Weekly Update: 011

Folks, another week has passed since our last update. Interesting things stirred up. From Min Aung Hlaing’s call for peace talk to PDF’s prospect to take control of airports. Read our weekly update to remain in the loop of what’s happening in Myanmar.

Internal Politics

Min Aung Hlaing called for Peace Talk with EAOs

On April 22, Min Aung Hlaing, through junta media, said that he would have peace dialogue with representatives from ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) personally since he previously claimed to restore peace in 2022. On the same day, the junta announced that attacks at the military forces during the period of peace talk would be retaliated. Leading EAOs showed no interest in the regime’s call. In an interview with the Irrawaddy, Pado Saw Taw Nee of Karen National Union (KNU) said that the EAO would only have a talk with the military when the troops in Karen State are retreated and the military removes itself from the country’s politics. Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), which has been fighting with the SAC forces almost everyday in Kayah (Karenni) State, rejected the call. Khu Daniel of KNPP said that there was no reason to have a talk when the military has been committing extrajudicial killing against civilians. Giant power from the North, Kachin Independence Army (KIA) continued to boycott any peace talks held by the junta since the coup. Colonel Naw Bu of KIA said that such dialogues have been had for more than 60 years so the EAO is not convinced that any positive result would come out from this dialogue. Chin National Front (CNF) led by Dr Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong also rejected the peace talk. On the other hand, political analysts speculated that some EAOs, whose leaders were recently awarded with honorary awards by the junta, might attend. Analysts warned that this peace talk is a tactic by the regime to cause division among EAOs and the people defense forces (PDFs).

U Yee Mon updates on the Resistance War

On April 18, Radio Free Asia interviewed NUG’s Minister of Defense U Yee Mon for updates on the defensive war against the military regime. He disclosed that 259 battalions of PDF have been formed, and a total of 401 local defense forces, which are operating as guerrilla fashion, are at work, and majority of them are in contact with the NUG. He said that the NUG now has 50,000 to 100,000 troops of PDF but refused to give the exact number. In terms of acquiring territories, the NUG has formed local administration teams in 250 townships all over the country, and from having control of villages, the local administration teams have expanded to township levels. Budget wise, NUG has raised USD 34 million, and 85% of it was used to arm PDF forces. After the announcement of a reward system for defecting SAC soldiers, U Yee Mon said that soldiers from the army base have reached out to the NUG for defection. He also hinted that, soon, PDFs would have controls in some airports. Regarding the Yinmarbin massacre, U Yee Mon said that a tribunal will be formed to take action.

SAC families from Yangon moving to Naypyidaw

After the resistance forces’ attacks on deputy governor of Central Bank of Myanmar Daw Than Than Swe, and Major Kaday Phyo Aung in Yangon, families of military generals and soldiers moved to Naypyidaw according to Myanmar Now media. An anonymous taxi driver in Naypyidaw Noticed that a Large Number of New People Moved to Pobbathiri Township, downtown Naypyidaw. The new movers also meant the hike in land prices, said a 35-year-old resident of Pobbathiri Township. This news proved that family members of military soldiers/generals felt threatened by the growing resistance forces. 

U Thaung Tun received 9 years of Imprisonment

NLD’s minister for the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations received nine-year jail time from junta court on April 23. He was charged with anti-corruption charges for three cases. U Thaung Tun had worked under previous regimes in the past, and when the National League of Democracy (NLD) formed the cabinet, U Thaung Tun took the minister position. When the coup was staged on February 1, 2021, he was detained ever since. 

Junta ordered to remove Webpages of NUG/CRPH and related Persons/Groups

According to a leaked internal directive dated on April 8, the regime’s Ministry of Transport and Communication ordered telecom and internet service providers to block access to web pages of the democratic forces. The directive threatened that if the removal is not made by service providers, they will be taken action with anti-terrorism law since the regime labelled NUG/CRPH and other democratic forces.

