Weekly Update: 028

Folks, another week, another update from us. Read all about what’s happening in Myanmar. 

Internal Politics

  • DASSK faced more jail time with a new corruption charge

On August 15, the junta-court sentenced the detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with four more corruption charges with six years jail time in addition to the existing 11 years of imprisonment. The court verdict was made in a closed-door trial, and reasoned that the Lady abused her power “to rent public land at below market prices and building a residence with donation money meant for charitable purposes”. In the statement released by the military’s information team after Min Aung Hlaing’s meeting with UN Special Envoy Dr Noeleen Heyzer who requested for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the coup leader said that the military could have impose more serious charges against her but it has shown her compassion as of now. 

  • Min Aung Hlaing hinting to rule 10 more years

On August 20, junta-mouthpiece newspapers published a four-page statement regarding the coup leader’s meeting with Dr Heyzer. Among the propagandized junta narratives, the first point Min Aung Hlaing made was that he has been leading the government of Myanmar, working towards the prosperity of the state. He also said that only an election-winning administration can work  to create a prosperous state, and that a president from an elected government can legally rule the country for 10 years. Readers who follow the regime’s official statements know that it is difficult to make sense of what they are trying to say, but, taking the hint, it might be possible that Min Aung Hlaing has been desperately plotting towards his presidential dream while dragging the country to the lowest of the low. 

  • Junta reshuffles the cabinet

In its announcement on August 20, the military regime forced to retire two renown ministers, and the leadership of the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM). Junta-appointed Immigration Minister Khin Yi, who serves as vice chair of the military proxy USDP party, and Information Minister Chit Naing, former military man and the mastermind of old-fashioned ridiculous military propaganda, were terminated from their cabinet roles. Governor of CBM Than Nyein and his deputy Win Thaw were also removed from their positions. Deputy Government #2 Daw Than Than Swe who was shot by resistance forces in April this year was promoted to the Governor role. 

  • Public security team ordered to be formed in southern Rakhine State

After reigniting the fire of conflict in Rakhine State last month, the military regime attempted to stir up more tension in the western part of the country. According to Myanmar Now’s report, the leaked internal directive ordered local administrations in southern Rakhine State to form “public security teams”. In Kyauk Phyu Township, local administrators from villages were required to form seven-member security teams while township-level teams required a minimum of 12 members. Myanmar Now gave us a context that coup leader Min Aung Hlaing, his deputy Soe Win and the junta cabinet discussed “matters regarding the procedures for forming public security forces” on August 10 to achieve peace and rule of law in the country. If we recall, we reported the weapon handover ceremonies by the military in Mandalay in early August. It seems that the regime’s new security system with armed pro-military supporters is underway. 

International Affairs

  • UN Special Envoy made her trip to Myanmar, only met with the junta

On August 16, UN Special Envoy to Myanmar Dr Noeleen Heyzer made her first visit to Myanmar, and held meetings with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing and his foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin on August 17. Prior to her trip, UN headquarters in New York announced that she would meet with respective stakeholders from politics, civil society and communities from conflict-torn areas. In the post-trip statement, Dr Heyzer said that this trip was to express the UN’s concern and to de-escalate the violence inside the country. She also said that her visit and dialogue with the military did not legitimize the regime. Yet, the press photo of Dr Heyzer shaking Min Aung Hlaing’s blood-soaked hands gave an extremely bad impression to the Myanmar public. On her trip, Dr Heyzer requested permission to meet with the detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, but her request was denied and had to go home on August 18 without meeting any of the resistance side. 

  • Junta further strengthening ties with Russia 

Despite the international community’s condemnation towards the military, Russia and the regime seems to be getting closer after Min Aung Hlaing’s multiple trips to the country. In the regime’s latest press conference held on August 17, spokesperson Zaw Min Tun said that the two countries planned to open consulate offices. While Russia showed support to its weapon customer for staging the coup, the military regime reciprocated the support when Russia invaded Ukraine although the gesture amounted next to nothing. 

Business Matters

  • EU sanctions hindered the flow of blood money to the regime

According to an AP news report, the transaction for sales of oil and gas to China was unable to proceed due to the EU sanction. The Bank of China refused to handle payments in euros to Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise for its concerns of violating the EU sanctions. POSCO International, which holds 51% share in the Shwe oil and gas project, confirmed with AP that “the revenues are being paid to an escrow account”. The EU imposed sanctions on the MOGE in February this year for the enterprise was controlled by and generated revenues for the military which has been killing civilians after the coup. 

