Weekly Update: 008

Folks, another week has passed under the regime, but our fight against it continues no matter how hard it gets. Read our weekly wrap-up to keep in the loop. 

Internal Politics

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Quarantine

On March 28, Myanmar Now media reported that the detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi postponed her hearing sessions four times this month citing a source close to the court. Later on it was reported that the detained leader was placed in quarantine after members of her staff were reported to have tested positive for COVID-19. Her absence from scheduled court appearances had led to rumors she was ill but sources told Mizzima News that she had tested negative.

The Coup Leader Vowed to Annihilate the Anti-Military Forces

On March 27, the regime held an annual Armed Forces Day in Naypyidaw, and the coup leader explicitly vowed to “annihilate” the anti-regime protesters, calling them “terrorist oppositon forces”. In addition, he refused to have any dialogue with the democratic forces, which threw the international envoys’ effort for peaceful dialogues down in the drain.

Amendment of Retirement Age in the Military Personnel

This week, the junta announced that it extended the retirement age of military personnel from 60 to 62. It was only last week when we reported how the regime amended a law to officially allow the police forces to get involved in defense and security affairs. The Irrawaddy News reported that these developments were made to sustain the overall military forces, citing anonymous military generals.

SAC’s Peace Council Met with SSPP/SSA

On April 1, the regime’s Peace Council held a meeting with the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) in Naypyidaw. While the junta’s committee said that they would work together with the SSPP to organize the so-called “democratic election”, the two groups did not reach an agreement in terms of active military movements in Shan State according to Mizzima News.

Chin Armed Group Leader Urged Other EAOs to Side with the People

In his speech for Chin Revolution Day on March 20, Dr. Shwe Kha, Vice Chair (3) of Chin National Front (CNF), encouraged other ethnic armed groups to not turn a blind eye at the people’s fight against the military regime, and to fight along with the people.

The Funeral of Kokang Rebel Leader Peng Jiasheng Attended by Several Stakeholders

The public memorial and funeral service for the founder and former chairman of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) was held in Mongla, a border town at the Chinese border. The services were attended by representatives from the National Unity Government (NUG), the military regime, and other EAOs such as Wa government, Arakan Army (AA), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), and Karenni People’s Defense Force.

International Affairs

US and Singapore Showed Concerns for Myanmar

In a meeting between US President Biden and Singapore Prime Minister Lee, both announced that they are deeply concerned by the continuing suffering and violence in Myanmar, following the coup, which had caused a humanitarian crisis and reversed a decade of democratic and economic progress for the people of Myanmar. In the statement, Singapore and the United States agree that the military regime must urgently implement the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus and return Myanmar to its path to democratic transition.

China Invited the Regime’s Foreign Minister to Discuss Bilateral Cooperation

SAC’s Foreign Minister paid a visit to Huangshan City, China under the invitation of Chinese counterpart. The discussion points include China-Myanmar cooperation, promotion of stability and peace along the border, establishing a Myanmar counselor office in Huangshan and intensifying progress of ongoing projects, among other things.

Business Matters

ISP Myanmar Released New Investment Data for Myanmar

Institute for Strategy and Policy – Myanmar, a think tank, released investment data for Myanmar between October 2021 and February 2022. Over $530mil in investment inflow was recorded for the period and Singapore accounted for the highest amount with $277mil, Japanese investment accounted for $1mil, and Netherlands and France accounted for $4mil and $400,000 respectively. The main sector for these investments is the service sector accounting for 40% of all investments, with no investment for oil and gas, mining, real estate and industrial zone developments.

Follow-up on Counterfeit Banknotes

Interview by Mizzima media highlights the scale and depth of counterfeit banknotes in Myanmar. According to the interview, Facebook is widely used as a platform for transactions and the sellers are promoting the use of counterfeit banknotes with impunity. The failing economy and general lawlessness is giving opportunists to exploit.

Tax Reduction for YSX Companies

SAC reduces tax for companies listed in Yangon Stock Exchange from 20% to 17%. A director from a listed company, Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Public Limited, claims this will be an attractive measure to be listed in Yangon Stock Exchange. Currently the stock exchange founded in 2015 has only 6 companies listed.

CBM Relaxed the Cash Withdrawal Limits

SAC’s central bank of Myanmar (CBM) announced an increased cap of cash withdrawal to MMK 10 millions per week for religious and healthcare expenses. Previously the cash withdrawal was capped at MMK 500,000 per day and MMK 2 millions per week. Cash crunches have been most seriously damaging factor to Myanmar economy since the coup, with people’s trust in banks and financial system reaching all-time low. During this week, CBM also reduced cash reserve ratio requirements of private banks from 5% to 0.75%.

