Weekly Update: 029

Folks, it’s time for another week of life under the military regime. From Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day, Aung San family dispute over their famous residence to a fresh round of UK sanctions, read all about it here.

Internal Politics

  • Comrades inside Insein Prison request non-military products 

Khit Thit media reported on August 27 that political prisoners in Insein Prison leaked a request letter to family members and donors not to send military-related products for them. Occasionally, family members as well as donors send food items and commodities for inmates. Since the Myanmar military has a conglomerate to generate income for its institution, boycotting military products has been one of the important contributions towards our revolution. This request from Insein Prison reminds the public that the revolutionary spirit remains strong although the comrades are being detained. 

  • Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day

Local and international communities remember the Rohingya Genocide Remember Day which fell on August 25. Five years ago on this day, the Myanmar military committed mass killing on Rohingya in the name of “clearance operation”. This year, Rohingya leaders and activists held an online seminar to remember the tragic event where Malaysia’s foreign minister, and US State Department Counselor Derek Chollet were among the speakers. The National Unity Government (NUG) issued a statement which urged “the international organizations to deliver tangible means of support and work together with the NUG and all stakeholders to bring justice and peace for the Rohingya community”. 

  • Coup leader tries to persuade EAOs

On August 22 at a meeting in Naypyidaw, murderer-in-cheif Min Aung Hlaing suggested that if ethnic armed organizations (EAO) that have signed the Nationalwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) join the Myanmar military or its Border Guard Force (BGF), they will not be asked to surrender their weapons. Junta chief met a certain number of EAOs in May this year as an attempt “to bring peace” in the country. Meanwhile, one of the oldest EAOs and an NCA signatory, the Karen National Union (KNU), and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), non NCA signatory and one of the powerful groups up north, have been fighting alongside the anti-regime resistance forces. 

  • Junta court ruled Power 54 to be auctioned off

The regime-controlled Supreme Court gave a verdict on August 22 to auction off the detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s home, No. 54 University Avenue Road. The eldest son of Aung San family U Aung San Oo called to auction off the lakeside residence and share the proceeds, while the younger sister wanted to turn it into a museum. Left as an inheritance from General Aung San, the house by Inya Lake is not only a significant place for the Aung San family, but also important for the country’s struggle for democracy. When the Lady was under house arrest, Power 54 was the very place she was kept for years. The residence also received US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hiliary Clinton, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and several VIPs who came and met DASSK. In addition to the Aung San family, the house has a huge impact on Yangon residents as well. Since the Lady was kept under house arrest at the very house, the military tightened security in front of her house, and a certain segment of University Avenue Road where Power 54 located was blocked for the longest of time. If our readers are old enough, he/she will remember the struggle of taking a detour in the Golden Valley neighborhood when it would practically take a couple of minutes if the road wasn’t blocked. Now with the verdict from the junta-administered Supreme Court, the fate of Power 54 is unforeseeable.

  • Junta asked DASSK to control the NLD and the public a few days after the coup

Myanmar Now reported that the military attempted to persuade Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to send a message to her political party a few days after the coup. On February 9, 2021, two military generals visited the Lady who had been detained at her Naypyidaw residence, updated the situations outside such as anti-military mass protests, Civil Disobedience Movements by civil servants, and asked her to release a statement which basically ask the public to stop all these anti-regime movement. According to Myanmar Now’s report, two generals asked DASSK to read out the written-statement prepared by the regime. The contents of the statement included a request to the NLD to stop issuing statements, and that DASSK was alive and well. The generals attempted two times but DASSK denied both, reasoning that she had terminated her works at the NLD three days before the 2020 election, hence she had no reason to read such statements. 

International Affairs

  • Former British ambassador to Myanmar detained by the junta

Vicky Bowman, former British ambassador, and her husband Artist Htein Lin were arrested by the regime on the night of August 24. Irrawaddy News reported that they were initially sent to Insein Prison, but later moved to two local police stations, held separately. The regime said that the couple breached immigration laws, and were remanded for two weeks of custody. The arrest coincided with the UK’s latest sanctions on three military-affiliated businesses.