  • Min Aung Hlaing’s son constructing military housing projects, nepotism at work

The military planned to construct housing for Air Force personnel for airmen no longer dared to live outside the military bases. What’s interesting is all the permits for the Air Force housing project are granted to Sky One Company, owned by Min Aung Hlaing’s son Aung Pyae Sone. A source told Khit Thit media that housing constructions are underway in every air base such as Naypyidaw, Hmawbi, etc. Aung Pyae Sone’s Sky One Company also built a hangar to house six new Su-30 planes which were recently purchased from Russia. 

  • Factory workers demanded a raise due to commodity price hike

Workers Union from Myanmar Paung Chein factory which produced Adidas shoes demanded a raise on basic salary on August 14. Factory workers received MMK4800 per day, but now the union called on the factory to raise it to MMK8000. Union Chair Ma Phyo Thida Win told Myanmar Now that workers can no longer live with current salary when the living cost becomes higher with the hike of commodity price. Prior to the coup, 1 USD was equivalent to MMK1300, but 18 months after the coup, 1 USD is now equivalent to MMK3000. The price of fuel and gasoline have also increased, which severely impacts the lives of people with lower income. Ma Phyo Thida Win called for factory workers across the country to join their demand. 

  • The regime continued to target workers from Sagaing and Magway regions

More than 100 workers that hold national identification cards from Sagaing and Magway regions have been threatened and fired without any justifiable reasons. The Chinese garment factory which produced Swedish brand H&M has targeted the workers from Sagaing and Magway regions which have been fighting fiercely against the army. 

Protests

  • “Revolution is the only solution” says Yangon Revolution Force

In Yangon, Yangon Revolution Force-YRF led a protest against the coup while questioning the progress of the NUG/NUCC. In front of a symbolic Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, a plethora of members from different strike committees and student unions staged a protest with a banner that said “Revolution is the only solution”. At the same time, they also criticize the slow progress taken by the National Unity Government (NUG) and the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) when the anti-coup resistance is reaching almost two years. 

  • Kachin protesters remember the one-year of internet shutdown in Hpakant

In Kachin’s Hpakant township, people took to the streets to protest against the internet shutdown. August 20 is a one-year-anniversary of the internet shutdown in Hpakant township, imposed by the junta.  Protesters held banners that say, “Stop internet shutdown Hpakant”, “Internet access is Human Rights”, and “No internet for 365 days” while giving their support to Kachin Independence Army (KIA), People Defense Force (PDF) and NUG.

Humanitarian Affairs

  • Number of IDPs in Myanmar reaches over 1.2m after the coup

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that there have been more than 1.2 million IDPs in Myanmar since February 1, 2021, which included more than 900,000 people who were forced to flee their homes after the coup. The OCHA Myanmar statement said fighting continues in several states and regions across Myanmar, resulting in an increasing number of civilian casualties and displacement. As of August 8, UN figures said 1,249,600 people are now displaced, including 903,000 who were displaced after the coup.

  • Over 150,000 displaced in its territory, KNU says

According to a statement released by the Karen National Union on August 14, recent military operations in Mon State and Bago Region have displaced a total of 154,866 civilians from Mon State’s Thaton District and Bago Region;s Nyaunglebin Township. These areas are under the control of KNU brigades 1 and 3 respectively and heavy shelling by regime forces have forced the residents to flee their homes. 

  • 3,000 Seizin IDPs faced difficulties in Hpakant amid escalating clashes

Recent clashes in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township between regime forces and joint forces of Kachin Independence Army and PDFs have displaced about 3,000 residents from Sezin village in Hpakant Township. The displaced residents are reportedly sheltering across Hpakant Township, but facing a lot of difficulties with rising commodity prices, accomodation and health issues, said youths who have been helping the IDPs on the ground. Most IDPs are reported to be sheltering in monasteries, schools and churches in Nant Maphyit, Hmawsisar, Saitaung, Mamon, Tamakhan and Haung par villages. According to the youths, the most crowded shelter has about over 200 people living, and with no assistance from the outside and increasing number of IDPs in the township, many are starting to have sourcing food.

  • Chin National Organization founded a 50-bed hospital in Falam

On August 20, a new 50-bed hospital for the people was founded in Falam, Chin State by the Chin National Organization (CNO). Falam is a town located in one of the least developed regions in Myanmar where intense battles have been taking place between the Chin Nation Defense Force(CNDF) and the junta’s army. Since October 2021, this hospital, previously small, has been providing medical care to members of the defense forces together with other healthcare providers from PDF-Kalay.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • SAC’s man who always threatened to call on his colonel finally got served in Shwepyitha, Yangon

This week, a military informer was reportedly shot and killed in Shwepyitha Township, Yangon. The incident took place inside Nilar Market on the early morning of August 19 when informer in question Win Zaw was shot three times and died. Win Zaw was notorious in the area for actively coordinating with the junta’s forces on administrative tasks targeting youths such as midnight inspections and abductions. He was said to have threatened the public to bring on his colonel at every chance he got.

