Folks, another week, another report from post-coup Myanmar where things get tougher. This week, the junta-administered Central Bank of Myanmar announced all Myanmar nationals and businesses to withhold any foreign payables, automatically converting people’s foreign currencies into Myanmar Kyats. Teachers from an alternative education platform, backed by the NUG, were arrested. Meanwhile, coup leader Min Aung Hlaing is in Russia, doing God knows what. Read all about it in our weekly update.
- Junta administration attempt to mitigate the rise of bank robberies in Mandalay
Due to the proliferation of bank robberies in Mandalay, the junta-administered police force from Chan Aye Tharzan Township requested bank managers to attend a special meeting to prevent further bank robberies in the city. A local talked to Khit Thit media that the junta’s forces accused that members of People’s Defense Force (PDF) committed the crimes, yet the robberies are eventually carried out by Pyu Saw Htee members, a thug group formed and armed by the military regime.
- Junta restricts the movement of NGO/INGOs in Rakhine State
In Maungdaw Township of Rakhine State, the junta administration ordered that no aid organization is allowed to travel beyond the Kyee Kan Pyin Border Guard Commanding Office. This means that NGO/INGOs operating in the state are not allowed to travel to the northern part of Maungdaw Township. A staff member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) told Myanmar Now that the restriction was ordered due to “security reasons”. Local red cross society MRCS and ICRC had to cancel their aid provision visit to northern Maungdaw Township due to the restriction.
- Locals from Palatwa Township no longer able to pay tax to AA
Villagers from Pi Chaung village-tract, Palatwa Township in Chin State told Chin World media that each village has to pay MMK 100,000 (Approx: USD 54) to the Arakan Army (AA) as taxation, and due to the economic distress, the villagers are no longer to pay tax to the ethnic armed group. Since Palatwa is controlled by the AA militarily, villagers were told to continue paying the tax so that “it will be smoother to get things done”.
- US Foreign Secretary Blinken met Myanmar exile activists in Thailand, vows to keep Myanmar in its agenda
During the visit to Thailand, the US Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken met with Myanmar democratic activists in exile and reiterates US support towards Myanmar’s democracy movement and vows to pressure the junta further. During the meeting Secretary Blinken vows the American government will keep its attention to Myanmar, despite Russian invasion of Ukraine. He also expressed his view that the positive results of pressuring junta are yet to be materialized, and the oppression is actually worsening.
- Junta Min Aung Hlaing in Russia, tightening defense and economic ties
Junta Min Aung Hlaing was in Russia to strengthen defense and economic ties between two countries. The trip, which began on July 10, was described by the Russian embassy in Myanmar as a private visit lasting the entire week. Over the visit, Min Aung Hlaing met with the Russian atomic energy agency and signed a memorandum of understanding concerning “cooperation in training and skills development in the field of nuclear energy and shaping positive public opinion on nuclear energy in Myanmar”. Over the trip Min Aung Hlaing also met with representatives of the Russian space agency, and unveiled a newly-built pagoda in Moscow.
- The price of medical supplies on the rise
Junta’s restrictions of import permits are hampering medical supplies availability in the country. Citing sources from the pharmaceutical industry, Irrawaddy media reports that the prices have been increasing from 5%-10% weekly for the past few weeks, with some relatively rare medicines already facing shortages. The bottleneck for these problems in the medical supplies availability is due to junta’s different ministries imposing heavy bureaucracy for permits, with the restrictions on foreign currency impacting the flow of these essential supplies.
- Junta ordered Myanmar businesses to withhold all foreign payables
New directives from SAC’s Central Bank to further restrict foreign currency holding in Myanmar, and to isolate the country economically. The directive, announced on July 13, orders all Myanmar nationals and businesses to withhold payables to foreign nationals and businesses until a new order authorizing repayment is approved, and the directive announced on 15th July forcefully converts all foreign currency holdings of all companies with up to 35% of foreign investment into Myanmar Kyat (MMK. Businesses were essentially robbed as the central bank converts US$1 to MMK1850, while the market rate goes around MMK2200 for US$1. However, experts fear that more devastating blows towards the country’s economy, such as reduced trading and severe drop in currency value, are imminent. These directives are also touted as a hint that the junta is low on foreign currency reserves.