  • Germany intervenes in the proceedings of Myanmar v Gambia case at the ICJ

On the fifth anniversary of Rohingya Genocide, Federal Foreign Office of Germany released as a statement remembering the ethnic cleansing carried out by the Myanmar military. The statement also showed support in the Gambia for its case at the ICJ against Myanmar, and announced that Germany will now intervene in the court proceedings before the ICJ.

Business Matters

  • UK imposed fresh round of sanctions 

On August 25, the UK government announced a new round of sanctions to remember the fifth anniversary of the military’s “ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya”. Three new military-linked companies that hit the list are: Star Sapphire Group of Companies, International Gateways Group of Companies Limited (IGG), and Sky One Constructions Ltd, in order to
“limit the military’s access to arms and revenue”. We reported last week that Sky One Constructions was linked to coup leader Min Aung Hlaing’s son Aung Pyae Son, and the company has won multiple large-scale military-related projects such as building new hospital wings at military hospitals or building hangars in military air bases.

  • Junta declared conversion of foreign currency at market rate illegal

The junta-controlled Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) declared that exchanging foreign currencies with market rate, and selling-buying foreign currencies including US dollars illegal. The statement released on August 27 announced that if civilians/businesses are found selling/purchasing foreign currencies, they will be charged with Foreign Currency Management Law. Last month, the CBM forcefully converted all foreign currencies owned by individuals and local businesses, and collected them. Currently, import businesses such as gasoline, medical supplies, construction items and commodities face difficulties acquiring US dollars for they need to convert Myanmar Kyats into USD with market rate which has now reached MMK 3000 for 1 US dollar. The CBM’s rate for conversion is MMK 2100 for 1USD, but the bank only allowed a limited amount for conversion. 

Humanitarian Affairs

  • Refugees in India lack support, NGOs say

According to Chin organizations, the number of refugees from Myanmar in India has reached 50,000, and four-fifths are reported to be Chin ethnics with all of the refugees needing security guarantees. There are thousands of civilians displaced within Chin State, in need of food and medicine and thousands of children lack access to education, a prominent Chin activist, Salai Issac Khen. He added that the UNHCR only had an office in New Delhi and was not represented in northeast India, and the country had not signed international refugee treaties, like the Refugee Convention. However, he added that both the Indian central government and the Mizoram state administration were doing their best from the humanitarian perspective.  

  • Fighting blocks off medicines and food rations to Paletwa and Maungdaw: OCHA Myanmar

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Myanmar issued a statement on August 24 that the ongoing fighting between the regime forces and Arakan Army (AA) have restricted the transport of medicines and food rations as security tightened in Chin State’s Paletwa Township and Rakhine State’s Maungdaw Township. The fighting has been intensifying in northern Maungdaw Township and about 100 households comprising 364 family members in Rathedaung Township have been displaced so far.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Insein prison attacked, Yangon

On the early morning of August 22, explosions were heard near the Insein Prison. Later, it was reported that the staff housing inside the prison that had been manned by about 20 security soldiers was shot with grenade launchers. Witnesses said about 13 people were critically wounded and three ambulances and two military trucks went inside the compound shortly afterward to pick up them. The resistance force named Special Operation Force (S.O.F) claimed responsibility for the attack and said its rangers retreated safely after carrying out the mission.

  • Regime’s colonel detained and killed while in disguise in Myaing tsp, Magway Region

On August 25, it was reported that one of the junta’s high-ranking officials was shot and killed in Myaing Township, Magway Region. The incident took place in the earlier days at an inspection gate of the People’s Defense Force (PDF) on the Myaing-Pakokku road. The man who was later identified as the deputy colonel of the regime tried to pass the area in plain clothing and was stopped by PDF. As he refused to comply with the investigation and attempted to run, he was shot and killed on the spot. The colonel was serving at the southwest military quarter, Ayeyarwady Region, according to findings.  

