Weekly Update: 005

Folks,

Another week has passed but the junta’s attempted and failed coup continues. The people continue to resist but life gets harder and harder as the military keeps on killing people and mismanaging the country. Regardless, we are committed to eradicate the junta. Read all about our story in this week’s updates.

Internal Politics

Ko Mya Aye, prominent 88 Gen Leader received two-year jail time

Ko Mya Aye, 8888 Generation Leader, was charged with section 505c of the Penal Code for “inciting hate towards an ethnicity or a community” and received a two-year imprisonment on  March 10, which happened to be his 56th birthday. Ko Mya Aye has been detained since February 1, 2021, and is currently in need of medical attention for a wound on his foot and for heart condition. 

Former AFP parliamentarian charged with counter-terrorism law 

U Sein Chit, who represented the Arakan Front Party (AFP) in 2020 General Election and won a seat, was charged with counter-terrorism law for allegedly supporting the People’s Defense Force (PDF) in Thandwe Township of Rakhine State. Along with him, a 24-year-old taxi driver was also faced with the same charge.

Military supporter/informant Han Nyein Oo’s Telegram Channel taken down

Han Nyein Oo, with more than 100,000 followers on his Telegram Channel, has been spreading misinformation and personal information about civilians, who in his words, support the revolution. Due to his misinformation, civilians were detained and families were separated. On March 11, Han Nyein Oo’s Telegram Channel was taken down for “going against the community standards”. However, one more Telegram Channel with his name with more than 36,000 followers is still up and running. 

SAC removed private apartments and shophouses 

On March 12, the junta forces bulldozed shops at the Mine Nar Kwin compound in Taunggu, Bago.Those shops have been paying license fees to operate their business in the area. No compensation was given, and all the belongings were taken. Similarly, the SAC issued a notice to more than 130 private apartments and shops to leave the Bahtoo Kwin building in Mandalay. Some apartments and shops are worth more than 50,000 USD. The notice mentions no compensation or replacement cost/lands but a requirement for the country. 

Public anger grows over junta’s power cuts, deteriorating conditions for Yangon residents

Power cuts under the junta are the worst in more than a decade. In some areas of Yangon, power is being cut for six hours twice a day, and in Mandalay Region’s Amarapura Township, electricity is available for eight hours a day, residents said. In the Sagaing Region capital, Monywa, which has been experiencing outages since January, power is being cut for three hours twice a day. In southern Mon State, the owner of a garment factory with about 100 workers, said he was having to rely on generators for power and his daily fuel bill was between K70,000 and K80,000 (about US$40-$45). Garment factories in Yangon are facing a similar situation and the owner of a factory with 1,000 workers told DVB News that it was struggling to survive because of power cuts and high fuel prices. The power cuts are causing water supply shortages for many Yangon residents in multi-storey buildings who have to pump water into tanks to ensure regular supply. It’s also been reported that traffic police in Yangon were instructed to have generators ready in early March to operate traffic lights during power cuts. The junta reportedly provided three liters of fuel a day for the generators, but it was not enough and traffic police had to use their own money to keep them going.

International Affairs

Japan’s special envoy meets EAOs in Chiang Mai

Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, Yohei Sasakawa, Japan’s special envoy for national reconciliation in Myanmar met with leaders of ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) as well as the representatives from The Statement of Peace Process Steering Team individually in Thailand’s Chiang Mai on March 10. The EAOs that the Japanese envoy met are Karen National Union (KNU), Restoration Council of Shan State  (RCSS) and Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP). The EAO leaders discussed resettlement for IDPs, humanitarian support and food aid, and rebuilding of war-torn areas. One local analyst that The Irrawaddy spoke to said that Japan’s special envoy seemed to think a ceasefire between the EAOs and the junta is possible, but he is forgetting the resistance movement and the parallel government, the NUG. Both NUG and junta showed no signs of wanting to negotiate with the other, and many believed that the peace process nor negotiations offer a path towards ending the military dictatorship and the junta’s human rights violations.

