Myanmar Junta Ridiculed for Saying Jailed Politician, Deceased Karen Commander Involved in Pagoda Attack

By The Irrawaddy 1 November 2022

The Myanmar military junta is known internationally for its transparent lies. When it launched bloody crackdowns on peaceful anti-regime protesters last year, it referred to them as rioters and anarchic mobs trying to destabilize the country. After it conducted a deadly air strike on a school killing children as young as 7, the regime claimed the students’ classrooms were sheltering anti-regime armed resistance forces.

These are just a few examples of the regime’s habit of coming up with lame excuses to cover its atrocities. They show that the Myanmar junta’s incompetence knows no bounds: It can’t even tell a decent lie, let alone run a country properly.

But on Monday things became downright farcical when the regime accused a person who has been locked up in its prisons for nearly two years, and another who has been dead for over a year, of involvement in the recent deadly shootings at the Golden Rock Pagoda in Mon State.

According to multiple reports citing witnesses, the fatal shooting that killed three pilgrims last month was committed by junta troops, who began firing indiscriminately after they were attacked by resistance forces.

However, the regime has insisted the attack on the pilgrims was carried out by the Karen National Union (KNU) and anti-regime People Defense Force groups active in Mon State.

In their desperation to persuade the public that junta forces were not involved, regime-controlled media published a junta statement along with some headshots of 11 people, claiming they were involved in the shooting. Photos of the ousted National League for Democracy’s Mon State Chief Minister Dr. Aye Zan and KNU Brigade-1 commander Saw Pa Lae were among them. The statement claimed that the attack was led by Aye Min Tun, who they said was the personal assistant of Dr. Aye Zan.

But there are two small problems with this account: Dr. Aye Zan has been in regime custody since he was detained in February last year and is currently serving a 21-year prison term in Mon State’s Kyaikmaraw Prison.

Even more absurdly, the KNU commander the regime accuses of being involved in the attack drew his last breath more than a year ago. In an obituary notice last year, the KNU announced that Saw Pa Lae died of hypertension on Aug. 9, 2021.

An official from KNU Brigade-1 said the regime had no idea whom they were accusing. “They don’t know the people they mentioned are either not alive or not outside [prison],” the official said.

Unsurprisingly, the junta’s announcement was ridiculed by Myanmar netizens.

“I take my hat off to the regime for daring to say someone who’s behind bars, and someone who’s dead, were involved in the attack,” write one Facebook user.