Weekly Update: 026

by mohingamatters

Internal Politics

·        Junta extends state of emergency, vows to hold election
On August 1, junta Min Aung Hlaing gave a televised speech, extending the state of emergency for another six months. State of emergency was declared on the day of coup for one year, then extended in January 2022, for the second time, now this time marked the third. In the 40-minute speech, the coup leader said that his administration will hold an election in 2023, and stressed that all the ongoing armed conflicts must be ceased to hold “free and fair” election, blaming on the resistance forces for the instability in the country.

·        Workers in Yangon became new targets for the regime’s crackdown
Central plain part of the country, namely Sagaing, Magway and Mandalay regions, stands as strongholds of resistance forces. Similarly, Karenni (Kayah) State in the southeastern part also boasts its resistance and defiance by militarily engaging with the regime despite the imbalance of firepower. Min Aung Hlaing’s soldiers have been committing unspeakable crimes against the civilians in those areas such as torching villages, looting and raiding as well as mass killing. Against all odds, the revolutionary spirit can’t be tamed in those areas to this day. As the latest tactic to put out the flame of revolution, the regime has been pressuring factories  in Yangon to fire workers who are originally from these regions/states mentioned above. The Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) told Myanmar Now that a number of factories have started firing workers based on the location where they are from, without compensation. A worker who was recently laid off said that they were told to “go home due to the political situation”. The same worker also told Myanmar Now that hostels also feared of renting rooms to workers who come for the conflict areas as well.

·        The military armed pro-military supporters in Mandalay
In Mandalay where guerrilla attacks are frequent, the military provided weapons to pro-military supporters in Aung Myay Tharzan Township on August 3. The State Administration Council (SAC) held a small ceremony to hand over the weapons to ward administrators, and members of pro-military thug group Pyu Saw Htee according to Myanmar Now although the exact number of recipients or weapons were disclosed. Prior to this, weapon hand-over was previously done in another area in Mandalay- Mahar Aung Myay Township. Pro-military Facebook users wrote that 5 out of 65 so-called “militia” were geared up with 10 guns and 70 bullets. Civilians in Mandalay fear more harassment by pro-military supporters, militias and soldiers in the neighborhoods.

·        The NUG offers rewards for soldiers who defect with anti-aircraft weapons
There is no news that the regime has been using airstrikes, harming both resistance fighters and civilians when they can no longer control the territory on land. On August 6, U Naing Htoo Aung, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Defense, the National Unity Government (NUG), said that rewards will be provided to junta soldiers who defect with anti-aircraft weapons. Although details of the reward were not disclosed, the permanent secretary said that depending on the kind of weapon the defector brings, the amount of reward will also be varied. Soldiers who defected from the military also told Myanmar Now that People’s Defense Force can also launch attacks at military bases which store anti-aircraft weapons namely Monyin base in Kachin State, Kalama Taung in Mon State, and Padan base in Ann, Rakhine State.

International Affairs

·        Myanmar crisis nearing a civil war, Singapore Minister warned
Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said to the reporters following the ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting that there is real danger that the coup in Myanmar has been leading toward a civil war. He added there was no positive seen from the Myanmar’s junta in terms of the five-point consensus either. ASEAN special convoy from Cambodia has also warned the regime that SAC cannot expect to make presence in any ASEAN meeting unless it makes an effort to meet the five-point consensus.

Business Matters

·        Mandatory USD conversion rule eased & rate changed to 2,100 MMK by SAC
On August 5, the junta-controlled Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) issued a notification with immediate effect that allow businesses to exchange only 65% from 100% previously. However, citizens remain under the strict rule that forces them to convert all their foreign currency into Myanmar Kyat within one working day. In the same notification, CBM also announced its new mandatory exchange rate of 2,100 MMK per dollar, which used to be 1,850. The new rate still has a huge gap with the market price which has been documented as up to 2,800 MMK per dollar in recent days.

·        Multiple businesses filed to liquidate
This week, announcements were witnessed in the state newspaper that many local businesses have filed for liquidation. At least seven companies from various sectors such as trading, gems & jewelry etc were found making similar decisions.  