U Win Tin’s Birthday – Blue Shirt Campaign

In memory of the late Hanthawaddy U Win Tin, protesters and netizens organized the Blue Shirt Campaign on 21 April. U Win Tin, journalist and writer, patron of the NLD, was jailed by the previous regime for 19 years, and was released in 2008. Although he was released, he vowed to wear a blue shirt and longyi, the prison uniform, until all political prisoners were released, and he wore blue shirts for the rest of his life. In honor of his death anniversary, Myanmar people wore blue shirts and called for the release of political prisoners, and posted their photos on social media to raise awareness.

International Affairs

One full year of ASEAN’s failed Five-Point Consensus

April 24 marks one year since ASEAN five-point-consensus, with the people of Myanmar and observers taking note of its remarkable lack of progress. However, despite lack of implementation, ASEAN’s empty consensus still remains a point of mention by the junta’s administration. During this week, Cambodian delegation led by Secretary of the State for the ministry of Foreign Affairs is in Naypyitaw to meet with junta’s ministers, whom, while mentioning the importance of ASEAN Five Points Consensus, emphasizes that any initiatives from ASEAN and external partners has to be in line with the process and framework of junta’s administration.

SAC to opt out US-ASEAN Summit if High Level Representative isn’t Invited  

Regarding US-ASEAN Summit in May, the US State Department said that the American Government supports ASEAN’s decision to invite non-political representatives from Myanmar to high-level ASEAN events in the absence of progress on the Five-Point Consensus, and Min Aung Hlaing will be barred from attending the summit. Junta spokesperson refused to send any delegation to the Summit if a non-political representative is invited, as in previous ASEAN summits.

The US’s Peace Corps ceased Operations

The United States Peace Corps shuts down its Myanmar head office during this week, due to instability and security concerns in the country. The Peace Corps began its operations in Myanmar in 2016 with over 90 volunteers, however the prolonged instability posed severe uncertainties over when the volunteers can be accommodated.

Business Matters

The World Bank warned of Global Food Insecurity, impacting Post-Coup Myanmar

This week, the President of the World Bank warned that the world faces a human catastrophe from a food crisis arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, pushing food prices 37% globally. Experts in Myanmar have long worried about the Russian invasion’s economic impacts on Myanmar, already being surrounded with conflict and mismanagement.

Junta to Focus on collecting Electricity Bill

Junta’s Minister of Electricity vowed to put extensive efforts in collecting electricity bills, the people of Myanmar have been resisting to pay the bills as a form of boycott to the junta, however the junta’s administration’s mismanagement, laziness and corruption are causing problems in collecting taxes and bills.

Experts warned that the Junta is committing Financial Suicide 

Three weeks after ordering all foreign currency earnings to be forcibly converted into Myanmar Kyat at a lower rate, the market is still clueless on how to respond. Economists and Myanmar experts have warned that the junta is committing financial suicide, through these measures. This week, junta’s central bank of Myanmar (CBM) issued a new order allowing foreign investors, and foreigners from diplomatic missions and international organizations, and airlines to be exempted from the forced conversion, however local businesses are not included in the exemption and experts still worry that the restrictions are still too heavy to cause a severe blow to the economy.

Panic-buying Gasoline as people fear for Shortage 

The most visible market panic stemming from foreign currency forced conversion was in the retail petroleum sector. Rumors on the night of April 17 that the country is already low on petroleum reserves caused drivers to be lining up at gas-stations on April 18-19. With major cities on rotation-blackouts and businesses having to rely on diesels to run generators, the panic and accompanying shortage caused some shops to close during black-outs. The panic was caused reportedly as diesel importers were not given authorization to purchase foreign currency required to restock. After negotiations between the junta’s ministry in charge of the sector and diesel importers, a breakthrough was seemingly achieved, although the retail prices at gas-stations were hiked for users.

Social Affairs & Civil Disobedience Movement

Alarmed, the SAC tightens Security Surveillance in Military Aircraft Storage Facilities

After the announcement of the National Unity Government (NUG) giving a large monetary incentive up to thousands of dollars to any military personnel who will destroy military aircrafts or join the CDM with the military aircrafts, tanks, and ships, SAC is reported to tighten the security surveillance in the military aircraft storage facilities. More CCTVs are installed, and more guards are placed.

