Weekly Update: 027

Folks, this week marked the anniversary of the 8888 Uprising, and the 8888 Umbrellas attracted the attention of the world. Meanwhile inside the country, the people struggled with the price hike of imported goods after the regime-controlled Central Bank increased the USD rate. Read all about it in our weekly update.

Internal Politics

  • The 8888 umbrellas traveled the world

On every significant date of Myanmar’s political history, protesters come out with creative ideas to commemorate the history and efforts of our predecessors. This year, mass rallies and guerrilla protests were observed on August 8th to commemorate the Uprising in 1988, but what attracted everyone’s attention was four youths, walking around Yangon with four black umbrellas on which the number 8s were painted. The 8888 umbrella-youths took photos at significant places in Yangon such as the Sule area to remind the people that we are still in the same fight as 34 years ago. Inspired by the umbrella youths, Myanmar diaspora groups across the globe followed the iconic protest, and the 8888 umbrellas were seen in New York, Paris, Sydney, Prague, Tokyo, Seoul and Taiwan. 

  • Dr. Htar Htar Lin injured in a police car accident

In the evening of August 4, it was reported that a private car and a police car crashed in Naypyidaw. One of the passengers of the police car was no other than Dr. Htar Htar Lin, director of Covid-19 vaccination program under the NLD government. Due to the accident, she suffered from a fractured shoulder bone and planned to have surgery on August 10. Since the beginning of the coup, the military had targeted her since she attempted to prevent the military from having access to international aid money. Yet, the regime managed to arrest her in 2021, and in April 2022, the regime jailed her for three years with hard labor under anti-corruption charges. 

  • Myanmar Ambassador to China died in sudden

On August 7, Myanmar ambassador to China U Myo Thant Pe passed away in Kunming due to heart failure. Appointed as joint ambassador to both China and North Korea, U Myo Thant Pe was traveling from Beijing to Kunming to attend a meeting on the day of his death. When he landed in Kunming, he suffered from heart failure and passed away according to the social media of embassy staff members.

  • Kayan Literature and Culture Committee President assassinated in Pekon, Shan State

On August 11, Kun Fransico, the president of Kayan Literature and Culture Committee was shot twice and killed by two unknown gunmen on his way home in Pekon, the border town and Shan and Kayah states. Although he was a member of the Union Solidarity & Development Party (USDP), Kun Fransico was respected by the local majority for his contributions to the region. His murder was condemned by various individuals and organizations including Kun Baham Htan, the Deputy Union Minister of the National Unity Government (NUG) who said the death of Kun Fransico is the collective loss of the Kayan Race.   

International Affairs

  • Rights group called the coup leader “Prime Minister”, angered the public

On August 11, twelve international organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Save the Children, World Vision International among others addressed the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing as prime minister of the Government of Myanmar, calling him for an expansion of the right to education for children. The public was appalled and angry at signatories of the statement which was circulated widely on social media. On August 13, a total of 386 local and international NGOs and CSOs condemned the statement which addressed the junta “prime minister” for it can be connoted as legitimation of his power siege, demanded formal apology towards the public of Myanmar, and requested to engage with the civilian-elected National Unity Government (NUG). Due to the proliferation of public condemnation, Human Rights Watch and Save the Children have issued statements apologizing and stating that they had no “knowledge or consent” in such an address to the junta, and the staff were not consulted.

  • Japan MP traveled to Naypyidaw to discuss the release of Japanese filmmaker

A couple weeks back, we reported that a Japanese filmmaker was arrested by regime soldiers at a protest crackdown, and news later developed that he was detained at the Insein Prison and pressed charges against him. On August 12, Myanmar Now reported that MP Watanabe from Japan arrived in Naypyidaw and had a meeting with the military council. Nikkei Asia Review reported that the purpose of the Japanese parliamentarian was to discuss the release of the detained Japanese filmmaker. 

Business Matters

  • 116 arm brokers at work for the Myanmar junta

According to the latest report by rights group Justice for Myanmar (JFM), a total of 116 companies act as arm brokers for the Myanmar military. In the report published on August 11, Justice for Myanmar disclosed that most of the companies in the list operated outside Myanmar, and a third of them are subsidiaries or associated to companies based in Singapore. JFM called on the government of Singapore to ban the use of the city-state’s ports for the supply of weapons to the Myanmar junta. The group also urged other countries to put more effort in disrupting the regime’s arm supplies.

  • Gasoline price on the rise as the dollar exchange rate hiked

Gasoline price continued hiking even after the military council increased the dollar price in early August. The regime-controlled Central Bank of Myanmar raised the exchange of USD to Myanmar Kyat from 1850 kyats to 2100 kyats, and in the same week, the price of gasoline was on the rise. According to a Myanmar Now report on August 11, at least 300 kyats increased for one liter of various gasoline types. In Mandalay, gas stations even the large providers such as BOC and Asia Energy were closed due to the price fluctuation. Across the country including Yangon and Mandalay, hundreds of vehicles were seen lining up in front of the filling stations to get their quota of fuel supply this week.

