Weekly Update: 018

Internal politics

  • USDP annual meeting ended up in rift

The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the military proxy party, held a two-day convention in Naypyidaw on June 8-9 with tightened security. Prior to the convention, USDP spokesperson Yin Min Myint Swe told Myanmar Now that the political party aimed to freshen the leadership from this convention where 400 executive committee members were present to discuss. However, news broke the next day that the party chair U Than Htay wanted to bend some rules to extend his five-year leadership which was due in 2021, and he was confronted and criticized by a notorious party member Bullet Hla Swe. Although the USDP is largely known as the military’s proxy party, a source close to the military circle confirmed to Myanmar Now media that the military leaders and USDP leadership are going through a rough patch. 

  • DPNS to boycott junta’s 2023 election

The military regime has been preparing to hold another election in August 2023 with an election commission formed by the State Administration Council (SAC). On June 10, Democratic Party for New Society (DPNS) chairperson U Aung Moe Zaw said that the upcoming election is an attempt to slow down the momentum of the spring revolution, and to divide the democratic forces and unity among the people. The DPNS statement read that the political party and its allies will reject and boycott the junta-administered election in any possible way. Since the coup, the DPNS has been rejecting and resisting the military regime, and the political party is part of the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC). 

  • Military regime to go ahead with execution of pro-democracy leaders

Junta’s plan to execute death penalty against four people, including Phyo Zeyar Thaw and Ko Jimmy who were accused of leading the urban guerrilla attacks in Yangon, stirred up both national and international news. Several activist groups or international actors issued statements to condemn the regime’s decision. In an exclusive interview with RFA Burmese on June 7, the regime’s spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun said that the appeal has been rejected and the court decision will not be amended at this point. U Kyaw Htwe, central executive member of the NLD, told RFA Burmese that this court decision, as well as, appeal submission/rejection were not in accordance with procedures. He also said that this execution is a tactic used to wage psychological warfare on resistance fighters and the people, and if the military decides to go ahead with the execution, they will face severe criticisms.

  • The NUG announced the formation of “People’s Police Force”

On June 7, the National Unity Government (NUG)’s interim president Duwa Lashi La issued a statement that the government has formed “People’s Police Force”, and the primary purpose is to hold accountable of people who commit war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights violations against the people of Myanmar. The announcement also said that a new police act has been drafted with the help of CDM police officers, veteran police officers, legal experts and representatives from the NUG’s Home Affairs ministry. 

  • Registration of IMEI numbers to be implemented

Junta’s Ministry of Telecommunications confirmed to Khit Thit media that it had meetings with mobile operators on May 11 and June 8 to implement the registration of IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) numbers. The IMEI numbers of mobile devices which are being used by the public will be collected and stored in a database. The ​​IMEI number of a mobile device can locate the user’s location or identify personal information of the user such as what kind of applications are being used on the device, etc. 

  • Junta asked PDFs to surrender

Severely attacked by the resistance forces in various parts, the military regime, through its media on June 11, asked the people’s defense force and resistance fighters to lay down their weapons and surrender. The announcement also said that the fighters are welcome back to public life. The announcement was heavily ridiculed by netizens.

International Affairs

  • IISS discussed Myanmar at its Shangri-La Dialogue 

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) hosted a special session for Myanmar in its security summit “Shangri-La Dialogue” held from 10-12 June in Singapore. Titled “Myanmar: Finding a way forward”, the panel included five discussants including UN Special Envoy for Myanmar Noleen Heyzer, Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, and Derek Chollet, Counselor of the US State Department. During the panel, Malaysian FM Saifuddin Abdullah encouraged ASEAN to insist on having dialogues with detained Myanmar leaders Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint, as well as other stakeholders who were not included in the five-point consensus such as the NUG and NUCC. 

  • Czech Republic showed solidarity with the people of Myanmar

NUG’s Minister for Human Rights U Aung Myo Min and NUG’s representative U Lin Thant had a meeting with Czech Republic’s Deputy Foreign Minister Jiri Kozak on June 9. The pair discussed Myanmar’s democracy struggle and  represented the military junta’s human rights violations. The deputy minister showed solidarity with the Myanmar people. 