Junta hiring Civilians to join the Security Posts and to work as a ‘Dalan’

In Hpa-An, Karen State, the junta is looking for people to work as a daily wage worker with free food and a daily wage of 7,000 MMK (3.7 USD). With no age limitations, they will work as security guards together with the junta-appointed ward administrators. In Yangon, junta is hiring people to work as ‘Dalans’, military informants, to inform on people who are members of the People’s Defense Force (PDF) and those who are involved in anti-coup activities. They will be offered 1 lakh MMK (53 USD) for every person they inform on.

Education during the Revolution 

The Ministry of Education of the NUG and members of Free Online Educational Institution Myanmar (FOEIM) commemorated the one-year-anniversary of the institution and celebrated the graduation ceremony of primary-level students for the 2021-2022 academic year on April 24. Meanwhile in Karenni State, more than 200 refugees, aged between 15-22,took the entrance exam to the Nway Oo Guru learning center for reopening of the second batch on May 2, 2022. Due to some limitations, only 60 students will be accepted to learn subjects such as their mother language and history, Karenni, handicrafts, arts, music and English. Among the 54 students in the first batch, 20 students were able to obtain internships.

Humanitarian Affairs

Nineteen villages from Magway Region torched within April

On April 19 evening, junta soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee members raided Pa-Tee village in Magway Region’s Pauk Township, burning down at least 60 houses. Within April, the junta troops torched and destroyed homes from at least 19 villages, forcing thousands of residents to be internally displaced according to the residents.

Children in conflict zones deprived of key immunizations

According to medical professionals and refugees, children whose families have fled fighting from conflict zones are being deprived of essential immunizations due to a lack of access to health care. The children below the age of 18 months are required to receive 12-13 routine immunizations, but doctors told RFA Burmese that regular injections have not been an option for families in conflict zones for 15 months since the military seized power in a coup.

The Peace Corps shuts its Myanmar office

The United States Peace Corps said in an email to Eleven Media that its Myanmar head office has shut down due to instability and security concerns in the country. The organization stated that prolonged instability in Myanmar’s towns and villages has raised concerns about the safety of Peace Corps volunteers and decided to close its headquarters.

Almost 350,000 People displaced in Northwest Myanmar since coup

Since the coup, the number of people displaced by armed conflicts in the west and northwest of the country has exceeded 300,000 for the first time since February 1, 2021, according to the latest update by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on April 11. The latest update said a total of 346,000 of the 566,100 people have been displaced since the military took over in Chin State and Sagaing and Magway regions as of April 11.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

Fighter pilot attacked in Bago’s Shwe Taung Tsp

The regime’s fighter pilot/major Aung Ko Zaw was reportedly shot at a market on the way to his hometown in Shwe Taung Township of the Bago Region on April 17. Bago Region PDF said they had set up a landmine on the major’s route; however, the plot was suspended at the last minute because his wife and children were also on board. Alternatively, the rangers attempted to take him out with a gun when he was spotted alone at a local market. Only one shot was fired due to gun failure although it was sufficient to have wounded him severely. Major Aung Ko Zaw was one of the fifty-four pilots that have been carrying out airstrikes on resistance forces and civilians across the country.   

Bank manager/former major shot dead in Yangon

On the morning of April 18, a shooting incident took place in front of Global Treasure Bank in South Dagon Township of Yangon. Former major/ bank manager Saw Moe Win was shot twice in the chest and died upon arrival at the hospital. Global Treasure Bank is a state-owned business that has over 170 branches with investments from military personnel.

Village ward administrator found dead in Tanintharyi’s Dawei Tsp

Pauk Tine Village Administrator U Kyi Yan from Dawei Township, Tanintharyi Region was found dead with gun wounds on April 19. Unknown gunmen reportedly shot him to death at his house in the early morning. U Kyi Yan was said to have closely collaborated with the regime’s forces. Similarly, in the Dawei Township, two Dalans/military informers were shot and killed on the previous day.   

Military-affiliated gas station and entertainment center targeted in Yangon

On the morning of April 19, explosions took place at Myat Myittar Mon Gas Station in Tamwe Township and The One Entertainment in Bahan Township. Both facilities are reportedly owned by military-affiliated companies- Myat Myittar Mon Gas Station famously belongs to Dr. Win Myint, former MP representative of Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), a military proxy political party.