Protests and Fundraising
- Yangon protesters marched to commemorate the Martyrs’ Day
On July 17, a protest led by Burmese Youth Revolutionary Force together with members of Yangon Democratic Youths Strike (YDYS), Burmese Youth Network (BYN), Mayangone Student Union, and students was staged on the streets of Yangon. Protesters marched with a banner which reads, “Demolish the dictator with a spirit of a Martyr” to commemorate the upcoming Martyrs’ Day on July 19.
- A fundraising football match was held in South Korea
In South Korea’s Daegu city, a football match was held to raise funds for Myanmar’s pro-democracy people defense forces. Six teams participated and the funds raised will go to PDF chosen by the winning team. Many fundraising ways have been organized in Daegu led by the monk named as Daegu monk.
- Fundraising event held in Malaysia by Chin people living in Selangor
In Peninsular Malaysia, Selangor state, Mara-Chin people organized a football match, volleyball contest, and a traditional food and handicraft market as fundraising activities for Mara Defense Force (MDF) and displaced people. More than 300 people participated in the fundraising event.
Civil Disobedience Movement
- Honorary lieutenant sergeant joined CDM
On July 3, a military award-winning lieutenant sergeant with the honorary title of ‘Thura’ joined CDM into the Karen National Union (KNU) with weapons. Lieutenant Sergeant Zeyar was given this award during the Kokang battle, and served in the military for 13 years. He asks soldiers and police to stop killing the civilians and switch to the people’s side.
- A soldier from Infantry joined CDM into Chin Defense Force (CDF)
On July 10, a foot soldier from Infantry division 55 of Pinlaung township joined CDM into Chin Defense Force (CDF) with weapons. He was awarded 5 million kyats (approx. 2700 USD). Infantry division 55 has been engaging in an intense battle with many Chin Defense Forces.
- Five soldiers defected to KNU
Five soldiers aged between 17 to 27 from Infantry division-44 and 102 have defected their military posts and joined CDM into Karen National Union (KNU). The youngest is just 17 and they were transferred from Rakhine State to Magway region and then to Karen state’s Ukayit Hta outpost near Thai borders. They are now being taken care of in the liberated area.
- Fear of food shortages as displacement camp in Rakhine goes into lockdown
On July 13, a camp in Rakhine State’s Mrauk-U went into lockdown after a woman living there tested positive for COVID-19, causing fear among the residents of the camp of shortages of food, masks and hand sanitizers. According to a camp officer, Ohnmar Nwe, the Sin Baw Kaing camp is the biggest among the 12 camps in Mrauk-U, giving a safe sanctuary for 3,901 people from 775 families. The camp was reported to be put under lockdown on the night of July 13 right after a woman, 40, tested positive. This is reportedly the first time the camp has been locked down since the beginning of the pandemic, with both the camp and the nearby villages on lockdown, acquiring supplies has become quite a challenge, the camp officer said. The camp is currently in dire need of preventive measures such as masks and hand sanitizers as the donated ones from last year have already run out and nobody has donated since then.
- Half of Thapyay Aye Village burned down after junta airstrike in Sagaing
Over 100 homes from Thapyay Aye village in Sagaing Region’s Yinmabin Township were torched after being attacked by junta forces’ air strike on July 11, the residents said. The attack reportedly began with the military aircraft shooting guns on the community then proceeded to drop off nearly 60 soldiers who torch houses in Thapyay Aye. A resident of Thapyay Aye said the whole western side of the village had been burned down and destroyed. The village reportedly only had over 200 houses, meaning more than 100 houses had been wiped out during the arson attack. Residents said a fighting erupted the next day between the junta soldiers and anti-junta defense forces at around 6pm, but no casualties were mentioned in the report. The junta forces were still stationed at the village monastery, causing residents to be unable to return at the time of reporting.
