Weekly Update: 035

Folks, here’s the weekly update for this week.

Internal Politics

  • Min Aung Hlaing gave a speech on 7th anniversary of the NCA

On the 7th anniversary of Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) which fell on October 15, the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing gave a speech and said that the NCA will continue to be upheld for the peace process. He also continued that Propotional Representation system should be adopted for ethnic groups to gain their rights, and mentioned that the 2008 Constitution has provided full rights for ethnic groups, yet it should also be amended.

  • The ANP was summoned by the military council

The leadership of the Arakan National Party (ANP) was summoned by the military council after the political party’s announcement on September 29. In the statement, the ANP mentioned the deaths of civilians after the conflicts had broken out once again in the Rakhine State, the blockage of land and waterways in the state, the suspension of humanitarian aid from local and international organizations, and the proliferation of displaced people in the state. U Tun Aung Kyaw, one of the central committee members, told Myanmar Now that the party’s statement only described the facts based on real situations. The ANP’s representatives and the military council met on October 12.

  • DASSK’s security officer jailed for 10 years

On October 13, the special court inside Naypyidaw Prison sentenced U Aung Naing Oo, the detained state counsellor’s security officer, with 10 years of jail-time for breaching the Official Secrets Act. U Aung Naing Oo, largely known as Ko Thar Nge, worked as a police guard some 30 years ago when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest. He was arrested by the military in November 2021, ten months after the coup, and was accused of associating with 88 Generation leader Ko Jimmy who was executed by the junta in July.

  • Junta to sue BBC and Irrawaddy for defamation 

On October 12, BBC Burmese and Irrawaddy News reported that the shootout that took place at Kyaikhteeyo pagoda was caused by the military. On October 14, the military council denied responsibility for the shootout and announced that it will sue BBC Burmese and the Irrawaddy for defamation under Telecommunication Law. Khit Thit reported that multiple witnesses at the location confirmed that the military council conducted the indiscriminate shooting, killing several visitors at the pagoda. 

  • Political prisoners from Obo prison were transferred

More than 120 political prisoners from Obo Prison in Mandalay were transferred to remote prisons across the country. Irrawaddy News reported on October 13 that majority of the transferred prisoners are student leaders, democracy activists, and protest leaders. According to the Irrawaddy’s source from the prison, the transfer was deliberately conducted to scatter the political prisoners so that they cannot establish connections. Most of the prisoners were transferred to Taung Lay Lone prison in Taunggyi, Shan State with a 10-wheel truck on October 7. Family members said that since the detainees were transferred to remote places, it became harder to conduct prison visits and deliver food.

International Affairs

  • Myanmar military used Japan-funded vessels to transport reinforcement

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on October 11 that Myanmar military used Japan-funded passenger ships to transport military soldiers and reinforcement in September 2022. Among two out of three vessels donated by the Japanese government between 2017-2019 were used to transport military reinforcement in Butheedaung Township where the Myanmar military engaged with the Arakan Army (AA) on September 13. HRW called on the Japanese government to reassess its “failing approach to curtailing the junta’s abuses”.

  • Netizens condemn Australia for inviting the junta at the ADMM-Plus

Democracy activists condemned Australia, co-host of the ASEAN-Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM-Plus), for inviting the Myanmar junta. The summit will be held in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei on November 1. Yadana Maung of Justice for Myanmar said that Australia has been tolerating and engaging with “war criminals”.

Business Matters

  • Mark & Spencer to leave Myanmar

London based clothing company Mark & Spencer announced on October 11 that it will terminate its sourcing in Myanmar factories, and will leave the country responsibly by March 2023. The decision came after the release of report by the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), following another clothing company Primark. The announcement also stated that M&S will thoroughly follow the human rights situation in factories before it leaves the country next year.

  • Chinese power plan opened in Kyaukphyu, Rakhine State

A Chinese-backed power plan was opened on October 10 in Kyauk Phyu Special Economic Zone in Rakhine State where Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hen and junta-appointed deputy minister for electric power Daw Aung Zeya were in attendance. The US $180 million, 135-megawatts power plant is a crucial part of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. Irrawaddy News reported that the opening of power plant signalled that China is set to move forward with its projects in post-coup Myanmar under the military leadership.

  • Toyota started operating in Myanmar after the 18-month hiatus

According to Nikkei Asia, Toyota has started manufacturing cars in Myanmar on October 11th. Although Toyota initially planned to start producing cars in 2021 February, the coup has disrupted its operation, and it can only begin manufacturing 19 months later. Toyota factory is located in Thilawa Special Economiz Zone (SEZ) in Myanmar. From the news source references, Toyota started the manufacturing of Hilux trucks, and accepting the orders from the sales agents. Toyota begins its operation amidst the international criticism to Myanmar military for human rights violations and the departure of foreign investment companies. Multinational companies that have left Myanmar includes companies such as French-based petroleum company Total Energies, American-based Chevron, Ooredoo, and Telenor. 

