Myanmar military extends state of emergency, vows to ‘crush’ opposition

The military has continuously extended emergency rule since it seized power in a coup in February 2021.

Myanmar soldiers taking part in a drill in 2018. They are standing to attention and have camouflage paint on their faces
Myanmar military commandos [File: Lynn Bo Bo/Pool/AFP]

Myanmar army chief Min Aung Hlaing has pledged to “crush” all opposition to military rule, as a state of emergency was further extended.

Speaking on state television, Min Aung Hlaing, who led the coup on February 1, 2021, said the military would do “whatever it takes to return the state to stability” amid unprecedented advances by an alliance of anti-coup forces and ethnic armed groups.

Earlier on Wednesday, the National Defence and Security Council announced it would prolong emergency rule for another six-month stint, just ahead of the previous term’s expiry at midnight. The move further delays elections the generals promised  after seizing power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi who they have now jailed.

The Southeast Asian nation has been in turmoil since the coup, which sparked mass protests that developed into an armed uprising after the military responded with brutal force.

The military said it was not able to lift the state of emergency while it was battling armed opposition across the country, which has surged since anti-coup forces launched Operation 1027 late last year.

“Three years on from the Myanmar coup, the military’s hold on power is more uncertain than at any time in the last 60 years,” Richard Horsey, the senior Myanmar adviser at Crisis Group, said in emailed comments,

“Over the last three months especially, it has been losing troops, territory and towns to determined opponents across multiple parts of the country. But it seems determined to fight on, and retains an enormous capacity for violence, attacking civilian populations and infrastructure in areas it has lost, using air power and long range artillery.”

More than two million people have been displaced by the violence, according to the United Nations.

Emergency rule extended

More than 4,400 people have been killed in the crackdown on opposition to the coup, and some 20,000 people have been detained for their political views, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a local monitoring group.


Since the coup, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and others have imposed sanctions on the military regime.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were among those calling for more to be done to cut off the military’s access to jet fuel.

The UN and human rights groups have accused the military of rights abuses in their crackdown on the opposition, including crimes against humanity.

Horsey said the offensive had also put pressure on Min Aung Hlaing who appeared to be facing unprecedented criticism from nationalists and regime supporters.

“Whether any other general will dare challenge him, or really wants to replace him, remains to be seen,” he said.

The country’s anti-coup forces, meanwhile, say they are moving closer to victory.

“After three years, the Spring Revolution is stronger than ever,” Duwa Lashi La, the acting president of the National Unity Government (NUG), an alliance of ethnic armed groups and resistance fighters, said on Tuesday.

“With each passing day, we are edging closer to victory. The criminal military will never crush the will of the people.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies