Folks, the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing’s peace dialogues kicked off with the leading Shan ethnic leader, but the regime’s forces haven’t slowed down killing of innocent people, so peace is nowhere to be found. Read all about it in this week’s update.
- Shan ethnic leader met with the coup leader
Min Aung Hlaing’s peace dialogues kicked off this week with its first meeting on May 20 with General Yawd Serk of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) in Naypyidaw. The spokesperson of the RCSS told RFA Burmese that negotiations were made between the two to resume nationwide peace process, trust building with EAOs, and building of a federal state. On the second day of the meeting on May 22, the RCSS and the State Administrative Council (SAC) signed a peace agreement which included peace and development issues. In addition to RCSS, Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council (KNLA-PC), Democratic Karen Buddhist Association (DKBA), Lahu Democratic Union (LDU), New Mon State Party (NMSP), and Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO) have agreed to participate in the junta’s peace talk.
- Rakhine youth groups condemned ALP for participating in the junta’s peace talk
In other news on May 15, a total of 24 Rakhine youth organizations and student groups called on Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) for agreeing to meet with the junta. The groups’ statement claimed that ALP’s participation at the peace talk supports the junta which has been committing crimes against humanity against democratic forces and civilians.
- Tension in Rakhine State
At the press conference held on May 19, the regime’s spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun said that the Arakan Army (AA) has been organizing and persuading the Rohingya community, and replacing the administrative mechanism of the State Administration Council (SAC). General Zaw Min Tun claimed that since January 2022, AA has been organizing in Buthidaung, Rathedaung areas at least 10 times, and that AA has been interfering with the administrative mechanism that the military council had to be extremely patient with the AA. Regarding the AA Commander-in-Chief General Twan Mrat Naing’s tweet in the previous weeks, the junta spokesperson said that AA has challenged the military for more armed conflicts. He threatened that the military has been patient with AA for the sake of the Rakhine people, and said, “if any problem arises, don’t blame the military”.
- AA strikes back
To General Zaw Min Tun’s threat from the press conference, AA’s spokesperson U Khaing Thu Kha said that the military is hinting for another genocide in Rakhine State. He said that the military has been threatening this way for multiple times, and that reiterating only meant that the military has plans to repeat the genocide. He continued that if the military genuinely cared about the Rakhine people, it would have never turned the state into a battlefield as historical records have proven. On a better note, the AA and the National Unity Government (NUG) met on Zoom on May 16. From AA side, General Twan Mrat Naing as a chairperson and Secretary Dr Nyo Twan Aung were present while Daw Zin Mar Aung led the NUG with support from U Min Ko Naing, and both parties exchange views on the current political situation of the country according to the official statement released by the NUG. This landmark meeting was widely welcomed by netizens.
- NLD rumoured to be leaving NUCC
On May 22, Myanmar Pressphoto Agency (MPA) reported that the National League for Democracy (NLD) will not include its representatives in the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), and that it will only cooperate in partnership. The NLD has been absent in the NUCC meetings after the People’s Congress held in January 2022. Similarly, the Kachin Political Interim Coordination Team (KPICT) has also not attended NUCC meetings as a representative for some time.
- US-ASEAN Summit joint statement calls for urgent adoption of the five-point consensus
The joint statement of US-ASEAN Summit encouraged the junta to adopt the five-point consensus which was discussed in April 2021. The statement reiterated all parties involved to have dialogues and build trust. The US also supported the ASEAN’s effort in humanitarian aid provision to displaced people who are in need of assistance. The States also called to end all form of “terrorism” and demanded the immediate release of all political prisoners.
- A series of meeting for the NUG’s Foreign Minister
After meeting with the US Deputy Secretary and Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah last week, Daw Zin Mar Aung, the NUG’s foreign minister, has been meeting with several senators from the US Senate in the Capitol. From the importance of the US’s support to sanctions against the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), which is one of the major income sources for the junta, the NUG minister has been making the case of Myanmar’s democracy struggle on the world stage.
- Junta’s response to its diplomatic demotion
In response to Daw Zin Mar Aung’s meetings in D.C, the junta’s spokesperson condemned Malaysia for its engagement with the NUG. General Zaw Min Tun said that the junta summoned the representatives from the Malaysian Embassy in Yangon and expressed its disapproval of the meeting of two foreign ministers. The spokesperson even went on and accused Malaysia foreign minister of asking for humanitarian assistance by pointing out Myanmar refugees in his country. In addition, the regime’s spokesperson threatened that if Malaysia continues to engage with the NUG and NUCC, necessary actions will be taken.
- Update on the sale of Telenor Myanmar
After finalizing the sale of Telenor Myanmar to Lebanon’s M1 Group, the group transferred control of the telecom company to the military-linked Shwe Byain Phyu conglomerate on May 12, according to Justice for Myanmar, a local advocacy group. The share transfer increased Shwe Byain Phyu’s ownership of Telenor Myanmar to 80%, from its earlier 49% stake. The sale violated the UK, EU and Norwegian sanctions due to the inclusion of lawful interception technology.
- Worry looms in business community for arrests by the junta
Following the arrest of two famous businessmen, business owners worry about arbitrary arrest by the regime. Zaykabar Group’s U Khin Shwe and son were arrested in March, and
Eden Group’s U Chit Khine and son were detained in April. A business person who remained anonymous talked to Myanmar Now that the businessmen were detained so that the junta could frame the NLD leaders with corruption charges for some projects during its administration. A Mandalay based businessman told Myanmar Now that the arrests were made to instil fear in business owners who are secretly supporting the resistance forces. At the same time, businesses also worried that if they were seen complying with the regime, they would encounter social punishment, public boycotts and attacks by resistance forces.
- 20,000 residents from Southern Shan State displaced
Ongoing fighting along the border between Karenni (Kayah) State and southern Shan State have forced more than 20,000 civilians from Moebye and Pekon townships to flee their homes starting from May 12. Residents said half of those displaced were from 20 villages situated along the eastern shores of Pekon Lake. On May 17, around 10,000 people had to flee their homes from Mobye town after two villages surrounding were hit by military shells, the Kayan Rescue Committee said. The displacement continued on throughout the week with residents fleeing to Shan State capital, Taunggyi as well as to areas around Inle Lake.
- More than 30,000 Myanmar refugees in Mizoram to receive identity cards
The Indian government has reportedly asserted efforts to complete profiling and issue identity cards to all of the Myanmar refugees by the end of May, the Task Group on Myanmar refugees said. The committee held a meeting with nodal officers from all districts via video conferencing on May 21 in which it was decided that the issuance of identity cards would be completed at the end of this month. Since February 2021, over 32,000 refugees have taken refuge in Mizoram and the refugees’ screening and issuance of identity cards had begun in January 2022.
- Karen refugees receive humanitarian aid, Thai Official says
The National Security Council Secretary-General, Supoj Malaniyom said that Thailand has been giving humanitarian aid to Karen refugees who have fled to the Myanmar-Thai border amid fresh clashes between the ethnic armed groups and junta forces. According to the Thai official, Thai provincial authorities will be setting up a shelter to care for the refugees. The fresh wave of displacement came after the Karen Liberation Army and allied forces took control of a junta’s post earlier this week, which lasted 8 hours of fighting with the junta forces dropping at least 35 airstrikes.