China urged the junta to protect Chinese investments in the country

During this week, China urged SAC to protect Chinese investments in Myanmar. This comes after reports from Naypyidaw came out that SAC is increasingly concerned about China’s direct military involvement in Myanmar, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, should SAC be unable to protect Chinese investments in Myanmar from PDF’s attacks. China had previously met with the National Unity Government to urge the same, with NUG guaranteeing no attack on foreign investments. A few attacks on Chinese investments have already taken place, however the responsible PDFs claim they are not attacking on the investments and infrastructure but rather towards SAC soldiers stationed in these sites and terrorizing the local populace. Considering the attacks are intended towards harming soldiers and not the infrastructure, it is likely the PDFs’ claims are true. However, it is rational that China would not want uncertainty over its assets.

China warned its citizens to avoid traveling Myanmar border towns

Chinese Foreign Ministry warns its citizens against traveling to border towns of Myawaddy and Tachileik as they were lured into high-paying jobs by criminal gangs to become victims of unlawful arrests, extortions and coercions to commit criminal activities such as internet scam and illegal gambling.

Thai Ambassador to Myanmar met with Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing

Thai Ambassador’s visit to Naypyidaw to meet with junta Min Aung Hlaing and his ministers such as foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin and international cooperation minister Ko Ko Hlaing was paraded by SAC as its legitimacy and derided by the people of Myanmar. The Ambassador was meeting as part of diplomatic protocol after finishing her assignment in Myanmar.

EU Parliament’s resolution on human rights situation in Myanmar

On March 10, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on human rights situations in Myanmar. The resolution calls for the military, under the leadership of Min Aung Hlaing, to fully respect the outcome of the democratic elections held in November 2020, to release President U Win Myint, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners, reinstate the civilian government and to take steps to establish a dialogue and reconciliation with all parties concerned. The resolution also underlined how the EU members are appalled by the junta’s military’s crimes against ethnic and religious groups in the country and called on the EU to expand tougher sanctions. The resolution also stresses EU’s support of CRPH and NUG as the only legitimate representative of the democratic wishes of the people of Myanmar.

Business Matters

Impact of global economic turbulence on Myanmar

As a consequence of economic turbulence such as a steep rise in global fuel prices and commodities prices, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, much heavier shocks to already struggling Myanmar’s economy were introduced. The volatility began during the first week of March and continued and exacerbated, over the past 7 days. Drastic and sudden fall in Myanmar Kyat (MMK) was observed, with approximately USD 1 = MMK 1950 at the end of February to approximately USD 1 = MMK 2050 last week. SAC’s Central Bank of Myanmar’s Deputy Chairman Mr. Win Thaw said this is a good sign for Myanmar’s economy as exporters can now earn more money, during a meeting with representatives from banks and business associations. Observers are critical of this claim as ongoing instability, with the latest addition of rising fuel costs, in the midst of the most severe blackout in memory, are forcing industries to slow down. Gold and fuel also saw price hikes. 

China reopened its border town after 10 days of closure due to Covid

Kyin San Kyaw trading gate along Myanmar-China border which was shut down by Chinese authorities for 10 days after observing COVID was re-opened on March 12. The trading association facilitating the gate is urging caution with COVID and required regulatory process before intensifying exports. 1000 trucks were reportedly struck at the time of gate closure. The biggest losers of the closure were 700 fruits and melon trucks exporting to China.

Junta blames NLD for worsening economics 

Junta Min Aung Hlaing urges people to become aware of economic aspects in life and to become shrewder in business perceptions, in a meeting with teaching staff from Defense Service Academy. He also blamed the country’s economic misfortune on the NLD administration.

Myanmar’s Timber export still intact despite sanctions

US-based non-profit Forest Trends reported that, between February to November 2021, Myanmar’s timber export amounts over US$190mil, with US$36mil exported towards US, UK and EU which have already put Myanmar timber under sanction. Exports towards China, India, Thailand and other countries which have friendlier relationships with SAC amounts towards US$154 mil.

Civil Disobedience Movement & Fundraising

CDM railroad workers faced forced homelessness

Junta sealed off residential places of CDM railway workers in Myitnge, Mandalay on March 5, and more than 500 houses nearby were also told to leave within three days. This will affect more than 2,000 people to become homeless. The victims said some of the houses have been home for more than 60 years. Among 5000 railway workers from Myitnge railway, around 4,000 staff have joined CDM. Residents say they had no choice but to destroy their homes since junta’s forces came to threaten them with more than 400 soldiers.

