Weekly Update: 038

by mohingamatters

Internal Politics

  • Junta attempts to restore stability by releasing some officials and local celebrities

This week, local celebrities who were detained in the early days of the coup were released from prisons which included beauty blogger Win Min Than, and young fortune-teller Lin Nyo Taryar. On October 28, the NLD’s Minister for Planning and Finance U Soe Win, who received three years of imprisonment together with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Dr Sean Turnell under Official Secrets Act, was released from Yamethin Prison. Again on October 26, the former heads of Union Election Commission U Hla Thein and U Myint Naing were released from the same prison. However, U Than Htay, another UEC member who was arrested on the same time with the prior two, remains imprisoned. Political analyst U Than Soe Naing analyzed that the junta released these experts because it thought they were not threatening to the regime, and by releasing them, the regime frames to restore peace and stability. He continued that these moves are the regime’s attempt to “look good” on the international stage, pretending that its courts make fair judgements. 

  • Prisons resumed parcel delivery after an 11-day suspension

Following the parcel bomb on October 19, Insein Prison resumed parcel delivery for inmates on October 31 after the 11-day suspension. However, the prison management has restricted only family members who are officially registered on the household registration are allowed to sending packages to inmates. Mandalay’s  Obo Prison has also resumed parcel delivery for its inmates. According to Myanmar Now’s report, inmates from different prisons across the country faced difficulties with food and medicines due to the poor conditions inside the prisons.

International Affairs

  • Australia considers imposing sanctions on Myanmar

On November 3, Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong said, in Thailand, that the country considers imposing sanctions on Myanmar as security and human rights situations worsen in the country. However, the FM did not provide a specific timeframe. She also said that while considering sanctions on Myanmar, advocating for the immediate release of Dr Sean Turnell remains the utmost importance for the country. 

  • Myanmar ranked 8th on Global Impunity Index 2022 by the CPJ

On November 1, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released its 2022 Global Impunity Index, where Myanmar made its first appearance on the list and ranked eighth position. The CPJ’s report stated that since the coup on February 1, 2021, Myanmar junta has imprisoned dozens of journalists, and killed at least three journalists, namely Aye Kyaw and Soe Naing. This is Myanmar’s second time to be in CPJ’s reports. In the prison census reported by the CPJ on December 1, 2021, Myanmar was named the “second-worst jailer of journalists” with China ranking the first. 

Business Matters

  • Report reveals the supply chain of aviation fuels contributing to the junta’s war crimes

On November 3, Amnesty International released a report named “Deadly Cargo: Exposing the supply chain that fuels war crimes in Myanmar” which discloses how international oil and gas companies which sell aviation fuel to Myanmar ended up contributing to the junta’s air force. Although the Jet A-1 aviation fuels are used for commercial aircraft, the leaked documents indicate that the fuels are used by the Myanmar air force. The report also revealed that the Myanmar military has conducted 16 dozen aerial attacks which targeted civilians. 

  • Worries grew over rice trade restriction in Dawei

As the harvesting season approaches, fears grow among farmers in Dawei from Tanintharyi Region that they would not be able to sell their paddy crops due to SAC’s restriction on rice trading. Since the last 8 months, SAC has prohibited rice trading to Dawei and banned trading of more than 7 rice bags. Volunteers helping the people in need said that SAC’s restriction on rice trading is to cut off the rations for PDF, but currently, internally displaced people (IDP) due to the ongoing civil war are the primary victims. Local rice mill factory owners are mainly buying rice from Launglone, Thayatchaung, Yayphyu to import into Dawei city, but there are restrictions at multiple checkpoints such as Pauktine checkpoint, Kamyawkin checkpoint, Byawtawwa checkpoint, and Eainshaytpyin checkpoint. A farmer based in Launglone said that such restriction would bear extra burdens for farmers who needed financing for their farming businesses.

