Weekly Update: 017

Internal politics

Junta upheld death sentence for two resistance leaders
On June 3, the junta court sentenced two resistance leaders Ko Jimmy, 88 Generation democracy activist, and Phyo Zeyar Thaw, former NLD lawmaker, with death penalty. The two were arrested separately last year, and were accused of planning armed attacks at the junta’s lackeys. Since death sentences have been suspended in Myanmar for more than three decades, recipients of death sentences only serve long-term jail time. However, junta’s spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun said that appeal for the amendment of the court decision was submitted but the court rejected it, hence, the pair “will be hanged according to the prison procedure”. 

Wa State leader met with the coup leader in the name of peace talk
United Wa State Army’s deputy chair U Law Yar met with the coup leader in Naypyidaw on May 30 as a part of the peace dialogues, which marked the third EAO to participate. The next day after the peace talk, Wa State Army announced that it excludes itself from the Bamar political turmoil, and that it remains firm on its self-administration.

MNDAA, AA & TNLA to support KNDF
On May 31, the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) celebrated its first year of formation. In its statement, KNDF vowed to continue fighting against the military regime, and for the federal nation with self-determination in Karenni State. The Three Brotherhood Alliance (Arakan Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army) also wrote a joint letter of congratulations in which they vowed to support the KNDF. 

Parents in dilemma as a new academic year began
June 1 marked a new academic year for Myanmar students, but 2022 is the third year that students saw disruption in education. In 2020, basic education schools were closed due to Covid-19, and in 2021, the public boycotted the schools operated by the junta. Away from classrooms for nearly three years, children and parents worry for lack of education. In liberated areas, CDM teachers and EAOs set up schools for children. In bigger cities, upper and middle class families send their children to private schools and international schools. However, some working class parents decided to send their children to junta-administered schools since they do not have other choice or continue to boycott the junta with the price of education for their children. 

Maj Gen Gwan Maw of KIA warns against the unforgivable decision of the junta
On June 4, Maj Gen Gwan Maw of Kachin Independence Army publicized his statement that reads as “I am not talking about the court ruling, nor who is right and who is wrong. I am merely wishing that we can avoid an unforgivable mistake when we look back one day.” This refers to the junta’s court ruling that will end as giving capital punishment to the antip-coup protesters including two prominent ex-political prisoners Ko Jimmy and a rapper-turned politician Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw and two others. The French embassy condemned this decision, and called the junta out as an illegal government.

International Affairs

The international community condemned death sentences
The death sentences imposed last week on four political dissenters, including a Senior NLD figure and a prominent activist, caused a flurry of diplomatic backlashes against the junta. The French Embassy released a statement calling the military regime illegitimate, the statement reads “the violation of the de facto moratorium regarding death sentence that has existed since more than 30 years in the country represents a major setback, while 113 death penalties have been arbitrarily imposed by military courts since the military coup.” UN Secretary-General condemned the act. NGOs and watchdogs on death penalty and human rights violations, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc. also expressed their concerns.

NUG continued EU visit
NUG’s Minister of Health and Education, Dr. Zaw Wai Soe met with Deputy Managing Director of European External Action Service, European Union’s diplomatic service arm. EU released the information on the meeting as, “Humanitarian support and access for ASEAN Special Envoy to all stakeholders in Myanmar were among the top priorities discussed during a recent meeting between EEAS Deputy Managing Director Paola Pampaloni and Prof. Zaw Wai Soe, Minister of Health and Education of NUG Myanmar.”  

US’s report on religious oppression in post-coup Myanmar
US Foreign Department released a report highlighting the increased religious oppression in post-coup Myanmar. Regarding the report, the US embassy described as “Both before and following the military coup and the deposition of the civilian government in February, there were reports of threats, detentions, and violence targeting minority religious and ethnoreligious groups, which, according to media reports, increased under the military regime. According to local and international NGOs, there continued to be almost complete impunity for regime security forces that had committed or continued to commit abuses, including what the NGOs said was genocide and crimes against humanity against Rohingya, most of whom are Muslim.”

Business Matters

Fuel price hikes and shortages hurting people & economy
With the widespread and high increase in prices of essential commodities such as food, medicine and consumer goods. Electricity blackouts are hampering domestic production and high fuel prices are increasing distribution costs, especially for imports. Experts cite domestic factors such as the collapse in the banking sector, currency depreciation, political instability, and collapse of key infrastructures such as the electricity sector, combined with global factors such as consequences of COVID and the War in Ukraine combining to create massive damage to Myanmar economy and people’s wellbeing. Among the most visible signs of fuel shortage is seen at the drivers, with drivers from Yangon, Mandalay, and major cities hunting for gasoline across town. Myanmar has domestic production capacity of only 10% for its gasoline needs. Some of the inter-state express bus companies are reducing or suspending their operations due to fuel price hike, one of them being on Yangon-Bago route. Local NGOs working in support of poor and vulnerable groups also talk of fuel prices restricting their ability to operate.