Protests & Fundraising 

  • The NUG and local youths held an International Youth Day event online

In the liberated area in Kachin State, youth groups, student unions and civil societies together with the Ministry of Women, Youths and Children Affairs (MOWYA) held an International Youth Day event with video conference on August 13. The Minister of the MOWYA, Naw Susanna Hla Hla Soe, gave a speech in celebration of the bravery of the youth of Myanmar.

  • Protest in remembrance of Sittwe’s civil unrest caused by rice shortage in 1975 

On August 13 in Yangon’s Thaketa Township, many protest groups including the high school student union together with Yangon Democratic Youth Strike (YDYS) held a protest banner to remember the rice shortage civil unrest of 1975 in Sittwe. This incident, as usual, was met by the military’s gunshots when the unrest occurred in Sittwe due to the rice shortage. Many protest groups across the country on August 13 reminded the public of the civil unrest and again of the military’s violence. 

  • Myanmar diaspora group in S.Korea organized a One Day Challenge fundraiser 

Myanmar citizens in 15 towns of South Korea have launched a fundraising campaign since July 2021 to donate one-day-wage of a month-salary. There are more than 1800 members in the campaign and have donated USD 1 million to the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment of the National Unity Government(NUG). More than 70,000 USD raised had also gone to support PDFs. This campaign had also supported civil servants who joined the civil disobedience movement (CDM), the committee representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH),and internally displaced persons. Again on August 14, this “One-Day-Challenge for my country” campaign was held in 22 towns where Myanmar citizens gathered.

  • Myanmar diaspora groups organized fundraising football matches

On August 14, Myanmar citizens held a football match in Bangphi, Bangkok, to raise funds in order to support People Defense Forces (PDF) inside the country. Similarly on August 12,Myanmar migrant workers from Samut Sakhorn also held a football match with groups from four different factories and raised funds for the PDF. The football match was led by the Thailand Myanmar Royal Dragon Army Defense Local Support Group TDSG (MRDA) LSG.More than 10,000 migrant workers joined the protest, the curse campaign against the junta and the football match on that day. On August 13, Myanmar citizens in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also organized a football match and raised more than 3,100,000 MMK. In Japan on August 9, Revolution Tokyo Myanmar and Five Star FC Japan led a fundraising football match at Yokohama Aoba Sky field inviting more than 48 men teams and four women teams. All the proceeds were to support Myanmar’s displaced persons in the central region.

Humanitarian Affairs

  • Junta clearance operations displace over 12,000 within three days

With a vow by the junta to restore Sagaing Region to “its original state”, junta forces have been attacking villages in Tabayin, Ye-U and Ayadaw townships by air and land for three day straight, residents and resistance fighters said on August 11. On ground sources told RFA Burmese that the junta clearance operations and fighting had forced more than 12,000 civilians from nearly two dozen villages to flee their homes. Between August 1-8, at least 29 civilians and resistance fighters have been killed in junta raids on Tabayin, Myinmu and Monywa townships. Recently, junta chief Min Aung Hlaing said in an address that Sagaing has seen the most clashes of any region in the country since the coup, and vowed that the military will “restore the region to its original state” without providing details.

  • Over 150,000 fled to Thai border after the coup

Since the military coup, there have been more than 150,000 people who have fled to the Thai-Myanmar border and the Thai side due to security worries, according to social workers who have been monitoring and helping the refugees. Among them included political activists, journalists and those who have been issued warrants by the junta, and some have also continued to leave for third countries. An official, U San Aung, with New Myanmar Foundation which has been helping the refugees, said that about 70 percent of the 150,000 have registered for an asylum in third countries, and added that the number of people fleeing from the country after the 2021 military coup is more than the number who fled in the last 1988 uprisings.

  • 162 civilians killed by landmines and explosive remnants of war

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that 162 civilians had been killed by landmines and explosive remnants of war between January and May of 2022. The report also added that more clashes took place in more states and regions across Myanmar and had forced more than 1.1 million people as of July 11. 

  • ASEAN aid promised in May has yet to reach the refugees

An ASEAN meeting on May 6 at Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance agreed to deliver aid to Myanmar under the supervision of the military council, which would then in turn distribute it to those in need. Aid workers in Sagaing Region told RFA Burmese that none of the promised aid had been delivered there or the regions with refugees in need in the past three months. Aid workers helping refugees in Chin, Kayah and Karen states as well as some townships in Sagaing and Magway regions added that even if the junta has been working hard to deliver assistance from ASEAN, it only controls the cities’ vicinity and its administration is broken in rural areas. Aid workers urged ASEAN not to trust the junta’s promises. 