- Humanitarian responses struggle to meet demand in conflict-affected areas
Figures published by the United Nations on April 6 estimated that around 560,900 people have been displaced nationwide since the February 2021 military coup. As of April 2022, the total number of displaced populations throughout the country, including those displaced before the coup, is estimated to be around 907,500. With the number of internally displaced people rising throughout the country amid escalating fighting between the junta forces and ethnic armed groups and armed resistance forces, the shortage of food, shelter, clothing and medicine for the IDPs is not fulfilled, despite efforts of social welfare groups and individuals to help the growing displaced population. Director of the Karenni Human Rights Group, U Banyar said that one of the struggles in humanitarian aid is due to the restrictions that the military has placed on the transportation of vital goods such as rice and medicine throughout the country, in an attempt to limit supplies going towards resistance fighters. In Magway Region, the residents who escaped the junta’s arson attacks are still unable to return home. Initially, they were supported by generous individuals and organisations from around the country but as continuous arson attacks by junta soldiers forced more residents into homelessness, donations could cover them all. The Humanitarian supervisor at the Ta’and Women’s Organization urged international non-government organizations to do more to help and claimed that the junta’s interference in humanitarian aid efforts is inhumane.
Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties
- Ward administrator responsible for kidnapping of the child of pro-resistance activist killed in Yangon
On the evening of May 17, a man was reportedly shot three times and killed in Alone Township of Yangon. He was shortly identified as Hla Moe, junta-appointed ward administrator of Alone Township whose career highlight was the violent kidnapping of a 3-year-old kid in a kindergarten in broad daylight in the same township on April 5 as the junta’s forces could not locate the child’s parents who were accused as PDF supporters. His death was widely recognized as justified by netizens.
- Yangon regional military headquarters attacked by grenade
Yangon regional military common headquarters located in Mayangone Township was attacked with a grenade on the morning of May 20. An unknown person reportedly threw the explosive at the gate of the headquarters and escaped quickly despite the immediate manhunt by the regime’s forces. Consequently, the junta’s soldiers put on a shooting spree at the 8-mile junction, and a civilian was said to be wounded. On the same morning, another explosion was reported at the electricity supply office of Insein Township beside the military’s textile and garment factory, which was also followed by intense investigation in the neighborhood.
- Meeting among Thway Thout members ambushed, three killed in Nyaung Oo Tsp, Mandalay Region
Meeting of Thway Thout terrorist group armed by the regime was ambushed in Nyaung Oo Township, Mandalay Region on May 19, and three members were said to be killed. The attack was coordinated by five local resistance forces, during which, documents such as the names and the addresses of Thway Thout group’s targets were also found and seized.
- Explosions took place in district court and Zaychodaw, Mandalay
On the morning of May 22, two explosion were reported in Mandalay City. One took place near the district court, and another happened in Zaychodaw. Security was heightened in Mandalay on the same day as the pro-military rallies were held in Shwemantaung Stadium.
Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence
- Village set on fire, 1,700 houses destroyed in Myaing, Magway Region
On May 14, the regime’s forces and Pyu Saw Htee members ransacked Latyatma Village, Myaing Township of Magway Region before setting the whole village ablaze. Latyatma is a relatively large village with 2,000 households and its people are generally comfortable which is why the junta’s forces were thought to have targeted it for theft and burglary. As usual, they ended up burning down the village to destroy the evidence and at least 1,700 houses were reportedly turned into ashes. Small consolation for the people who lost their beloved homes was the news that those who committed arson were attacked on their way out by the resistance forces on the evening of May 15 and at least seven soldiers were killed.
- Detained Lawyer of indicted Mandalay Regional Minister held in interrogation
Prominent lawyer Daw Ywet Nu Aung, who represented many political prisoners including Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, the former regional minister of Mandalay, and was detained on April 27 is reportedly held at an interrogation center inside Mandalay palace. Under Section 50(j) of the Counter-Terrorism Law, Daw Ywat Nu Aung faces up to 15 years in jail if she is found guilty. However, according to close sources, her trial has not begun yet and people are kept in the dark about her wellbeing.
- May Myo Eain restaurant owner sentenced to 15 years in jail in Pyi Oo Lwin, Mandalay
Ma Po Pyae Thu, the owner of popular restaurant May Myo Eain from Pyi Oo Lwin Town, Mandalay has been sentenced to 15 years in jail for four charges in relation to communicating with unlawful associations. According to her lawyer, there are additional charges that she is facing beside these verdicts. Ma Po Pyae Thu was abducted in October last year and her restaurant has also been sealed and closed since then.