  • Junta’s IT technician/captain killed in Myiang tsp, Magway Region

On August 20, the news was shared on social media that a soldier of the junta in disguise was arrested by local resistance forces on Myaing-Pakokku road in Magway Region. The same reports described the man who had many military-related documents and IT tools in his belongings attempted to resist the arrest and was shot dead as a result. The man was later identified as a well-known military captain/vlogger San Win Aung who had been giving drone and GPS training in the junta’s camp. The public was unaware of his true identity as a military captain and many were speculated to have purchased security tools through him. It was unclear why San Win Aung was traveling in the region on his own, however, the dangerous man was unmasked and cleared out before much harm was caused.

  • Ward administrator shot and wounded in Northoakkalapa tsp, Yangon

Another ward administrator appointed by the junta was reportedly targeted in Yangon on August 20. This time, it was Thaung Dan, the ward administrator from North Oakkalapa who was shot and wounded by the resistance forces during his walk on that morning. Thaung Dan was shot from close range and it’s unlikely that he would not make it although he was taken immediately to a hospital according to a local witness. His wife was also at the scene but was spared.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • NLD’s MP & political activist abducted in Myitkyina, Kachin State

On the morning of August 14, two people were reportedly taken into the junta’s custody at the 21-mile inspection gate, Myitkyina City, Kachin State. The detainees were identified as U Myo Kyaw, a member of parliament representing Hopin Town, Monhyin District from the National League for Democracy (NLD), and Ko Sai Maung, a prominent political activist from Hpakant Town. The junta’s forces were not aware of their backgrounds; however, the identifies were compromised due to the findings from the routine search that included the bonds of the National Unity Government (NUG). The whereabouts of both abductees remain unknown and feared to have been exposed to the highest form of interrogation given their profiles.

  • Seven youths tortured and killed by SAC’s soldiers, bodies found roadside in Khin-U tsp, Sagaing Region

On the morning of August 15, Yathar Villagers in Khin-U Township, Sagaing Region found seven dead bodies roadside on the west exit of the village. The bodies were quickly identified as the youths from Wungyi Village who left homes the previous day to go work in a gold field. All of them were reportedly stopped and detained by the junta’s forces on their way in front of a school on Shwebo-Kyautmyaung Road presumably under suspicion of going to military training under local resistance forces. Within a day, they had been tortured and killed before their dead bodies were dumped roadside without a word or notice to the families. The victims were 19-year-old Ko Kyaw Thu Hein, 15-year-old Ko Zaw Hein, 20-year-old Ko Min Ko, 14-year-old Ko Min Nyi, 19-year-old Ko Phyo Ngwe Soe, 22-year-old Ko Nine Nine and 21-year-old Ko Thura Tun.   

  • About 60 people under custody in Katha tsp, Sagaing Region

On August 15, about 300 troops of the junta stormed into Kyauthtonegyi Village, Katha Township, Sagaing Region, and have been stationed inside a monastery. Since then, they have been reportedly abducting people for questioning. About 60 people have been taken into custody and not released as of reporting this. The village has about 1500 households and the junta’s forces raided a house on August 4 for allegedly supporting the People’s Defense Forces (PDF). Those 60 detainees have also been under arrest for the same accusation of associating with PDF, many speculated.

  • Two elderlies killed during SAC’s arson attack in Yesagyo tsp, Magway Region

In Magway Region’s Yesagyo Township, two villages near Yaylalkyun where Ayeyarwady and Chindwin rivers intersect were set on fire by the SAC’s soldiers for three days straight. The soldiers marched into Lhaykhoteywar on August 15 and started setting the village on torch before continuing to do the same in the neighboring village, Ngatayaw. Nearly 800 households were speculated to have been destroyed by the fire. In addition, two elderlies who were left with food due to their inability to run by the family members who managed to escape the raid were killed in the fire. The victims were 90-year-old U Myal who had lost his sight and 83-year-old Daw Tin Myint who recently had a stroke. One more civilian named U Phoe Aung, aged 40, was also shot and killed as he was spotted on the soldier’s way out.   

  • Two women murdered by the junta’s forces in Kani tsp, Sagaing Region

On the same day the UN convoy Noeleen Heyzer visited Naypyitaw and requested the end of violence, Min Aung Hlaing’s soldiers murdered yet another two women in Kani Township, Sagaing Region. On August 17, the junta’s forces arrived in Kin Ywar through multiple helicopters for reinforcements. Amongst those who could not run to safety, were 70-year-old Daw Mya Hnit and 40-year-old Ma Mi Soe. They both were found dead two days later with cuts and bullet holes on their body parts. Ma Mi Soe’s two-year-old daughter is still missing.