- Chin State food running out as junta blocks roads
Junta forces had been reported to have blocked the Paletwa-Matupi-Mindat and Mindat-Kyaukhtu roads in southern Chin State, resulting in the communities nearby to face food ration shortages. A Matupi volunteer told The Irrawaddy that the blockage has increased the commodity price in the southern Chin State more than Yangon city. Three eggs cost 1,000 kyats compared to around 150 kyats per egg in Yangon, and the prices of oil and salt have also increased, according to the Matupi volunteers. Residents also said prior to the coup, a 61-liter rice sack was around 4,000 kyats but it’s now being sold at 66,000-70,000 kyats when they are in stock. Residents reportedly are living off broken rice which cost around 45,000 kyats per sack. Despite not having any clashes with the Chinland Defense Force, the roads are blocked by the regime troops, but some people who need medical treatment are allowed to leave the area in private vehicles and neighbors ask them to bring back food.
- Crisis deepens for thousands in Pakokku displaced by junta raids
At least 7,000 residents from six villages located along Yaw River in Magway Region’s Pakokku Township have been displaced by junta raids which began in April, increasing hardships for the residents in the area, local sources told Myanmar Now. A member of a local PDF group, Naga Gyi said most have been unable to return homes due to the regime’s ongoing clearance operations in the area, and they are residing in the forests in urgent need of food and clothing. Many were also displaced due to the regime’s arson attacks. On April 8. About 106 houses from a village were burnt to the ground. On June 8, a total of 215 homes from three villages were destroyed while the latest raids on July 8 destroyed about 119 homes from two other villages in the area. As a result, the basic food necessities such as rice and other basic items are in short supply and almost impossible to transport into the area. A resident said the Pakokky PDF had donated some rice and oil but it wouldn’t last long due to the overwhelming need in the region.
- Myanmar refugees on Indian border face various difficulties
Within the 16 months of the military coup, there have been nearly 100,000 refugees and IDPs across the entire Chin State, and more than 40,000 of them have fled to India and sought refuge, according to the officials of the Chin Affairs League and the Chin Human Rights Organization. Those who crossed over the border are reported to be taking refuge in the Dapchuhuah Refugee Camp in Mamit District, Mizoram State, India, and are facing food, health, education for the children as well as language barriers. There are currently 70 refugees from Chin State and Sagaing Region living at the camp
Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties
- Bomb attack on regime’s soldiers inside MUFL, Mandalay
On July 10, two consecutive explosions of bombs were reported inside Mandalay University of Foreign Languages (MUFL), targeting the regime’s soldiers on security duty. Two ambulances were seen rushing into the compound; however, no verified news of casualties was disclosed. Generation Z Power (GZP Mandalay) claimed responsibility for the attack which was the first time in four months since the regime’s soldiers have stationed in the university compound.
- Min Aung Hlaing’s sister’s house targeted in Yangon
News reported that a grenade explosion had taken place in the house compound of Min Aung Hlaing’s sister Zin Zin Hlaing located in Mayangone Township, Yangon on 11 July. The attack costed damage to the vehicles inside house no.99, Shwe Hninsi Road, according to Federal Liberation Army (HTY-Battalion) who claimed the responsibility. Zin Zin Hlaing is married to the retired major Than Myint and runs a company called Good Family Company Limited. This was the second time her house was targeted as a previous attempt in early June had failed.
- Dalan killed in Ywarngan Tsp, Shan State
Ko Tin Moe, an alleged Dalan/military informer from Ywarngan Township, Shan State was found dead on 13 July. According to local sources, Ko Tin Moe was a member of Pyu Saw Htee, a military-sponsored thug group, and had led an arson attack on houses in his own village. He was also said to be armed and rumored to have assembled CCTV worth of USD 3,000 for his own security. Still, Ko Tin Moe ended up getting gunned down by unknown people in his own home.