NUG Pay, a new digital payment platform, in the making

Khit Thit media reports that the NUG is planning to develop a digital payment platform called NUG pay mobile money according to the meeting of the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment on March 9, 2022.

More than 7300 CDM strikers were supported from lottery sales

The NUG announced that they have managed to support more than 7300 CDM participants with the funds raised through lottery sales since August 15 last year.

Humanitarian Affairs

 The struggles of Shan and Kayah refugees on the border due to junta roadblocks

Aid workers who have been helping the refugees from Shan and Kayah states said the displaced population sheltering in the jungles along the border of Myanmar are at risk of starvation and in need of medical assistance. The refugees had been relying on a flow of goods through Mobye town until the access was cut off at the beginning of the month, and the aid workers can’t buy food for the refugees even if they have the money as there is a severe shortage. 

Almost 500 houses burned by junta forces in Sagaing Region this week, causing mass displacement

Almost 500 houses were set on fire during raids by junta troops on ten villages in Sagaing Region’s Myaung, Kani, Tabayin, Kyunhla, Khin-U, Htigyaing and Pale townships between March 4 and 10, residents said. A total of 475 houses were torched; 30 at Nay Pu Kone village in Myaung Township; 18 houses and a Rural Health Department building in Chaung Ma village in Kani Township; two houses at Kyunle village, 25 houses at Man Taw village and 35 houses at Dan Kone village, in Khin-U Township; three horse at Wai La Mu village in Kyunhla Township; about 50 houses at Waibar village in Tabayin Township; 11 houses at Tha Khwat Chaung village in Htigyaing Township, and over 300 houses from Naw Yoe village in Pale Township. As well as setting fire to houses, junta forces torched farm machinery, motorcycles and bicycles. In some villages, soldiers burgled and looted houses rather than setting them on fire. Junta spokesperson Major-General Zaw Min Tun is on record as denying that regime forces have set fire to houses. Military raids have displaced about 15,000 residents from 13 villages in Khin-U Township and 16,000 residents from Naw Yoe village in Pale Township, a resident told RFA Burmese. In Yinmabin Township, the junta troops had been advancing across the township, clashing with the local defense forces, causing over 100,000 residents from 20 villages to flee the township.

Number of Karen refugees increases to over 200,000, KNU says

The Karen National Union told RFA Burmese that Karen State is seeing an increase of refugees due to escalating clashes in the region since last year’s military coup. More than 100,000 people have fled the fighting since the military coup on February 1, 2021, and the renewed fighting in December 2021 have displaced more than 70,000 people, and by end of February 2021, the total number is reaching 200,000, causing major food and medicine shortages for the displaced residents, the KNU spokesman Pado Saw Taw Nee said.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

Yangon and Mandalay saw attacks on military informers

Around noon on March 6, a well-known military informer/ dalan Myint Aung from Hlaing Tharyar Township was shot to death by People Hlaingtharya Force. Myint Aung was widely hated by the community as he often drunkenly beat up innocent people, distorted them for money and paid to the junta. On the morning of March 7, the junta-appointed ward administrator from Mandalay’s Maharaungmyay Township was shot and killed. The 50-year-old U Tin Myo Lwin was on his motorbike when two gunmen on another motorbike followed him and shot three times before he fell off and died.  On the same day in the evening, Bo Lay Restaurant Owner U Han Tin and his wife were attacked by unknown gunmen in Yangon’s Dala Township. The man was instantly killed while his wife was admitted to the hospital in critical condition.

Pyu Saw Htee targeted

Military-sponsored thug group Pyu Saw Htee that had been ransacking a village in Pakokku Township of Magway was ambushed by four joint resistance forces including PRF, PUGF and PKU Generational Z on March 9 and three Pyu Saw Htee members were captured alive. Another Pyu Saw Htee force in Wetlet Township of Sagaing Region fell under attack as a blast occurred while defusing the bomb set up by PDF. The incident killed one member and two local PDFs claimed responsibility.  

Dalans refused to quit 

In Mon State, non-CDM teacher Win Cho who was notorious for telling on those participating in CDM was found dead on the morning of March 10. Similarly, Hlaing Win Aung, a dalan from Htan Pin Gone Village, Ayawaddy Region was attacked and killed on the early morning of March 11. The man used to dress up as a policeman and tortured villagers before he was shot in the head and killed. Moreover, another dalan called Nyanyi from Ye Phyu Township’s Htein Gyi Village was shot and killed in the afternoon of March 12 in Tanintharyi Region. Like his fellow dead informers, he was known for taxing people on behalf of the regime and helped abduct innocent people in the region. 

