Junta Watch

Junta Watch: Min Aung Hlaing’s Statue Cries; Regime Woos Students with Recruitment Propaganda; and More

By The Irrawaddy 18 March 2023

‘Ominous sign’ for regime chief

A giant marble Buddha statue built by junta boss Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyitaw and touted as the world’s tallest sitting Buddha image is crying.

Stripes have appeared below the eyes of the 81-feet (24.69-m)-tall Buddha image known as Maravijaya as if the massive statue had burst into tears. The regime has covered its face with cloth, barred visitors and banned photos of the stained statue.

Its main donor, Min Aung Hlaing, who has spent billions on his vanity projects since the coup even as Myanmar burns, will definitely be worried given his deep-rooted superstition.

Astrologers are saying that this is a bad omen for generals who have made donations to the statue built by their chief. They pointed out that Myanmar’s first military dictator, Ne Win, was forced to step down before completion of the Maha Wizaya Pagoda he was having built.

Former military dictator Than Shwe, the founder of Naypyitaw, visited the statue some three weeks ago. Access to the site is still restricted to those with ties to generals, and even government employees are not yet allowed to visit. Mass murderer Min Aung Hlaing normally visits the Buddha statue on weekends, according to sources in Naypyitaw.

Desperate military eyes students

Junta employees distribute propaganda pamphlets to students taking exams in Naypyitaw. / Naypyitaw Council

It’s an open secret that Myanmar’s military has been struggling to recruit new officers and soldiers since the 2021 coup. But the extent of the recruitment crisis was revealed when the regime distributed “propaganda pamphlets” to students as they completed their university-entrance exams this week.

In that hope that some teenagers might be deceived, junta personnel handed out pamphlets to students who had just finished taking their matriculation exam in the generals’ base of Naypyitaw and some other places this week.

It was the first time since the coup that the regime has targeted students with its propaganda. But it came as no surprise given its military is suffering heavy casualties in daily clashes with resistance forces.

Although barely 180,000 students nationwide registered for this year’s matriculation exam, the most important for university admission, the regime published 200,000 pamphlets of propaganda headed “message” to distribute.

The number of students applying to the country’s military academies has dropped sharply since the coup and subsequent brutal crackdowns on anti-regime protesters. So, the regime created the pamphlets to woo potential candidates for military training.

In 2020, one year before the coup, a total of 900,000 students sat for the matriculation exam. But that figure plummeted to barely 280,000 in 2022 and just over 180,000 this year amid a widespread boycott of education under military rule.

Junta’s massacre lie exposed

Bodies of civilians including monks who were shot dead by regime forces at Nan Name Village’s monastery in Shan State on March 11. / Karenni Nationalities Defense Force

Casings from bullets manufactured by the military regime were found at the site of junta’s latest massacre, in southern Shan State’s Pinlaung Township, according to a joint press conference of the parallel National Unity Government, the Karenni State Consultative Council (KSCC) and Pa-O National Federal Council (PNFC).

According to the NUG, regime troops killed 22 civilians including three Buddhist monks and a woman taking shelter at a monastery in a village in Pinlaung. The junta has accused resistance forces of being responsible for the massacre.

The regime is not only using weapons and ammunition purchased from China, India, Russia and Israel, but also producing them from its own ordnance factories to kill revolutionary forces and innocent civilians.

Junta troops have been traveling through Pinlaung to launch an offensive over the border in Kayah State.

Deputy junta chief Soe Win visited Kayah State on Wednesday amid large-scale assaults by regime troops against Karenni resistance forces there. Meeting with local battalions, he called on soldiers to utilize their weapons and ammunition to the full.