Humanitarian Affairs

Death toll from starvation and lack of medicine in Kayah State expected to exceed that from fighting
Karenni State residents who have been displaced are more likely to die from food shortages and health problems than from the fighting which forced them to flee their homes, said Banyar, director of the Karenni National Human Rights Group. He said in an interview with Kantarawaddy Times that the combination of food shortages and health issues as well as if this situation continues for more than three or four months, the death rate of the elderly, children and mothers will increase significantly because of suicide arising from depression and other causes. He added that a child died from diarrhea in an IDP camp the other day.

More than 1 million people displaced in Myanmar, UN Says
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said on May 31 the number of displaced people in Myanmar to more than one million for the first time and warned of “dire” conditions as the monsoon approaches and fighting rages. The report said almost 700,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since the military coup on February 21, 2021. Nearly 40,000 people are currently displaced in neighboring India and Thailand since the coup as well.

Restart of conflict would put millions at risk in Rakhine State, The International Crisis Group Says
According to a new report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), a full-scale conflict in Rakhine State between the junta troops and Arakan Army (AA) forces could escalate to be the worst violence the state has seen in years and put the lives of millions of ethnic minorities at risk. The report published on June 1 warned that if the informal ceasefire agreement that the AA has made with the junta is not formalized soon, intense fighting could restart again in the region, severely affecting up to 3 million ethnic Rakhine and Rohingyas with the violence.

Junta’s war crime displaced thousands of civilians in Kachin State
The Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT) published a report on June 1 called “New Threats from the Air” which revealed that nearly 6,000 people have fled their homes and approximately 25 have been killed in Kachin and northern Shan states by junta forces between November 2021 and April 2022. The report also said airstrikes and artillery were targeting civilian villages and rape was being used as a weapon, constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Junta raised white flag and distributed Food to Refugees
Junta forces in full-force reportedly raised a white flag and distributed food to refugees living in San village in Kyaukhtu Township, located on the border of Magway Region and Chin State. On June 2, nearly 200 junta soldiers stationed at Kyaukhtu airport compound split into two groups and arrived at the monastery and IDP camps in San village to deliver rations and food. However, residents from seven villages fled the area due to presence of large number of troops and armor, according to the Mindat Township Refugee Management Committee.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

Education office bombed, five injured in Naungcho Tsp, Shan State
An explosion took place in the education office of Naungcho Tsp, Shan State on the afternoon of May 31. Five staff including the chief officer were injured and the building was also majorly damaged. It’s not verified who was responsible for the attack.

Boxes of the military-owned ‘Dagon Beer’ seized and destroyed in Shan-Kayah border
Brigade-3 of the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) and Brigade-2 of Pekhon People Defense Force confiscated the 180 boxes packed with Dagon beer cans on Pekhon-Loikaw road on June 4. The boxes were destroyed immediately and the group issued a statement
to the public to continue boycotting the military’s products and to avoid engaging with the military’s businesses.

CNDF (Mindat) issued warning to the junta’s collaborators in Chin State 
Chin National Defence Force-Mindat issued a warning to anyone who is courting the junta. The group said it will not tolerate non-CDM staff who are collaborating with the military. The group also warns against the attendance of military-operated schools on June 3. Currently, there are more than 6,200 students from 136 villages being taught by CDM and other volunteer teachers in the area controlled by the Mindat civil government.

Police and ward administrator killed on same day in Mandalay
On June 4, two of the junta’s lapdogs were found dead in Mandalay. One is Tanpawadi ward administrator from Chanmyatharsi Township called U Aung Moe who was shot and killed during his morning walk. He was also attacked with a knife last year but escaped death and continued serving the junta until his ultimate death. Another one was Policeman Yar Zar Thein who was shot dead near Patheingyi on his way back from guarding the almighty electricity supply office.

Ward administrator shot dead in Yangon
Early morning on June 5, the ward administrator Phoe Kyaw from Hlaing Township, Yangon was reportedly shot and killed. Phoe Kyaw was an interim administrator and he was shot four times by unknown gunmen on his way to a teashop and died on the spot.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

Youths abducted for street protest in Yangon
On the morning of 30 May 2022, another violent crackdown of the junta on peaceful demonstrations was reported in South Oakkalpa Township, Yangon. The regime’s forces rammed into the group of young protesters as they were finishing the protest and arrested at least 5 people in Ward (12), Yadanar Road in the township.

