Weekly Update: 032

Internal Politics

  • Wai Moe Naing faced further treason charge

Daw Moe Sandar Kyu, mother of detained youth activist Wai Moe Naing, told Myanmar Now that her son received additional charges under Section 122 of Penal Code, high treason. Prior to this charge, the 26-year-old had already received 10 years of imprisonment under incitement, and association with unlawful organizations. The additional high treason charges were pressed on September 8, and according to his mother, it could be accompanied with a death sentence.

  • Myanmar people want U Kyaw Moe Tun at the UN 

This year at the UN General Assembly, the credential committee is due to make a decision whether they will keep U Kyaw Moe Tun in Myanmar’s seat or the junta’s proposal. This past week, people of Myanmar; inside or outside of the country, from their homes or from their prison cells, had shown their support to U Kyaw Moe Tun. Rallies were seen with people holding banners which showed support to U Kyaw Moe Tun. On September 17, Irrawaddy News reported a leaked letter which was addressed to the UN as a request by political prisoners. One of the requests was for the UN to recognize U Kyaw Moe Tun as Myanmar’s official representative. Other requests include imposing a no fly zone for the regime that had been using airstrikes against civilians, and provision of humanitarian aid to displaced people.

  • Non-NCA signatories allegedly held a meeting in Wa State

The Kokang News reported that officials from the United Wa State Army (UWSA) had received other representatives of the Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee (FPNCC) in the previous days. The FPNCC is made up of UWSA, Mai La’s National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), Shan State Prograssive Party (SSPP/SSA), Kokang’s  Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), and Rakhine’s Arakan Army (AA) which are non-signatories of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). According to the Kokang’s news story, representatives from NDAA, SSPP/SSA, MNDAA, and deputy chief of AA Dr Nyo Tun Aung went and visited Wa State for the meeting. Neither group had made an official statement on the meeting. 

Business Matters

  • Primark to pull its orders in Myanmar

Ireland based fashion company Primark announced on September 15 that it would pull out its job orders from Myanmar. In its announcement, the brand said it had been monitoring the human rights situations in Myanmar, and decided to officially cease its job orders in Myanmar factories after the Ethical Trade Initiatives (ETI)’s report. A total of 17 factories which estimately employed thousands of workers in Yangon produced Primark’s apparels. 

  • Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) threatened to close mobile wallets with inaccurate user information

CBM announced on September 16 that it would shut down mobile wallets with false data. Moreover, it is mentioned that CBM will cross-check the personal information and phone number from mobile banking accounts with those data from the Department of Immigration and Populations and Department of Post and Telecommunications. The CBM statement propagates that this is an attempt to prevent fraud, and loss from illegal transaction and to regulate money laundering through border payments and money support to terrorist acts. Therefore, CBM advised users to upgrade their accounts to level 2 and warned that it will shut down accounts with incomplete information. People’s Defense Force (PDF) ranger spoke to Mizzima that the announcement primarily targeted to trace the support of the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), and PDF, and requested the agent not to follow the command from the junta. In a confidential announcement by CBM on August 15th, CBM ordered mobile payment providers Wave Money, Kpay, CB Pay, and AYA pay agents to secretly take photos of people depositing and withdrawing cash and to install CCTV at each agent’s stores.

  • Yangon Real Estate Market remains stagnated at its highest market value

Local real estate agents said that after Yangon real estate market has reached its highest peak, the price remains constant at the highest level. The primary reason for the escalating cause of real estate is not because real estate businesses have been doing well but because Myanmar’s Kyat value is depreciating. One real estate agent told that the buyers have also remained more careful before buying as the real estate market has reached its highest point in the last 7-10 days. However, the price remains high, and does not decrease although the rising price rate has slowed down. The current price is about 1.25 that of the previous value. There has been some speculation that the housing bubble is imminent as the real estate market price is rising. John Hopkins University reported this September that Myanmar is the fifth highest inflation country all over the world at 127%, only behind Turkey (134%), Lebanon (136%), Cuba (158%), and Zimbabwe (477%).

  •  CBM governor promised to continue supporting the regulation of gold and Kyat market

 Daw Than Than Swe, the governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM),  said that CBM and respective union ministry departments will continue to support stabilizing the gold and Kyat market in Myanmar. She spoke during the gold and Kyat market regulation committee meeting in Naypyitaw on September 14 afternoon. In early September, the ministry of mines sold gold coins to the public in an attempt to control the rising gold price. Daw Than Than Swe also encouraged gold businessmen to cooperate with the government to stabilize the local gold market. Moreover, she advised the gold trading transactions to be done with the banking system and assured that respective banks will collaborate accordingly. The local gold market reaches its highest peak at the end of August, and the price is 1 tical of gold is equivalent to 37 lakhs. 