  • Colonel and wife shot and killed at military’s textile and garment factory in Pakokku, Magway Region

On the early morning of August 26, unknown gunmen stormed into the military textile and garment factory, opening fire on the factory manager, colonel Aung Zaw oo and his wife in Pakokku Town, Magway Region. The wife was killed on the spot while the colonel was wounded terribly and taken to the hospital although unverified reports said he died once admitted to the hospital. Pakokku PDF has denied its involvement in the attack and it’s unclear who carried out the mission.

  • Court targeted, soldiers killed in Mayangone tsp, Yangon

On the afternoon of August 26, a major explosion took place near the entrance gate of the township court of Mayangone in Yangon. Two of the junta’s policemen who were guarding the compound were instantly killed by the explosion whereas two civilians were also harmed. Generation -Y-Guerilla (GYG) claimed responsibility for the attack and confirmed the deaths of two policemen. There was some criticism regarding the incident because civilians are always around the courts.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Gems merchant abducted by regime, billions worth of belongings seized

On August 17, prominent gems and jewelry merchant named Kyaw Thura from Hpakant, Kachin State was abducted by the regime’s forces. The pretext for his arrest was “donating to PDF, associating with the National Unity Government (NUG). Within three days, all of Kyaw Thura’s properties including mansions, landplots, vehicles, workshops, and gems from Mandalay, Naypyitaw and Hpakant were seized by the regime. It’s reportedly the highest value that the regime has ever robbed from an individual since the coup. It’s unclear whether the man ever had indeed donated to the resistance forces because businesspeople especially in the gems and jewelry space usually tend to be on good terms with the military-associated people.

  • Twenty people detained and tortured in Tontay tsp, Yangon

On the evening of August 22, the vehicle carrying the junta’s ward administrators from Zeepyugone was attacked by the resistance rangers, and all of them on board were said to be killed in Tontay Township, Yangon. Following the incident, about 50 of the regime’s men including soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee members stormed into the area and started carrying out extreme interrogation. They have been stationed in the monastery of Zeephyukone Village and have been conducting a violent investigation by each house. People were beaten up, phones were searched. About 20 people including three women have been detained and tortured as they were accused as being members of PDF or the National League for Democracy (NLD).

  • Former photojournalist sentenced to three years in prison in Mandalay

On August 24, the military-controlled tribunal inside Oh-bo Prison in Mandalay sentenced the former photojournalist Ko Zaw Zaw to three years imprisonment. The 35-year-old Ko Zaw Zaw was arrested in April this year and had been charged with sedition act 505A after being tortured and interrogated for a month. According to local sources, accusations against him were groundless. Ko Zaw Zaw used to work for Irrawaddy Media as a photojournalist and has been retired from that job since even before the coup.

  • Two youths participated in iconic 8888 umbrella strike abducted and tortured

On August 25, the social media channels of the regime’s lapdogs released photographs that show two young men being detained and bruised with umbrellas and protest slogans by their side. The youths were identified as two of those who participated in the 8888 umbrella strike that fell on August 8, in memory of the 1988 uprising. The photographer of the strike and the other one that was in the picture were abducted by the regime soldiers in their home/studio and looked to be tortured as their faces had bruises. The lobbyists called for the arrest of the remaining three who were also in the picture.

  • Islamic father and son accused as PDF and murdered in Kyunhla tsp, Sagaing Region

On August 26, the dead bodies of a 50-year-old man and a teenager were found near Thityarmyaing Market, Kyunhla Town, Sagaing Region. They were later identified as U Thein Win and his son Mg Yarzar Htet Aung. It’s only a week since Mg Yarzar Htet Aung came back from working in Hpakant, Kachin State and he was accused by local Pyu Saw Htee members to have attended military training. According to the local sources, about eight members of Pyu Saw Htee raided their house the previous night and abducted both father and son. They were tortured and killed overnight. U Thein Win and his son were Islamic, considered peaceful and quiet with no interest in politics, and spent their time with religious duties.