Gems and Jade Mining to be Halted

Myanmar Gems Enterprise (MGE), a state-owned enterprise and regulator of gemstone industry in Myanmar, announced that gemstone mining will not be allowed anymore to promote sustainability, conserve environment and promote safety standards. Gems and jade mining in Myanmar is a bloody and lucrative business often marred with mine collapses and illegal trading. In a report by Global Witness in 2021, 90% of jades from Kachin State in Northern Myanmar are smuggled to China. The same report indicates that while Myanmar got between $346 millions to $417 millions from gemstone and jade exports between 2014 to 2017, yearly revenue from illegal exports amounts to $1.73 billion. Since the coup MGE itself got sanctioned by US and EU for channeling funding to the junta and the military.

Social Affairs & Civil Disobedience Movement

Two soldiers surrendered to KNLA with arms, Karen State

Two soldiers, Major Tin Lin Aung and foot soldier Hein Min Htway of the junta’s infantry 585 surrendered to the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) together with three guns. The infantry is based at Tanintharyi division. According to CDM Captain Nyithuta, there are now five lieutenant colonels and 20 majors who have joined the civil disobedience movement (CDM) (Radio Free Asia, April 2).

“Boycott the SAC’s festival”, Urged by the Prisoners of Conscience

Prisoners of conscience of the Insein prison urged the public to boycott the water festival (new year festival) organized by the SAC. Since the SAC’s attempt to diminish the revolutionary spirit is obvious by organizing festivities, it is important that the public remain defiant, and to be aware that the whole country is still held hostage by a fascist military rule to be celebrating (Khit Thit, April 1).

Student Union (TU-Mdy) Shames Graduation Ceremony Attendees as the SAC’s Lackeys

Mandalay Technological University (TU-Mdy)’s Student Union called out seven students who attended the university’s graduation ceremony of March 29-30 under the illegal junta’s rule. One of them was a member of the union.The Union shamed them by naming them the junta’s ‘lackeys’. Before the military’s takeover of the country in 2021, hundreds of students usually graduate every year (Khit Thit, April 1).

SAC Gave an Order to the Tourism Industry to Capture the PDF Members

The SAC has given an order to the tourism industry: hotels; motels; inns and guesthouses to deny the stays when no national registration card is provided at the receptions. This order is effective from the morning 6am of April, and is especially targeted at the traveling young people aged between 18 to 35 whom the SAC assume as members of People Defense Forces(PDF) and underground guerrilla forces in disguise. Copies of their ID cards are to be reported to the police immediately, and extra caution is to be taken if there are more than five young people coming to stay. (Khit Thit, April 1).

Australia Granting Asylum to Defectors Has Taken the Military by Storm

The news of Australia granting asylum to the military defectors has sent shockwaves across the military circles, and the concerned generals are now going down to the fields to tell the soldiers and their families that the news is fake. Freedom of movement for the unmarried soldiers are now more restricted with the news while those with family members are threatened that their loved ones will be harmed if they try to desert or defect the military. Meanwhile, it is reported that Australia will welcome 2000 more escaping from Myanmar. (Khit Thit, April 1).

KRF Announces Monetary Incentives to Military Defectors

The Kyaikhto Revolution Force (KRF) made an announcement that soldiers who join CDM with arms will be rewarded depending on the type of arms they carry with them. Depending on the type of arms such as a shotgun or RPG will have monetary rewards of 30 lakh (1680 USD) to 50 lakh MMK (2800 USD). They will also be safely transported to a safe place they want to go or a liberated area. (Khit Thit, March 30).

“Take if You Need, Donate if You Have Extra” Campaign Held inside the Insein Prison Compounds

Prisoners of conscience of the Insein Prison held a “Take if you need, donate if you have extra” campaign inside the compounds on March 27. The campaign is a campaign widely organized during the corona and protest times as many suffer financial hardships. A family member of the prisoner also said the prisoners expressed sympathy for refugees and the public whose shelters have been destroyed due to storms on March 20. They hope to rebuild everything once the revolution finds its victory. (Khit Thit, March 28).

In Myaung Township, CDM Teachers Led the Initiatives to Reopen Schools

In Sagaing’s Myaung township, CDM teachers have led schools to reopen in the town and are working towards realizing the National Unity Government’s education system. With volunteers and more than 20 CDM teachers, schools have been reopened in many villages, especially primary education. The schools are provided security by the local people defense force. Newly founded Myang Education Network has connected with NUG’s Ministry of Education and some initiatives have been taken for 25 days already. More than 17 schools with more than 3000 students are under operation so far. (Khit Thit, March 28).

