Weekly Update: 012

Folks, today’s not Sunday but since we will be publishing our magazine issue tomorrow, here’s the weekly updates from our team.

Internal politics

  • Local CSOs sent open letter to Chinese President Xi Jingpin

China has been continuing its projects in Myanmar with the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing’s administration. On April 25, a total of 558 local civil society groups sent an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jingpin, warning that if Chinese projects are continued to be implemented, they will be attacked by resistance forces. The CSOs recommended the Chinese government to start engaging with the NUG and other political parties. 

  • Former chair of SNLD Khun Htun Oo passed away

On April 30, the family confirmed that the former chairperson of Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) passed away in his Yangon home. The 78-year-old ethnic leader had led the SNLD for more than 30 years, and served as a patron for United Nationalities Alliance (UNA), an alliance formed with 13 ethnic parties. Khun Htun Oo was arrested in 2005 for forming Shan State Consultative Council, and received 90 years jail time. He was pardoned by Thein Sein Administration in 2012. 

International Affairs

  • Malaysian FM discloses meeting between NUG and Malaysian Government

The Malaysian Foreign Minister disclosed there were meetings between the Malaysian Government and representatives of NUG and NUCC. The disclosure came as response to criticism of lack of progress towards ASEAN’s five-point consensus and urge for ASEAN governments to meet with NUG. The foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah talked the previous points of contact include NUG Foreign Minister Ms. Zin Mar Aung and President of NUCC.

  • Thai Government appoints Special Representative for Myanmar 

The Government of Thailand announced the appointment of a special representative for Myanmar this week. Ms. Pronpimol Kanchanalak, an experienced diplomat who has been advising the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Myanmar issues, is now formally appointed to the position officially, and to coordinate with international counterparts. The deputy prime minister of Thailand claims that she will be directly reporting to him and working together with international counterparts including those from development agencies and the private sector.

  • US to consider unfreezing $1 bn of Myanmar Foreign Reserves in American Banks 

In a meeting with the NUG delegation to the US, the American Government Representatives agreed to take steps into unfreezing Myanmar’s foreign reserves deposited in the American banks. The cash was deposited under the ousted democratically-elected government and has been frozen since the coup. Both SAC and NUG have lay claims to the funds. U Aung Myo Min, NUG Minister of Human Rights and head of NUG delegation said “the American government promises to put serious efforts to unfreeze the money, depending on the progress of NUG”.

Business Matters

  • Commodity Market Still Struggling to Respond Junta’s Erratic Economic Policies 

Since the junta fixed foreign currency conversion to Myanmar Kyat on April 3, commodity prices are in panic. Almost a month since, key commodities such as gold and fuel markets, which are directly tied to foreign currency, are still in disarray as supply chain and pricing mechanisms face prolonged and severe disruptions.

  • SAC’s Central Bank Refuses to Decline Raising Bank Denomination 

Rumors of Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) raising bank denomination from 10,000 cap to 20,000 were circulating and CBM’s Deputy Governor U Win Thaw refused to confirm or deny these rumors, only saying we will announce any updates. Cash crunches and lack of trust in the banking system is rampant since the coup and sources close to CBM discloses to Irrawaddy that the junta’s administration is short on money, and plans to roll out massive printing of cash this fiscal year.

  • Myanmar Tycoon U Chit Khine Arrested by Junta 

One of Myanmar’s top tycoons, U Chit Khine,was arrested on the evening of April 25 upon his return from an overseas trip. U Chit Khine is chairman of Eden Group, one of the country’s largest conglomerates, and allegedly has close ties with previous junta Than Shwe and current one. The junta’s spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun claimed he was arrested under corruption charges of a local power plant, under the same case as civilian administration’s ministers. This is the second high profile tycoon to be arrested by the junta in as many months and experts worried that business confidence will be hit further. As U Chit Khine runs a well-known consumer bank of MAB, people deposited in the bank also become worried that their savings will be lost.

  • Myanmar Military-owned Banks want to Open Accounts in Russian Banks 

A leaked document from CBM confirmed that a meeting between CBM, Russian counterpart and Russian banks took place for opening of bank accounts by Myanmar banks in Russian banks. The document confirms that Myawaddy Bank Ltd and Innwa Bank Ltd, both owned by the Myanmar military, are the only local banks to join the discussion.

