The Junta extended the country’s state of emergency by six months, claiming that the “country remains in an abnormal situation and time is needed to prepare for a peaceful and stable election.” The Junta also extended martial law in 37 townships across the country. Rights groups are warning the announcement could foretell a possible increase in arbitrary arrests, torture and executions by Myanmar’s military regime as martial law puts police, judicial and administrative activities in the townships under the regional military’s control.
The military junta declared a new, strict ‘electoral law’ on 20 January. The new ‘law’ replaces legislation from 2010 and increases the number and necessary distribution of members and founding thresholds for parties who would attempt to compete in the ‘general elections’ which the junta plans to organize in August 2023. The United Nations Human Rights Council has previously declared the election to be a sham, and an attempt by the junta “to advance its false claim to legitimacy.” The new ‘law’ effectively prevents the National League for Democracy and new opposition parties from participating, while allowing the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party to be the only party able to meet all the requirements. Parties that do not register within 60 days will lose their legal status under the law.
A junta-controlled court in Myanmar concluded the final outstanding show trial of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on 29 December, sentencing her to seven years in prison on corruption charges. Aung San Suu Kyi was already serving a 26-year sentence on numerous other charges. The trials were universally condemned as politically motivated and illegitimate outside the military junta.
The military junta carried out 14 unannounced and closed-door executions of imprisoned pro-democracy leaders and civilians between late July and mid-August. Capital punishment was last practiced in the country in 1987.