  • Only 2 companies bid for the State Administration Council’s (SAC) solar project

 As the SAC started accepting tender bids for the solar energy project, not a single foreign company bids for the tender, and only 2 local companies participated in the tender submission. These tender projects have already been bid for tender back in 2020 October under NLD-led government, and Chinese companies have won the tender. However, as they are slow to implement the projects, SAC nullified the contract validity of tender in 2022 May. Among these 26 cancelled tenders, it started accepting bids for 18 projects in  6 States and Regions across Yangon, Naypyitaw, Mandalay, Irrawaddy and Magway. According to the paper leaked from Ministry of Electricity and Energy, only 2 projects from Tharsi township, Mandalay, and Wartayar Township, Yangon have been bid for tender, and no company bid for the remaining 16 projects. Companies bidding for tender are crony U Tun Myint Naing owned Gold Energy Company, a subsidiary of Asia World Group, and Consortium of Zeya and Associated Co., Ltd. and Royal GK Pte. Ltd. 

 Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • USDP chair from Hpa-an District shot and killed in Karen State

On the morning of October 13, Kun Aung Kyaw Moe, the chairman of the Unity Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) from the Hpa-an District was reportedly shot and killed in his home. The incident took place in Tharmanya Village, 20 miles southeast of Hpa-an Town. The gunman pretended as a customer and visited the grocery shop attached to Kun Aung Kyaw Moe’s house before shooting him four times to death. Kun Aung Kyaw Moe, aged 46, had lost in the 2020 election representing USDP and he was appointed as a village administrator in the region for about three months after the coup. It is unknown which force had taken out this mission. There was also an attack on his house with a grenade about three months ago as a warning against cooperating with the military regime.  

  • Mingalardone Airforce attacked by PDF, Yangon

On the evening of October 14, the People’s Defense Forces (PDF) reportedly attacked the regime’s Mingalardone Airforce, Yangon with electric free-flight rockets. At least three shots were fired inside the aircraft maintenance and service station. The military also confirmed the news but there is no report of casualties or damages.

  • Traffic police station ambushed, chief died in Magway

The regional traffic police station located in Magway City was under attack on the night of October 14. Two gunmen stormed into the office and opened fire on the police chief Sein Win, who died on the spot with wounds in the head and chest. It’s unknown yet who carried out the operation.

  • Soldiers guarding MyTel Tower attacked in Mandalay

On the evening of October 15, the regime’s soldiers that had been manning the military-owned MyTel tower were attacked with a grenade in Mandalay City. At least one soldier was thought to be killed. Mandalay UG Wolf Army claimed responsibility for the assault that took place inside Dawna Compound.

  • Inspection gate targeted, a policeman killed in Pyawbwe, Mandalay Region

An explosion took place at an inspection gate outside the Pyawbwe Town, Mandalay Region on October 16, and a policeman was reportedly killed. Combined forces from Pyawbwe and Thazi townships carried out the mission with a grenade in the morning around 11.13 am at the north gate of the town where the police and soldiers usually collect money from the vehicles for “road tax”. The policeman died on the spot and no more casualties were reported.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Two youths tortured and killed in Kyunhla tsp, Sagaing Region

In Kyunhla Township, Sagaing Region, two youths working as cowherds were accused as PDF members and killed by the regime soldiers on October 12. The incident took place in a farm, 10 miles west of Kyunhla Town, where the soldiers abducted three in total and released a 7-year-old child later. The other two victims were severely tortured before being shot to death, according to the wounds found in their dead bodies which local PDF collected. One victim was 20-year-old Ko Kyaw Htet from Ngapyawtaw Village and the other cannot be identified yet.

  • Four burned bodies found In Htilin tsp, Magway Region

On October 13, Yaw Defense Forces (YDF) said they found four burned bodies in Htilin Township, Magway Region. The junta’s soldiers had ransacked Anout Phat Village, where the bodies were found, on October 11 and left two days later after burning the whole village to the ground. All bodies had their hands tied to chairs and as they were burned so badly, it’s not been possible to identify the victims. At least six villagers have been missing since the soldiers entered the village and these four could be some of them, according to local sources. The missing people are Aung Phyo Ko, aged 14, Mg Nyo Min, aged 17, Mg Hein Htet, aged 18, Ko Zin Min, aged 28, Ko Zin Tun, aged 33 and U Mg Aye, aged 57.    

  • Six businessmen detained in Taunggok, Rakhine State

On October 14, six residents from Taunggok Town, Rakhine State were abducted by the regime’s forces. The detainees were U Kyaw Yin, U Kyan Aung, U Kyar Ni Aung, U Tin Pe, U Than Nu and U Than Ngwe. U Kyaw Yin and U Tin Pe were released on the same day but the rest have been under detention since. All of them are said to be pure businessmen and not related to any resistance movement, according to local sources. Since September 17 one day after its navy ship was attacked in Taunggko, 17 civilians from the town have been kept under custody including these four.

