Drones are causing distress for the military; nuclear plans go ahead; and more

junta clock

Min Aung Hlaing presents a cash prize to a traditional artists’ group in Irkutsk, Russia, on September 11. / cincds

Through The Irrawaddy September 24, 2022

Resistance drone strikes are taking their toll

The anti-regime Federal Wings drone unit

The Myanmar military regime is installing anti-drone cannons at key buildings and sites, junta spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun said at the regime’s regular news conference on Tuesday, indicating the anti-regime resistance’s drone warfare is working effectively.

When resistance fighters collectively known as the People’s Defense Forces began fighting back against the regime a little over a year ago, they were armed only with homemade firearms and rudimentary hunting rifles. Today, many resistance groups use drones to bomb military targets on land and sea.

At the 16th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime on Thursday, Deputy Interior Minister and Junta Police Chief Maj. Gen. Zin Min Htet admitted PDF groups are using improvised explosive devices and drones to create increasingly powerful blasts.

Drones are among the weapons the junta’s frontline troops fear most, as defectors say they can inflict widespread damage beyond the specific target. PDFs are also using drones against junta ground assault forces in Karen state and Sagaing region. Five regime soldiers were killed in a drone strike by the resistance in Karen state on Wednesday.

Nuclear ambitions reaffirmed

The regime’s Science and Technology Minister, Dr. Myo Thein Kyaw (left), junta chief Min Aung Hlaing (centre) and Rosatom director general Alexey Likhachev sign a memorandum of understanding in Moscow in July. / cincds

With the Myanmar military regime increasingly pursuing nuclear technology with Russia’s help, junta spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun confirmed the regime’s plan to implement a small-scale nuclear power plant project in the next few years at Tuesday’s press conference.

Without specifying where the reactor will be built, he said the Atomic Energy Department of the junta-controlled Ministry of Science and Technology will set up a “nuclear information technology center” in Yangon, tasked with shaping public opinion on nuclear energy measure and influence.

Myanmar’s bid to acquire nuclear technology dates back to former military dictator Than Shwe, who was also looking to build a nuclear research center with Russia’s help. The latest plan for a nuclear power plant follows the regime’s recent signing of a nuclear roadmap agreement with Russia’s state-run nuclear agency Rosatom for further cooperation on nuclear energy, including the possible implementation of a modular reactor project in Myanmar.

Although the regime says nuclear power is being used for peaceful purposes in Myanmar, which is beset by chronic power shortages, many believe it is just the first step in a plan to use nuclear power for military purposes, including nuclear weapons production. to use.

Threats fall on deaf ears

Karenni PDF members

At the same press conference, Major General Zaw Min Tun threatened supporters of the parallel National Unity Government (NUG) with death-penalty charges.

Those who donate even a dime to the NUG, its parliamentary wing, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), or its armed wing, the People’s Defense Force (PDF), could face the death penalty, the junta spokesman warned adding that netizens who like and share Facebook posts of the NUG and its affiliates have been charged with up to 10 years in prison.

The military junta has labeled the NUG, CRPH and PDF as terrorist organizations, and junta-controlled newspapers have carried reports on “identifying and taking legal action against those who support the NUG and its affiliates” since January. Nearly 100 people were prosecuted under the Anti-Terrorism Act, the Criminal Code and the Electronic Transactions Act for their alleged links to the groups.

To see if such threats are having the desired effect, one need look no further than the PDF groups’ arsenals. Originally armed with homemade rifles when they formed last year, many of the groups are now armed with automatic assault rifles. Some are better dressed than the regime’s troops and many are well fed by supporters at home and abroad. To the dismay of the regime, a recent raffle for a wooden plaque created by the son of imprisoned State Councilor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi raised more than $1.7 million in less than two weeks to help the people of Myanmar fight against to help the regime. The amount exceeds the $1.3 million Daw Aung San Suu Kyi received for winning the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

The junta can neither confirm nor deny that Buckingham Palace is haunted

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II being carried on the Royal Navy’s State Gun Carriage drives past Buckingham Palace September 19, 2022 in London. / AFP

Contrary to what you may have heard, the Junta’s intelligence team is actually very responsive! Especially when you’re asking for confirmation of something ridiculous, like whether or not Buckingham Palace is being haunted by the ghost of Queen Elizabeth II!

A recent leaked screenshot viewed by The Irrawaddy from the regime’s “Intelligence Team” closed group on Viber provides ample evidence. The group was established by the information exchange team and has 130 participants, mostly from pro-regime media. The team is led by the regime’s deputy information minister, who is known for his unprofessionalism and reckless comments.

After the Queen’s funeral, a so-called journalist with pro-junta media outlet Myanmar Hard Talk (MHT) told the team he had learned her soul was not yet at peace and that Buckingham Palace was haunted. (Sorry… he didn’t say how he got the shovel!) Then he asked:
“I have been informed that the palace is inviting some monks from Myanmar to recite Buddhist mantras to help the Queen’s soul rest in peace. Did they invite the monks? Many Thanks!”

A screenshot of a confirmation request sent to the regime’s intelligence team.

The regime’s information team took this absurd request very seriously and responded – seemingly without irony – a little over an hour later: “The Ministry of Culture has not yet received an invitation.”

MHT’s question is a classic example of the efforts of pro-junta media in Myanmar to spread misinformation and disinformation in the country. But why drag the queen in? It’s simple: the Myanmar regime was among the few who were not invited to the funeral. So the junta lobbyist tried to spread fake news attacking the Queen and Britain. Last but not least, the episode sheds some light (as if any were needed) on just how little intelligence the people working for pro-regime media in Myanmar really lack.

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