MyTel tower attacked, battle broke out in Shan State

MyTel’s telecommunication tower inside military informer Soe Naing’s house in Shan State’s Naung Cho Town was detonated with two bombs on the early morning of March 13. The attack caused a clash between the regime’s forces and PDF in the north of Naung Cho Town, in which airstrikes were carried out by SAC and at least five soldiers were killed. A ward administration office in Pulaw Township of Tanintharyi Region was also detonated with landmines on March 13’s afternoon. The incident injured two office staff and two local resistance forces namely PPDF and PRDF claimed responsibility.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings and Violence

Mother raped and killed in Pouk

On March 5, the junta’s forces raided In Nge Daunt Village by shelling artillery into the houses in Pauk Township of Magway Region. As many planned to flee, a 42-year-old mother Ma Aye Aye Win and her 3-year-old daughter were abducted right in front of their house. Ma Aye Aye Win was raped by a group of soldiers before she was murdered while her kid was also stabbed to death. About 70 personnel of both soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee members coordinated the ransack, which was later responded by local resistance forces with landmine attacks, leading up to battles. At least 20 SAC’s soldiers were reported to be dead while five PDFs were also tortured and killed. On their way out, the junta’s forces abducted at least 29 people including 9 children, using them as human shields.  

Three children killed and two Injured by artillery in Loikaw 

On March 8, SAC’s artillery fell into Lwalhtae Village, Loikaw Township of Karenni (Kayah) State, killing three children on the spot and injuring two who were playing under a tree. The village is located between Myobye and Loikaw townships where the junta’s forces had been randomly firing artillery despite there was no active battle. 

Eleven killed and bodies burned in Yinmabin

Also on March 8, eleven internally displaced persons (IDPs) including two children, a mother and elderlies taking sanctuary inside a monastery in Latpantaw Village, Yinmabin Township of Sagaing Region were killed by heavy artillery. The victims included Daw Aye Thaung, Daw Tin Nyunt, U Than Maung, Daw Thein Mya, Daw Than Nyunt, U Ohm Hlaing, Daw La Pyae, Mg Swan Htet Naing, Mg Myat Phone Naing and their mother Daw Moh Moh Win. Bodies of all casualties were put together and burned by SAC’s soldiers.

Youths abducted in Yangon’s downtown

At least five youths including a girl have been abducted during a raid of an apartment by SAC’s forces in Yangon’s 45th Street around midnight on 12 March. All of them were violently beaten during the abduction and taken into the interrogation center. The detainees included Mg Kyaw Htet Aung and Thet Aung, students from Yangon University of Economics, Mg Min Khant Kyaw, a student from University of West Yangon and Ma Moe Myint Zu, a student from Moywa University of Economics. As the junta released rumors that the students had been found with explosives, families feared for the worst. 

Eighty houses set on fire and two found dead in Pale

SAC’s forces stormed into Tonekin Village in Pale Township of Sagaing Region on the morning of March 12, and gun fires were heard around 3pm. About 80 houses were set ablaze by the soldiers the following midnight. Two bodies including a 60-year old were found this morning. The other one has not been identified yet. 

SAC’s airforce staff arrested

Since an attack on two fighter jets took place inside Mhawbi Airbase in February, families of those deployed there had been questioned and interrogated.  Three people such as Captain Htet, his wife Daw May Thu Kyaw and Captain Lwin Myo Htet have been taken into an interrogation center for the second time as they were found discussing the attack on Viber. Similarly, Colonel Htin Lin Pe from the airforce has also been detained for criticizing the military owned Myanma Economic Holdings (MEH) on social media.

Armed Resistance

47 clashes were recorded across the country from March 6 to March 12

Pyu Saw Htee and armed monks attacked

In Saging’s Taze Township, military-sponsored thug group Pyu Saw Htee led by an armed monk Wathawa was attacked by Taze PDF on March 6’s evening and at least 30 people were said to be killed. 

