The junta has threatened to punish citizens caught playing online video games that help raise funds for the country’s armed resistance movement. The military regime placed a notice in its propaganda newspapers on Monday warning the public that they would face prosecution for “playing the PDF Game”.
The notice states that the PDF Game apps are developed by “terrorist organizations affiliated to National Unity Government and its parliamentary committee, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, and used to support People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) engaged in terrorist activities”.
The junta also said the games created a false impression and incited rebellion against junta rule among young people.
“These games create a false impression of the military and unconsciously increase the desire for revolution among the young people,” the notice read.
Released in March 2022, The PDF Game was developed by expat Myanmar programmers to finance the armed struggle and aid victims of military rule. It has rapidly gained popular both within and outside the country.
The game enables players to take on the role of PDF fighters and shoot junta soldiers as well as top generals including coup leader Min Aung Hlaing virtually. Proceeds from the app, which is available for Apple and Android devices, are being donated to fund the resistance and help displaced civilians. The game has been downloaded more than 500,000 times.
Its developers earlier told The Irrawaddy that senior citizens who had never played video games in their lives had now joined young people in playing the game as a way of participating in the revolution against the ruthless regime, which has killed thousands of civilians since the 2021 coup.
Many players say they are motivated and they like the fact that when they reload their weapons in the game by watching advertisements, it generates revenue and helps the actual PDF fighters.
“It’s a very motivating game in our fight for democracy. Sometimes we feel we have no voice, but when we play this game, we take revenge for our heroes by firing bullets. These [virtual] bullets will become the ammunition that goes to our heroes for the real fight,” read one review on Google Play.
Other games developed by young Myanmar techies to raise funds for the revolution are also popular among Myanmar nationals. These include PDF Hero and End Game-Union.
“The newspaper announcement sounded like a joke,” said Ko Padaythar, a resistance fighter who founded YouTube channel “Padaythar Pin” and helps raise funds for resistance groups.
He added that after shamelessly seizing power and arresting the state’s leaders, the junta was now arresting anyone for various trumped-up reasons and would continue to do so regardless of whether they played the games or not.
But he also urged the public to be cautious when leaving their homes, recommending that they carry a backup phone with a social media account that contains nothing about the revolution, as the junta might inspect the apps and social media posts.
“It [the newspaper notice] shows that they are afraid of the strength of these apps. Public participation in the revolution through clicking on the apps is helping the fight a lot. So, let’s work harder than ever before,” he said.