Junta Watch

Junta Watch: Dictator Preaches Xmas ‘Peace’ Amid Bombing Campaign; Chief Torturer Sings Hymns; and More     

By The Irrawaddy 31 December 2022

Hypocrites gather for Christmas 

After numerous villages, including Christian communities, were torched and bombed on his orders, junta boss Min Aung Hlaing preached the merits of love and kindness at a service to mark Christmas at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Yangon on Dec. 23.

Cardinal Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon Catholic Archdiocese, welcomed the junta chief and prayed for peace, prosperity and happiness for Myanmar people, according to junta media. Bo seems to have quite a big heart, having apparently already forgiven and forgotten that Min Aung Hlaing’s regime torched his native village in Sagaing Region’s Khin-U Township, along with many churches across the country.

The cardinal was even more brazen when he joined Archbishop Steven Than Myint Oo and Reverend Dr. Aye Min to present a “Home Sweet Home” mosaic as a Christmas gift to the junta chief. All three were awarded Thiri Pyanchi titles by Min Aung Hlaing last month.

Min Aung Hlaing is not alone in persecuting Myanmar people 

Ye Win Oo and his wife Nilar join Min Aung Hlaing and his wife Kyu Kyu Hla to sing Christmas hymns at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Yangon on December 23.

The second most important guests at the service, after Min Aung Hlaing and his wife Kyu Kyu Hla, were Lieutenant General Ye Win Oo, joint secretary of the State Administration Council, the regime’s administrative body, and his wife Nilar.

As chief of military intelligence, Ye Win Oo oversaw the arrest of ousted National League for Democracy leaders following last year’s coup and is responsible for the fatal torture of dissidents in the junta’s interrogation centers. His wife Nilar regularly joins Kyu Kyu Hla on trips inside and outside the country.

Ye Win Oo accompanies the junta boss at regime cabinet meetings, talks with diplomats, and on trips at home and abroad. True to form, he was chosen over other military top brass and junta ministers to sit beside Min Aung Hlaing and sing hymns during this year’s Christmas celebrations.

The junta boss also prefers to have Ye Win Oo at his side during meetings with foreign dignitaries, relegating the regime’s more senior and experienced foreign minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, and showing his trust in his right-hand man.

Junta sets light to rule of law – again 

Yangon residents panicked when they heard loud blasts around 10 pm on December 24. The noises prompted speculation on social media that junta troops were firing at something.

Min Aung Hlaing presides at the event to mark the 75th anniversary of the Navy on December 24.

News then filtered through that the regime had been setting off firecrackers and fireworks to mark the Navy’s 75th anniversary and the commissioning of five warships to fight resistance forces along the Chindwin and Ayeyarwady rivers. Junta boss Min Aung Hlaing was at the Navy jetty enjoying the fireworks display.

The display came after regime media had warned that people who set off fireworks during the Christmas-New Year period in Yangon Region would be prosecuted for causing public panic. The regime promptly flouted its own rule, demonstrating once again its habit of saying one thing and doing another while seeing itself as above the law.

Regime’s New Year countdown parties are a ploy 

Fireworks explode over the city during New Year celebrations in Yangon on January 1, 2019. / AFP

The regime has announced that the night-time curfew in Yangon Region will be lifted for one day on December 31 when it will organize New Year celebrations to attract revelers out onto the streets.

The junta is seeking to kill two birds with one stone by lifting the curfew and throwing parties. First, it can use the pictures of merrymakers for propaganda and claim things have returned to normal in Myanmar. Second, in case something bad happens at the countdown featuring a concert and fireworks display at People’s Square in the commercial capital, it can point the finger at the resistance, discredit the People’s Defense Forces and malign the popular revolt against military rule.

The junta is also lifting the curfew in Mandalay and the administrative capital Naypyitaw, seeking the same countdown propaganda victory there.