Fundraisings & Protests

·        In New York, a Spring Revolution fundraising event raised more than 30,000 USD for Myanmar
Helping Hands for Burma (H2B) organized a fundraising event selling raffle tickets and food to commemorate the anniversary of the historical event of 8.8.88. More than 500 Burmese people participated in the event, and funds raised will go directly to groups fighting against the military.

·        In Magway region’s Myaing tsp, civilians donated all they have for the cause
Due to offensive attacks launched to the areas in Myaing township, Magway, the civilians have been running from homes and losing their savings and properties. Despite that, the civilians in the region are donating all they have to the local defense forces and striking committees, according to the committee member. All those donated include cash, rings, hairpins, and earrings that are of value.

·        Burmese people nationwide held protests to commemorate the anniversary of 8.8.88
Protests have been observed in the spirit of the historical 8.8.88 demonstration that saw thousands of protesters shot dead by the former military. Protesters these days in Myanmar, including Burmese people around the world have been staging protests in the spirit of 8.8.88 and calling for an end to dictatorship and military violence. Protests and anti-coup campaigns were observed in Kani, Yinmarbin, west of Chindwin, Hpakant, Launglon, Mandalay, and Yangon.

·        A campaign against torturing and extrajudicial killings of prisoners of conscience planned
Global Myanmar Spring Revolution and General Strike Coordination Body-GSCB call for a social media campaign for political prisoners to stop unjustly extrajudicial killings in prisons. Prisoners of conscience (political prisoners) have been suffering from violations of human rights and dignity in the prison as they have been more targeted by the junta’s lackeys. Participants must wear blue shirts, tape the mouths with a cross sign and hold a symbolic three-finger-salute.

Humanitarian Affairs
Thousands forced to flee in Tanintharyi Region since the Coup
A local research group in Tanintharyi Region, Southern Monitor reported on August 4 that at least 214 civilians had been killed, 89 injured and at least 17,415 people had to flee their homes in the 18 months since the February 2021 military coup. The statement also added that 93 homes in the region were destroyed in arson attacks over the same period. The total civilian casualties also included those killed by junta troops as well as victims of retribution attacks by the armed opposition for their alleged role as informants for the military regime, the statement said.

·        100 IDPs in Kachin State’s Sadone Face Lack of Support
People, who had fled the clashes from N’Wan Kawng village in Kachin State’s Waingmaw Township, are reportedly having difficulty with livelihoods after arriving in Sadone town. Recent clashes between junta troops and Kachin Independence Army in N’Wan Kawng displaced about 100 people to take refuge in Sadone Baptist Church since August 3, and people are in dire need of food and medical supplies. Most of the displaced residents are from a 30-household IDP camp in N’Wan Kawng village and majority of them are children and women.
IDP camps in Kayah State short of medicine
Residents of Kayah State are starting to run short of much-needed medicine, especially among the children and elderly, sources in the region told RFA Burmese. A relief worker at one camp said the children are now suffering from dengue fever and diarrhea in the eastern part of Loikaw Township, where around 4,000 refugees now live in IDP camps, and the major problem is the shortage of medicine. The UN refugee agency and World Food Program provide assistance to the camps mainly for food, but no help given for medical needs, a spokesman for the Karenni Human Rights Group, Banya said.

·        Aid provision difficult due to the Junta’s restrictions, UNOCHA says
Due to junta’s restrictions of transporting essential goods, including food and medical supplies, in conflict-ridden regions such as Chin State, Sagaing Region, Kayah State, Magway Region and Bago Region, there have been difficulties in providing humanitarian assistance to refugees and IDPs, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said on August 3. The statement added that as fighting continued across the country, the protection of civilians and the humanitarian situation worsened as well.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

·        Municipal officer on target in Monywa tsp, Sagaing Region
On August 1, a municipal officer from Monywa Town, Sagaing Region was shot eight times and killed in the morning. He was identified as U Thu Kha, who coordinated with the military soldiers in arresting the prominent protest leader Ko Wai Moe Naing from the region in last year’s April. A group of private vehicles driven by the junta’s forces including U Thu Kha rammed into the protest led by Ko Wai Moe Naing before beating and abducting the already injured victims. Myanma Royal Defense Army (MRDA) claimed responsibility for the attack.