  • Foreign banks in relation with military-owned banks under investigation

From the papers leaked from Distributed Denial of Secrets, banks from Australia, including ANZ, have been conducting business with the local banks owned by the military. Justice for Myanmar publicized that based upon the leaked papers and documents, Hong Kong-based insurance business used one of the four biggest banks in Australia, ANZ, to transfer money to Myanmar Economics Corporation (MEC) owned Innwa bank in 2021 August and September. According to the statement from October 2nd, Malaysian company edotco which is leasing telecommunication towers for MyTel also does business transactions with Innwa Bank through ANZ in 2021 April and June. Likewise, UOB from Singapore, one of the largest banks in Southeast Asia, is also a part of business transactions between the Chinese shipping line and MEC in 2021 June and July. A spokesperson from ANZ told Al Jazeera that ANZ is closely monitoring the situation in Myanmar. He further added that ANZ will follow the existing judiciary rules of local area, and regulations from the United Nations and European Unions.

  • Economists critical of the junta leader’s speech on trade surplus

Economists criticized the junta leader in his speech that there has been a trade surplus of USD 35.51 million from April – September 2022 caused by SAC. During the meeting on October 1 in Naypyitaw, the junta chief Min Aung Hlaing said that there was a trade surplus of USD 35.51 million in the last six months. An economist analyzed the situation that the military coup resulted in the decline of both exports and imports, and it is obvious when making comparison studies with the recent years. The junta reduced the quota for imports although both exports and imports are declining. Hence, although the exports have not been much, are still much higher than imports which is a forced situation by the SAC, and is not the optimal situation.

  • Junta’s incentive of MMK 30 for every US dollar transferred will fail, say Expatriates

A junta move aimed at forcing remittances to be sent to authorized banks by paying K30 for every US dollar transferred will fail, say Myanmar expatriates. The Central Bank of Myanmar said the incentive took effect on November 1. However, Myanmar migrant workers said most expatriates would not remit their salaries through official banking channels. A migrant worker told DVB that many Myanmar migrant workers have resorted to relying on the hundi system due to junta changing of the banking system in which US dollars income is to be converted right away to kyat at the official rate. Previously, migrant workers transferred their salaries through banks in recent years because of transparency. Some researchers have said the country’s migrant workers were remitting more than K80 billion to Myanmar a year in previous years.

Humanitarian Affairs

  • Number of children displaced in Myanmar crosses half million mark, says Save the Children

Save the Children said on November 1 that the number of children forced to flee their homes in Myanmar has surpassed half a million. It said that more than 1.4 million people including 520,000 children have been displaced by the conflict in Myanmar- with 1.1 million forced to flee since the coup on February 1, 2021. Of the total 407,000 children have been displaced since the coup and about 257,000 children or 63% have been displaced in the past nine months. It also said half a million Rohingya children who have been living in camps in neighboring Bangladesh for more than five years are not included in the figures. Olivier Franchi, its Asia Programme Director said that ASEAN must use their upcoming November Leader’ Summit to come up with a concrete plan of action to resolve the crisis in Myanmar and urged the UN Security Council to hold an open meeting on Myanmar and to urgently pass a strong resolution to protect the rights of children.

  • Hundreds of undocumented Myanmar nationals arrested by Thai police

Thailand has boosted security along the Thaungyin River that forms the border with Myanmar’s Myawaddy Township following a sharp increase in the number of Myanmar being arrested for illegal entry, said Thai news reports. The Thai move came after hundreds of Border Guard Force troops began patrolling Myawaddy town in a conspicuous display of increased security following heavy fighting on the Kawkareik-Myawaddy section of the Asia Highway. The Thai reports quoted sources as saying that fighting in areas along the border often resulted in an increase in arrests of Myanmar for illegal entry. Labor affairs activists said more than 1,000 Myanmar had been arrested by Thai security forces at factories, houses and apartment buildings in Mae Sot, opposite Myawaddy, between October 19 and 23. They said the Myanmar were undocumented, but some had applied for the identity documents known as “pink” cards that are issued by the Thai authorities to migrant workers. The arrests began on October 19, said Ko Thar Gyi, a labor affairs activist based in Mae Sot, the largest city of Tak Province, which borders Kayin State. He said some of the undocumented Myanmar had applied for pink cards on August 1.

  • Medical Action Myanmar Dismisses about 90 Medical Staff on CDM Movement

Non-government organization Medical Action Myanmar is reported to have dismissed about 90 of its medical personnel who joined the Civil Disobedience Movement after the coup by paying them MMK 3 million in compensation so it could sign a memorandum of understanding with the junta on extending its work in Myanmar, MAM staff said. They said MAM had recruited the CDM medical personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic last year. MAM was founded by Dr Frank Smithuis and Dr Ni Ni Tun in 2011 and its website says it has 1,200 medical and support staff throughout the country.