  • Detained civilian died of torture wounds in Latpadan, Bago Region

On September 7, Ko Aung Zaw Min, the owner of the guitar and sunglasses store from Latpadaung, Bago Region was abducted by the regime’s soldiers under accusation of supporting PDF. Since then, Ko Aung Zaw Min had been placed inside the township police station and subject to torture and interrogation on daily basis. As days went by, his health deteriorated and he died of torture wounds on the early morning of October 14, one day after he was admitted to a hospital. According to local sources, Ko Aung Zaw Min was a simple businessman and he was targeted because his rival businesses were jealous of him. His dead body was cremated by the authority and the family was not allowed to see it.  

  • Regime’s forces burned down four villages in Chaung-U tsp, Sagaing Region

On October 15, the regime’s soldiers reportedly terrorized four villages in Sagaing Region before setting multiple houses ablaze. The villages targeted were Mhancho Village, Mahtithar Village, Ngalonetin Village, and Sinpyay Village, at least 8,000 people from such areas have been displaced. In addition, three villagers from Ngalonetin Village were caught in the fire and burned to death while one more civilian was abducted and tortured to death. A clash was also reported as the People’s Defense Forces (PDF) attempted to defend the villages, four rangers were killed by the heavy artillery.  

  • Victims from Latyatkone case still detained

It’s been a month since the regime’s forces conducted an airstrike on a school in Latyatkone Village, Depayin Township, Sagaing Region. At least seven children were killed during the aerial attack and six adults also died in the ground operation. Afterward, the soldiers took 11 children, 5 teachers, and 3 local villagers to their military station in Ye-U Township. Since then, they have been placed under detention and no news about their release is informed to the family. Some of the detainees still had fresh wounds from the attack when they were abruptly taken by the soldiers.

Armed Resistance  

  • PDF station attacked by airstrike, six killed in Wetlet tsp, Sagaing Region

A PDF station in Sagaing Region that had been utilized as a defense training school was attacked by the junta’s airstrikes on October 8 and several rangers reportedly died. The regime used two Mi 35 and two fighter jets to carry out the mission in the location, two miles southeast of Phayarlaykone Village, Wetlet Township. The aerial attack lasted 30 minutes before dropping about 100 troops for the ground operation. In the incident, six people, three rangers, and three civilians were killed and over 10 civilians were abducted. Several weapons were also seized. The assault came 24 hours after the NUG’s announcement of having anti-aircraft launchers in its possession.

  • Clash broke out in Banmauk, Sagaing-Kachin border

On October 11, a clash broke out between the coalition forces of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and PDF against the regime’s forces in Banmauk Township, Sagaing Region which connects with Kachin State. Since 6 am on that morning, the fight occurred near Narrmaw Village, 10 miles south of Banmauk Township. Both sides reportedly suffered multiple casualties, Inndaw PDF said they lost six men. No exact number of death was disclosed from the regime’s side although they were seen burying dead bodies on the same night.  

  • Three civilians killed and thirteen injured during shoot-out near Kyaithteeyo Hill, Mon State

On October 12, a shoot-out took place in the security gate near the foot of Kyaikhteeyo Hill in Mon State. The incident occurred around 10.40 am in the morning when the PDF members targeted the soldiers on security duty who decided to respond by shelling artillery indiscriminately into the neighborhood. As a result, civilians who were waiting at the bus gate to visit the pagoda were hit. Three women died on the spot and thirteen were injured. In the attack itself, three soldiers were killed. The regime had attempted to cover up the news and said that the PDF members killed those civilians, releasing CCTV footage that show only the scenes of the victims. The Karen National Union (KNU) released a statement that the regime killed and injured those civilians based on its own investigation.

  • PDF inspection gate attacked with drone in Pulaw tsp, Tanintharyi Region

An incident in Pulaw, Tanintharyi attests that the junta’s forces are not too proud to learn from their own enemies. On October 13, a Karen PDF (KPDF-Pulaw) inspection gate located four miles east of Pulaw Town was attacked with a bomb-carrying drone by the regime’s soldiers. Three bombs were dropped in total. No casualty was reported except one member who suffered minor injuries. On the same day, two military columns of the regime abducted about 20 civilians and used them as hostages as they conduct their operations between Myeik and Pulaw Road and Dawei and Htee Khee Road.

  • PDF security checkpoint ambushed, one killed and three abducted in Budalin tsp, Sagaing Region

On the morning of October 15, the regime’s forces raided a checkpoint of PDF in Dantaing Village, Budalin Town, Sagaing Region. About 80 troops stormed into the location and opened fire before leaving around 8 am. One ranger died on the spot and three members were abducted. Villagers have also fled their homes in fear for their lives.  

  • CDF shot and damaged regime’s helicopter in Kanpetlet tsp, Chin State

Chin Defense Force (CDF) said that it had managed to shoot a Mi17 helicopter of the regime on October 16. The chopper was on its way to transport reinforcement to Kanpetlet Town when CDF studied its fly zone. The rangers started opening fire on the second trip and seemingly damaged the fuel tank and a fan. No casualties have been reported so far. 

Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit, Irrawaddy, RFA, Human Rights Watch

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