SAC-appointed electrical manager shot dead in Mandalay

Former military captain/ electrical Manager Kyaw Ye Aung was shot and killed on April 19 in Patheingyi Township, Mandalay Region. Nat Soe Resistance Force claimed responsibility for the attack. Its ranger said the team followed Kyaw Ye Aung’s car with a motorbike and took him out with a bullet. He also added that the shot had to be fired towards the moving car, so a civilian’s car and another motorbike passing by were shoved off by the targeted vehicle consequently and hence requested forgiveness about it.

Myanmar Beer Factory met with bomb attack in Yangon

Yangon Regional PDF reportedly carried out a bomb attack on the military-owned Myanmar Beer Factory in Mingladon Township on April 20. The incident that took place in the evening around 4 pm did not injure anyone; however, caused defects in two key production parts. Following the attack, more security measures have been taken at the factory, including fencing, and thoroughly checking staff’s background information.

Military veteran shot 12 times in Yangon’s Khayan Tsp

U Thant Zin, a military veteran as well as a Dalan from Takawkan Village of Khayan Township, Yangon Region was shot dead on April 21. He was on his way back from collecting pension fees when he was shot 12 times, 3 of which went to the head. U Thant Zin was said to have been feeding information about resistance forces to the regime’s forces.

MyTel showroom raided and bombed in Tanintharyi’s Dawei City

On April 21, Guerrilla Dawei Force reportedly raided the military-owned MyTel’s showroom in Dawei City, Tanintharyi Region, seizing cash and properties and bombing it afterward. The force announced that it had seized funds of about 2.3 million MMK and two laptops. It also added that funds would be allocated between the procurement of weapons and donations for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Former commander in chief’s house targeted in Mandalay’s Kyaukse Town

Kyaukse-based resistance force K.D.D.F released a statement that it had attacked the former commander in chief Than Shwe’s house with a grenade in Kyautse Town, Mandalay Region on April 22. No casualty was reported but intense investigation swiftly followed. This was the second time that the former dictator’s mansion was targeted, the first attempt took place in September last year.

USDP’s representative attacked in Tanintharyi’s Palaw Town

U Zarni Aung, a member of USDP who participated in the 2020 election, was shot in the head at a tea shop in Palaw Township, Tanintharyi Region on April 23. He was allegedly sitting amongst fellow military supporters and Dalans when the incident took place. He was sent immediately to the hospital and no news of the death was reported yet. According to the local sources, U Zarni Aung was a key part of the military support group as well as a member of the Pyu Saw Htee thug group. 

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

Nine civilians killed & businesses confiscated by SAC’s soldiers in Sagaing’s Pinlebu Town

Following a 10-day battle between the regime’s soldiers and the resistance forces that took place from March 29 to April 10 in which the junta’s army suffered multiple casualties, retaliation in the form of blatant murders and theft have been committed by SAC’s forces on broad daylight. At least nine dead bodies of civilians were found on the streets, and all of them were the results of unprovoked shootings. Only three victims such as U Paw Win Aung, U Paw One, and U Win Aung have been identified so far.  Moreover, many households and shops have also been robbed and demolished by bulldozers as well.  

Family lost contact with detained 88-Generation leader Jimmy and student leader Aye Nandar Soe

The Whereabouts of Ko Jimmy, a leader of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society as well as a prominent figure of the spring revolution who has been detained and sentenced to death by the junta’s court remained unknown. The family said they had tried to send supplies to Insein Prison where they assumed Ko Jimmy was kept but the prison returned the items with a message that he was not detained there. Ko Jimmy was injured in the head during the raid and the arrest in October and friends and families are now fearing for his health due to the loss of contact. Similarly, the chair of Sagaing Education University’s Students’ Union Ma Aye Nandar Soe who has been detained since September 2021 is also missing and feared for her life.

