Killing of whom assumed to be an Air Force officer in Thanlyin; Victory or Defeat with human rights violations

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – April 18 Scenes

MoeMaKa, April 19, 2023

Killing of whom assumed to be an Air Force officer in Thanlyin; Victory or Defeat with human rights violations

Today, on April 18, an unknown armed group opened fire and killed 3 men who were talking in the courtyard of a house in Htanpinkone Ward, Thanlyin Town.

After the killing, two media outlets reported that a lieutenant colonel of the Air Force Supply Department of the military council had been shot and killed.

A few hours after the news broke, the son of one of the victims who was shot posted that his father had nothing to do with the army, that his father was a strong supporter of the NLD party, and that his father’s trusted political party killed his father.

Some news outlets wrote hours later that only one of the 3 dead was a retired military officer, and the other 2 were a school guard and the brother-in-law of the officer. The news media are presenting news with just the information provided by the perpetrators to present the news before others do. When the people who send the information are wrong, the media will also present the wrong information to the public and conclude that it happened like that.

On the other hand, this incident shows that those who are working to clear the military council’s pillars, in other words, assassination, need to collect more specific information about whether their target is a person currently serving in the military council, a member of the general administrative apparatus of the military council, or someone who investigates and provides information about the opposition.

In the era of social media, it is easy to send information to public communication page accounts or organization accounts without having to provide any information about the sender, such as name, address, occupation, or background information. It is assumed that urban guerilla groups are carrying out their so-called mission according to the information they receive, which is sent by identities without a phone number, real name, or background information. Urban guerrilla groups need to understand the importance of verifying the information they receive. If not, this kind of incident may occur, and it will be like when the supporters of the spring revolution and the NLD party are killed by the guerilla groups, and the public’s support will decrease.

Last year, there was an incident in Mandalay where a husband and wife who were riding a motorcycle back from sending their children to school were assassinated, assuming they were junta scouts. From the point of view of human rights standards, the methods of assassination will not be acceptable to the international community. The Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General, Noeleen Heyzer, also mentioned the cases of civilians being killed, such as assassinations by revolutionary forces.

On the other hand, NUG is trying to increase international pressure on the military council by proving their human rights violations and war crimes with evidence. Anyone with political experience understands that human rights violations and war crimes are not the determining factors of revolution or military victory. It is understood that these factors can only be considered as a point of diplomatic pressure, and that what determines them is the ability to meet other key military and political strategic needs.

Human rights violations and war crimes are more related to reputational, advocacy, and diplomatic issues. There are rare cases in the world where weapons and armed forces are used to justify the violation of human rights. However, the revolutionary forces will urgently need to adhere to human rights standards to meet the goal of building a new federal state with dignity and public support in the future.