Myanmar Spring Chronicle – March 09 Scenes
MoeMaKa, March 10 2023
The effect of the relationship between the KNU and the Karen armed organizations; Social Media & Online Doxing
Some news outlets reported this afternoon that a convoy that KNU leaders were riding in was mined between the town of Hlaingbwe, Karen State and Paingkyon Village, injuring one person. A few hours later, other news outlets stated that it was not the convoy that some KNU leaders were traveling in, but a car in which the son of a Karen State Border Guard Force officer’s son who was riding, was struck by a mine.
Hlaingbwe and Paingkyon Village are only a few miles distant. The emergence of false news that the car in which some KNU leaders were riding was attacked may be a form of spreading false information to the news media with some purpose. There is also the question of whether the release of the news is intended to create distrust between the KNU, the most powerful Karen armed group, and other Karen armed groups.
A few days ago, an announcement was made by Karen social organizations abroad calling for the resignation of KNU’s leadership, and KNU’s political leadership and direction are being questioned.
KNU forces are stationed in Karen State, some areas of Mon State, some eastern parts of Bago Division and Tanintharyi Division, and it is the KNU that has accepted and protected the National Unity Government, abbreviated as NUG.
In the past few years, KNU has intended to hold a congress to review the group’s policy and re-elect its leaders, but it has been postponed due to the military coup and may be held this year.
In the midst of this situation, the news that a convoy carrying some KNU leaders was attacked by a landmine, has increased suspicion and mistrust among the Karen armed groups, and if there is any conflict between the Karen armed groups, the NUG government will also have to quickly find an alliance organization to take refuge with. If the status of unity between KNU and other Karen armed forces changes, NUG may also have to find a regional alliance.
Changes in KNU policies and leadership will have an impact not only on KNU but also on its allies and forces opposed to the military council.
Another piece of news for today is the news that some local Myanmar food producers have been arrested and interrogated by the military council in connection with the Myanmar-made food store of Pencilo, who is a well-known fundraiser for NUG. Today’s news reports that some other food manufacturers, including Zalon Gyi, have been arrested and interrogated. The telegram channels of Han Nyein Oo and others, which were part of the junta’s propaganda apparatus to interrogate the relationship between Pencilo abroad and the local food producers, led to these arrests and interrogations as a result of the argument on social media that the items posted at the Myanmar food store, which is Pencilo’s own business, are paid through a credit system.
Dozens of channels on the Telegram platform of the military council’s propaganda apparatus have been monitoring the social media posts of local NUG, PDF, NLD, and CRPH supporters and posts of news agencies. They are instigating for arrests along with the personal addresses, photos, and information, so-called doxing in modern term, of who supported or posted about the anti-military council movement, and which businesses or organizations support the anti-junta movement.
Extorting money from the victims of this propaganda machine where they were mentioned with information and releasing them is also happening all the time. There are cases where the police and military intelligence, after finding out how politically involved the people who were arrested and interrogated through such reports, are asking for tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of Myanmar kyats to release those who can compensate them. Those who were deeply involved were arrested and imprisoned by the military council. Through this method of doing doxing, the military council has created informers and threats to monitor and arrest those who oppose it, as well as extortionists and bribers through those data. So, it is imposing a dangerous situation for users, who do not fully understand the nature of social media.