Humanitarian Affairs

4000 IDPs from Putao Return Home

According to aid groups, about 6,500 IDPs who fled to Myitkyina Township from Putao Township have finally returned to their homes on March 30. The IDPs were from Sumpiam, Lonsharyang, Insiyang and PhatMar village tracts who fled 300km from their homes due to the fighting earlier in February to live temporarily in Kachin National Manau Park in Kachin State’s capital, Myitkyina. Among them 4,000 IDPs were able to return home following negotiations between the Kachin State-based Myitkyina Christian Council (MCC), the Kachin Peace Talk Creation Group (PCG), the Kachin National Consultative Assembly (WMR), Kachin Independence Army and the military council, on 21 March.

Thai Border Officials Blocks Lay Kay Kaw Refugees and Aids Group, Thailand Says it Takes in 1,700 Myanmar Refugees

More than 10,000 civilians were forced to seek shelter along the Myanmar-Thai border due to the fighting between junta troops and Karen National Union’s troops in recent days. The clashes have been ongoing since mid-March in Karen State’s Myawaddy Township where thousands of villagers were already taking refuge with makeshift camps along the Moei River on the border. On March 26, more clashes erupted in the Wawlay and Lay Kay Kaw areas, forcing about 1,000 people to cross the Moei into Thailand, but aid groups in Myawaddy Township said Thai authorities were sending the people back across the border. However, The Nation, Thai’s newspaper, reported on April 1 that Thailand has taken in about 1,700 to temporarily seek shelter on Thailand’s side. A camp official told RFA Burmese on March 29 that Thai soldiers told everyone that they could only stay for the night and needed to cross back in the morning when the fighting stopped. He further said the current supply routes were also blocked and a food shortage crisis is looming in the horizon for the displaced residents on the border.

Over 5000 Thayetchaung Residents on the Run

The Dawna Tanintharyi-Refugee Assistance Group told RFA Burmese that about 5,000 residents from Tanintharyi Region’s Thayetchaung Township fled their homes after 100 soldiers advanced into the Taung Pyout Tite area in the early hours of March 30. Residents said there were no clashes going on in the area, but the military troops were reinforcing the The Chaung Gyi frontline camp. The residents reportedly fled in fear of the arson and robbery attacks by the troops.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

Non-CDM Transferred to Kachin Showed Up Dead

U Mg Mg Win, an officer of SAC’s General Administrative Department (GAD) from Bago was called for duty to Kachin State and was killed on the way on March 27. His body was found on Mandalay-Shwebo-Myitkyina Road with hands tied behind his back and cuts found in his neck and chest. It has not been verified who killed him and why.

Police’s Company Ended in Misery in Mandalay

Ward administrator named Thout Kyar who was said to be a military informer was shot and killed on March 27 in Mandalay Region’s Myittha Township. He was hanging out with a police chief in a teashop in Taline Gone Village when LPDF-Sintgaing carried out the shooting and prematurely ended his dalan works. LPDF-Sintgaing credited watermelons (green on the outside and red on the inside referring to those inside the military force working as spies) for intelligence.

 Immortal Pyu Saw Htee Leader Killed in Tanintharyi

Nga Zaw, leader of military-sponsored thug force Pyu Saw Htee from Launglon Township of Tanintharyi Region was shot dead on the morning of March 28. Laung Lon’s PDF (LLPDF) claimed responsibility of the attack and said the man had escaped landmine detonation for about five times, hence gaining his nickname as immortal but this time, just one bullet was required to end his life. 

 Myawaddy Bank and MyTel Outlet Targeted in Yangon

On the morning of March 29, military owned businesses such as Myawaddy Bank and two MyTel outlets in Yangon’s Botahtaung Township were attacked with time bombs at the same time. Although one bomb was cleared by SAC’s forces in time, two exploded and destroyed the facilities inside.

 Ayeyarwaddy Stikes Again..Once in a While

U Toe Mg, a well-known military informer from Zalon Town of Ayeyarwaddy Region was attacked and reportedly killed on March 30. Many families have been displaced due to his information towards SAC’s troops who were often found hanging out and drinking in U Toe Mg’s house, according to locals. Two local resistance forces that coordinated the attack also said that they had given warnings to U Toe Mg and hence he had to pay the ultimate price. 

More Dalans Found Dead in Yangon

At least two were killed and four were injured during an attack carried out towards military informer Phoe Aye and his lackeys in Thongwa Township of Yangon Region on March 29. They were notorious in the village for friending the junta’s servants, hosting illegal cock fights and torturing innocent people. Thanlyin Bo Nagar Force claimed responsibility for the attack. Another informer/Pyu Saw Htee member called Ye Win from South Dagon Township of Yangon also met with the same fate in front of his house on March 31. A local resistance soldier said Ye Win was shot seven times and killed on the spot.

