Weekly Update: 025

Folks, many things have changed since we last reported on Sunday. We thought Ko Jimmy and Ko Zayar Thaw were still alive. In less than 24 hours of our report about how they received a family visit for the first time, the regime announced the execution of them. Since then, our revolution has taken another turn, the momentum has been accelerated. Read all about another eventful week in Myanmar below.

Internal Politics

  • Junta commits planned murder inside the Insein Prison, and harrassed the families 

On July 22, Ko Jimmy and Ko Zayar Thaw met their family members via video call for 20 minutes, catching up and requesting personal items with hopes that it would not be their last encounter. Unfortunately it was the last. In the early morning of July 25, regime-controlled newspapers published that the four had been executed, with no further details. The family members rushed to Insein Prison to confirm the news, and wardens said that it was true, yet the exact time and date of execution were disclosed, and dead bodies were not returned. While the families and the country mourned for the unjust murder, pro-military thug groups harassed the residents of Ko Jimmy and Ko Zayar Thaw on July 22 by throwing eggs and rocks. The thug groups threatened to kill the entire family, claiming that the resistance leaders caused several life-loss. Netizens concluded that the regime engineered this harassment to justify their killing of political dissidents. 

  • The execution triggered rallies from both the military and resistance sides

Upon the execution of resistance leaders and democratic activists, guerrilla protests were staged in security-tightened Yangon, and mass rallies in villages to show defiance against the military regime. Throughout the past week, Myanmar diaspora groups in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Australia, the UK and US gathered and protested against the regime’s execution. On July 31, large-scale “Public Swearing-in” ceremonies across the country to strengthen the anti-regime resistance. Rallies were observed in smaller towns and guerrilla protests were seen in bigger cities. Some townships in Yangon brought back the resistance rhythm of pots and pans, car honks at 10:37am and youths swearing in on Yangon Bus Services. On the other hand, military supporters were seen rallying in support of the execution in the past week. On July 29, a rally was held in front of Yangon’s city hall where pro-military groups gathered with tightened security provided by the military. Former military man and USDP parliamentarian Bullet Hla Swe gave a speech which justified the execution of Ko Jimmy and Ko Zayar Thaw. Myanmar Now reported that the rally was organized by the military. 

  • NUG announced more intense fightings, requested international communities to support weapons

The National Unity Government (NUG)’s interim president Duwa Lashi La broadcast an emergency speech on July 28, condemning the execution of democratic activists and announcing intensified military operations. He addressed the international community that the execution proved that the military junta continued to insult the intervening attempts made by ASEAN, UN and others, and as long as the military is in power, the country will never be at peace. He requested the international community to cut diplomatic ties with the regime, and cut any business ties which monetarily benefit the military. He further asked the foreign countries to support Myanmar people’s armed struggles more effectively such as providing weapons. President Duwa Lashi La also requested ethnic armed groups to cooperate with the people’s fight against the fascist military regime.

  • Junta extends the state of emergency for the next six months

On July 31, Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing extended the state of emergency for another six months. The last declaration of state of emergency was due on July 29, and this declaration marked the third extension of the state of emergency since the coup on February 1, 2021. The first extension was declared in June 2021, and the second in January 2022. Since Min Aung Hlaing’s announcement of an election in 2023, analysts expected that he would continue extending the state of emergency until the sham election. While several experts have pointed out that his coup d’etat was unconstitutional, and the National Unity Government has abolished the 2008 Constitution, the military regime continues to follow the undemocratic constitution which favored the military, portraying that the constitution remains effective. 

International Affairs

  • International community condemns junta, NUG Minister demanded more actions

When news broke out about the execution of democracy activists, the international community widely condemned the execution with several statements. On top of many individual countries, those expressing condemnation included regional bloc ASEAN, and the UN Security Council. On July 30, the NUG’s Foreign Minister Zin Mar Aung addressed a speech to the international community, requesting to be more decisive. In her speech the following were quoted “How many more lives does the international community needs before it can act decisively against the junta?” “Weapons for Ukraine, air lifts from Afghanistan, and deafening silence for Myanmar people. Who are we to you now?”

  • Malaysian FM expressed discontent with limited progress with ASEAN five-point consensus, encouraged ASEAN Special Envoy to engage with the NUG

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah bemoans lack of real progress with ASEAN Five-Point Consensus and urged that it is the time for a meeting between the ASEAN Chair’s Special Envoy, the NUG and the NUCC to be expedited and for its progress to be made public. The minister expressed this during a vigil honoring Myanmar’s martyred activists, recently executed by the junta. Over a speech, he claimed that violence has continued, with thousands killed and thousands more internally displaced and having an increasing number of political prisoners, since the coup. He also accused the junta Min Aung Hlaing of monopolizing, politicizing and weaponizing humanitarian aid, and making a mockery of five-point consensus.

