Myanmar and Its 9 patterns of Mass Political Violence since Depayin Massacre in 2003



A government propagandist under the pen name of Ludhu Maung Kar Lu writes:

Here come our nation's heroes in Lashio, Shan State, and how they are defending our (Buddhist) faith and race!

Maung Kar Lu, a pseudonym, is suspected of being a team of a few guys including Vice Minister of Information Ye Htut and former minister of info ex-Brigadier Kyaw Hsan) has this to say about organized mortor-cycle thugs in Lashio. In the past, under ex-general Khin Nyunt's directorship, a similar team operated under the email alias: Okkar.

In the days of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), a mass organization which Than Shwe founded and patronized had a wing of thugs named Swan-Ar-Shi or The Force, which Aung San Suu Kyi herself called "Burma's Brown Shirts".

Swan Ar-Shin was a mix of regular thuggish elements from the USDA and hired hitmen from among a large army of poor, unschooled and un-employed men desperate for meals for themselves and for their families.   During the Saffron Revolution of 2007, the Than Shwe regime initially mobilized Swan Ar-Shin in order to quell essentially the defiant monks on the streets of Rangoon, Mandalay, etc.

Regime sympathizers among the Burmese such as Assistant Professor Kyaw Yin Hlaing of the City University of Hong Kong would falsely characterize these hired thugs from poor city neighborhoods as 'community volunteers and leaders' who were simply trying to restore order and calm on the street.

In the Depayin massacre/bloody ambush against the NLD leadership on the outskirt of a rural town named Depayin near Mongya city on May 2003, Than Shwe regime unleashed several thousands of these thuggish elements - many of whom were drugged prior to their bloody attack on unarmed NLD supporters travelling with ASSK along the country road.

Brandishing swords, sticks and other weapons, these 'patriotic defenders of Buddhist faith and race' show absolutely no concern or no regard for any law enforcement agencies and local security forces.

I am more than confident that these motorcyclist-thugs enjoy the backing from the highest level of the power structures in Naypydiaw as did the perpetrators of the Depayin massacre organized.

Paraphrasing the words of Irrawaddy founder and publisher Aung Zaw who wrote an analysis a few months ago about who might be behind recent attacks against Myanmar Muslims, there are Naypyidaw elements behind these waves of organized mass violence which are 'too big' to take any action against by the meek and dishonest leadership of 'reformist' President Thein Sein.


There can be found 9 recognizable patterns in the on-again, off-again waves of mass violence that appear 'sectarian' or 'communal' or seemingly spontaneous riots and violence among the mobs, since May 2003 where Aung San Suu Kyi's motorcade was ambushed by a well-organized mob of about 5,000 hired thugs and USDA members trucked in to the ambush site under the operational leadership of the late Prime Minister and Lt-General Soe Win, the current Union Solidarity and Development party leaders ex-Brigadier Aung Thaung (MP) and the then Education Minister Pan Aung.  

These patterns include:

1) the mobs show absolutely no sign of regard for the security forces nor do they seem to be concerned about the legal ramifications of their murderous acts in broad day light;

2) Burma's generally trigger-happy security forces with 50-years record of massacres and bloody crackdown sit on their hands, in most cases;

3) with military-like precision and effectiveness, the perpetrators carry out their atrocities and mass violence against targets, be their dissidents or the scapegoated religious and ethnic minorities;

4) these attacks often coincide with significant developments in the country, for instance, the Rakhine leaders' increasingly vocal demand for greater political autonomy and fairer revenue sharing, the rising tide of popularity for Aung San Suu Kyi, skyrocketing of prices of basic consumer essentials such as fuels and rice , a visible crisis of public confidence in the military leadership, the military leadership's strategic failures in various domains of policy and practice such as the break-down of a ceasefire with some armed resistance groups, or the push for greater power and revenue sharing or a constitutional amendment;

5) the authorities take no punitive actions against anyone involved in mass violence and destruction; in other words, the government of Myanmar seems to offer the organized mob a blanket impunity to commit atrocities at will;  as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana put it in March this year, “I have received reports of State involvement in some of the acts of violence, and of instances where the military, police and other civilian law enforcement forces have been standing by while atrocities have been committed before their very eyes, including by well organised ultra-nationalist Buddhist mobs. This may indicate direct involvement by some sections of the State or implicit collusion and support for such actions.”

6) the government media outlet such as Myanmar TV and the Army's Myawaddy, social media sites, crony-run racist private media, government spokespersons and ministries of information and foreign affairs put out deliberately false news, manufactured facts and figures and issue confusing and conflicting narratives - for instance, one-side government-backed massacres as 'communal riots' 'sectarian violence', etc;

7) form inquiry commissions whose mission is to simply whitewash the bloody events and absolve the senior most leadership of the military and semi-military governments of any wrongdoing, involvement or failure to ensure human security (public safety) for individuals and public; and

8) international media and western and eastern national governments, generally speaking, have proven to be   too eager to swallow Myanmar government's official line or lies, thereby playing, wittingly or not, 'external enablers' role' in Burma's unfolding mass violence, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity; and

9) the Burmese military leaders and their advisers entice foreign governments that initially get concerned while the former will attempt to split foreign blocs  such as ASEAN, OIC or EU, by dangling divergent economic and strategic sweeteners.  

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