- Three CDM doctors violently abducted in Taunggyi, Shan State
Three doctors who have participated in Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) including Dr. Mya San and Dr. Aye Khine Oo were reportedly abducted by the regime’s forces in Myat Taw Win Private Hospital of Taunggyi City, Shan State in the early morning of May 18. The doctors were scheduled to see an emergency patient when the soldiers stormed in, beating up staff before violently detaining the doctors.
- University students shot and killed in Yangon and Mandalay
On May 19, a group of unknown gunmen entered into a garment shop in Thaketa Township, Yangon and opened fire on three people inside. One was shot in the head twice and killed on the spot and the victim was identified as Ma Honey Oo, a final year Physics student from East Yangon University. Her mother and uncle were also wounded. The attack was widely speculated to be committed by the recently formed military-backed terrorist group named Thway Thout. Another university student also died at the hands of the junta’s forces in Mandalay on May 20. Ko Kyaw Nyi Zin, a medical student was in his car when he was forced to stop for inspection that morning and as the car could not immediately put on a brake, the regime’s soldier opened fire, instantly killing Ko Kyaw Nyi Zin. Ko Kyaw Nyi Zin was reportedly a CDM student.
- Five members of Thanlyin’s urban guerilla force detained, related people warned of danger
On May 19’s night, Ko Bu Thee, the representative of Thanlyin Dragon Force and four other members were abducted during midnight inspection in Thanlyin, Yangon. Weapons were also reportedly seized in the same location and the rangers close to those members have been warned to stay vigilant by fellow resistance forces. Ko Bu Thee’s wife and parent-in-law too were said to have been detained a week earlier.
- Mother and sister of PDF member murdered by Thway Thout Group in Mandalay
On the evening of May 20, two women were found dead in downtown Mandalay City. Lanyards with “Thway Thout” logos were put on the necks of the bodies, meaning that the women were murdered by the military-backed Thway Thout terrorist group. The victims were later identified as the mother and the sister of Myaing PDF member comrade Yahu and Thway Thout Group targeted them for such connection. Their belongings including cash and gold were also said to be missing.
- 50 regime’s soldiers estimated dead during detonation attack on Chin-Magway border
Four military trucks of the regime traveling from Mindat Township of Chin State were met with two explosive assaults by the local resistance forces, eight miles away from Kyaut Htu Town of Magway Region on May 15. The first detonation took place around 3pm and the second went off when the reinforcement came through, which resulted in at least 50 deaths of the junta’s forces. The bodies were said to be air-lifted. The attack was coordinated among CDF-Kanpetlet, The Youth Force (Saw & Kyauthtu), Nyaung Yan-PDF.
- AA opened fire on SAC’s chopper in Paletwa, Chin State
On the same day The United League of Arakan (ULA) warned that tensions have accelerated in Rakhine State and battles could break out any day, its military wing Arakan Army (AA) reportedly opened fire on SAC’s helicopter in Paletwa Township, Chin State, leading back and forth firings between two parties for about 30 minutes on May 15. A few civilians’ houses were damaged by the encounter and villagers were forced to flee to safety.
- SAC’s navy ships attacked on Ayeyarwady River
Three navy ships traveling in Mandalay to reinforce the regime’s forces in Thabeikkyin Township were attacked with free flight rockets by combined resistance forces led by Kantbalu PDF on May 16. One of the ships was hit severely in which at least 10 soldiers were presumed killed while about 40 were also wounded. Clashes in Thabeikkyin Township have been accelerating between the junta’s soldiers and the resistance forces and these ships have reportedly been set out to attack the freedom forces from the river and help strengthen SAC’s grip in the area.
- Strategic army base Thay Baw Boe seized by KNLA and alliances, Myawaddy District, Karen State
Triumph news came from Karen State that one of the key military camps from Karen State called Thay Baw Boe was successfully occupied by KNLA and alliances following a day-long epic battle. Casualties from the junta’s side remained unknown but a deputy commander was confirmed dead, and six soldiers were captured alive. Three from KNLA died in the battle while four were wounded. SAC tried its hardest to keep the strategic outpost as at least airstrikes were observed at least 35 times throughout the battle.
