Myanmar military in PR battle
Information ministry hits back at monks who led earlier anti-government protests.
|State media is broadcasting pictures of
massive pro-government rallies
Myanmar’s information ministry has attempted to seize back the public-relations initiative, denouncing independent media and saying that in raids on certain monestries, the authorities uncovered pornographic material.
The New Light of Myanmar, the state newspaper, carried reports that, in some of the targeted monasteries, security forces uncovered “uncensored pornographic VCDs” as well as pornographic books and photos, bottles of alcohol, playing cards and “one Nazi headband”.
“It is regrettable that the operation revealed that in some monasteries, women sleep in the buildings where monks reside,” the paper reported.
The paper, which has carried denunciations of some of the foreign broadcasters who reported on the protests, also repeated government claims that the monks who led last month’s demonstrations were not genuine monks.
Explaining the large number of arrests, the paper said soldiers “could not differentiate between monks and novices and bogus ones, so they took 513 monks, one novice, 167 men and 30 women for questioning”.
“Where are the peace and human rights defenders of the world (the super powers)? They haven’t done enough in this case. Isn’t there oil in Myanmar?”
Lost Soldier, Arusha, Tanzania
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Myanmar’s state television is also joining in the campaign.
The information ministry is broadcasting pictures on state television showing massive pro-government demonstrations, reporting massive daily rallies that look as if they are carefully choreographed by civilian arms of the government.
The images present an alternative narrative to the independently filmed pictures of tens of thousands of unarmed demonstrators, furious with the government, being beaten by soldiers during protests earlier this month.
Sceptics call them “GONGOs”, or government-organised non-governmental organisations.
The generals who rule the country are getting older. They are clinging to power and want to show they still have support in the country.
It may be an old-fashioned propaganda effort, but it is also an insight into how the generals are thinking.
They believe that they alone are the best guardians of stability in Myanmar and rigidly reject outside interference.