Armed Resistance

  • Two-day battle killed six PDF members, hundreds of households burned, Myaing tsp, Magway Region

On August 22, a clash broke out between the regime’s forces and the resistance rangers near the west of Thadut Village, Myaing Township in Magway Region. The initial battle lasted about 45 minutes and it carried on the next day and lasted about four hours, according to the spokesperson from Myaing’s Hero Generation. Six members of PDF were killed in the skirmish while about seven were severely injured. The junta’s side also had casualties, but no exact figure was disclosed. Three villages in that area were set ablaze by the regime’s forces on their way out and about 120 households were burned to the ground.

  • PDF in Mandalay apologized for wrongful attack on civilians

Tiger Force Mandalay, an urban guerilla force based in Mandalay, apologized and claimed responsibility for the deaths of two civilians. The incident took place on August 23, when hotel staffs Ko Sithu Ko Ko and his wife Ma Hnin Wai Hlaing were shot and killed by the rangers whilst traveling on a motorbike at the corner of the 30th and 57th streets. The victims were targeted as they were mistaken for being the policeman Soe Ko Ko from Central Intelligence Department (CID) and his wife. Turned out Tiger Force Mandalay was fed with false identification and as a result, two innocent people were killed. Not only did the force apologize, but it also claimed to be ready to take the fitting punishment for the crime when the time comes.

  • Seven PDF rangers killed during regime’s ground clearance operation in Kani tsp, Sagaing Region

Since August 23, the junta’s forces have been conducting an offensive in Kani Township, Sagaing Region. In the name of ground clearance, the regime utilized about 130 troops in both navy and ground forces. During the operation, about five encounters took place between the junta’s soldiers and the resistance forces, resulting in the deaths of seven rangers from the people’s side.

  • PDF attacked Pyu Saw Htee villages in Phaungpyin tsp, Sagaing Region

On August 24, the resistance forces mounted an assault on two villages that were said to be inhabited by members of Pyu Saw Htee in Phaungpyin Township, Sagaing Region. The encounter cost both sides as casualties were reported. About five Pyu Saw Htee members were killed during an ambush on Hapa Village while one ranger was also dead. In a parallel attack on Manli Village, five more Pyu Saw Htee members reportedly died. Following the attacks, the junta’s soldiers shelled artillery from those villages toward the resistance forces.

  • PDF station ambushed and seized, several abducted in Gyopinkaut tsp, Bago Region

It was reported that PDF station was raided and occupied by the regime’s forces on August 25 due to a security breach in Gyopinkaut Township, Bago Region. About 50 rangers were assigned in that outpost and 19 of them were said to be detained, over 20 were missing and 11 escaped. It started when two rangers sent for scouting were instead abducted by the junta’ soldiers. Those two spilled the location of the station while under intense interrogation and the seizure took place shortly afterward using heavy artillery and superior manpower. Multiple weapons and accessories were also captured.

  • AA attacked regime’s strategic valley in Maungdaw, Rakhine Region

On the afternoon of August 26, the Arankan Army (AA) conducted an ambush on the regime’s strategic outpost located in Kamaungseik Township, north of Maungdaw Township, Rakhine Region. The encounter lasted about an hour, causing about 200 people near the battle zone to flee to safety.  About 50 of the junta’s troops arrived as reinforcement in the evening and the convoy reportedly took 12 Minkamaung villagers as human shields on their march. On the next day August 27, the regime’s forces conducted airstrikes with two military choppers in the battle area, according to local witnesses. 

Source: Khit Thit, Myanmar Now, Irrawaddy, Mizzima, RFA Burmese, Ayeyarwaddy Times, Burma VJ, Myaelatt Athan, Eleven

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