  • Dawei Prison denied medical treatment to female pollical detainees

Female political detainees inside Dawei Prison have been reportedly disallowed to have proper medical treatment inside the facility. It was reported that the prison only stores medicines for mild fevers and a complicated bureaucratic process is required to receive a prescription to treat severe diseases. More than 60 women have been kept inside the facility which lacks basic protection and hygiene standards. The female section of Dawei Prison is especially oppressed because the news about the mistreatment and terrible conditions inside has been leaked previously. Amongst 66 detainees, 19-year-old Ma Saung Hnin Phyu has received the most severe sentence, 10 years for donating 13,500 MMK (approx. 5USD) to a resistance soldier. Two other university students were also given 7 years in prison each for donating 5,000 MMK. All of them reportedly made such donations via KBZ pay, the mobile wallet service of KBZ Bank.

Armed Resistance

  • SAC’s inspection gate ambushed, six killed in Monywa tsp, Sagaing Region

On the afternoon of August 15, a coalition of five local resistance forces carried out a guerilla attack on the junta’s inspection gate on Monywa-Mandalay road, Monywa Township, Sagaing Region. The resistance rangers attacked with both artillery and guns, leading to a 45-minute shootout between counterparts. At least six soldiers of the junta were killed in the clash according to a member of Chindwin Attack Force, one of the six who coordinated the ambush. No one from the people’s forces was harmed or injured.

  • Clash left dozens of the regime soldiers dead in Pinlebu tsp, Sagaing Region

The combined forces of Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and PDF mounted an assault on the regime’s outpost manned by Infantry Unit 366 in Pinlebu Town on August 14. The night-long battle took place between Paluthar and Siyargyi villages and was called successful by the resistance forces. More than 30 soldiers of the regime were killed while various weaponry was seized. Unit 366 had been conducting an offensive in the area and it fell apart due to the sudden ambush, according to the PDF member who was involved in the clash.

  • Two leaders of resistance forces abducted in Taunnggyi tsp, Shan State

Ko Kyaw Khant, the leader of Ywarngan Urban Guerilla (YUG) and Ko Myat Min, the leader of Taunggyi PDF were abducted by the junta’s forces at a camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) inside a monastery in Taunggyi, Shan State on August 15. They both were said to be seeking a temporary sanctuary as they were recovering from injuries. An investigation was conducted by the junta’s forces on that day and the two were abducted for finding sensitive content in their phones. Ko Kyaw Khant and Ko Myat Min were immediately taken to the Taunggyi interrogation center overnight.     

  • Shootout on Sagaing Bridge killed PDF members and civilians

On the morning of August 17, a shootout on a regularly congested Sagaing Bridge was reported in Sagaing Region. It was said that the regime forces opened fire on the Arkartha Express Bus traveling from Mandalay to Sagaing for allegedly carrying the members of PDF on board. Four passengers were killed, two of them were said to be members of PDF while eight civilians were wounded. A local source said that the driver informed the junta’s soldiers about the true identity of his passengers, and it led to a full-blown shootout. The bus itself also was left with hundreds of bullet holes.

  • About 40 UG rangers abducted within a month in Mandalay  

Since early August, about 40 rangers of the Urban Guerilla (UG) forces in Mandalay have been abducted by the regime. Many of them remain unheard of to this day although some including Bo Aung Myay, the leader of MRRF were killed and dead bodies were found. Rangers from MSTF and FAF also remain missing and they are feared to be under the custody of the junta. According to the leader of MPDF, the arrests have been largely down to the lack of funding, hence, the rangers have to communicate with more people, most of them turn out to be spies.

  • Clashes intensified in Myawaddy tsp, Karen State

Since the night of August 18, the junta’s forces have been reportedly conducting an offensive in Myawaddy Township, Karen State via multiple routes. At first, airstrikes were conducted near Phayargone, the south of Myawaddy Town at the night of August 18, followed by a ground operation including heavy artillery on the next day from morning to night. Clashes took place on at least four war fronts between the regime’s forces and the coalition of Karen National Union (KNU) and PDF. At least six of the junta’s soldiers were killed and two were captured alive while multiple pieces of weaponry were also seized. Three from the people’s side were also wounded in the clashes.

Source: Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now, Irrawaddy, RFA Burmese, Mizzima News, People’s Spring, UN, the Independent, Myanmar Alin, AP, Eleven

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