Business Matters

  • The economic collapse continues unabated

The economic collapse due to the SAC’s policies of forcefully converting foreign currency into Myanmar Kyat (MMK) at a lower rate continues unabated, with US$-MMK breaking previous peak of MMK2700 for US$1 recorded in September 2021, and reaching over MMK2800 for US$1. However, while the sudden drop of MMK in September 2021 was recovered under a short time and could be considered an anomaly, experts fear that the current drop is more systematic and such regains are unlikely to happen this time. Similarly, with the drop of value in MMK, gold prices also reached the highest recorded in history. The impact of higher prices has become visible in every essential sector, especially those reliant on imports, such as fuels and medicine, but also on domestically-produced items such as basic foodstuffs.

  • SAC is defiant that the economy is well under their administration

During this week, both SAC spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun and the junta Min Aung Hlaing himself reiterated that SAC is doing its best to lift the economy and build a resilient economy based on inward-looking policies. Min Aung Hlaing also directed all government ministries to focus on improving foreign currency earnings. In a separate event, Zaw Min Tun claims that the country has enough foreign currency reserves to facilitate required imports, despite SAC policy of reducing imports. However, despite these claims economists and observers have consistently remarked at poor policies contributing to the country’s destitution, and the market sources cite that foreign currency required for imports couldn’t be bought at all in the market.

Humanitarian Affairs

  • 10 residents killed, over 10,000 on the run in Sagaing Region’s Khin-U Township

Between July 20 and 27, at least 10 residents, including a 13-year-old child, were killed in Sagaing Region’s Khin-U Township, causing over 10,000 residents from 17 villages to flee their homes in fear, the residents told RFA Burmese. One resident said on top of the killings and the raids, the military troops have burned down at least 50 houses across the township within a week. 

  • UNOCHA says number of refugees and IDPs after the coup increases to over 850,000 

Due to the conflict and insecurity caused by the 2021 military coup in Myanmar, a total of 857,900 people have fled their homes as of July 11, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on July 27. Adding the 346,600 people who fled their homes before the coup, the total number of refugees in Myanmar has reached 1.2 million.

  • Over 100 houses torched, more than 4,000 residents fled in Pekon Township

More than 100 houses were reported to have been torched and more than 4000 residents fled as the military marched towards the east of Mobye town in Pekon Township, in southern Shan State. Since May 2022, the regime forces and local People’s Defence Force clashed in the township and as part of the regime’s clearance operation, over 100 residential houses were torched, causing over 4,000 residents to flee the area, according to the statement by the Shan Human Rights Foundation on July 27. The spokesperson of Shan Human Rights Foundation, Sai Haw Shan told SHAN News that these clearance operations are acts of human rights violations and the military have the responsibility for the violations caused by their missions. 

  • Military torched houses in Magway & Sagaing Regions 

With clashes intensifying in Magway and Sagaing Regions, many villages in the regions are affected from extreme arson attacks from the regime forces. On July 23, the People’s Administration of Ayadaw Township reported that a total of 823 houses across Ayadaw Township were burned down by regime troops during 70 days between May 2 and July 13 of this year. In another township, about 50 houses from Talai village in Sagaing Township were reported to have been burned down within a day on July 28, the residents said. Similarly in Magway Region, around 80 houses from Dhammathaya village were torched on July 24 when the 80-strong regime column raided the village as a retaliation for the ambush that the local PDF had conducted earlier. According to a recent ISP-Myanmar report on July 25, a total of 28,419 buildings, including homes and religious structures had been burned down and destroyed across Myanmar between February 1, 2021 and July 15, 2022. Sagaing Region saw the heaviest damage with about 20,485 houses torched or destroyed, accounting for about 72 percent of the total. The second highest affected region was Magway Region, where 5,705 buildings torched or destroyed, accounting for 20 percent of the total. The report also detailed that more than 535 homes and buildings were torched and destroyed across Myanmar between July 1 and 15, 2022. Among them, at least 283 houses were burned down in Sagaing Region and 238 in Magway Region.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Revenge taken on the junta’s ward administrator in downtown Yangon

On the afternoon of July 28, some news came out in Yangon that one of the junta’s ward administrators was gunned down on 42nd Street, Botahtaung Township. The man was not killed but severely wounded and taken to the hospital. Later, he was identified as Than Win @ Bobby one of those responsible for the notorious incident from last year’s August where five youths jumped out of the window in 44th Street during the military’s raid in Yangon. Two of them died on the spot while the rest were still seeking minimal medical treatment in Insein Prison. Than Win, who actively participated in the search, had been in hiding for almost a year since that incident and was spotted only a few days ago, said Inya Urban Force who claimed responsibility for the attack as revenge.