Humanitarian Affairs

  • KNU-controlled Mone Township has over 20,000 refugees

On September 13, the Karen National Union reported that there are nearly 20,000 refugees in Bago Region’s Nyaunglebin District, Mone Township due to fighting between the KNU forces and junta troops after the coup. In addition to the fighting, the airstrike attacks from the junta on KNU’s Brigade 3-controlled Mone Township have displaced 18,669 people from 61 villages, the statement said.

  • Junta Blocks UN and humanitarian access in Northern Rakhine State

Junta has reportedly ordered the United Nations (UN) and international NGOs operating in six townships of Rakhine State to suspend their operations according to an internal memo sent to an aid agency in Rakhine State as reported by The Irrawaddy on September 16. The aid agency which received the memo said that the access to the townships of Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Rathedaung, Mrauk-U, Minbya and Myebon has been blocked by the junta since September 15 until further notice. The memo said that no movement or distribution will be allowed in those townships and in other townships, the distribution of Non-Food Items will be allowed. The block came a day after the AA announced that it would be checking all land and water vehicles for security reasons. The AA said the security checks are necessary as there is a possibility of more heavy fighting as the junta continues to reinforce its troops by all means. Since August, clashes between junta forces and the Arakan Army (AA) have been escalating in the region. 

Protests

  • Myanmar diaspora in Thailand demands the UN General Assembly to retain Kyaw Moe Tun as Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN

A group of Myanmar people living in Thailand held a demonstration calling the United Nations to recognize a Burmese diplomat Kyaw Moe Tun as Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations in the upcoming 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The assembly will decide on who will represent Myanmar at the UN while Myanmar military junta attempted to remove him from the position accused of high treason after he opposed Myanmar’s ruling military regime.Similar demonstrations were organized in Japan, S.Korea, and the States this week.

  • Despite recent lethal crackdown, Yangon youth protesters continue to march

On September 18, Hlaingtharyar high school student union, Burma Youth Revolutionary Force(BYRF), Yangon’s Rebels Strike Committee (YRSC), Pazundaung and Botahtaung Strike Committee(PBYSC) organized a protest singing a People Protest song and holding a banner that says “The harder the oppression, the higher we rise.” Around 15 youth protesters were previously arrested during a protest in a lethal crackdown on September 13 In Kyimyindaing, Yangon. A lone protester Demon also held a banner on a park’s fence that says “We will take revenge for our comrades.” 

Civil Disobedience Movement

  • Two Letpadaung police officers join Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM)

Two officers guarding the controversial mining project in Letpadaung copper mine in Sagaing Region’s Salingyi township defected the force and joined the local anti-military resistance group. They turned themselves in with their G3 rifles to the local defense force. The two officers, according to the local defense force spokesperson of the One Star Task Force, said in tears that they left because they could not stand the junta’s violence and oppression anymore. According to the local defense force, any member of the junta’s forces who surrenders with their weapon will receive a monetary reward of 7m kyat ($3,300).

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Shooting took place near KBZ Bank, three soldiers died in Muse, Shan State

On the afternoon of September 13 around 1.30 pm, an attack was carried out in front of the KBZ branch in Thein Than Chi Express Station in Muse Town, northern Shan State. It was reported that three militia soldiers that were giving security to the bank were targeted by unknown gunmen and all there were killed. One civilian was also said to be hurt in the incident.  

  • Group of soldiers targeted, seven died in Myinmu tsp, Sagaing Region

On the evening of September 15, combined forces of True Fighter and Zero Guerilla Force carried out a grenade attack on a group of the regime’s soldiers in a school compound of Myin Mu Town, Sagaing Region. The soldiers were said to be playing Chinlone, also known as caneball when the bomb dropped in the middle. According to inside information from the military, the operation killed all seven soldiers.   

  • Young dalan paid ultimate price in Thaketa tsp, Yangon

On the morning of September 16, news came up that a shooting had taken place in Thaketa Township’s No.2 ward (south) in Yangon. In the incident that took place near an elementary school in the township, two men were reportedly attacked and one of them died on the spot. They were identified as Ko Kyaw Kyaw Lin, a known military informer/ dalan and his colleague named Paing Mhuu Khant. Ko Kyaw Kyaw Lin was shot five times to death while his friend was also injured in the leg. The dead man was also said to be a former Min Aung Hlaing’s military soldier.