  • Petronas announces withdrawal from major gas project in Myanmar 

Malaysian state-owned oil and gas giant Petronas announced on April 29 that it will withdraw from Ye Dagon project, and its activities and productions will cease immediately. Ye Dagon Gas project, started in 2003, is a joint initiative between Petronas, currently sanctioned Myanmar state-owned entity, MOGE, Nippon Oil and Thailand’s PTTEP, with Petronas holding largest shares. 

Source: BETV Business

Humanitarian Affairs

  • 7,000 residents on the run in Mon State’s Bilin amid clashes

The Karen National Union (KNU) has announced on April 25 that 7,000 people have been displaced by fighting between the KNU’s KNDO/KNLA forces and the combined forces between the BGF and junta troops in Mon State’s Bilin Township. The junta forces have reportedly been shelling villages in the KNU-controlled area in Bilin Township with heavy and small artillery, forcing residents from nine villages including Win Tar Pan and Myit Kyo to flee their homes. The KNDO’s Battalion No. 2 had issued a warning against the junta forces to leave Bilin Township by April 23, but fighting escalated when the forces did not leave even after the deadline.

  • Junta soldiers raided 11 riverside villages in Sagaing Region, Displacing Over 10,000 Residents

Since April 21, a column of some 100 soldiers began attacks against riverside villages along Muu River in Sagaing Region, depopulating 11 villages between the towns of Sagaing and Myinmu and killed several civilians and resistance fighters according to witnesses, guerrillas and a volunteer aid worker who spoke to Myanmar Now. Apparently, the villages were raided because the junta forces believed the residents were harboring or supporting resistance fighters. A volunteer from Sagaing District Medical Force told Myanmar Now that around 3,000 homes have been abandoned or destroyed within 11 villages and in Thazilay village, all 250 homes were burned down after the junta soldiers set fire. 

  • 200 IDPs from Myitkyina returns home

More than 200 IDPs who fled Putao Township to Myitkyina due to fighting in early February in Kachin State have returned home on April 27, according to the residents. This is the second batch of IDPs that have returned home from Myitkyina, one female IDP told RFA Burmese. Out of over 2,000 IDPs taking temporary refuge in Myitkyina, so far 400 have returned home in March and over 200 in April.  

  • Junta soldiers torch nine villages in Sagaing Region’s Wuntho Township over one weekend

Junta soldiers burned down homes from nine villages in Sagaing Region’s Wuntho Township between April 23-24, killing three civilians including a Buddhist monk who urged them not to burn houses, the residents said. Four of the nine villages reportedly burned down to the ground according to the residents. Within April, about 30,000 people from more than 40 villages in Wuntho and Kawlin townships have been displaced by the fighting and attacks by the junta soldiers. 

Attacks on Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Ward administrator and wife killed in Pyapon Tsp, Ayeyarwady

On April 24, the junta-appointed village ward administrator Aye Ko and his wife were shot and killed by local resistance forces in Kyonekyite Village, Pyapon Township, Ayeyarwady Region. Aye Ko was a soldier-turned-administrator who was mostly found drunk and threatening youths with his army connections in the area. Two local resistance forces from Maubin and Bogale townships coordinated the attack.

  • Ward administrator’s house attacked, investigation force bombed in Yangon

Ward administrator’s house in Dagon Seikkan Township, Yangon was attacked with bombs on the evening of April 26. The regime’s forces shortly arrived at the scene for investigation and two more bombs exploded. Local sources said there might be many casualties but the exact number has not been confirmed yet.

  • Pyu Saw Htee member killed in Magway

Aung Baw, a member of military-sponsored thug group Pyu Saw Htee, was shot five times and killed on the morning of April 27 in Myothit Town, Magway Region. Aung Baw was a junta’s lackey who bullied civilians in the area, said Beikthano PDF who carried out the attack. 

  • Notorious military informer shot and killed in Kantbalu Tsp, Sagaing

U Mg Gyi, known as a major military informer/Pyu Saw Htee member was shot and killed on the morning of April 27 in Aipaungchaung Village, Kantbalu Township, Sagaing Region. U Mg Gyi had taken military training under the junta and was actively involved in lawless abductions of civilians in the area, said Kanbalu Underground Warriors who put three bullets in him and ended his Dalan life prematurely.  