Vice-chairperson of NLD’s Mandalay Region branch and wife killed in tragedy

Daw Soe Soe, the wife of the vice-chairperson of NLD’s Mandalay District Branch U Ko Ko Lay, was abducted by SAC’s forces on April 12 in Mandalay because they could not locate her husband. And on April 18, her dead body was dumped on the streetside. According to witnesses, the 50-year-old victim was never put on a warrant list, and yet she was slapped, beaten up, and cut by the regime’s soldiers during her arrest and feared for her life since then. Upon hearing the news three days later, the victim’s husband U Ko Ko Lay who had been hiding in Shan State passed away due to a Hemorrhagic stroke.

Six members of urban guerilla force arrested in Mandalay’s Sint Kine Tsp

On April 18, five young people from an urban guerilla force were arrested along with weapons and explosives and in Sint Kine Township, Mandalay Region sent to an interrogation center. Soon, a female member close to those detainees was also arrested in her home. However, SAC has only released the news about five male members so fear grew that the girl may have been killed and evidence destroyed.

Senior citizen killed and properties robbed in Magway’s Gantgaw Tsp

On the morning of April 18, combined forces of the regime’s soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee members stormed into Nhankhar Village and committed various crimes because the villagers had been staging peaceful protests. They tied both hands of the 67-year-old U Sein Win behind his back and killed him for no concrete reason. In addition, the junta’s forces robbed food supplies such as rice, oil, beans, and sunflowers from almost every household and carried those out via two trucks. On their way out, the soldiers threatened the village’s abbot that if more protests are held, they would burn the village down.

Mandalay’s protest leader Ko Thura Aung killed during interrogation

General Strike Committee (GSC) announced on April 20 that Ko Thura Aung, a strike leader of the Mandalay Region had passed away in an interrogation center. Ko Thura Aung was abducted in early February and missing for two months. Although fears grew that he may have been killed since the early days of the arrest, his death was only confirmed this week.

Youths arrested in Yangon for staging guerilla protests

On the evening of April 20, a military truck rammed into a taxi in South Oakkalapa Township of Yangon, and in the aftermath, the regime’s soldiers were seen beating up and arresting three youths on board. The victims were two girls and a boy who had allegedly participated in the guerilla protest earlier in San Chaung Township. However, San Chaung Strike Committee released a statement that everyone who joined the protest was safe and the military’s forces were targeting and abducting young people they found on the streets.

Two civilians killed by indiscriminate shooting of SAC’s police in Yangon

It was reported that six explosions took place at Kamaryut Police Station on the early morning of April 21. Following the incidents, the regime’s police went on a shooting spree, killing at least two civilians nearby. One victim was a man selling vegetables in the neighborhood with his wife, he was shot in the head and killed on the spot. Another one was a passenger inside a taxi that was passing by the police station, he also died instantly. Two more civilians were said to be wounded.  

Seven students from Dagon University missing & eight youths abducted in Yangon’s Hledan

Families said that they have lost contact with seven students from Dagon University such as Ko Khant Zin Win, Ko Thura Mg Mg, Ko Zaw Lin Naing, Ko Thiha Htet Zaw, Ko Thet Paing Oo, Ko Khant Lin Mg Mg, and Ko Hein Htet since April 21. Dagon University’s Students’ Union said those seven were most likely to have been abducted by the junta; however, the families must be informed in any case. Moreover, eight more youths were reportedly detained during nighttime on April 21 in Hledan, Yangon concerning the bombing incident that took place in Kamayut Police Station in the early morning.

Six civilians accused as PDF members and killed by SAC’s soldiers in Shan’s Ywar Ngan Tsp

Ywar Ngan-based YPDF released news that six civilians from Palyintaung Village were accused as members of PDF and killed by SAC’s forces on April 22. The victims were Ko Tin Phay, Ko Hla Soe, Ko Tun Oo, Mg Thet Aung, Ko Myo Htway and Ko Win Naing. According to local sources, all of them were beaten and tortured before they were shot to death. Later, the regime’s forces placed weapons around the dead bodies and took pictures as if the victims were actual PDF members.

Retired military colonel forcefully detained by SAC in Yangon

On the evening of April 21, retired military colonel Aung Myin Thu was abducted at his home by SAC’s forces in Yangon’s South Oakkalapa Township. The veteran criticized the regime on his social media account, of which military lobbyists took screenshots and called for his arrest. Up to six military trucks were used to abduct the 80-year-old man and some family members of him were reportedly detained alongside him as well.