- Ward administrator shot dead in Yangon
On July 15, the junta’s ward administrator Khin Maung Latt from Mayangone Township, Yangon was reportedly shot dead by unknown gunmen. Local sources said that when he was shot, he was giving security near a traffic light in the neighborhood as he heard rumors of an explosion. He had gun wounds on the forehead, neck, and chest.
Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence
- Seventy-year-old NLD member killed by Pyu Saw Htee in Kantbalu Tsp, Sagaing Region
U Kyaw Myint, township-level executive member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) from Kantbalu Township, Sagaing was reportedly abducted and killed by Pyu Saw Htee thug group on July 9 in Taw Ka Shat Village. Family members said U Kyaw Myint who had been taking a break from politics due to deteriorating health was forcefully taken away from his home by a group of soldiers and members of Pyu Saw Htee on July 8 and said to have been killed the next day. His body was not returned to the family.
- Youth on motorbike shot dead by soldiers in Dawei, Tanintharyi
Around 3am on July 10, the 22-year-old Ko Paing Paing who was coming home from friend’s house was shot dead by the regime soldiers as he allegedly refused to stop his motorbike for inspection near DDPC shopping center in Dawei Township, Tanintharyi Region. His family only learned about the tragedy on July 12 when they received a call from the hospital. His dead body had gun wounds on the neck and stomach.
- Nine detained students from Hpa-an put inside solitary confinement in Tharyarwaddy, Bago Region
Nine students from Hpa-an University who were sentenced to 13 years in prison have been recently transferred to Tharyarwaddy Prison in Bago Region. The news came up this week that those students have been tortured and separated in single cells by the prison authorities since July 13. The prison authorities were heard yelling “Are you the revolutionists, are you winning now” as they beat up the students. The detainees are Ko Saw Min Soe, Ko Min Thu Aung, Ko Aung Kyaw Min, Ko Ye Htut Khaung, Ko Say Man Mhuu, Ko Zaw Win Htut, Ko Han Zaw Myo, Ko Myo Myanmar Aung and Ko Chit Win Tun.
- Two civilians killed by Pyu Saw Htee in Tamu Tsp, Sagaing Region
Following the murders of two Indians last week, two civilians were brutally killed by the military-sponsored Pyu Saw Htee group in a span of two days this week in Tamu, India-Myanmar Border Town. The victims were 40-year-old U Aung Aung and 35-year-old U Zaw Khine. The reason for U Aung Aung’s murder was unclear while U Zaw Khine was hit on the head by a hammer until his death over a social dispute but Pyu Saw Htee gave his connection with PDF as a pretext.
- Kaung for You Education in crisis, put the students and teachers’ lives in jeopardy
“Kaung For you”, an alternative education provided by boycotting teachers for students who have refused to go to state schools under military rule, has been under junta’s surveillance. This week has resulted in the arrests of at least ten teachers and students. It started when unverified news came out that the founder Kaung Thike Soe had been abducted by the regime’s forces. Since then a number of parents received a text message that they must send money around MMK 50,000 (USD 25) or else, their children will face arrests. Until now, the arrest of the CDM teacher who teaches via this platform named Daw Soe Soe Mya has been verified. A number of students were also said to be taken away by a group of men in Yangon for taking classes at Kaung for You Education.
- Artillery killed civilian in Myaung Tsp, 15 more taken hostage in Khin-U Tsp, Sagaing Region
Around 9am on July 17, the regime forces shelled artillery toward Sal Ywar Village, Myaung Township, Sagaing Region, killing one civilian. The victim was the 21-year-old Ma Myat Thandar Aung, the explosion took place inside the teashop where she was cleaning tables. A 7-year-old child was also injured in the incident, according to Myaung PDF. On the same morning in Sagaing Region, the junta’s forces reportedly ransacked Kar Sate Village of Khin-U Township before taking along fifteen villagers as hostages on their way out.
- PDF’s suicide killed fifteen soldiers of the regime in Yesagyo Tsp, Magway Region
On July 8, a member of the People’s Defense Force (PDF) was abducted by the junta’s soldiers in Yesagyo Township, Magway region. He was shot on his motorbike and injured by the convoy of 80-military-soldier while carrying multiple explosives for his force. Since he did not have a chance against the superior manpower, he decided to blow himself up and take as many as possible with him. Seven soldiers were killed by the explosion on the spot while eight more were reported dead when admitted to the hospital.
