Abstract: This study considers how governments use state-sponsored propaganda and state violence in tandem to repress social movements and, in so doing, exacerbate polarization. We specifically focus on cases in young and non-democracies in East and Southeast Asia: China and Hong Kong, the Free Papua Movement in Indonesia, and Myanmar’s more recent coup. Using a time series analysis, our analysis reveals a temporal relationship between state propaganda and violence; however, we do not find much evidence that these state actions Granger-cause social movement activities. The exception to this is in Myanmar, where we find that repressive state actions decrease activity in Facebook groups criticizing the Tatmadaw, which in turn increases offline protest activities.
Keywords: Asia; political repression; propaganda; protests; social movements