Parliament declares state of emergency in Kokang

MP Mann Johnny speaks in Parliament in support of martial law (Photo-EMG)

The Union Parliament has imposed a state of emergency and martial law on the Kokang Self-Administered Zone in Shan State with no MPs objecting. 

The approval vote came after Presidential Office minister Aung Min tabled a proposal on the declaration of a state of emergency and military administration order. 

The minister said action was needed to subdue the chaos and protect civilians and their property. Therefore, the President’s Office, after consulting with the National Defence and Security Council, declared a 90-day state of emergency on February 17.

Aung Min said the Commander-in-Chief had assumed administrative and judicial powers concerning community peace and the maintenance of law and order in Kokang. 

The Kokang rebels started firing on the No.128 Light Infantry Division on February 9. As a result, civil servants were evacuated to Honai Village near the Chinese border. Clashes broke out between government and Kokang rebels near Kongyan, Tarshwehtan and Mawlike and the army launched air strikes. A police officer was killed in attacks on Hsiawe Prison while six members of the Kokang police died in another attack on the zone’s municipal offices, Aung Min said. 

He said the area was under curfew from 6pm to 6am and on February 13 more Kokang rebels had penetrated into Laukkai. They were usually hiding during the day and ambushing the police and security forces at night. The government side therefore had to conduct search operations on possible hideouts. 

According to the minister, Kokang troops penetrated into the whole of Laukkai District with the intent of retaking the Kokang region. They were disguising themselves as civilians, he said. 

MP Tin Maung Oo from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party and MPs Mann Johnny and Dr Zaw Myint Maung from the opposition National League for Democracy supported Aung Min’s proposal.

“Kokang is in Myanmar’s territory. I support the imposition of such orders for the security and maintenance of our Union. But the military is urged to take steps in order not to cause unnecessary suffering to our national brethren,” said Mann Johnny. 

Tin Maung Oo said: “Kokang is in a state of emergency as it poses a threat to the lives and property of the locals. Only the military will be able to take full action to restore the rule of law. I solemnly support the President Office’s declaration … as it is a move essential to defend national sovereignty, achieve internal peace and thwart disturbances to democratisation."