Junta Watch

Junta Watch: Military Bends Rules to Fill Ranks; Loyal Monk Promoted, and More

By The Irrawaddy 2 July 2022

Junta suffers recruitment crisis

Min Aung Hlaing attends a Defense Services Academy graduation ceremony.

Over the past year, Myanmar people have developed a deep loathing for the country’s military thanks to its terrible atrocities against civilians. The number of young people opting to join the junta’s institutes has consequently plunged, forcing the army to loosen age limits in order to lure fresh recruits.

Previously, applicants to the military’s Defense Services Academy, Defense Services Technological Academy and Defense Services Medical Academy could not be older than 18. But the regime recently announced in newspapers that it has loosened the age limit to 18 years and six months.

Shamelessly, the regime claimed it loosened the age limit at the request of the public. But everyone knows exactly why it has done so. People loathe the military.

While the military is finding it difficult to attract young cadets, it is also suffering from desertions. Central Myanmar, which used to be the main source of recruits for the Myanmar military, has turned out to be a resistance stronghold over the past year. Thousands of young people have joined resistance groups collectively known as the People’s Defense Force of their own volition to root out military dictatorship in Myanmar.

Monk promoted for loyalty to junta boss

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and his wife Daw Kyu Kyu offer meals to Dhammaduta Chekinda.

Pro-junta monk Dhammaduta Chekinda has been promoted to become the rector of the International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University in Yangon, according to the junta newspapers’ June 28 issues.

The monk is known for his summer school programs, in which he teaches teenagers Buddhism and other subjects like civics, attracting hundreds of youngsters annually. The monk has barely appeared in public since the coup and has been tight-lipped about the regime’s brutal crackdowns on peaceful protesters, some of whom were the same age as his summer school students.

He was the deputy rector of the International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University before the coup, and became the deputy rector after it. He was present when junta leader Min Aung Hlaing consecrated pagodas, and is overseeing the construction of a Buddha statue in Naypyitaw together with controversial monk Sitagu Sayadaw.

Min Aung Hlaing has also conferred the Agga Maha Pandita religious title on Dhammaduta Chekinda, as well as signing an amendment to the International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University Law that guarantees him the right to hold the rector seat for 15 consecutive years.

Sitagu Sayadaw has also been promoted from joint leading head to the head of the Shwe Kyin Sect, which is the second-largest monastic order of monks in Myanmar.

Regime legal affairs minister says Min Aung Hlaing’s coup legal

Junta Minister of Legal Affairs and Union Attorney-General Daw Thida Oo poses for a photo with other attendees at the 10th International Legal Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Junta Legal Affairs Minister and Attorney-General of Myanmar Daw Thida Oo attended the 10th St. Petersburg International Legal Forum in Russia from June 28-July 1, where she defended junta leader Min Aung Hlaing.

Daw Thida Oo served as the permanent secretary of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Union under the National League for Democracy government. She became the attorney-general following last year’s coup and was appointed the minister of the newly established Ministry of Legal Affairs, which Min Aung Hlaing formed to stifle dissent and suppress opposition by changing legal provisions as necessary.

At the International Legal Forum, in which the Russian justice minister participated, Daw Thida Oo defended Min Aung Hlaing by saying the commander-in-chief of Myanmar is authorized by the country’s constitution to exercise the three branches of power. Min Aung Hlaing has formed the State Administration Council as the interim government of Myanmar in accordance with the constitution, she claimed, adding that her Legal Affairs Ministry has been making a strenuous effort to promote justice and disseminate legal knowledge among the public.

The reality, as everyone knows, is that Min Aung Hlaing unlawfully ousted a democratically elected government, and is using every cruel means imaginable to suppress the people revolting against him while self-seeking legal experts such as Daw Thida Oo aid and abet the junta chief with their legal knowledge, despite their vows made before Lady Justice.

Air Force embarrasses junta chief with Thai airspace intrusion

Thai Lieutenant General Apichet Suesat (left) and Min Aung Hlaing

When he met Lieutenant General Apichet Suesat of the Royal Thai Army in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw on Wednesday, regime chief Min Aung Hlaing held serious discussions on border stability on the Myanmar-Thai frontier, where he is using airstrikes and artillery to crush resistance groups who are trying to topple him. The next day, a MiG-29 from the Myanmar Air Force intruded into Thai airspace while attacking rebels on the border, causing Thai villagers to take refuge in bunkers. As it happens, the area where the incursion took place turned out to be under the command of Lt-Gen Apichet himself. The Royal Thai Air Force responded by scrambling two F-16 fighter jets to patrol the skies over the border district, and lodged a protest with the regime. The junta’s Air Force chief, General Htun Aung, has apologized to his Thai counterpart, saying he was sorry and that there would be no recurrence of the incident. The incident is potentially serious for the junta—not because either side believes in “love thy neighbor”, but because Thailand is one of the few countries that still has warm relations with the regime.