Explosion killed one, injured dozen in downtown Yangon
One of the biggest news of the week took place in Yangon’s downtown on the afternoon of May 31. A huge explosion went off at a bus stop near 35th Street on Anawrahtar Road, Kyauktada Township, killing one person and injuring several. It was not clear who was responsible for the attack but many speculated that it was the junta’s doing because the People Defense Forces (PDF) never hurt civilians and the junta has a series of track records for planting such cruel plots to taint the image of rival armed forces.

Several villages burnt down in Sagaing Region
As usual, junta soldiers have been burning villages in Sagaing taking revenge on the armed struggle successfully launched by the people’s defense forces in the region. On the early mornings of June 1-2, the soldiers started burning villages in Kyauktine village of Wetlet township; Kone-Eai village of Taze township; and Chitthu village of Yesagyo. All the villagers from these villages have fled and watched their villages burnt by the soldiers. The soldiers were also seen shooting everything at sight as they moved.

Civilian detained for associating with AA in Paletwa, Chin State
The junta’s forces have been searching and abducting people for associating with Araken Army (AA) in Chin and Rakhine states. On June 4, a civilian named U Mg Me Kyawt from Paletwa Town, Chin State was detained with the same accusation and taken to the military station according to close friends. Several people have reportedly fled town for the fear of similar abductions.

SAC’s soldiers burnt Chin State’s Thantlang for the 28th time
The Thantalang Placement Affairs Committee (TPAC) reported that more than 1,208 houses in the town were burnt down within nine months by the junta. The junta soldiers have been committing the inhumane act of burning down homes and places of worship since September last year. The town’s population of 10,000 people have been displaced since.

Soldiers committing daylight robberies along the Aungmingalar Highway, Yangon
In Yangon’s Aungmingalar bus terminal, North-Okkala township, little earnings of motorbike taxi drivers have been robbed by the soldiers. The soldiers rob motorbikes from the taxi drivers at gunpoint and ask the drivers to exchange their bikes for cash later which at least cost 70,000 MMK (38 USD). Again, many bikes were confiscated by the soldiers on the evening of June 2. A similar case happened in an industry zone, Hlaingtharyar. One of the netizens from the area recalled his memory of seeing a Battalion Commander of the Infantry-106 with nothing when the battalion was first stationed in the area. Within a year, he owns three vehicles robbing people.

Two young men killed by the soldiers, body not returned in Kyaukpadaung Tsp, Mandalay Region
On the morning of June 4, two young men from Bote village of Kyaukpadaung township, Mandalay, were shot dead by the soldiers. Their bodies were not returned to the family. In Shawtaw village of the same township, soldiers were running amok with guns and looting the properties of the villagers after the ward administrator and his wife were found dead. 

Locals forced to attend the pro-military rally in Yamethin Tsp, Mandalay Region
The locals reported to the Khit Thit media that they have been threatened by the military to attend and give support to the pro-military rally, in particular, to show support to the government of the junta chief, Min Aung Hlaing. One person from every house was to show up at the rally to give support. If no person shows up, they are to pay at least 5,000-10,000 MMK (3-5 USD) and more depending on the financial status of the household. If the people don’t follow orders, they will be severely punished.

Armed Resistance

M.R.D.A claimed 40 regime’s soldiers during clash in Pale Tsp, Sagaing Region
On the early morning of May 30 around 3.15am, a skirmish occurred between Myanma Royal Dragon Army (M.R.D.A) led by Bo Nagar and the regime’s forces near Nagama Hill, Pale Township of Sagaing Region. The battle claimed at least 40 soldiers from the junta’s side, according to M.R.D.A. Rangers from M.R.D.A successfully retreated without any casualty.

Seven regime soldiers abandoned ship  
Seven soldiers including a captain from the regime’s Min Ye Thein Kha Thu Submarine have abandoned their posts according to local news. They were missing since the early days of the coup however their supervisor Colonel Thet Naung has faked their attendance report and apparently collected their salaries.

PDF member sacrificed life for fellow rangers in Mattaya Tsp, Mandalay Region
On June 3, Mattaya PDF’s station located between Sintgu and Mattaya townships was ambushed by regime’s forces. The attack came via four military columns while artillery was also used. As the members rushed to retreat, one of the injured rangers named Zee Two triggered two grenades, exploding himself and some of the regime’s soldiers, allowing his fellow rangers to run to safety in time. The rest of the force escaped death while six regime’s soldiers were killed by Zee Two’s suicide bombing. The station was completely damaged and losses were about MMK 15,000,000.