  • Bomb exploded near municipal police office and injured four in Kamaryut tsp, Yangon

A hand-made bomb exploded in front of the municipal police office in Kamaryut Township, Yangon on the morning of September 16. The incident took place around 8.35 am and reportedly injured four civilians, two males, and two females. It is unknown who was responsible for the attack. The regime’s forces arrived at the scene and defused a remaining bomb, according to the witnesses.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • NLD’s secretary from Naypyitaw died within 24 hours of detention

U Zaw Myo Win @ U Ko Gyi, the secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Oaktara Thiri Township, Naypyitaw was detained by the junta’s forces on September 12 in Pyi Oo Lwin Township, Mandalay Region, and his family was informed of his death within 24 hours. The 45-year-old had been on the run since the coup for his involvement with the party and he was caught by the soldiers in a safe house in Pyin Oo Lwin around 9 pm on that day. His family was told that U Zaw Myo Win was shot and killed for refusing to stop his motorbike for inspection and a few weapons were found in his vehicle’s tool box which was said to be false, according to sources close to him. U Zaw Myo Win was well-liked in the community and actively worked for the development of his region. He is survived by his wife and two teenage sons.

  • 15 youths abducted in Kyimyindaing tsp, Yangon for organizing non-violent protests

On the evening of September 13, the regime’s forces cracked down on a guerilla protest before it even started in Panpingyi Street, Kyimyindaing Township, Yangon. The youths were preparing to show solidarity with U Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar ambassador to the UN representing the National Unity Government (NUG) ahead of the UN credential meeting when they faced the violent intervention from the soldiers in plain clothes. The regime’s forces opened fire on the youths before taking all of them into custody. Some of the protesters managed to run but the public nearby coordinated with the authorities and detained them, thinking they were escaped thieves. Fifteen people in total from various organizations such as Myanmar Labour Alliance, Owl Community and local media have been identified as victims. On the same street in December last year, the junta’s soldiers rammed into the protest with a truck, killing about five people on the spot.

  • Mandalay-based FB page covering resistance activities compromised, young woman detained by SAC

On September 14, the news reported that Ma Yu Wai Myint, one of the admins of Voice of Mandalay (VOMDY) had been detained by the State Administration Council (SAC) since September 4. VOMDY focuses on releasing news of resistance activities carried out in the Mandalay Region and the junta believed it to be associated with the urban guerilla forces. Ma Yu Wai Myint is currently held in the notorious interrogation center inside Mandalay’s palace. Using her phone, the regime’s soldiers followed the network and arrested at least 10 people on related charges. Another admin of VOMDY, Ko Aung Ko Ko escaped arrest during the raid of his house on September 5, however, the soldiers instead took his mother, who is a teacher in the civil disobedience movement (CDM).

  • Free hospital run by monk raided and robbed by regime’s forces in Gantgaw tsp, Magway Reigon

On September 15, it was reported that the regime’s soldiers raided and robbed the free hospital established by Yaw Sayadaw in Gantgaw Township, Magway Region. It took place on September 5 but did not make the news until this week. About 15 regime soldiers with two local guides stormed into the hospital in the village of Latpan on that morning before beating up the 70-year-old caretaker who is the sibling of Yaw Sayadaw. They then gathered doctors and nurses in a room and seized their phones and possessions including gold and cash. They left after making the medical staff sign a letter agreeing not to give treatment to members of the PDF. The soldiers then terrorized the Latpan Village on their exit.

  • Regime conducted airstrike on school, children killed in Depayin tsp, Sagaing Region  

The most devastating news of the week took place in Depayin Township, Sagaing Region. On the afternoon of September 16 around 12, two of the regime’s choppers flew into Latyatkone Village of Depayin and conducted airstrikes. Two Mi35 also dropped bombs on a school in the village, resulting in the deaths of multiple children. At least seven children were killed and seventeen more were injured, some of them suffered from losses of body parts. Afterward, the junta’s forces stormed into the village and raided the school on foot before taking the dead bodies and injured children out of the compound. Then, they reportedly cremated the children’s bodies without returning them to the family. The soldiers reportedly killed two more children and seven civilians on the ground operation as they ran into them. The victims were 49-year-old U Kyaw Tun, 34-year-old U Aung Saw Htwe, 37-year-old Ma Yu, 31-year-old U Tin Soe Khaing, 22-year-old Mg Aung Chit Moe, 16-year-old Aung Aung Oo, and 13-year-old Mg Saw Min Oo.  

Armed Resistance

  • AA warns of imminent major warfare in Rakhine State

Arakan Army (AA) released an emergency statement on September 14 that there could soon be major battles in various parts of the Rakhine State. It said that the regime’s forces have been reinforcing personnel, weaponry, and military equipment including navy ships, tanks, and choppers in their stations in Rakhine State hence they are believed to be preparing for massive war fronts. AA also warned transportation businesses to inform the regional administrative offices before they travel from one place to another as the regime’s forces may stop and harass them on the way. For the time being, battles have resumed in Rakhine’s Maungdaw and Chin’s Paletwa townships.