  • Three policemen on shopping mission ended up being hunted in Gantgaw tsp, Magway Region

On July 30, three policemen of the junta who went shopping in Gantgaw Township were ambushed by PDF-Gantgaw in Magway Region. Two were killed on the spot and one escaped with wounds. Following the incident, PDF-Gantgaw opened fire toward PDF stations with heavy artillery, but no casualty was reported. Gantgaw Township has been kept in the dark without internet access for about eleven months now.

  • Explosion near City Hall, Yangon injured many, two youths abducted in aftermath

On the morning of July 30, a major explosion took place near the west gate of city hall, Yangon and injured at least seven people. Five of those were the junta’s policemen on security duty and they reportedly suffered the most injuries while two others were civilians who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. After the explosion, two youths walking down the streets near 37th Street in Kyauttada Township were abducted by the junta’s soldiers as they were suspected of triggering the bomb. Since then, security in Yangon has been tightened as many youths have been stopped and  ordered to show their phones randomly.

  • Ward administrator shot dead in Okpho tsp, Bago Region  

On the morning of July 31, a junta’s ward administrator from Okpho Township, Tharrawaddy District, Bago Region was shot and killed from a close range. The man was called Khin Sein, he was known as a Dalan/military informer in the region, tipping the military forces on the location of PDF stations.  

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • NLD member killed in interrogation in Yangon

In the same week as the horrendous execution of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party member Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw, Min Aung Hlaing’s administration committed one more murder against another member of the NLD in interrogation. The victim was identified as Ko Hla Htoo, a former member of the parliament and then a social welfare worker. The 45-year-old man was well loved in the community, and he was abducted on July 23, for “supporting the resistance forces”. The family was informed on July 25 that Ko Hla Htoo passed away of a heart attack and his body was already cremated.  A close friend said Ko Hla Htoo was a healthy man despite his heart issue and he was in very good shape when detained. At least 18 NLD members have been either killed during interrogation or died of poor health under detention since the coup.

  • Three including 88-year-old killed by SAC’s forces in Khin-U tsp, Sagaing Region

On July 27, SAC’s forces stormed into Lanpanhla Village, Khin-U Township, Sagaing Region, committing arson and murderous crimes. One house was set on fire where weapons worth MMK 10,000,000 (approx., 5,000 USD) were seized. An 88-year-old woman who was in the house was unable to run and was killed in the fire. Another victim was 35-year-old Ko Tin Moe Win, who was tortured and killed by Min Aung Hlaing’s soldier during the raid. The thugs continued to enter Laungshay Village on the same day and abducted two youths, one of them named Ko Thein Zaw Aung was tortured to death while another one managed to flee and escape.  

  • Twelve civilians abducted within two days in Launglon Tsp, Tanintharyi Region

During July 28 and July 29, at least twelve civilians have been taken by the junta’s forces during midnight inspections in Launglon Township, Dawei District, Tanintharyi Region. Around 10pm on July 28, the military soldiers conducted a search in Hinchotaw and Thapyayshaung villages, 10 miles south of Launglon Township and arrested six people, three men and three women. Again on July 29, they entered Maungmakan Village for the same reason and detained six civilians. Local sources said that these civilians have been arrested on wrongful accusation by the military informers.

  • Yu Ya Myittar Clinic shut down and sealed by SAC in Mandalay

A private clinic named Yu Ya Myittar, located on 77th street, between 30th street and 31st street in Chanayetharzan Township, Mandalay was shut down and sealed off by the junta’s forces on July 29. According to close sources, the clinic owners have been accused of supporting PDF and they have been arrested too. In the past weeks, other clinics in Mandalay were targeted for recruiting CDM staff as well.

  • Documentary maker from Sagaing Region killed in detention

Video and photographer U Aye Kyaw who lived in Aung Chan Tha Ward, Sagaing Township, Sagaing Region was abducted by the junta’s forces on the morning of July 30 at around 2am and his dead body was tossed on a roadside on the evening the same day. U Aye Kyaw reportedly made video and photo records of protests and demonstrations in the region; however, the family still does not know the reason why he was arrested in the first place, let alone brutally killed on the same day. The family only learned of his death when a local social welfare ambulance brought back his body home.

  • Japanese videographer detained during street protest in Yangon

On the evening of July 30, a guerilla protest was cracked down by the junta’s forces in South Dagon Township, Yangon and at least three youths, two male and one female were reportedly detained as a result. One of the detainees was later identified as a Japanese videographer named Kubota Toru who happened to be at the scene for documentation. The 25-year-old man has worked with the likes of Yahoo and Al Jazeera and made award-winning documentary films. The Japanese embassy has not confirmed the news and said they will work toward his release if it’s true.

