Weekly Update: 013

Hi folks, here’s the recap of another week of the resistance.

Internal Politics

  • KIO rejected Min Aung Hlaing’s peace talk invite

Last week, we reported about the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing’s invitation to ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) leaders for a peace talk. Several EAO leaders talked to the media about their distrust of the regime. On May 5, Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), political wing of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), officially released a statement that the EAO would not join the peace talk because it failed to invite all stakeholders, and the invitation showed no intention to resolve the political crisis of the country. The EAO said that it would only 

  • AA C-in-C challenged the Western Command Chief on Twitter

On May 6, Arakan Army (AA)’s commander-in-chief General Twan Mrat Naing warned Western Command Chief of Myanmar Army General Htin Lin Oo to stop whatever the army had been doing or AA would resume fighting regardless of the ceasefire status in Rakhine State. BBC Burmese later reported that the regime’s forces have been raiding and arresting villages in Rakhine State for associating with the AA in recent days. Post-coup Rakhine State has been rather peaceful, compared to other parts of the country, and the AA’s control of the state also grew. It is widely assumed that the regime attempted to control AA’s growing power by conducting raids and arrests. 

  • NUG is hopeful to meet with AA

Last year when NUG was formed and engaged with EAOs, AA’s representatives did not join the parallel government by its own choice according to General Twan Mrat Naing’s tweet on April 16, 2021. On May 5, the NUG’s Minister for Defense talked to Khit Thit media that the parallel government is looking forward to holding a meeting with Arakan Army (AA) in the coming days. U Yee Mon said that the meeting has two goals. The first goal is to exchange views on the nation’s political landscape, and the second goal is to find ways to cooperate militarily. The NUG is hopeful to acquire mutual trust and respect with EAOs, according to U Yee Mon.

  • NLD’s name has been misused by the SAC

On May 1, NLD Central Committee declared that the party has not given any representative any authority to engage with the SAC or its agencies to have dialogues or negotiations. Further in the statement, the party’s central committee warned that if its name has been misused to reach out to international community and diplomatic missions, the political party has nothing to do with the NLD because majority of the party leaders and central committee members are under arrest. The statement noted that the SAC has been attempting to hold a general election as an exit strategy from the political turmoil, and misusing the NLD’s name. 

  • NUG and KNU to transform Bago Region as administrative territory

The NUG’s Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration U Lwin Ko Latt said that the parallel government, together with EAOs, PDFs and local resistance forces, have maintained control over 36 townships in Sagaing, Magway and Bago regions. Since the NUG has formed a trusted partnership with the Karen National Union (KNU) in terms of political and military ties, the partners choose Bago Region to transform into an administrative territory. In addition to Bagon Region, the NUG aimed to expand its administration in Ayeyarwaddy Region as pilot. 

  • NUG auctioning Min Aung Hlaing’s home in Inya Road, Yangon

As a new fundraising activity, the NUG announced the auction of the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing’s house in Inya Road, one of the poshest neighborhoods in Yangon. Within 48 hours of the sales, USD 1 million worth of shares were sold according to U Tin Tun Naing, NUG’s Minister for Planning, Finance and Investment (MOPFI). The minister encouraged the citizenry to continue purchasing the shares to raise more funds for the parallel government.

International Affairs

  • NUG welcomed Malaysian Foreign Minister’s intent to talk 

Mr. Kyaw Zaw, spokesperson of NUG’s spokesperson for the President’s Office welcomed the remark by saying “This is a diplomatic loss for the junta and a gain for the people of Myanmar.” He also continues that SAC is yet to make any points agreed under 5-points consensus, agreed more than one year ago, and intensifying violence. SAC has vehemently rejected the Malaysian Foreign Minister’s idea. 

  • Hun Sen urged Min Aung Hlaing to allow envoy meet Aung San Suu Kyi

Cambodian Prime Minister and Chairman of ASEAN bloc Mr. Hun Sen has suggested Min Aung Hlaing to allow a meeting between ASEAN Special Envoy and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, during the special envoy’s 2nd visit to Myanmar planned in coming months. 