·        Ward administrator and wife killed by bomb in Pale Myothit, Yangon
The junta-appointed ward administrator Win Naing Tun and his wife Hay Mar Tun were targeted in Mingladone Township, Yangon on August 2. On that morning, the car they were in was attacked with a bomb and after the explosion, a group of unknown gunmen opened fire on the couple who were pronounced dead shortly. Win Naing Tun was notorious in the area for organizing a thug group and oppressing street vendors and youths.

·        PTTEP’s gas pipeline blown up in Yephyu tsp, Tanintharyi Region
On the morning of August 1, Thailand-based PTTEP exploration and production company’s natural pipeline was reportedly targeted with a bomb in Kanpauk Area, Yephyu Township, Thanintharyi Region. The pipeline was damaged and leaked gas but there was no casualties. It’s still unknown who was responsible for the attack. PTTEP has received stern criticism since the coup for it’s continued coordination with the junta and its business has served as the main revenue channel for the regime’s weapon procurement.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

·        Social welfare worker shot and killed by regime soldiers in Ye tsp, Mon State
On the night of July 31, social welfare worker from Lamine Town, Ye Township of Mon State named Ko Lin Aung was shot and killed on his way back from a birthday party. The local police station apparently contacted his family to come to collect his dead body and said they had no idea how he was killed. After a brief investigation, it was found out that soldiers from a security gate opened fire on a moving object for suspicion around the same time of the incident and it resulted in the killing of Ko Lin Aung. His motorbike was also not returned to the family.

·        Vendors in Magway Market banned for participating public swearing-in ceremony  
Last Sunday on 31 July, public swearing-in ceremonies were held across Myanmar, in which youths pledged loyalty to the resistance in public areas such as bus stops, markets etc. One also took place inside Myoma Market of Magway City and the vendors reportedly joined in as they clapped and cheer on toward the ceremony. Angered by the movement, the junta’s forces stormed inside the market on August 1 and demanded to identify those who started the clapping. As nobody came out with a name, all street vendors were forced to close their shops and banned from selling inside the market.

·        26 young women of Chin ethnic detained for two days in Yangon
On July 31, it was reported that the junta’s forces abducted 26 young women of Chin ethnic in North Dagon Township, Yangon. They were all gathered in a house to go work in a foreign country and it was likely that the junta’s forces held them in custody with suspicion of relating to the People’s Defense Forces (PDF). The girls were detained for two days before they were released on August 2.

·        Two supermodels detained by the junta for allegedly damaging Myanmar’s culture
On August 5, the State Administration Council (SAC) announced that it had opened a legal case against Thin Zaw Wint Kyaw and Nang Mwe San, two of the most popular Myanmar models for allegedly damaging the country’s culture by distributing sexually exploitive pictures on Onlyfans Website. Both women have been known to make thousands of dollars every month via the website. The junta’s intention of such arrests has been presumed by many to seize the modes’ fortune while also fishing for recognition from the extreme nationalists for holding the country and the religion’s value as a top priority.  

·        Family of NLD member abducted, properties robbed by SAC’s forces in Insein tsp, Yangon
On August 4, the regime forces raided the house of U Hla Pe, village level secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and abducted him, his wife, his son and his daughter-in-law in Insein Township, Yangon. The soldiers reportedly robbed properties worth of 70,000,000 MMK (US$ 28000) from the family. The house would also be sealed off according to witnesses.
Armed Resistance

·        PDF station seized by SAC in Kyaikmayaw tsp, Mon State
A joint outpost station of two resistance forces based in Kyaitmayaw Township, Mon State was reportedly seized by SAC forces on July 28. Two PDF members and a child were also abducted. In the related operation, two more PDF members were arrested on July 29. However, SAC released the news of the arrests of only three and hid the other one so they could use his credentials to find more rangers.

