Myanmar declared martial law in multiple areas under military control on Thursday , following the extension of a state of emergency throughout the country due to ongoing violence, which some UN experts consider a civil war. The country’s state-run MRTV television aired an announcement by Aung Lin Dwe, the secretary of the military’s State Administration Council, declaring martial law in 37 townships across eight of the country’s 14 regions and states.
Eleven of the townships under martial law are located in the Sagaing region and seven in the Chin state, which are areas in northwest Myanmar where there have been fierce battles between the army and pro-democracy People’s Defense Forces guerillas and their allies in ethnic minority militias. The army has been unable to control a nationwide uprising by those opposing military rule, who took up arms after peaceful protests against the military’s seizure of power on February 1, 2021 were suppressed with deadly force.
The military has declared martial law in the past, particularly in Yangon, the country’s largest city, in early 2021, which resulted in an increase of violence against protesters. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a non-partisan watchdog organization that keeps track of fatalities and arrests, at least 2,948 civilians have been killed since the military takeover.
Aung Lin Dwe stated in an official announcement that the declaration of martial law was necessary in order to properly enforce security and the rule of law. Martial law takes precedence over all other laws, granting the military complete control over a designated area, including responsibilities for administration, judicial proceedings, and law enforcement. The other regions where martial law was declared include Magway, Bago, and Tanintharyi regions, as well as Kayah, Kayin, and Mon states.