How military's infantry division shock troops have subjugated Myanmar

More soldiers have also been spotted on the streets to help police, including members of the 77th Light Infantry Division, a mobile force accused of brutality in campaigns against ethnic minority insurgents and protests in the past.

77th Light Infantry Division

Myanmar's junta deployed extra troops around the country as demonstrations escalated nationwide after the coup to ouster Aung San Suu Kyi.

The military has steadily escalated efforts to quell an uprising against their seizure of power two weeks ago, which saw civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi detained along with hundreds of others, including members of her democratically elected government.

Armoured vehicles were deployed in Yangon, the northern town of Myitkyina and Sittwe in the west, the first large-scale use of such vehicles since the coup.

More soldiers have also been spotted on the streets to help police, including members of the 77th Light Infantry Division, a mobile force accused of brutality in campaigns against ethnic minority insurgents and protests in the past.

(Photograph:AFP)

Savage offences against Rohingyas

The coup and arrest of Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi and hundreds of others have brought on the biggest protests in Myanmar in more than a decade, with hundreds of thousands denouncing the military's derailment of a tentative transition to democracy.

A Reuters report had earlier highlighted how 33rd and 99th light infantry divisions had carried out "savage offences" amid counter-insurgency campaigns against nation’s many ethnic minorities including in the Rakhine State against the Rohingyas.

(Photograph:AFP)

Rakhine State

Armoured vehicles were posted in Yangon and the northern town of Myitkyina and Sittwe in the west.

More soldiers have also been spotted on the streets to help police, including members of the 77th Light Infantry Division.

The army has been carrying out nightly arrests and has given itself search and detention powers. At least 400 people have been detained,

When Rohingya militants launched attacks across northern Rakhine State in August, 2017, the 33rd and 99th spearheaded the response. Their ensuing crackdown drove 700,000 Rohingya into neighbouring Bangladesh. The United Nations said the army may have committed genocide even as the United States called the action ethnic cleansing, Reuters reported.

(Photograph:AFP)

Aung San Suu Kyi backed military

The arrival of the light infantry divisions in early August 2017 marked a dramatic military build-up. Photos from that period showed soldiers arriving at the airport in Sittwe.

Aung San Suu Kyi had said in a statement at the time that the deployment would bring “peace, stability and security”, a decision which she is likely to regret now that the military has arrested her including several top NLD party leaders as the nation struggles to restore order amid the political crisis.

 

 

(Photograph:AFP)

Myanmar infantry vs Rohingyas

The 77th light-infantry division during the pro-democracy protests in 2007 was accused of using live ammunition against protesters, a move which they replicated in the current faceoff with demonstrators on the streets of Myanmar in the past fortnight.

Past military offensives waged by the 33rd and 99th have gone largely unnoticed by the world. But the impact of their Rakhine crackdown has been far-reaching, Reuters in a report had said.

The military had denied burning houses in Rakhine and said Rohingya militants set the homes alight, according to the Reuters report.

(Photograph:AFP)

Two light infantry divisions against Suu Kyi in 1988

Myanmar’s generals have long relied on light infantry divisions, both to fight ethnic insurgents along the country’s rugged borders and to crush dissent in its largest city, Yangon.

The first of the divisions, including the 99th, were created in the 1960s after the military overthrew Myanmar’s elected government.

In 1988, troops from two light infantry divisions were dispatched to Yangon to help crush a pro-democracy uprising led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

(Photograph:AFP)

2017 military crackdown

According to Reuters, there are now 10 such divisions, most based in central Myanmar – the country’s Buddhist heartland. Myanmar's stateless, conflict-scarred Rohingya community are on edge with the return of military rule, fearing further violence in a restive part of the country where others have shown support for the new regime.

They are still reeling from a 2017 military crackdown that razed entire villages and sent around 750,000 Rohingya fleeing across the border into Bangladesh carrying accounts of rape and extrajudicial killings.

Myanmar and its generals are on trial in a UN court for charges of genocide from the 2017 violence in northern Rakhine state, where the majority of the country's Rohingya population lived before their exodus.

Army chief Min Aung Hlaing, who now heads the country's new junta, repeatedly claimed the crackdown was necessary to root out insurgents in northern Rakhine state.

(Photograph:AFP)

Rohingya refugees

Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader ousted and detained by the generals last week, had travelled to The Hague to defend them from genocide charges while in office.

But across the border in Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees have sent messages of support to anti-coup protesters calling for her return.

Some have posted photos of themselves on social media while flashing the three-finger salute that has come to signify opposition to army rule.

(Photograph:AFP)

Read in App