What is so special about martial law?

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – February 03 Scenes
MoeMaKa, February 04 2023

What is so special about martial law?

After the 6-month term extension, the military council announced martial law in 37 townships. At the NDSC meeting, the leader of the military council, Min Aung Hlaing, gave a 30-page long report to the Union Election Commission about the military’s complaints about the voters frauds during the past two years before the military seized over.

In the report, 65 townships are described as the townships that need to be effectively implemented for security in the section on the country’s current security situation. The townships declared under martial law are expected to be among these 65 townships.

After the military coup in mid-March, 6 townships were declared under martial law in Yangon, followed by 5 townships in Mandalay, and around May, Chin State’s Mindat Township was also declared under martial law.

Martial law was no longer declared after that, but what is happening on the ground is more than just martial law, with people being killed, arrested, and tortured lawlessly.

If you review what is so special about the more than a dozen townships that have declared martial law in the past 2 years, as mentioned above, you will clearly see that the cases related to political activities, armed attacks etc. are examined briefly by military courts and the highest punishments are imposed.

Death sentences are mostly imposed by military courts. In Yangon Division, most of the death sentences for alleged attacks and killings of dalans occurred in townships such as Hlaingthaya, North Okkalapa, North Dagon and South Dagon were imposed by military courts.

After the military declared martial law, it announced 23 types of sections of law that military courts have the right to judge according to routine procedures. Military courts are also working to judge cases related to political opposition and armed attacks.

It was the military court that sentenced Ko Jimmy, Ko Zeyar Thaw and two Hlaingthaya Township residents, Ko Aung Thura Zaw and another person, to death.

The military court is not required to conduct cross-examination of witnesses or to allow the person facing trial to hire a lawyer, as in regular civilian courts. The court has the nature of making a decision that examines the evidence presented by the prosecution, asking whether they are guilty, and then passing the sentence, as well as the nature of imposing the most severe punishment under the relevant section. There is no right to appeal the order through civil court, and it only has to submit an amendment and file a petition to the highest military authorities.

As a result, not only is the military in complete control of the administration under military rule, but it also means that the right to defend oneself, the right to present evidence in cases involving politics in that region, and the right to appeal are all lost.

That being said, even now, when patrolling in war-torn areas, people are being killed and captured as they please in villages, so you can complain that things aren’t going to be more different. Although it is true to a certain extent that it is not going to be different because they are killing people as they please in Sagaing, Kayah, and the upper part of Magway, it also makes it clear that after the military rule, they will be allowed to do more with impunity.

For local defense forces like PDF and armed attackers, the law is not very important, but the rest of the civilians are threatened by the military council to not get involved in political opposition or support armed attacks. It is also thought to be a message that the slightest support or involvement will result in the highest penalty.