Armed Resistance

  • Zayar Thaw operation killed and injured Pyu Saw Htee members in Pauk tsp, Magway Region

Only July 25, a coalition of local resistance forces conducted “Zayar Thaw” operation in tribute to the fallen hero Ko Phyo Zayar Thaw toward Pyu Saw Htee members in Tatkone Village, Pauk Township, Magway region. According to Young Revolution Front (YRF), one of the forces, seven Pyu Saw Htee members were killed and many were injured in the battle that lasted about 90 minutes. Guns and bullets were also reportedly seized from the military-sponsored armed thugs.  

  • PDF in Sagaing given federalism class

Only July 29, the leaders of guerilla protests from Mandalay and Monywa townships traveled to Sagaing Region and provided knowledge-sharing sessions to resistance forces in Chaung-U Township. The session gave insights on the chains of command and the code of conduct issued by the National Unity Government (NUG), agreements from the Geneva Convention, and human rights. The organizer Ma Aye Myint Aung Aung said the rangers actively participated in the activities and discussions.

  • Five-year-old child killed by the junta’s artillery in Pauk tsp, Magway Region

On July 27, SAC’s soldiers raided Kyarpitkan Village, in the south of Pauk Township, Magway Region with 80 troops. As usual, they fired heavy artillery toward the village before the raid and it hit a house, killing a five-year-old girl and injuring the rest of the five family members. On the next day on July 28, the junta’s soldiers set the village on fire and at least half of the households were reportedly burned down.

  • Skirmish recorded on daily basis in Myawaddy tsp, Karen State

Since early July, encounters between the junta’s forces and the Cobra Column under the command of the Karen National Union (KNU) have been recorded every day near Thone Htet Kway, Myawaddy-Wawlay Road in Southern Myawaddy Township Karen State, according to Cobra’s spokesperson. Heavy artillery shelling was witnessed from both sides, he added. The skirmish on July 28 resulted in one death from Cobra Column and two wounded from the SAC. The battle on the next day (July 29) killed one captain from the junta and injured two.

  • Fighting continued in Kutkai tsp, Shan-North, one child killed

On July 25, SAC’s forces clashed with Kachin Independence Army (KIA) near Mannaung Village, Kutkai Township, north of Shan State. As a result, artillery fired by the junta reportedly fell in the village and severely wounded a three-year-old child in the head. The child was immediately taken to Lashio hospital but died on the way. Again, on July 27, the regime’s soldiers picked up a fight against the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) in the border town of Muse near Nanton Village. Another heavy artillery resulted in the injury of an eight-year-old child. Until the day of reporting, clashes continued between KIA and SAC in both Shan-north and Kachin states.  

  • Six-day battle killed four PDF rangers in Myaing tsp, Magway Region

Four PDF members were reportedly killed during a six-day encounter between July 25 to July 30 against SAC’s forces in the east of Myaing Township, Magway Region. Two were from Myaing PDF who ran into the patrolling soldiers and burned to death on July 30. Another two were from Tamarmyay PDF, who were shot in the mouth as they were captured alive due to the inferior weaponry. 

Others

  • Gang that sent 800 people to border arrested

The authorities have arrested a human trafficking gang that transported about 800 people to Kayin State’s Myawaddy town to send illegally to Thailand. The five human traffickers were arrested in Myawaddy on July 24 by authorities acting on information provided by U Aung Myat, chair of the Migrants Monitoring Group in the town. The gang received about 1 million kyats from each trafficking victim and held them at three houses, a monastery and a motel, U Aung Myat said. Victims of the gang said its brokers had claimed to represent charity groups who wanted to help people displaced by conflict and planned to send up to 5,000 people to Thailand through connections with Thai employers. [The report did not say what had happened to the 800 trafficking victims after the five suspects were arrested.] 

  • Families in Myanmar lose more than half of their income in year of conflict, says Save the Children

Since the 2021 military coup, families in Myanmar have lost on average more than half of their income as the result of insecurity in the country, Save the Children said. The rising poverty rate reportedly threatens to reverse 17 years of economic progress. The country was also bearing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the political crisis plunged the country further into uncertain territory where some families are struggling to feed themselves and the children according to Save the Children. The child rights organization also said that some 80 percent of families said food was their primary concern, with adults in one in five households cutting back on meals in order to feed their children, and a third of households are borrowing food or relying on help from others to feed their families.

Source: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit media, BBC Burmese, Chindwin News Agency, RFA Burmese, DVB, The Irrawaddy, People’s Spring, SHAN News, ISP Myanmar, Eleven Media, Save the Children, Burma VJ, Myaelatt Athan

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