  • Junta not invited to ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers meeting

Junta appointed foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin was not invited to ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers meeting which will be held on June 15-17. Indian news outlet ET reported that ASEAN member states suggested not to invite the military representative at the meeting, and hence, the invitation was not extended to the military regime. However, the bilateral relationship between India and Min Aung Hlaing’s regime remained stable such as a new Indian ambassador to Myanmar was accredited by the regime’s top men or an Indian permanent secretary held a meeting with the SAC chair. 

Business Matters

  • Myanmar omitted from World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects Report

The world bank issued the latest Global Economic Prospects report on June 7 that included over 150 countries, yet Myanmar is nowhere to be found among its predictions. Due to the constantly growing uncertainties around the country, Myanmar is omitted from its prospects along with similarly struggling Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon, said the report.

  • SAC’s Central Bank warned against NUG Pay Users

Central Bank under the State Administration Council (SAC) issued a warning on June 10 that anyone found using illegal mobile payment systems will be charged and punished according to existing financial institutions law. It came at the time when the National Unity Government (NUG) planned to introduce its own mobile pay called NUG pay. The mobile payment application will be first available for android users in June and it is anticipated to be quite useful and less risky for donations toward NUG and resistance forces.  

  • Petrol stations running out of stock in Mandalay

It was reported on June 11 that many petrol stations in Mandalay have been forced to shut down due to the lack of stock. In most cases, the shops were running out of Gasoline 92 & 95. SAC’s regional government has been reportedly collecting information on each gas station and demanding supply from them.

  • SAC-affiliated business list updated

Way Way Nay Application which has consistently documented the list of businesses in relation to the military has updated on June 12 that there are a total of 602 businesses up and running in the country that are benefitting the military-related families. It has warned everyone living in the country to check and avoid those brands. The list can be found in its app which can be downloaded via the following links:

Android – Play Store https://bit.ly/3uNm4Bv

iOS – App Store https://apple.co/3qclgCH

Apk Pure https://bit.ly/3uQjvPm

Website Version https://waywaynay.com

  • ATOM to invest US$330 million in telecoms sector in three years

ATOM is planning to invest US$330 million in the telecoms sector during the next three years and will enforce data privacy in line with domestic and international laws, the company formerly known as Telenor Myanmar said on June 8. The $330 million investment to upgrade its telecommunications network will create jobs and empower talented Myanmar youth, ATOM said in a statement. Additionally, the company also said that it will be spending 3 million kyats on health, education and humanitarian aid in the next few years as part of its “people first” mission.

Humanitarian Affairs

  • Refugees in Chin State excluded from ASEAN humanitarian assistance plan

Almost 100,000 IDPs in Chin State have called for help from civil society groups to avoid allowing the military junta to control distribution of humanitarian aid from the Southeast Asian countries as they have yet to receive any assistance. ASEAN association announced on June 5 that it will work with the military council to distribute humanitarian aid to Myanmar but the aid from them will likely bypass ethnic Chin IDPs according to the Chin National Consultative Council, Chin State’s leading political group. According to them, ASEAN will provide assistance to Kayah and Kayin states, as well as to Magway, Sagaing and Bago regions, allowing a military junta-led task force to make decisions on how aid is delivered through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management. RFA Burmese contacted ASEAN’s office in Yangon to inquire why China IDPs were not included in the aid program, but no one responded.

  • Political prisoners tortured by junta troops in Karen State

Many ill-treatment of the political prisoners in both Karen State’s Hpa-an prison and Yangon Region’s Insein prison were reported this week. In Karen State, about 60 political prisoners were tortured after two prisoners escaped on June 4 according to the Hpa-an University Students’ Union. In the aftermath of the prison break, the warden was fired and the beatings began under the new warden, Hla Swe, on June 6, The Irrawaddy reported. A Hpa-an Technology University Students’ Union representative said that the junta soldiers were called into the prison to use extreme violence—the use of rubber bullets, sharp bamboo and slingshots with pebbles to torture over 200 political prisoners. Since then, no visitors were allowed. 