Battle in Kachin saw casualties in both sides

A clash broke out between local PDF and the regime’s soldiers in Kachin State on the early morning of March 7 resulted in multiple deaths of both sides. The battle took place in the middle of Mohnyin Town and Nantmar Village following a detonation attack on the junta’s convoy, killing at least 20 from SAC and 7 from PDF. On the following night, KIA-led resistance forces carried out a guerilla attack towards a security post of SAC inside Mohnyin’s University, leaving at least 12 dead.

130 SAC’s soldiers killed in Karen State in February

The Karen National Union (KNU) released a statement on March 7 that the regime’s soldiers and KNU’s army KNLA under Bridge 5 clashed over 300 times last month, resulting in the deaths of 136 SAC’s troops and 10 KNLA’s soldiers. Moreover, a guerilla attack towards SAC’s forces in Hpapon District on March 11 resulted in the deaths of 14 troops while 16 more were injured. 

SAC’s “Kill All, Torch All” Strategy in Sagaing 

SAC has instructed its forces to wipe out resistance forces in Sagaing with a “kill all, torch all” policy with the aim to eliminate PDFs before Armed Forces Day on March 27. It began with the junta’s forces cutting off the internet and raiding villages in Sagaing Region’s Khin-U Township on March 8. During a battle near Theintaw Village that lasted briefly, 11 members of PDFs and 3 civilians were shot and killed. All those PDFs fought with handmade Tumee guns. 

Clashes killed over 40 in Chin & Sagaing

On March 9, a clash took place between the regime’s soldiers and the local resistance forces for about an hour near Saw Township on the border of Chin State and Magway Region. CDF Kanpetlet said that at least five SAC’s soldiers were killed and nine were injured during the battle. On the same day, local PDFs carried out an ambush against the regime’s troops and Pyu Saw Htee members that were deployed in Kangyikone Village of Sagaing Region’s Chaungoo Township, killing nearly 40 armed thugs.  

Airstrikes carried out in Demoso

Daw Ngan Khar Village from Demoso Township, Karenni (Kayah) State was targeted once again with airstrikes and artillery shelling by SAC’s soldiers on March 13, forcing Karenni Nationality Defense Forces (KNDF) to temporarily retreat from its strategic position in the region.

Reference: DVB TV News, Khit Thit Media, The Irrawaddy, BBC Burmese, Mizzima News 

​​COVID-19

Junta denies medical treatment to prisoners with COVID-19

Inmates with COVID-19 symptoms in Mandalay’s Obo Prison are being denied medical treatment, relatives and people assisting political prisoners said. A person who has been helping political prisoners said inmates suspected of having COVID-19 are isolated but not given medical treatment. More than 300 inmates at Obo Prison, including political prisoners, were sick and displaying COVID-19 symptoms such as a sore throat, cough, muscle ache, runny nose and high fever, he added. A staffer at Obo Prison told The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity that some prison staff were also displaying COVID-19 symptoms. He said they were not even given paracetamol or allowed to take leave, which meant they could not be isolated. Prison authorities downplayed the situation when questioned by The Irrawaddy, denying the reports of COVID-19 infections at the prison and saying there were only cases of seasonal flu.

Others

Sexual violence against women worsens under military dictatorship

Women rights activists say the military junta has used sexual violence against women held in prisons and interrogation centres, and those displaced by violence since the coup. In interviews to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, DVB News interviewed four women’s rights activists – Daw Noe Noe Htet San, Ma Nang Moh Moh from the Women’s League of Burma, a social influencer named Michelle and a young ethnic nationality woman who asked not to be identified – who called collectively for more help for women and children in violence-affected areas who continue to be used as hostages of conflict. Myanmar has laws to protect women, but in reality, they do not provide effective protection against sexual assault, the women rights activists said. The lack of action against perpetrators of sexual violence against women is an invitation for them to continue offending, they added. Their comments came as reports emerged about human rights violations of women inmates at Mandalay city’s Obo prison, and the rape and murder of a woman in Magway Region’s Pauk Township and fatal stabbing of her three-year-old daughter by regime forces on March 5. DVB News reported on March 7 that images on CCTV cameras of women changing and showering at the prison were being sold outside, a released women prisoner said.

Sources: RFA Burmese, Irrawaddy, Myanmar Now, Khit Thit, DVB News, BBC Burmese, Mizzima News, Eleven Media

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s