  • Battles took place for three consecutive days in Katha tsp, Sagaing Region

Fights broke out between the regime forces and PDF in Katha Township, Sagaing Region for three days in a row. The first took place on September 13, when the 170-personnel regime’s convoy was ambushed by PDF on their way to Moetarlay Village to Katha. The battle lasted all day and resulted in five deaths from the junta. Another battle took place near Walgyi Village on the following day, PDF reportedly conducted an offensive on the retreating regime’s soldiers. On the third day, PDF carried out a detonation attack on the junta’s forces in Minlal Village, a few miles away from Katha. In total, 20 soldiers of the regime were said to be killed in all attacks.

  • AA seized another outpost of the regime in Maungdaw tsp, Rakhine State

On the evening of September 15, the Arakan Army (AA) reportedly mounted an assault on the junta’s station near the 37-mile on border fence of Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State. The Meetite station is located two miles away from Taungpyo Town and was manned by about 100 military soldiers. Despite airstrikes and heavy artillery fired by the regime, AA carried out the offensive and managed to take control of the place after twenty minutes of back-and-forth firings. Since August, the regime has lost control of a number of its stations to AA in Rakhine State.

  • Junta’s military column killed and burned 10 people in Taze tsp, Sagaing Region

On September 16, the regime’s forces that have been conducting an offensive in Taze Township, Sagaing Region raided Oakphoeine Village. They arrived at the top of the village around 5 am and killed six villagers on security duty. In addition, four members of the People’s Defense Forces (PDF) were also killed. The dead bodies were placed on beds and burned. In the junta-run media, it’s described that a shootout took place in Oakphoeine Village and seven PDF members were killed. 

Others

  • BBC reports that their freelance reporter jailed for 3 years with hard Labor

The presenter Ma Htet Htet Khine of BBC media was arrested in August 2021m and charged with 3 years prison terms with hard labor. The junta said her reporting amounted to incitement and illegal association, and allegedly working as an editor for an NUG-run radio station. Since the February 2021 coup, 12 media outlets have been forcibly shut and 142 journalists arrested with some exposing the inhumane torture and sexual violence they faced inside the interrogation centers upon their release. 

  • Rice donated to internally displaced persons (IDP) in Yesagyo destroyed by the junta’s soldiers

In Magway’s Yesagyo township, rice and food donated to displaced people in Yeshar village were burnt and destroyed by the junta’s soldiers. The troops arrived at the Yeshar village on September 6 and left only on September 17, destroying and burning properties and food they saw in the village. In the same region, Yelalgyun, properties and food rations of 11 villages including Yeshar village were destroyed and burned.

  • Five youths escaped Pakokku prison

Five youths had escaped from tight prison security on September 10 and joined local defense fighters in Pakokku, Magway region. The five political prisoners were reported to have escaped by cutting through the bars of their cells and using blankets and longyi as a rope to climb up the high prison wall. Two of them had completed military training in Karen state.

  • COVID-19 infections increase to almost 200 per day

The Ministry of Health reported that there have been 189 COVID-19 cases in a day on September 11 as COVID-19 infections starting to increase again in Myanmar compared to records in August. Among them, 173 cases were local transmission and only 16 cases were those who returned home from other countries. Myanmar Now reported on September 17 that as the rate of COVID-19 infection increases in Myanmar, the number of COVID related deaths also increased, and health experts and social aid organizations are warning people to stay cautious again. Between September 1 and 15, there have been a total of 2,683 COVID-19 cases with 6 deaths, accounting to about 170 cases daily on average, based on data published by the Ministry of Health.

  • Junta crushes workers’ unions

According to the workers’ unions officials and the workers, labor unions in Myanmar have been all suppressed in the more than 19 months since the February 2021 military coup. One month after the takeover, the junta’s newly formed Ministry of Immigration and Manpower declared 16 labor unions and labor activists’ organizations illegal on March 1, 2021. The report by the International Labor Organization on August 24 reported that activists who promote workers’ rights, trade unions and civil society providing services to workers and migrants face an existential threat in Myanmar such as arbitrary arrests, detentions, acts of violence, raids on homes and offices, seizure of equipment, threatening phone calls and surveillance.

  • Over 100 rohingyas sentenced in Ayeyarwady Region within 2 weeks

Within the first two weeks of September, a total of 114 Rohingyas were sentenced to two years in prison in Ayeyarwady Region. About 56 Rohingyas were sentenced by Wakhema Township Court in the first week of September and 58 Rohingyas were sentenced by Bogalay Township Court in the second week, sources close to the police circles told Ayeyarwaddy Times. One source said that the police would detain the Rohingyas for some time and then send them back to their area, but almost all of the Rohingyas arrested in Ayeyarwady Region were put on trial right away and slapped with 2-year imprisonment within a month. Since the February 2021 coup, over 500 Rohingyas had been arrested for “illegally” entering Ayeyarwady Region. 

Reference: Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now, Mizzima, Burma VJ, Ayeyarwaddy Times, DVB, The Irrawaddy, RFA Burmese

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