In some wards of Loikaw city, capital of Karenni State, local junta-appointed administrators are pressuring government staff who have not joined the national Civil Disobedience Movement strike to renew their household registration. Residents say the administrators are convoking meetings for this purpose.
In Myanmar, the government tracks the residency of all persons, local and traveling, through a system known as “household lists”, in which each family or individual must register their residence and update it any time a guest spends a night in a residence. Since the coup, the military regime has used the household registration to catch political refugees and activists hiding in the homes of others, by conducting night raids and abducting anyone not registered to be there.
“We will have to re-register in the wards. They called a meeting and told us that they would update the household register.” said a resident in Loikaw’s Namp Baw Wan ward.
A peace observer, who did not want to be named, said that this may be in preparation for the military’s sham elections planned for 2023. “They are collecting some census-type data, without openly disclosing that it’s a census. This is a pattern that has been quietly prepared since this past August,” he said.
The military regime is calling all the non-striking government staff and local administrators in the wards, and is asking for people to organize the data collection. The regime is currently working on the voter list and polling station specifications for the sham election.
The Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), the foremost political organization in the state, whose armed wing, the Karenni Army, leads the military struggle against the national military regime, has declared that the junta’s sham elections cannot be held in Karenni State, and that no party will be allowed to represent the Karenni people in such a poll. This means that, even if the election goes forward, the vast majority of people in the state will not casts votes, given that the military junta controls only a few small urban districts.