areas where anti-coup fighters are active.

The Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said the expansion was done "to exercise more effective undertakings for ensuring security, the rule of law and local peace and tranquillity".

Under the new measures, military tribunals will hear criminal cases ranging from high treason to a ban on "spreading false news" which the army has used to jail dozens of journalists.

The 37 townships lie across eight states and regions -- Sagaing, Chin, Magway, Bago, Mon, Karen, Taninthayi, and Kayah.

Junta troops have clashed regularly with anti-coup "People's Defence Forces" in those areas, as well as established ethnic rebel groups.

At least another 11 townships -- six in commercial hub Yangon and five in second city Mandalay -- were already under similar laws.

The decision came a day after state media announced a six-month extension to a state of emergency, delaying elections the junta had pledged to hold by August.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing acknowledged that more than a third of the country's townships are not under full military control, in comments reported by state media on Wednesday.

More than 2,900 people have been killed in the military's crackdown on dissent and over 17,000 arrested, according to a local monitoring group. - AFP

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