Arbitrary Arrest, Killings & Violence

  • “Operation Red” by military-backed Thway Thout terror group targets pro-resistance people

On April 21, the vigilant group Thway Thout was formed by pro-military extremists and it vowed to target people supporting the resistance movement. On April 24, a husband and a wife from Mandalay known as strong supporters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) were abducted by unknown men in a police car, and the next day, the dead body of the husband, U Khin Maung Thein was returned and the wife, Daw Kha was also dropped off with deadly wounds. Later it was confirmed that the brother-in-law of the victims was also found dead the same day. Lanyards with the Thway Thout logo were seen on the dead bodies. Similar terror groups under the same name have been formed in many areas of the country and since then, at least eight people, including members of NLD and supporters of the pro-democracy movement, have fallen victims. The group has also issued death threats against independent journalists exposing junta atrocities and their families.

  • Members of urban guerilla forces detained & killed in Myitkyina, Kachin

On April 24 around noon, some members of urban guerilla forces were shot and detained in Myitkyina, Kachin State. About 40 troops raided the hideout of the members. Later reports confirmed that two members were killed during the shootout while wounded ranger Ko Chit and two others were taken to interrogation.

  • Clinic sealed, owners detained in Mandalay

Dr. Aung Aung Tun, the owner of Thuriya Clinic and his family members were beaten and abducted in Mandalay on April 26. The junta has accused and detained them on charges that they have allowed the doctors of Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) to work in the clinic facility. Dr Aung Aung Tun, his father, his sister and his girlfriend Dr Win Shwe Yee have remained in custody while the clinic has been sealed. 

  • Prominent lawyer Ywet Nu Aung detained

Prominent lawyer Ywet Nu Aung from Mandalay, who was representing the former minister for Mandalay Region Dr Zaw Myint Maung was detained on April 27, on her way back from his trial. Her office was also searched following her arrest. Lawyer Ywet Nu Aung is known for her strong ties with the NLD party and is an advocate of rule of law in the country. Later reports said that she has been detained for supporting PDF and is now put in Ohbo Prison.

  • Members of Dark Shadow Urban Guerilla Force compromised and killed in Yangon

On April 28, it was reported that all members of Dark Shadow Urban Guerilla Force from Yangon were compromised and detained in Hmawbi Toll Gate. Initial reports mentioned that all 14 members were killed during interrogation. However, later it was reported only 5 members were abducted and killed. Dark Shadow was one of the most active combat forces in Yangon, that famously triggered the explosion of Yangon Major’s Pavilion during the water festival.  

  • Express buses attacked, two passengers killed in Pulaw, Tanintharyi

On April 29, two express buses traveling in Tanintharyi Region were targeted and attacked by SAC’s forces in Pulaw Town, Tanintharyi Region. According to local sources, the vehicle carrying the junta’s forces was detonated with landmines and the soldiers immediately resorted to indiscriminate shootings. As a result, two buses were damaged and two passengers on board were killed.  

Armed Resistance  

  • Regime’s soldiers killed during landmine attack in Mingin, Sagaing

It was reported on April 25 that PDFs coordinated a landmine attack on the regime’s soldiers and members of Pyu Saw Htee group in Mingin Town, Sagaing Region, killing a dozen of soldiers. About 70 troops were on their way to welcome the military convoy arriving from Kalay Town when they met with multiple landmine attacks. At least 13 soldiers were said to be killed.

  • More soldiers killed on Shwebo-Kyautmyaung highway, Sagaing

A military truck was attacked with landmine detonation on Shwebo-Kyaungmyaung highway in Sagaing Region on April 25. Local resistance force Dhu Wan SBDF claimed responsibility for the hit that killed at least eight soldiers. Following the incident, the injured soldiers retaliated by targeting civilians’ properties nearby. Three chicken farms were destroyed and burned down before three motorbikes were robbed. 

  • About 200 Karen troops defected from DKBA to fight the regime

On April 27, about 200 troops led by Captain Sa Lone defected from the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) to join forces with Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO) led by Major General Saw Nerdah Mya. DKBA is principally an alliance of the regime’s military; however, the outpost led by Captain Sa Lone has accepted youths for military training since the coup and the regime’s army has attacked its station twice, killing both Karen troops and trainees. Captain Sa Lone said they joined forces with KNDO because they want to help demolish the regime and DKBA has not been doing that. 