  • Guards deny female inmates drinking water after protest in Insein prison

In Yangon Region, officials in Insein Prison have reportedly cut off drinking water supply to the cells of female political prisoners who protested poor living conditions in the facility after a fellow inmate was denied medical treatment after suffering a miscarriage, sources told RFA Burmese on June 10. Since the protest, the officials have reportedly turned off the taps for more than two weeks and dozens of prisoners have been forced to drink from the toilet, one recent visitor said. These series of events occurred after a 24-year-old political prisoner named Cherry Bo Kyi Naing, who is serving a three-year prison sentence, suffered an early-term miscarriage after the officials delayed sending her to the hospital for treatment last month. The female political prisoners held a protest on May 23 and two days later, the prison officials shut down the protest and moved all female political prisoners to the single prison hall and shut off the water supply.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Myanmar IDOL contestant known as military lapdog shot dead in Yangon

Zin Win Htike @ Zin Gyi, a former contestant on the popular singing contest Myanmar IDOL was reportedly killed along with a female companion on June 5 in Yangon’s North Dagon Township. Zin Gyi passed away with wounds at the hospital while the woman was killed on the spot with a headshot. The incident took place in a hotel owned by an army colonel where the couple had been residing temporarily due to alleged spy works for the military, according to reports.

  • WHO staff identified as dalan and killed in Mawlamyine, Mon State

On the evening of June 6, a WHO staff member called Myo Min Htut was shot and killed on his way back from work in Mawlamyine City, Mon State. Mawlamyine’s People Defense Force (PDF) claimed responsibility for the attack and said the man was not only associating with the military and informing it of the actions of PDF in the region, but he was also a sex offender toward underage girls. Myo Min Htut had been working as a driver for WHO for five years and was also said to be a distant family member of the State Administration Council (SAC)’s Deputy Chief Major Aung Lin Dway. WHO released a statement condemning the killing of its staff, however, it was ridiculed by the public since WHO was the one that failed to omit its staff of interference in the politics, especially in such ways.

  • Military loyalist from Magway on the run killed in Yangon

The 35-year-old Kaung Myint Win, a well known military supporter/dalan from Myaing Township of Magway Region was reportedly shot and killed by unknown gunmen in Yangon’s Htaukkyant on June 8. The man was said to be fleeing from attacks since he had been involved with the military’s crimes in his region and received warnings from resistance forces. About 230 military supporters have been reportedly seeking refuge in the headquarters of the military proxy party United Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

  • USDP office blown up in Myawaddy Tsp, Karen State

An explosion took place inside the office of the military proxy party USDP in Myawaddy Township, Karen State on the night of June 11. The bombing was so loud that even the residents from Maesot, Thailand heard the sound. No casualties have been reported so far.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Over 20 people arrested over explosion in Warkema Tsp, Ayawaddy Region

Following an explosion inside the township court on May 30, over 20 people have been put under detention in Warkema Township of Ayawaddy Region. Those people were reportedly arrested based on CCTV footage; however, since it was a weekday, those people were going about their own businesses inside that compound, according to local sources. No one has claimed responsibility for the explosion so far.

  • Two PDF members/students killed under detention in Kyaukpadaung Tsp, Mandalay Region

Myin Gyan University’s students-turned PDF members Ko Hein Zeyar Phyo and Ko Hein Zeyar Oo were killed under detention in Kyaukpadauing Township, Mandalay Region. They were arrested by police on June 1 and sent to an interrogation facility inside a nearby jungle controlled by Battalion Unit 99. Three days later on June 4, their dead bodies were found, Ko Hein Zeyar Oo was shot in the head, Ko Hein Zeyar Phyo in the chest. Kyaukpadaung PDF issued a tribute to both and declared them martyrs.

  • Six civilians told to run and shot dead by regime soldiers in Myinmu Tsp, Sagaing Region

Another cruel crime of the junta’s forces occurred at the Myat Saw Nyi Naung monastery in Kan Phyar, a village located about 15km northeast of the town of Myinmu, Sagaing Region on June 6. About 30 villagers among others detained at the monastery by the junta’s troops were questioned about an unattended gun found in a motorcycle. When there was no answer, the regime’s soldiers told them to run for their lives before opening fire on them. At least six villagers were shot in the back and killed. About 50 motorcycles were also destroyed in the incident.