Dalan Couple Killed in Mogok

Military informers Ko Myo and Cho Cho who were also parents of military captain Kyaw Myo Hein were shot and killed on the spot in Mandalay’s Mogok Town on April 2. A similar shooting attempt was made on the couple back in December but both survived and lived another three more months. On the same day, the junta’s household administrator San Min Tun from Yangon’s North Dagon Township was also shot and killed by Spring Brothers Force.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killing & Violence

PDF Tortured to Death in Ayeyarwaddy

A member of Labutta PDF (LSTF) from Laputta Town of Ayeyarwaddy was reportedly killed during interrogation on March 17. Just aged 19-year-old, Saw Myo Sett was abducted by the junta’s forces on March 15 due to an informer. As he attempted to run away with hands tied, he was caught and beaten until his legs were broken. Two days later, Saw Myo Sett tragically passed away, his body was cremated by SAC’s forces and not returned to the family.

 Four Young Protesters from Yangon and Mandalay Detained and Feared for Lives

Families of four youths arrested by SAC’s forces for involvement with demonstrations during the last week of March have not been able to contact them and are worried sick for their lives. Two of them; Ko Aung Kaung Myat and Ko Hein Zarni were beaten and abducted in Thanlyin Township of Yangon Region on March 27.  Ko Naing Lin Tun was detained in Htantapin Township of Yangon on March 25 and Ko Felix was arrested on March 27.

Journalist Abducted in Myawaddy

Ko Nay Naw, Myawaddy-based reporter from Karen State, was detained by SAC’s forces on March 28. He was asked by local police to come to the station and clarify something he wrote on his social media page and kept under detention since then. His family was also denied a visit. Ko Nay Naw wrote for Bloomberg and Karen Information Center (KIC).

KBZ pay Customer from Dawei Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Donating PDF

Ma Saung Hnin Phyu, 19-year-old high school graduate from Dawei District of Tanintharyi Region was given a harsh verdict of 10 years imprisonment on March 28 after she was charged for donating to resistance forces. During trial, she was said to be found guilty of making payment transfers via KBZ pay, a mobile wallet from KBZ Bank which is reportedly cooperating with the junta by sharing its own customers’ data.

Unprovoked Shooting Resulted in Children’s Deaths in Mon State

On March 29, SAC’s forces put on a shooting spree towards express buses and private cars on the highway road near a village of Belin Township, Mon State. A few bullets hit one vehicle, killing a child on the spot and resulting in the death of another one a few minutes later at the hospital. The victims were 9-year-old Mg Nyi Nyi Zaw and 6-year-old Mg Kyal Sin Min, members of a family traveling from Thaton Town.

Family of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society Shot and Detained

U Htein Min Khine, a representative of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society in Meikhtila Township, and his wife Daw Mi Mi Khine were shot and detained by SAC’s forces during a raid of their safehouse on March 30. They both were wounded by the bullets and said to be admitted into Meikhtila’s Military Hospital now. Their daughter, 25-year-old Ma Thu Pyae Sone was also abducted at a separate location on the same day. The couple was charged with Sedition 505(A) since the early coup and as the junta’s forces couldn’t find them in their home in last year’s March, they instead took their son Ko Aung Khant Min Htin who is now serving three years in prison.

28 Students/Youths Including a Journalist Given Lengthy Sentences in Yangon and Tanintharyi

A total of 28 young people who participated in the resistance against the regime in one form or another were slapped with hefty verdicts by the military court in Yangon and Tanintharyi regions on March 31. Nine of them from Yangon such as Hsu Wai Hnin, Hsu Myat The, Ko Khine Min Tun, Ko Nyan Hein Htet, Ko Pyae Phyo Thu, Ko Ye Yint Phyo, Ko Wai Moe Naing, Ko Than Zaw and Ko Latt received death penalty while the rest were sentenced to seven years and three years in prison respectively. One of them receiving three years was Ko Zaw Lin Htut, a freelance journalist from Yangon.

Wife of Political Prisoner Committed Suicide in Pathein

Ma Lon Ma Nyein Chan, wife of political prisoner Ko Kyaw Hla Moe who was recently sentenced to two years in prison by the military court committed suicide and passed away on April 2 in Pathein Town of Ayeyarwaddy Region. The victim was a daughter of Poet Mg Aung Pwint, one of the most celebrated artists of Myanmar who had also served lengthy periods of his life behind the bars for defying tyranny. Ma Lon Ma Nyein Chan is survived by her 17-old son.