- Detonation attack killed ten of the regime’s men in Shan-north
A landmine detonation attack was carried out on the military convoy carrying Danu Association President U Arkar Lin on Ywarngan-Pindaya Road in Shan State on July 10. At least ten soldiers were said to be killed by the attack and two military vehicles were also destroyed. It’s uncertain whether Arkar Lin was injured or not. The offensive was conducted by Kyaukse Nagani Guerilla Force.
- Chaos caused by the junta’s soldiers on Myawaddy-Wawlay Road
The junta’s soldiers reportedly blocked Myawaddy-Wawlay Highway Road and fired heavy artillery randomly on the road in Myawaddy Township, Karen State. Cobra military column under the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) said that they had cleared all the obstacles in order to clear ways for the civilians for traveling on July 16. Since July 7, many clashes have taken place between two counterparts and the regime’s forces have suffered the most casualties.
- Clash intensified in Hpakant Tsp, Kachin State
News reported that clashes have taken place between the regime’s forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) since July 16 in Ze Inn Area, Hpakant Township, Kachin State. At least 25 manpower of the junta have been said to be killed in the clash. Moreover, as many soldiers have been stuck in the battle and hence the regime reportedly conducted airstrikes on the morning of July 17.
- Drone attack injured the regime’s forces in Depayin Tsp, Sagaing Region
On the afternoon around 2pm on July 16, a coalition of the local resistance forces put on an offensive toward the regime forces at Kyunpin Inspection Gate in Depayin Township of Sagaing Region. The attack came through a drone and injured at least seven men, according to DPRA, one of the parties involved in the mission. The guards at the inspection gate have been distorting civilians for money and said to have randomly fired artillery into the villages a number of times.
- Covid-19: Myanmar found two Omicron sub-variants in returnees
According to a statement from the junta-controlled Ministry of Health on July 11, the first cases of the latest COVID-19 variant was detected in Myanmar on June 30. The two Omicron variants, BA.4 and BA.5, have already been spreading in many countries around the world but in terms of severity, the variants are reported to cause less illness and fewer deaths than previous variants for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. While the National Unity Government warned the public to strictly follow preventive measures, the military regime still continued to uphold its relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, including the ban on mass gatherings in an attempt to show Myanmar is “back to normal”. BA.4 and BA.5 variants were first detected in South Africa six months ago.
- Political prisoners from Dawei and Thayarwadi prisons tortured in humanely by prison guards
In Dawei and Thayarwadi prisons, 13 young political prisoners are being tortured and heavily beaten by prison guards on July 15 around 5pm for trivial reasons. Around 10 prisoners in Dawei prison were heavily beaten by prison guards for being late to take a bath before the prison closed. Furthermore, political prisoners are being humiliated and assaulted on a daily basis.
- NUG-administered school in Kachin State held Martyrs’ Day essay contest
A school led by the National Unity Government (NUG) in a liberated area in Kachin State held an essay contest for students to commemorate upcoming ‘Martyr’s Day’ that falls on July 19. The contest also included a speech contest on General Aung San’s speeches including poem recitals.
- Local PDF in Demoso Township distributed school supplies to refugee schools in need
On July 12 in Demoso, Karenni State, Deemawso-PDF and members of Student Union brought textbooks and notebooks from the school in a conflict area to 12 schools that are providing education to displaced children around Deemawso, Karenni state. They said they will continue distributing the books to schools in need in the area. In Demoso township, more than 300 schools have been established under the National Unity Government (NUG) with more than 2000 volunteer teachers giving education to more than 40,000 students.
Source: Irrawaddy, Myanmar Now, Khit Thit media, RFA Burmese, Ayeyarwaddy Times,Burma VJ, The 74 Media, People’s Spring, Myaelatt Athan, Chin World