Burma

In Myanmar, Anonymous Attacks Have Junta’s Families Living in Fear

By The Irrawaddy 12 June 2021

Undeniably, the increasingly frequent bomb and hit-and-run attacks on regime targets in Myanmar’s urban areas are scaring the family members of high-ranking officials at the military regime-controlled Home Affairs Ministry to death.

“They are really scary!” admitted the wife of Home Affairs Minister Lieutenant General Soe Htut, who heads the Myanmar Police Force and is under US sanction following the coup in February.

Daw Nilar Sein made the confession during a Viber Group call with the wives of other senior officials from the ministry. A leaked recording of the call was shared on Mratt’s Channel.

Myanmar has seen a spate of deadly bombings and shooting attacks on police stations, ward administration offices and other government facilities in response to the junta’s killing of more than 800 people during its nationwide crackdowns on protesters. A number of regime-appointed local administrators have been shot dead at close range recently. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks. In the country’s southeastern Kayah State, among other places, junta troops have been killed by civilian resistance groups who have taken up arms against the regime.

In the leaked conversation, which appears to be recent, Daw Nilar Sein instructs the others on the call to pay serious attention to security, claiming to have learned that 30 resistance fighters had been dispatched to Pyinmana in Naypyitaw to bomb the residences of high-ranking officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the military.

“Thoroughly check the stuff that comes into your houses. Be alert when you sleep at night,” she is heard saying.

The wife of the Home Affairs Minister even reminds the others “not to go out with escorts in police uniform.”

“If they see someone in uniform in your car, they [attackers] will notice and plant a bomb on the car,” she says.

She also warns that the children of senior officials should not dine out at night, saying they are vulnerable to anti-regime informants at restaurants.

“They are quite scary. The danger is not apparent,” she reminds the other callers.

Apart from urging the others to be on alert, Daw Nilar Sein also recommends some rather more traditional self-protection measures: Reciting Buddhist scriptures to ward off the dangers looming over them.

“Recite them now. They [the attackers] will be likely to come and get you, if they don’t get others!”

At this point in the conversation, the minister’s wife takes a more high-tech approach.

Daw Nilar Sein instructs the others in her group to “report” to Facebook the account of a minster in the parallel National Unity Government (NUG), and that of a Facebook influencer.

The first victim turned out to be Dr. Zaw Wai Soe, who is the NUG’s acting minister overseeing three portfolios: Labor, Immigration and Population; Education; and Health and Sports.

In the call, she accuses the orthopaedic surgeon-turned-minister of orchestrating the killings of security forces and raids on police stations.

“His icy voice really scares me,” Daw Nilar Sein says.

She urges the others to report Dr. Zaw Wai Soe’s account hourly every day until it is banned, because “Everyone seems to take what he said seriously.”

Her other target was Pencilo, a popular Facebook influencer and energetic anti-regime activist who wages daily online psychological warfare against the junta and their family members, frequently warning them that their days are numbered.

“Our police officers were killed because of these two [Dr. Zaw Wai Soe and Pencilo],” says Daw Nilar Sein. “They launch their destructive activities in cahoots.”

“Do report them starting from tonight. If you don’t know how, ask your children!” she orders her listeners.

So far, the Facebook accounts of both Dr. Zaw Wai Soe and Pencilo remain active, with more than 400,000 and 2.8 million followers respectively.

In response to Daw Nilar Sein, Pencilo posted on Saturday morning that blocking her account or that of Dr. Zaw Wai Soe would not stop the revolution against the regime.

“It will only stop when you all take a dirt nap! Get it?”

 

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