Armed Resistance         

Two PDF Members Killed while Testing Artillery in Sagaing

Two members of Sagaing-based resistance force Daung Lu Lin passed away due to accidents in test-shooting of heavy artillery in Sagaing Region. Comrade Kyaw Myint Htay passed away on February 17 and Comrade Zaw Naing Tun passed away on March 18 according to Daung Lu Lin.

Waw Lay Battle Killed 61 SAC’s Troops

The clash that took place last week between the junta’s forces and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and local resistance forces resulted in the deaths of at least 61 soldiers from the junta’s side. The last encounter took place on March 27 during which two helicopters were utilized by SAC to compensate for casualties on the ground. The people’s side managed to capture various weaponry and suffered no loss on that day.

 Gantgaw Battle Saw Casualties from Both Sides

At least five of the regime’s soldiers and eight of Yaw-PDF members were killed during the skirmishes that occurred in Gantgaw Township of Magway Region during March 16 to March 24, according to Gantgaw PDF. Clashes came many forms using detonation attacks, drone bombs, heavy weaponry and snipers. The most casualties of PDF came on March 22 where six were killed by heavy artillery from SAC’s forces of Taung Khin Yin Police Station. 

PDF’s March Ruined by Airstrikes in Magway

Hundreds of local resistance fighters carried out an attack towards a police station in Ba Hin, a village about 27km northwest of the town of Myaing, Magway Region on March 28. As they were about 80% successful in occupying the station, the regime’s forces arrived in helicopters, continuously opening fires towards the people’s soldiers. Although they managed to hold the ground for 30 minutes, the resistance fighters had to disperse and retreat to avoid losing their members. At least nine junta soldiers were killed in the clash and two resistance fighters were injured.

PDF’s Station Raided in Mandalay

Myit Nge – MNPDF released a statement that one of its stations located near Myotha Town, Mandalay Region was assaulted by the regime’s forces on the early morning of March 30. The junta’s forces utilized excessive force with 200 troops and heavy weaponry in conducting the ambush. Two resistance soldiers were killed on the spot and 29 others have been abducted. MNPDF vowed to continue resisting the regime for the fallen and detained comrades.

 Five Dead Bodies of the Junta’s Police Found in Muse

In Shan State, five of SAC’s policemen including Win Ko were arrested by unknown gunmen on the night of March 30 near Muse 105 Mile’s Inspection Gate and their dead bodies were dumped the next day on Muse-Kyukote Road. It is still unknown who killed them and why. Many speculated that the dead policemen must have mixed up with some illegal business.

Regime’s Forces Suffered Casualties in Chin

Chin Defense Force from Matupi Township of Chin State – CDF Matupi announced that at least 16 of the junta’s soldiers died during the battle that took place on the morning of March 31. Two clashes between two sides on Matupi-Mindat Road were witnessed on that day alone. CDF Matupi and CDF Mindat have been reportedly ambushing the military’s convoy with landmines every day since March 26. Also in Chin State, a military helicopter crashed in Hakha Town on March 29. Although it was due to the weather and no casualty was reported, people cheered for the news as airstrikes have been nightmares for everyone participating in the armed resistance.

 Grenade Killed Five in Pyin Oo Lwin’s Military Academy

A grenade was reportedly thrown at the gate of the military academy in Pyin Oo Lwin Town, Mandalay Region on the evening of April 1, killing at least five soldiers and injuring many. PDF POL and MMUGR coordinated the attack.

SAC’s Station in Sagaing Seized by PDF

At least five regional PDFs mounted an assault and managed to take control of SAC’s station in Thit Kyin Gyi Village of Ayadar Township, Sagaing Region on April 1. Local PDFs including Falcon Force and Zero Guerilla Force utilized heavy artillery in conducting the ambush that lasted over two hours, killing at least seven and injuring five of the junta’s troops.

Others

E-visas to Myanmar Resuming on April 1

The Regime’s Ministry of Immigration and Population said in a statement on March 29 that Myanmar will resume accepting the applications of business e-visas starting on April 1. This development followed the military council’s decision to lift travel entry bans on April 17 after suspending entry into the country since March 20, 2020.

More than 26 million People Vaccinated Against COVID-19, Says Junta

The junta’s Ministry of Health said on March 27 that more than 26 million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19. It said 4.67 million people had received one dose of vaccine and 21.8 had been fully vaccinated, bringing the total to 26.47 million.

Source: Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now, DVB News, Mizzima News, BBC Burmese, RFA Burmese, Xinhua 

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