  • Junta wanted to tax humanitarian aid to Myanmar 

ASEAN Special Envoy to Myanmar and Cambodian Foreign Minister Mr. Prak Sokhoon talked about hurdles in delivering humanitarian aids to Myanmar through ASEAN Coordinating Center on Humanitarian Assistance (AHA), one of which from SAC’s side is their desire to tax incoming humanitarian aids. The special envoy also mentions there are worries from SAC side about medicines and humanitarian aids getting into the hands of anti-coup populace. The special envoy talked about the progress in dialogues with SAC representatives and his intent to visit Myanmar after US-ASEAN Summit planned to be held this month. 

Business Matters

  • SAC blacklist energy companies for failure to complete solar projects in time 

These companies, almost all are Chinese firms, won tenders to be suppliers of national electrification projects during ousted democratically-elected government, and since coup only 3 out of 29 winning bidders step implementation, with the rest stalling amidst political and economic uncertainties. For their repeated failure to follow tender agreements, SAC have announced these bids void and blacklisted companies. With SAC’s removal of the previous Minister of Electricity and Energy (MOEE), this is also the first act by the new minister. 

  • World Bank in Myanmar warns of higher risks in energy sector and worsening blackouts 

The World Bank warns of these prospects over latest issue of Energy Sector Monitoring Report and discusses key findings such as (i) constraints in human resources resulting from the dismissal of 4,400 staffs in MOEE, (ii) public boycott of electricity payments and rising costs of electricity due to Myanmar Kyat depreciation (iii) rising fuel prices (iv) decline of export revenues from oil and gas. Blood Money Campaign, also echoed this sentiment by saying more blackouts will follow suit in Myanmar due to shortage of funds in SAC, and its prioritizing of weapon-purchases over electrification. 

  • Cinemas struggle with pressures to open and no movie-goers

Cinemas in Myanmar were closed since the pandemic outbreak, and it has been 2 weeks since reopening, after they were pressured by SAC to re-open as an attempt to show a normally functioning society under their rule. Local media reported that most are struggling with few movie-goers (2 to 5 people per show) and many are resorting to reducing show times and considering closing again, due to lack of public demand. 

  • All foreign investors of Ye Dagon natural gas project left the project 

After Patronas (Malaysia) and PTTEP (Thailand) gas companies announced withdrawal from the project last week, the remaining foreign investor of the project, Eneos (Japan), announced its withdrawal this week. Oil and gas sector, which is the biggest revenue source for junta, has been facing a series of withdrawals from international investors since the turn of the year. Previously, global oil and gas gaints such as Chevron, Total and Woodside announced withdrawal in January. 

Humanitarian Affairs

  • Junta stopped supplies for displaced Rakhine villagers

People taking shelter at displacement camps in Rakhine State’s Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Rathedaung and other townships are reported to have had their supplies cut off under the junta’s rule. According to camp managers, the junta’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement stopped providing rice to the camps in February this year due to budget constraints. The IDPs reportedly had to sell their belongings to borrow money to provide food for themselves. Nine IDP camps in Kyauktaw sheltering over 10,000 people and a Mrauk-U camp sheltering over 500 households are some of the IDPs camps affected by the budget cut and are in need of humanitarian assistance, The Irrawaddy reported.

  • Over 4000 displaced by clashes in Chin State’s Hakha Township

A fighting broke out between two villages in Chin State’s Hakha Township from May 3 to 5, resulting in over 4,000 residents from five villages having to flee their homes. A resident told RFA Burmese that most of the residents are currently taking refuge in the forests nearby their villages. Apart from the fighting, the junta soldiers have been torching the residents’ homes in the villages, and about 26 houses from two villages were set on fire as of May 5.

  • Number of IDPs and refugees increased to almost 600,000 after the Coup

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said the total number of IDPs in Myanmar has increased to 590,100 in more than a year since the military coup, bringing the total number of IDPs and Refugees to be 936,700, including the existing 346,600 IDPs and refugees prior to the coup. Associate Humanitarian Affairs Officers, Lainey Freels told RFA Burmese in an email on May 4 that armed conflicts in Chin State, Magway and Sagaing regions have resulted in about 333,700 new refugees, and the remaining are from Karen, Karenni, Shan and Mon states as well as from Tanintharyi and Bago regions. 