  • SAC’s Kyaut Nyat base fallen, KNLA’s tactical commander died during clash 

A coalition of resistance forces such as the Bamar People’s Liberation Army (BPLA) and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) successfully managed to seize control of the junta’s strategic military base Kyaut Nyat in Mutraw District, located on the Salween River that separates Karen State from Mae Hong Son in Thailand on April 28. Following its defeat, the regime’s forces retaliated by launching airstrikes on the station, and tragically, KNLA’s tactical commander Colonel Htoo Ka Shaw was killed. The colonel was a well-respected individual in the force and his death even overshadowed the victory. People across the country paid tribute to him on social media. 

  • Junta’s police station controlled by PDF in Sarlingyi Tsp, Sagaing

On April 28, local resistance forces mounted an assault on Kyar Tat Police Station in Sarlingyi Township, Sagaing Region, activating a serious battle. The station was manned by 45 troops and built to block any kind of raids. Local PDFs put on a courageous effort and managed to take control of the facility after four hours of back-and-forth firings. Eight soldiers of the junta were killed while the rest fled to safety. Right before the reinforcement arrived, PDFs set the station on fire and successfully retreated to base. 

  • PDF’s stations raided in Myinmu Tsp, Sagaing

Outposts of local resistance forces such as Myin Mu Defence Force (MMDF) and GTR MMU were ambushed by SAC’s forces in Myinmu Township, Sagaing Region on the early morning of April 28. It led to an exchange of gunfire and both counterparts suffered casualties. The deputy leader of MMDF was reportedly killed. Following the incident, the regime’s forces set nearby houses on fire.  

  • Two-day clash killed 25 SAC’s soldiers in Hakha, Chin

Chin National Army (CNA) released news that the regime’s forces and Chin’s resistance forces clashed two days in a row on April 27 and April 28. On the first day, the people’s forces ambushed the regime’s army near Tinan Village, 40 miles from Hakha Town. The second day clash took place in Ywar Ban Village. During both battles, a total of 25 soldiers from the junta were killed and no one from the resistance forces was harmed. 

Others

  • Medical students to pay fine if they fail to serve when graduated 

The regime’s ministry of health has opened a new batch of students in its medical unit but not without some controversy. The students applying for the course will have to sign a letter that they would pay a fine of up to MMK 60 million (approx. USD 33,000) if they fail to serve under the government when graduated. The news was received well by those participating in CDM because it would encourage students to boycott the junta’s education system more.

  • Thai locals accused US office in Chiang Mai of supporting PDF

A piece of strange news came through Thailand’s media that locals in Chiang Mai have marched to the US’s new facility that’s being built in town and accused the officials of supporting Myanmar’s opposition forces. Apparently, the US has been building a larger facility in Chiang Mai and locals believed it was to store weapons for resistance forces in Myanmar. 

  • Junta sends weapons factory workers to the frontlines, army doctors to lead public hospital

The military council is reportedly transferring staff from its weapons production units into battle and army doctors and nurses into public hospitals in an effort to deal with growing armed resistance campaigns nationwide and the civil disobedience movement by civil servants in the health sector. A new Police Force Law issued in late March stated that members of the police force need to take part in the state’s defense and security affairs when necessary. Another leaked military order from late March also outlined plans to use members of the fire department and the Myanmar Red Cross in the armed forces’ battles by instructing them to form a “public security force” alongside retired army officers and police. An officer under the junta’s health ministry also told Myanmar Now that in February and March, the junta had transferred 100 military doctors and 60 nurses to public hospitals where the majority of the staff had already left their jobs to participate in the CDM movement. 

  • More than 130 political prisoners transferred from Insein Prison to other jails

Family members and lawyers of detained political prisoners told Myanmar Now that over 130 political prisoners, including student activists, have been or are about to be transferred from Yangon’s Insein Prison to jails in Bago Region. About 100 men and 30 women charged under Section 505A are about to be sent to Bago’s Daik-U Prison, and another group had already been transferred to Thayawaddy Prison, one lawyer said. He added that the exact number is not known but all of them are political prisoners. 

Sources: Khit Thit, Irrawaddy, Mizzima, Myanmar Now, DVB, RFA Burmese, Voice of Myanmar, Than Lwin Times, Salween Press, Myanma Platform, BETV

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