Rift among regime’s police and military in Magway Region
A video was shared by Khit Thit Media on May 31 in which a soldier was seen verbally abusing a police chief before assaulting him in front of the whole unit in a police station in Magway City. The footage was perceived as how soldiers disrespect police regardless of the ranks and thousands of netizens circulated the video with those captions. On June 3, follow-up news came up that the whole police station has been locked up because of the leak of the video footage. It reconfirmed the notion that military soldiers believe they are superior to the police because the attacker who is a military soldier still gets away while the abused policeman who is much higher in rank gets locked up for mere documentation of the event.

KNU warned SAC’s forces in Taungoo District, Bago Region
Karen National Union (KNU)’s Brigade 2 released a statement on June 2, warning SAC’s forces not to interfere with administrative affairs in Taungoo District. It came shortly after the regime’s soldiers intruded KNU’s territory in Thantaung Town, Bago Region. KNU’s spokesperson said the intruding military column has been harassing KNU’s administrative process in the region by all means and if they did not stop soon, there will be consequences.

Five civilians killed during Kantbalu Clash in Sagaing Region
A three-day clash between the local resistance forces and the regime’s army took place in the north of Kantbalu Township, Sagaing Region from June 1 to June 3. During the battle, people’s resistance forces attempted to occupy the junta’s station which was responded by artillery shelling and airstrikes. Artillery fell on a civilian’s house on June 3, killing three residents including an 8-year-old. Two more civilians were also killed due to SAC’s airstrikes.

PDF’s arms production base raided by SAC in Kani Tsp, Sagaing Region
On June 2, SAC’s forces raided a production base of KLG-PDF located four miles from Kani Town, Sagaing Region. The regime soldiers used drones and artillery during ambush and resistance rangers had to retreat quickly without response according to a member. The 45-year-old ranger named U Mg Soe was killed in the attack while five production lines were destroyed. Total losses were about 300,000,000 MMK (15000 USD).

Major casualties as regime’s forces and lackeys ambushed in Phaungpyin Tsp, Sagaing
About 100 members of the junta’s army stationed in Shwe Nyaung Pin Monastery in Phaungpyin Township, Sagaing Region were ambushed by local resistance forces on June 4. It led to back and forth firings. About 30 soldiers from the junta were estimated to be killed while PDF also lost one ranger. Many were injured from both sides.

Others

Publishing house revoked of license for distributing book about Rohingya Genocide  
Lwin Oo Publishing House managed by U Lwin Oo has been reportedly banned by the junta as it advertised the distribution of the Rohingya Genocide book on social media. The book in question is “Myanmar’s Rohingya Genocide” written by Ronan Lee and Lwin Oo Publishing House had planned to translate it into Burmese version and distribute it among Myanmar readers. The revoke of the license announced in the state’s own newspaper mentioned no end date of the ban.

Federal private schools accept online registration of CDM students
Independent pro-democracy education providers such as Yangon Federal School, Mandalay Federal School and Kaung For You Federal Private School started accepting online school registration from the students who boycott the military-run state schools. They are collaborating with the Ministry of Education of the National Unity Government (NUG). Classes from kindergarten to Grade-11 are listed for the courses they provide.

China eases COVID-19 inspection on Myanmar fruit imports
China has eased COVID-19 restrictions on fruit imported from Myanmar through the border crossing at Wanting, The Standard Time Daily reported on June 3. The number of inspection points on the China side had been reduced from 10 to eight from May 4. From May 24, watermelons, cucumbers and mangoes were being inspected at four locations. Starting from June 1, all COVID-19 restrictions and inspections were waived for fruit exports. The report said a relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions have enabled faster exports to China, which was expected to result in higher prices because the fruit would be fresher when it goes on the market.

China donated 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine and other medical items
A statement from the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar on May 29 said China has donated 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines along with 13 million vaccine syringes and two mobile laboratory vehicles to Myanmar. The donated vaccines and syringes have arrived in separate batches between May 18 and 29. The report did not specify the vaccine name.
Source: Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now, DVB, The Irrawaddy, Mizzima News, Kantarawaddy Times, KNDF Facebook, RFA Burmese, Myaelatt Athan, CNN, the Guardian, French Embassy in Myanmar, European Union in Myanmar, US Embassy in Yangon, Aljazeera 

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