·        Ten PDF soldiers and eight civilians killed during SAC’s airstrike in Myinmu tsp, Sagaing Region
On August 1, the junta’s forces conducted an offensive on Latpankyin Village, Myinmu Township of Sagaing Region via both sky and on-ground. The attack resulted in the death of at least ten resistance soldiers and eight civilians according to Myinmu Civil Revolution Force. At least eight auto machineguns and many grenades were also seized. During the skirmish, the regime forces reportedly held about 100 civilians including students and teachers as hostages before they set at least 15 houses on fire.

·        Five UG members abducted, one killed in Monywa Town, Sagaing Region
On August 3, five rangers from the Urban Guerilla (UG) in Monywa Town, Sagaing Region were abducted during an operation, and one was killed shortly. The UG group had recently announced it would conduct a black mission operation in the town and warned people not to go out if not for an emergency. Those abducted during the mission were Ko Than Zaw Myo, Ko Kyaw Thura Aung, Ko Myint Zaw, Ko Win Myat Min, Ko Kyaw Wai Khine, Ko Nanda Win. It’s not known yet who was killed amongst them.

·        Two-day battle killed fifteen regime soldiers in Kalay, Sagaing Region
Two-day clash between the resistance forces and the junta’s troops took place in Tharyargone Village near Kalay Technological University of Sagaing Region, starting on August 3. The battle resulted in the death of three PDF members and fifteen of the junta while injuring many on both sides. The junta’s forces were about 200 troops including Pyu Saw Htee members and they reportedly shelled artillery from the technological university.  

·        Twenty-one PDF members abducted, nine of which killed in Mandalay
A group of ten members from Mother Son Mandalay Force (MSMF) was abducted on August 1 during the raid of the leader’s house. Following the raid, eight more members were arrested in Pyin Oo Lwin Town. A total of 21 members from MSMF were said to be detained. On August 6, the dead bodies of nine detainees including MSMF leader Bo Aung Myay were found on the Yagon-Mandalay Expressway. Those who remain in detention are also feared for their survival.

·        More than 32 civil rights groups asked NUG to found a human rights commission
With the deteriorating situation in Myanmar and increased violence against the civilians by the junta, more than 32 civil rights groups urged the National Unity Government (NUG) to found a new human rights commission to work for the people who had sacrificed for Myanmar federal democracy. The commission is to set international human rights standards and to work for protection of the civilians. As the existing Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) founded in 2011 under the then Thein Sein government has chosen to ignore the plight of Myanmar civilians and sided with the junta, the new one has become necessary.

·        Desperate youth with no foreseeable future try to get to Japan
In the early hours of August 5, more than 5000 youth fought for the level four test forms of the Japanese language proficiency (JLPT N4) examination scheduled in December. Some of them had been waiting to get the test form since 2am, and there were more than 5000 by 4am in front of the Learning hub, Yangon Education University, in Kamayut township, Yangon. With the Myanmar Association of Japan Alumni (MAJA) sudden announcement of canceling the selling of test forms upon seeing the crowd, the desperate youth panicked. One of the buildings in the area started to catch fire, and more than 10 youths were arrested by the soldiers that day.

·        People with identification of NRC from Sagaing and Magway regions lose jobs in Yangon’s factories
It is reported that workers who are from Sagaing and Magway region, as shown in the  National Registration Card (NRC), have been fired from their jobs in the factories in Yangon. Around 25 workers in the Ti factory who have come from those regions have lost their jobs for no valid reasons. In total, it is estimated that around hundreds have been fired. Factories have been forced to disclose information of their workers by the junta and forced to fire if they are from Sagaing and Magway regions, hotbeds of conflicts often involving in battles against the junta’s soldiers.

Source: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit media, BBC Burmese, Chindwin News Agency, DVB, RFA Burmese, The Irrawaddy, People’s Spring, Burma VJ, Myaelatt Athan, Bloomberg

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