  • Explosions injured three including a child in Hlaing Thayar, Yangon

Two consecutive explosions that took place in Hlaing Thayar Township, Yangon on the morning of June 7 ended up injuring three civilians including a woman and a child. The first explosion occurred at a garbage can around 6am and another went off when the junta’s security forces arrived at the scene. Three victims were sent to the hospital and among them, the woman was said to be severely wounded. No one has claimed responsibility for the explosion. On May 31, a major explosion in downtown injured ten civilians and killed one, which many speculated was the doing of the junta and this explosion in Hlaing Thayar has also attracted similar assumptions since it was likely targeted at civilians. 

  • Brutal crackdowns on political prisoners in Mandalay and Hpa-an’s prisons

On June 5, a major crackdown took place inside Mandalay’s Obo Prison in which two political prisoners were reportedly beaten to death while at least 13 others were also severely injured. Two days later, a similar incident followed in Hpa-an Prison of Karen State. At least two detainees were shot and more than 60 others were wounded due to the crackdown of sitting protests inside the cells. Both incidents were assumed to be in relation to the objection of political prisoners as they were going to be put together with criminal convicts.

  • Wife of NLD member sentenced 20 years in prison in Magway Region

Ma Hnin Moe Khine, the wife of Ko Bo Min, a youth office of National League for Democracy (NLD) from Saytutayar Township, Magway Region was sentenced to 20 years in prison with terrorism charges by the junta’s court. Ma Hnin Moe Khine is a young mother of an infant who was detained by the regime’s forces in last year’s July since they could not locate her husband. She went through torture inside interrogation center for failing to give up the husband’s location prior to the imprisonment.

  • Three youths shot and abducted in North Dagon, Yangon

Around noon on June 11, three youths were reportedly shot and abducted during a raid in North Dagon’s Ward 42, Yangon. The detainees were July Hein, Aung Khine Htun and Htet Lin Aung, one of whom attempted to run as the soldiers stormed into the house and were shot. Sources close to SAC said handguns, grenades and magazines were also seized during the raid.

Armed Resistance

  • Clashes continued in Wuntho Tsp, Sagaing Region, PDFs injured

Encounters between the regime’s forces and the local resistance forces have reportedly started and continued since June 5. Those battles took place in Jodaung and Taungbohla villages in which at least six People Defense Force (PDF) members were injured and one is said to be in critical condition. About 5,400 villagers have left their homes to seek safety amid the crisis.

  • Yangon UG warned thugs

Due to the increasing crimes such as robbery and theft in Yangon, Soul Takers Yangon Underground Force issued a warning on June 6 that those actions will be punished severely beyond the warning period. It has also urged the public to reach out to them for help if encounter such crimes. Robbers and thefts have recently grown in number, taking full advantage of the lack of proper security in the city, committing crimes, and targeting women on public buses and streets.

  • Junta’s captain killed 8 soldiers and deserted post in Myitkyina Tsp, Kachin State

On June 6, a regular inspection was conducted by the regime’s forces at the military training compound located in Pyi Htaung Village, Myitkyita Township of Kachin State and it was found that ten cadets were using drugs and alcohol. Hence, the supervisor Captain Aung Than was given a warning. The captain was angered by the incident and later resorted to his own means by opening fire on those ten drunks/addicts, eight of them were reportedly killed while two escaped. Captain Aung Than also managed to flee with at least two guns.

  • Two elderly victims killed by heavy artillery in Mobye Tsp, Shan State

A-day long battle that took place on June 7 between the regime forces and the local resistance forces in Mobye Tsp, border of Shan and Karenni (Kayah) states resulted in the deaths of two elderly victims. Both in their 60s were killed in their own homes when the regime’s forces fired heavy artillery toward the residential area. The woman died of the direct hit while the old man died of the heart attack upon hearing the explosion sound.

  • Clashes continued in Kantbalu Tsp, Sagaing Region, casualties reported on both sides

Clashes between the regime forces and local resistance forces intensified on June 8 & June 9 in Kantbalu Township, Sagaing Region. Detonation attacks conducted by the people’s forces reportedly killed at least 30 of the junta’s soldiers and three rangers were also killed during those clashes. Two-day long skirmishes took place in Alalkone, Wettain, Outtae villages, situated in the north of Kantbalu Township.