  • Over 3,000 on the run due to clashes in Hpakant, Kachin State

Since August 8, clashes between the Shanni Nationalities Army and the joint alliance of PDFs and Kachin Independence Army have been escalating in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township. Relief workers said they managed to rescue more than 400 residents trapped in Sezin village. Sezin village in Hpakant Township is located on the border of Sagaing Region and Kachin State, and it is home to over 600 households and more than 3,000 residents. Due to the clashes, over 3,000 residents had been displaced to six villages about 25 miles away from home since August 8.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Three administrators attacked, one killed in Mattaya tsp, Mandalay Region

Three village-level administrators appointed by the junta were attacked in a teashop on the morning of August 11 in Wathondra Village, Mattaya Township, Mandalay Region. U Kyaw San, administrator of Lin Mway Chaung Village was pronounced dead with gun wounds while two others, U Tin Thaung and U Htay Lwin, the heads of Wathondra and Htee Taw Moe villages respectively have been admitted to Mandalay Hospital. Local-based Mahar Revolution Force (MRF) claimed responsibility for the attack who claimed that all three were armed and hence they had to carry out the mission quickly. MRF added that a monk who was sitting in the same table with administrators was not harmed.  

  • Immigration office targeted, one killed in Thingangyun tsp, Yangon

Resistance rangers sneaked into the township immigration office, Thingangyun Township, Yangon, and opened fire on the officer on August 12. The main target, officer Win Naing Htwe was wounded and his deputy Kyaw Moe who attempted to fight back the gunman was also shot. Later, the deputy officer was pronounced dead with gun wounds. The immigration office in question where identification cards are provided is notorious for distorting money from the public.

  • SAC member colonel killed during attack in Banmauk Town, Sagaing Region

On the morning of August 12 around 9am, Banmauk Revolution Force (BR) mounted an assault on the junta’s administrative office in Banmauk Town, Sagaing Region. During the attack, Colonel Kyaw Min Han, a member of the State Administrative Council (SAC) was said to be killed on the spot. Following the incident, the firings between the regime’s forces and the resistance forces occurred inside the town and one ranger was reportedly injured. No casualties in addition to the colonel’s death were reported.

  • Dalan from reserve fire brigade shot dead in Insein tsp, Yangon

On August 12, a man named Hlaing Min Tun was shot and killed by three young men on a motorbike in Insein Township, Yangon. The man was identified as a member of the reserve fire brigade who was a part of the junta’s oppression scheme in the township. Hlaing Min Tun reportedly coordinated with the regime’s forces and was responsible for the arrests of many youths during midnight inspections.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Protest leader inside Oh-bo Prison tortured and feared for life

Ko Naung Htet Aung, the detained (former) president of the Union of the Education University of Mandalay, was reportedly tortured inside Oh-bo Prison and feared for his life. Ko Naung Htet Aung was said to be on a hunger strike since August 1 against the executions of the four political activists last month. The news was heard on August 11 that he had been beaten up brutally by the regime’s forces and prison guards for the protest. Due to the beatings, Ko Naung Htet Aung lost his teeth and suffered injuries on his head and back. He has been denied proper medical treatment and his families and friends are concerned for his survival.  

  • Political activist Wai Moe Naing sentenced to 10 years in prison

Wai Moe Naing, the 26-year-old political activist from Monywa City, Sagaing Region was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the junta’s tribunal inside Monywa’s Prison on August 12. He was charged with more than 10 acts for his protests against the junta and received 2 years each for five of the charges respectively. More sentences will be made for the rest of the charges in the coming weeks. Wai Moe Naing was arrested in April 2021, when the regime’s forces in a private car rammed down his motorcycle rally. One of those responsible for his arrest was shot and killed last week in Monywa.

  • Two fishermen shot and killed by regime soldiers in Kawthaung, Tanintharyi Region

Two fishermen on their way back from work were shot and killed by the regime’s soldiers in Kawthaung Town, Tanintharyi Region on August 8. The victims were on a motorbike when the soldiers opened fire on their vehicle. One of them was killed on the spot while the other one named Ko Lwin Zaw Soe passed away with wounds at the hospital on the same day. It was unclear why they were shot but the SAC’s ridiculed law that bans people from carrying a male passenger on motorbikes is still in effect in most of the country.

  • Misconduct, extortion and torture reported in Myingyan and Hpa-an prisons

Reports came from Myingyan Prison in Mandalay and Hpa-an Prison in Karen State that political prisoners have been denied basic human rights and treated with extreme oppression in those facilities. The detainees have been put inside solidarity confinements, cursed and beaten up, and given excessive hard-labor tasks by the prison’s guards and authorities in both centers. If a prisoner is too old or unwell to do the labor work, they are forced to pay bribes in Myingyan Prison. Ten political prisoners including Ko Ye Min, Eant Phone Maung, Wai Yan Moe Myint, Hein Ko Ko Kyaw and Ko Min Tin Mon have been particularly mistreated and tortured in Hpa-an Prison.