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Bombs blasted and two military lapdogs killed in Tontay and Hlaingthayar, Yangon

Multiple explosions were recorded in Yangon at the beginning of the week. On the night of April 30, two bombs exploded in North Oakkalapa Township and another two were blasted in Bagan Township of Yangon the next morning. On April 30, two of the junta’s lackeys were killed in Yangon. One of them was L Mu Gyi, chairman of the Karen People’s Party based in Tontay Township. L Mu Gyi was hated in the area for coordinating with the military’s forces, helping them detain youths and extortion toward CDM teachers. He was shot and killed by a local urban guerilla force. On the same day, a ward administrator Tun Kyaw from Hlaing Thayar Township was also shot and killed by From Zero to Hero resistance force who claimed it was revenge for the fallen freedom rangers.  

  •  Notorious ward administrator shot dead in Insein Tsp, Yangon

Ward administrator Phyo Ko Ko @ A Thay Lay from Insein Township of Yangon was found dead on the afternoon of May 1. According to local sources, he was responsible for the arrest of 11 PDF members in Insein Township on February 16. He was also said to be thieving and making profits out of the properties of resistance forces that were seized by the military. Phyo Ko Ko was shot 19 times and killed on the spot and YLF Guerilla Force claimed responsibility for his death.

  • Thway Thout leader killed in Thanlyin Tsp, Yangon

Yan Naing Shwe, one of the military’s key lackeys in Thanlyin was shot and killed at a barbershop in Thanlyin Township of Yangon on May 1. Yan Naing Shwe was a man of many names. He was a township-level member of the State Administration Council (SAC), a candidate for the military proxy political party the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) as well as a leader of the recently formed vigilante group named Thway Thout. Thanlyin PDF reportedly carried out the assault.

  • Pyu Saw Htee leader shot and hospitalized in Kyaukpadaung Tsp, Mandalay

Around noon on May 2, dalan/military informer and chairman of Tharyaaye Ward U Nay Win was shot six times in Kyaukpadaung Township of Mandalay Region. However, the man escaped death and is currently being hospitalized at Meikhtila Hospital. U Nay Win reportedly coordinated with the military’s forces on abducting civilians for resistance movements. Kyaukpadaung Defence Force (KDF) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Nine family members abducted in place of a CDM education staff in Kyautse, Mandalay

On April 30, the junta’s forces abducted nine family members including a 4-year-old in Indine Village of Kyautse Township, Mandalay Region because they could not locate their breadwinner U Wai Lwin Oo, a former education staff on CDM. U Wai Lwin Oo was reportedly put on the junta’s warrant list, and he had stayed away from home to escape the arrest. Now, his family members including his 4-year-old daughter have been taken as hostages by SAC.

  • Seven family members including a 10-year-old taken hostage in Yangon

On the evening of May 1, SAC’s forces forcefully stormed into a house in Dawpon Township, Yangon in search of a university student named Ko Nyan Win Htet. As they could not find him, his family members; seven in total including a child were taken as hostages. Ko Nyan Win Htet is a second-year Psychology major student from East Yangon University, and it was reportedly the second time that he was targeted by the regime.

  • Six villagers killed in Seikkon Village, Sagaing Region

On May 2, the regime’s soldiers reportedly raided Seikkon Village of Shwebo Township, Sagaing Region and committed at least six murders. Ko Shine, aged 22, was shot and killed while he was riding a motorbike in the village before his body was burned and destroyed. Afterward, the soldiers fired artillery into the village, killing five family members instantly. It was speculated that the junta’s forces were targeting that area because they thought the village was supporting PDFs.

Armed Resistance

  • Skirmishes in Karenni saw casualties of the junta’s forces

Karenni National Defense Force (KNDF) released news that clashes between the junta’s soldiers and the local resistance forces in Karenni State during the last week of April resulted in at least 24 soldiers of the junta. Moreover, eight policemen from the Lawpita hydropower plant were also taken as captives. During those encounters, two resistance rangers were also said to be killed. SAC has been sending reinforcements to Karenni State via Shan State’s Pinloung Township and battles occur to this day.