- Five IDPs killed by the military’s artillery in Khin-U Tsp, Sagaing Region
Heavy artillery fired by the regime’s force killed at least five people and injured thirteen people in Khin-U Township, Sagaing Region on May 19. About 100 people including the victims had fled from their villages and had been watching the battle as they feared the military might burn down their houses. The artillery fell on the crowd and killed 50-year-old U Win Ko, 56-year-old U Naing Lin Maung, 42-year-old U Kyaw Naing, 27-year-old Ko Pyay, and 50-year-old U Tin Lin.
- Police station ambushed, 25 killed in Sint Gu Tsp, Mandalay
On the morning of May 20, local resistance forces led by The King Peacock mounted an assault on Shwe Pyi Police Station in Sint Gu Township of Mandalay Region. The attack immediately saw three deaths of the policemen and two more wounded later passed away in the hospital. Reinforcements were immediately sent; however met with a detonation attack on the way near Ngwe Taung Village, killing three soldiers. The final and largest explosion took place when more forces arrived to collect the dead bodies, consequently, twelve more followed the destination of fellow soldiers.
- SAC’s captain abused drugs and opened fire on fellow soldiers on Yangon-Mandalay Express Road
Yangon-Mandalay Express Road was blocked on 115 miles on the evening of May 20 and many speculated it was due to an ongoing clash. The truth came out two days later and it was more satisfying than a clash for the people of Myanmar. It was because a military captain went mental due to drug abuse and opened fire on his fellow soldiers, killing one on the spot and injuring two more.
- Urban guerilla forces warned civilians of missions in Yangon
Urban guerilla forces in Yangon announced that they would conduct several missions during May 22 to May 31 and warned civilians to stay away from the targets such as military soldiers, military-owned businesses and properties, etc. They also added that every mission is costly hence people must do their part not to disturb such operations by ignorance.
- Insein Prison disallows the use of raincoats
The news came from sources close to Yangon’s Insein Prison that political prisoners have been forced to walk in the rain in plain clothes during their trials because the prison authorities have banned the use of raincoats. Family members have tried to send the materials but they have been told the raincoats are forbidden because people might commit crimes in such clothing.
- SAC bans motorbikes in Kawmhu and Thanlyin townships, Yangon
SAC has reportedly banned the use of motorbikes in Kawmhu and Thanlyin township of Yangon for four days from May 19 to May 22. The ban was enforced because several attacks on the junta’s lackeys were conducted by gunmen on motorbikes. As these townships completely depend on motorbikes for transportation, day-to-day operation have been halted. Although the ban was announced only for four days initially, it can be extended and there are speculations that motorbike owners may require to apply for an “official permit” to continue using their vehicles.
- 17 LGBTIQ killed after the Coup, NUG’s Ministry of Human Rights says
The National Unity Government’s Ministry of Human Rights said 17 LGBTIQ have been killed and two were critically injured at the hands of the junta forces since February 1, 2021. The statement also revealed that at least 85 members of the LGBTIQ community have been arrested and 50 others have had warrants out for them.
- 11 Yesagyo villages torched, 145 houses burned down in Magway Region
Between May 7 and 16, a total of 11 villages in Magway Region’s Yesagyo Township were met with arson attacks by the junta forces for 10 days straight, burning down a total of 145 houses, a spokesperson of an underground guerilla force told Khit Thit Media on May 16. Residents of these villages as well as nearby villages have reported to have been on the run, with many in dire need of emergency humanitarian assistance.
Source: Khit Thit Media, Mizzima News, Myanmar Now, DVB News, The Irrawaddy, RFA Burmese, Frontier Myanmar, Burma VJ, People’s spring, Bahan information, US Embassy Rangoon, Justice for Myanmar, NUG, thethaiger, Northeast Today