Armed Resistance

Police outpost in Magway’s Htilin Tsp occupied by PDF

On the early morning of April 17, Htilin PDF and its allied forces mounted an assault on Kyin Ywar Police Station in Htilin Township, Magway Region. The resistance forces successfully conducted the operation in which twenty of the junta’s soldiers were captured alive while the chief of the station was killed. Fighter jets from the junta soon arrived and opened fire but no casualty was reported. Htilin PDF said that about 70 villages of Htilin Township have been under PDF’s control now.

Thirty regime soldiers died during ambush attack in Sagaing’s Pale Tsp

On April 18, Myanma Royal Dragon Army (MRDA) led by Bo Nagar ambushed the junta’s military convoy twice in Pale Township, Sagaing Region. The first attack took place in the morning around 9 am and killed three soldiers while the second encounter lasted about three hours in the afternoon and claimed at least 30 deaths on the junta’s side. One ranger from MRDA also suffered a minor injury.

KNU and SAC continued to clash in Karen’s Laykaykaw Town

It was reported that fighting has resumed between the regime’s forces and Karen National Union (KNU) in Laykaykaw Town, Karen State on April 19. On that day, a scout plane from the junta’s forces was seen inspecting KNU’s Cobra operation in the early morning, and SAC began an offensive by conducting ambush attacks with snipers. KNU responded by shelling artillery at the snipers which resulted in at least five deaths.

Clash on Dawei-Myeik highway killed ten regime soldiers

A clash took place between SAC’s soldiers and the resistance forces on the Dawei-Myeik highway road near Thayetchaung Township in Tanintharyi Region on the early morning of April 20. The battle began with an ambush on the military outpost and lasted over three hours. At least ten soldiers of the junta were reportedly killed.

Epic clash reported in Sagaing’s Kalay Tsp

On April 22, a skirmish between the regime’s army and local resistance forces was reported in the south of Kalay Township near Myitthar River. About 250 troops conducted an offensive that lasted about nine hours. At least 20 soldiers of the junta were reportedly killed while one resistance ranger also died and two were wounded during combat. Moreover, the regime’s forces trespassing in the south of Kalay Town, Sagaing Region was ambushed by local resistance forces on April 24. At least five soldiers of the Junta were said to be killed on the spot during the 30-minute clash.

Others

Junta troops flee with families from Yangon to Nay Pyi Taw

Families of personnel working for the junta are reportedly relocating to the country’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw as attacks against military-affiliated persons increased in Yangon city, a member of the Yangon Police Force officer told Myanmar Now. He said the April 7 shooting of the deputy governor of the junta-controlled Central Bank, Than Than Swe, and the administrative officer for Lanmadaw Township, Maj Gaday Phyo Aung three days later was the point when the exodus increased.

Almost 290 women and children killed within a year of coup

Since the military coup on February 1, 2021, a total of 1,673 people were killed by the military council, including 289 women and children, according to a statement by the National Unity Government’s Ministry of Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs on April 20. About 156 women and 133 children were killed as of April 11 since the military coup last year, accounting for 17 percent of the total death toll.

Rapes committed by soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee members in Mandalay Region’s Taungtha

Residents of Taungtha Township, Mandalay Region said the rapes committed by the members of military troops and Pyu Saw Htee were allowed to be prosecuted, let alone reported. A spokesperson for the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Taungtha Township, Zaw Htwe said there have been at least two rape cases involving junta soldiers and one rape committed by the leader of Pyu Saw Htee leader in Taungtha based on available data. He also said, in reality, there were reportedly up to eight cases committed by soldiers, police officials and Pyu Saw Htee members, but the details of the incident were not known because the victims had yet to disclose or report them.

Reference: Khit Thit Media, Mizzima News, The Irrawaddy, RFA Burmese, Myanmar Now, Chindwin News Agency, Myanmar Pressphoto Agency, Thanlwin Times, Burma VJ, Public Voice Television, Myanmar Labour News, Burma Associated Press

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