  • Tike Taing Ag Operation killed 6 policemen in Salin Tsp, Magway

Around 10 pm on May 1, SAC’s policemen on patrol duty in Salin Township of Magway were attacked with remote-controlled bombs and at least six policemen were reportedly killed. Three more escaped and opened fire indiscriminately following the attack. The mission was part of Tike Taing Ag Operation (2) in Magway Region, according to one of its leaders Bo Thunder. On the same night, the state-owned Agricultural Development Bank was also given a warning by the same operation with a grenade for aggressively pressuring civilians to repay debts.  

  • Clash between SAC and MNDAA intensified in Muse Tsp, Shan State

SAC’s forces and Kokang-based Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) have been clashing in Muse Township, Shan State for months, and on May 4, the battle intensified in Mongpaw area. On that day, MNDAA’s soldiers reportedly ambushed SAC’s forces near Maingfan Village and it led to the counter attacks from the junta’s forces. Residents nearby are terrified but also reluctant to flee due to the fear of running into heavy artillery targets.  

  • Injured PDF members ambushed, five killed in Mandalay

On May 4, a guest house in Chanmyatharsi Township, Mandalay where five PDF members were staying to receive medical treatment was raided by the regime’s forces. The raid turned into a brief battle as the resistance rangers were forced to defend themselves. Later, it was reported that all five members were killed on the spot. Rangers of Mandalay released news that those fallen members were Captain Kyoung Htan, Comrade Nyi Ko, Comrade Aw Bar, Comrade Fatty and Comrade Ma Ei, all of them were rangers from Myitnge PDF.   

  • Junta’s convoy ambushed in Hpruso Tsp, Karenni, 20 killed 

Combined local resistance forces carried out an attack on the junta’s convoy traveling in Hpruso Township, Karenni State on March 7. In the clash, at least 20 regime’s soldiers were killed and four military trucks were destroyed. A video circulated on social media showed PDF soldiers opening fires on the trucks and the fallen lackeys of the regime roadside.

Others

  • Quarantine requirements lifted for fully vaccinated inbound travelers

Junta’s Ministry of Health has lifted the quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated travelers who test negative for COVID-19 in a Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) at the Yangon International Airport starting from May 1. Initially, the country allowed the commercial flights to resume on April 17 this year  travelers required to do one-day quarantine at a designated hotel while waiting for a result of the RT-PCR test  result for COVID. With the declining COVID-19 infection rate in Myanmar, the junta’s health ministry has lifted the remaining requirements and only required for the travelers to do the RDT test at the airport which costs 15,000 kyats per test. 

  • Junta rolls out Myancopharm Vaccines

According to the junta-controlled Ministry of Health, locally filled-and-packed doses of China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines, also known as Myancopharm vaccines, have begun its local administration at the end of April. A director from the MoH, Than Naing Soe told China’s news outlet, Xinhua on May 5 that the inoculation of Myancopharm COVID-19 vaccines has begun not only in Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon but also in other regions and states. MoH said it received a total of 1 million doses on April 29 and 30 and has administered the vaccines to targeted groups of people.

  • Philippines plans to donate 5 Million Sputnik V Vaccines

A senior health official from the Philippines told Reuters on May 2 that the island country is considering donating five million doses of Sputnik V COVID vaccine which are close to expiry. The Philippines authorities are reportedly seeking clearance to donate the Russian vaccines through the Myanmar Red Cross Society.

  • Over 3500 houses destroyed in April alone

Within April, a total of 3,514 houses were reported to have been burnt down and destroyed by junta forces across the country, according to a report by Data for Myanmar on May 1. The report said about 2,512 houses were set on fire in Sagaing Region alone where most of them were from Khin-U Township with at least 529 houses destroyed. Magway Region reported about 951 houses which were set on fire by junta soldiers and 748 houses with Pauk Township reporting at least 748 houses. Since the coup a year and three months ago, more than 14,000 homes across the country had been destroyed by junta forces. 

Reference: Khit Thit Media, Mizzima News, DVB, The Irrawaddy, RFA Burmese, Reuters, Eleven Media, Myaelatt Athan, Kachin News Group, The Star

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