Junta Watch

Junta Watch: India Trains Regime’s Globally Shunned Legal Officials; Yoga Classes for Ministry; and More

By The Irrawaddy 10 December 2022

India trains junta legal officials despite arbitrary arrests, extra-judicial killings

Regime judges and law officers before their trip to India for capacity-building training.

The world’s largest democracy, India, is providing capacity building training for Legal Affairs Ministry staff of the military regime, just as foreign governments and organizations are condemning the junta’s arbitrary detention, jailing and death sentences for democracy activists including university students.

Forty Myanmar junta trainees including a deputy permanent secretary, directors-general, deputy directors-general, assistant directors-general, staff officers of the Supreme Court of the Union, district and township judges and law officers underwent capacity building training for judges and law officers provided by the National Judicial Academy in India’s Bhopal from Dec. 5-8.

The training signals that India is expanding its assistance to junta’s judicial system beyond the military, economic and diplomatic fields, and assisting the regime with its plan to hold a general election next year.

The training was conducted under a memorandum of understanding between the junta’s Attorney-General’s Office and the National Judicial Academy of India. The Myanmar trainees were taught about the Indian Constitution, judicial system, court management, and relevant laws and procedures. They also visited a medical science center and the district court and central jail in Bhopal, according to junta media.

Yoga for junta staff

Government staff in Naypyitaw do physical exercises.

It appears that Indian diplomats have been promoting their country’s ancient practices during their recent meetings with junta chief Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyitaw. In November, he preached the benefits of intermittent fasting and instructed obese department staff to fast for 36 hours. And Min Aung Hlaing is now instructing government employees to practice yoga for their mental and physical health.

A yoga training class opened at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation on Dec. 7, and 61 staff attended. Similar classes will be organized for other ministries, according to junta media.

Since early November ministries have been hosting team-building lunches for their employees, with the Ministry of Information visiting each government office to entertain staff with music and dance.

Those activities are part of a campaign aimed at creating fun working places for civil servants. With the state of emergency ending in around two months, the junta wants to create the impression for the international community that government employees are working happily for the coup leader. It also seeks to win votes from government employees in a general election it plans to hold next year.

It is an open secret that Min Aung Hlaing is dreaming of ascending to the presidency through next year’s election. The junta boss in July announced his plan to provide monthly allowances for permanent government employees to pay their rent. Many senior civil servants received awards when he handed out titles and medals on Nov. 17 to mark the country’s National Day.

NUG calls junta conglomerates terrorism fundraisers

A UMEHL meeting in November 2022.

The parallel National Unity Government (NUG) on Dec. 6 designated Myanmar military-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd. and Myanmar Economic Corporation as terrorist organizations.

The two business entities monopolize various businesses in Myanmar ranging from mining, manufacturing, transportation, banking and telecommunications to trading, and the military regime is spending the profits from those businesses on campaigns of violence against innocent civilians across the country, said the civilian government.

Revenues from those businesses are only shared among military leaders and senior military officers, and the rank-and-file members barely enjoy any benefits, said the NUG, citing dividend payment documents.

Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd held its 33rd annual general meeting on Nov. 25, during which a director explained the distribution of dividends, according to the junta’s mouthpiece Myawady Daily.

The US imposed sanctions on both business entities in March last year, following the military takeover.

The Myanmar military regime and the NUG have branded each other as terrorist organizations.

Min Aung Hlaing eyes production of COVID-19 medicine at home

During the serious COVID-19 outbreak last year, junta chief Min Aung Hlaing said Myanmar would go broke if COVID-19 vaccines were to be imported from abroad for all 50-million-plus people in the country. He then promoted the idea of producing COVID-19 medicines from herbs at home.

He urged traditional medicine practitioners in the country to produce herbal medicines that could be used to fight the coronavirus. During a COVID-19 meeting in August last year, he proudly said the country’s Ministry of Health and the military’s medical research corps were embarking on research to develop traditional COVID medicine.

Several thousand people died of coronavirus during the third wave last year as the regime was formulating traditional medicine to fight the disease.

Min Aung Hlaing remained boastful about his medicine when delivering a video address to the Myanmar Traditional Medicine Practitioner Conference on Thursday. A clinical trial was successful, and the herbal medicine will soon be put into production, he said.

As the COVID-19 infection rate stands at 0.25 percent now, Min Aung Hlaing said his medicine, known as Say Khar Gyi, or bitter medicine, can also be used to treat seasonal flu.

Min Aung Hlaing’s idea to use herbal plants to treat COVID-19 patients is not an original one. He is just echoing Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who has supported the use of a medicinal herb, green chiretta, to relieve symptoms in mild cases of COVID-19.

It is also possible that Min Aung Hlaing is taking a cue from Kim Jong-un, as North Korea focuses on traditional herbal medicine to fight coronavirus.