  • Local PDF defending hundreds of troops with handmade guns in Kanpetlet Tsp, Chin State

Since June 9, hundreds of the junta’s troops have started an offensive toward the resistance forces in Kanpetlet Township, Chin State. Due to the extreme difference in manpower and weapons, VAKOK Station located 20miles northeast of Kanpetlet Town, belonging to the people’s forces was occupied by the regime soldiers following two battles. Still, the resistance forces with their handmade Tumee guns managed to take out at least 15 men of the junta while they also lost 3 of their own. About 2,000 civilians from nine villages are on the run due to the clash.

  • Three PDF members killed during rescue mission in Wetlet Tsp, Sagaing Region

On June 10, Shwebo PDF conducted a rescue mission for two fellow resistance soldiers who were cornered by at least 150 regime soldiers in Welet Township of Sagaing Region. During the mission, three PDF members including Bo Thanmadi were killed while attempting to save the rangers. It is unknown if the two that were stuck made it out safely. Following the incident, the regime’s soldiers torched Chaung Mee To Village, burning over 100 households and vehicles, and killing nearly 80 livestock.

  • Sniper fire killed four junta soldiers in Myingyan Tsp, Mandalay Region

A local resistance force from Myingyan Township mounted an ambush on the junta’s forces and Pyu Saw Htee members deployed in Yandapo Village, on the bank of Ayeyarwady River, 12 miles north of  Myingyan Town, Mandalay Region on June 10. The resistance soldiers opened fire with a sniper and took out at least four men while the regime soldiers blindly responded with artillery which ended up harming nobody. The junta’s troops later gave up and run inside the village for safety, even failing to collect the dead bodies of their own soldiers.

Others

  • COVID vaccines given to children aged 5-12 in primary schools

According to an official from the State Department of Public Health and Medical Care, the COVID-19 vaccine is now being given to children between the ages of 5-12 who are attending primary schools in Mon State. There will reportedly be three school-based immunization programs: one for children between the ages of 5 and 12, another for those between the ages of 12 and 18, and booster shots will be administered to parents of students 6 months after vaccination. 

  • Illegal gold mining polluting creeks and changing their courses in Sagaing Region’s Indaw Township

A sharp increase in illegal gold mining using heavy machinery since the coup is reported to have polluted creeks and resulted in changes to their courses in Sagaing Region’s Indaw Township. Township residents have also expressed concern that the use of heavy machinery for gold mining in the Mae Zar, Nabar and Lay Tan creeks would increase the risk of flooding during the monsoon, a resident told The 74 Media. He added that mining for gold in the area had been approved during the ousted National League for Democracy government, but illegal gold mining had been rampant since the coup. A farmer told The 74 Media that many farmers whose livelihoods depended on being able to irrigate their crops with water from the creeks faced difficulty because water courses had changed as a result of the mining. Both residents expressed concern about the negative impact on the environment caused by the heavy machines and said they wanted the gold mining operations to stop.

  • SAC plan to increase number of doctors revealed   

SAC’s Ministry of Health issued a statement on June 9 that those who have passed the matriculation exam yet not met the criteria to enter the medical universities will be encouraged to apply for the entrance anyway and they will be given consideration. Since the coup, Min Aung Hlaing has made efforts to fill up schools and universities. He also previously said that the medical students will be made to sign a pledge that says they will serve in the public service for at least 10 years after graduation.

  • Spring University’s classes accredited by foreign universities

Spring University Myanmar (SUM) which was founded to support both CDM teachers and students announced that its classes are to be accredited by foreign universities. It took over a year for this accomplishment and it is grateful for the continued support from both students and teachers, SUM added.

Sources: Khit Thit Media, Mizzima News, DVB, Myanmar Now, Irrawaddy, Khit Thit, RFA Burmese, 74 Media, Daily Eleven, Burma VJ, People’s Spring, Than Lwin Times, Way Way Nay, Voice of Myanmar, Ministry of Human Rights, Daily Eleven.

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