  • High school student charged with sedition act for refusing the junta’s education

Ma Su Latt Thawtar who was detained by the regime’s forces while taking an online class on July 13 has been charged with 505(A) sedition act and additional made-up charges including drug trafficking. The 15-year-old girl was a student of the outlawed online education provider “Kaung for You” and she was taking Grade-11 classes on its platform as she refused to go to the junta’s schools. Ma Su Latt Thawtar’s family is in disbelief that the young girl has been charged with such acts in relation to politics and drugs for simply choosing an alternative education.

Armed Resistance

  • Landmine detonation killed dozens of regime’s lapdogs in Wetlet tsp, Sagaing Region

On August 5, a coalition of local resistance forces led by Nattaung Nagar triggered multiple landmine attacks on the junta’s convoy that consisted of four vehicles traveling from Shwebo Township to Wetlet Township in Sagaing Region to conduct an offensive. The attack left the SAC’s forces with at least 25 deaths and multiple injured. In addition to the soldiers, three Pyu Saw Htee members were also among the deaths whose bodies were left to rot on the road.

  • SAC and SNA terrorizing villages in Hpakant tsp, Kachin State

Combined forces of Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the people’s defense forces (PDF) managed to occupy three outposts of the junta near Salzin Village in Hpakant Township, Kachin State last week. Following the incident, the regime soldiers coordinated with Shanni Nationalities Army (SNA) to push back KIA and PDF from those outposts on August 10. When the resistance forces retreated due to inferior manpower, the regime’s soldiers and co began terrorizing the civilians from Salzin Village. They set the village on fire and open fire on everyone who runs out for safety. At least nine villagers were killed 400 households were burned down.

  • Drone attack killed dozens of SAC soldiers in Chaung-U tsp, Sagaing Region

On August 10, Chaung-U PDF conducted an offensive using a drone and landmine detonation on the junta’s men who were marching toward Khinmon Village. The attack killed 14 soldiers and the video footage was shared on their Facebook page. Two days prior, the junta’s another convoy was attacked with landmines and 12 were reportedly killed. In a three-day span, nearly 30 men of the regime were reported dead due to the offensive from Chaung-U PDF.

  • Junta’s outpost ambushed, ten killed near Hakha, Chin State

Chinland Joint Defense Committee (CJDC) released news that its forces mounted an ambush on the junta’s military outpost near Thimit River located between Thantlang and Hakha towns in Chin State on August 11. The operation killed at least ten soldiers of the military regime who have been conducting offensives near Hakha Town recently. From February to July, about 220 skirmishes took place between the regime and the Chin resistance forces, according to CJDC.

  • SAC conducted airstrikes, civilians stuck and wounded in Yinmabin tsp, Sagaing Region  

On August 11, the State Administration Council (SAC)’s forces conducted airstrikes on Yintpaungtaing Village, Yinmabin tsp, Sagaing Region. The area has not seen a clash in a while and this sudden attack of the junta left many civilians injured. Three military choppers opened fires from the sky non-stop for 45 minutes before dropping off about 60 soldiers for ground operation. About 50 people including 20 injured elderly got stuck in the village as they could not escape in time. Since then, the regime’s forces occupied the village and were seen setting the houses on fire on August 12.

  • AA and SAC clashed, casualties reported in Rakhine State

Arakan Army (AA) and regime forces encountered in three separate areas in Rakhine State on August 13. The battles took place in the north and south of Maungtaw Township, and near Yathaytaung Township. At least seven soldiers of the junta were killed and six were captured. Many weapons were also seized by AA during the clashes. 

Others

  • Chiang Mai University of Thailand signed a MoU with the Spring University

After signing a Memorandum of Agreement with the renowned university, Spring University Myanmar, founded after the coup to provide alternative education for students who boycott junta education, will provide university education to 500 Myanmar students through an online learning platform. They will also collaborate on academic programmes, research projects for Myanmar students over the next three years.

  • The NUG supports dengue prevention in Yinmarbin, Sagaing

On August 13, villages in Yinmarbin, Sagaing Region, took various prevention methods against dengue fever such as preventing mosquito habitats, covering the areas with water that can stimulate mosquito growth and cleaning the sewage including sharing public health knowledge on the fever. The healthcare protocols were supervised by the Ministry of Health of the NUG. 

Source: Khit Thit Media, Mizzima News, DVB, The Irrawaddy, Myanmar Now, People’s Spring, Burma VJ, Kachin Waves, Ayeyarwaddy Times, One News Myanmar, RFA Burmese, Eleven Media

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