Protest & Fundraising

  • Continuing protests across the country

Anti-regime protesters continued to march on the streets, depending on the security situations. This week, young protesters in Yangon held the banner which read “You may kill the revolutionist, but not the revoulution”, and dispersed quickly afterwards. In Kalay Town of Sagaing Region, protesters gathered at night to pray for those who lost their lives in Anang Pa airstrikes, and encouraged the public to accelerate the revolution.

  • The revolution film raised USD 40,000 for the PDFs

The Road Not Taken, a film made in the liberated area, has raised USD 40,000 from its screenings in Los Angeles, US. The LA-based Myanmar community said the funds will be donated to People’s Defense Force (PDF) soon. The film, based on the true story of a defected solider, was made by Director Ko Pauk, and has been screened in major cities of the world such as New York, Los Angeles in the US, London in the UK, etc. 

  • Fundraising football match in Bangkok raised THB 75,000

On October 31, BTS brothers and Thai-based representative of the Myanmar Royal Dragon Army (MRDA) organized a football match in Bangkok to raise fund for the MRDA. Bo Nagar, the leader of MRDA, gave a speech prior to the match, which raised Thai Bhat 75,000 (approx: USD 2000).

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Regional administration office attacked with bomb in Myitkyina, Kachin State

On the evening of October 30, an explosion occurred in the compound of the junta’s regional administration office in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State. Local sources said that the blast was so powerful that it could be heard from a 10-mile radius. The CCTV control area and a staff housing next to the compound suffered damages due to the bomb attack. It remains unknown who carried out the mission, which is said to be the biggest attack in Myitkyina after a similar explosion in a court last year.    

  • Bombing killed dozen of Pyu Saw Htee members in Ayadaw tsp, Sagaing Region

On the morning of November 3, a funeral service that was being held for Pyu Saw Htee leader who died of a detonation attack two days earlier was ambushed with drone-bombing by the resistance forces in Thalaebar Village, Ayadaw Township, Sagaing Region. At least 15 members of the regime-sponsored militia were reportedly killed and about 20 more were injured by the bombing carried out via five drones. The mission was led by Zero Guerilla Force (Myingyan) in coordination with local resistance forces such as Danger Force, BRA, MRTF, Zarmani and Nagani (Kyaukse).

  • AA detained regime’s police chief in Taunggoke tsp, Rakhine State

On the afternoon of November 4, the junta’s police officer in chief from Ma-Ei Town, Taunggoke Township, Rakhine State was detained by the Arakan Army (AA) members in a donation event held by the general administrative office of the regime. AA members were reportedly in plain clothes and at least six of them surrounded the police office at lunch and escorted him out of the event. Also on August 1, a police lieutenant named Tun Shwe Mg from the same station was held under custody by AA.

  • Thailand seized the assets of arms broker for SAC   

Thai government reportedly seized the assets of U Tun Min Latt, the notorious arms dealer for the State Administration Council (SAC) that are worth around USD 47 million in the forms of cash, luxury, hotel, and resorts in Thailand. It came more than a month after the man was arrested by Thai police and Narcotics Control Board. The Thai police chief said that U Tun Min Latt had been monitored since 2019, who is said to be an associate of the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing and is now charged with money laundering and drug trafficking in Thailand. Justice for Myanmar (JFM), an independent watchdog, reported in April that Tun Min Latt is the main person for the procurement of weapons from Israel and China for the regime.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • A monk and four youths abducted for non-violent protest in Mandalay

On October 30, news came in from Mandalay that a monk leader of Thanga Union named U Kalayarna and four youths such as Ko Paing New Oo, Ko Nay Ye, Ko Hein Maung and Ko Oak were abducted by the military forces. All of them were said to have held together non-violent protests against the regime. According to reports, Ko Oak was first detained by the regime soldiers and then U Kalayarna’s monastery was raided. All detainees were in the excellent health and they are now feared for their survival due to the notorious interrogation conducted by SAC.

  • Doctor and nurses on CDM abducted for supporting medicine to PDF in Mandalay

On October 27, a truck transporting goods was stopped and questioned by the regime soldiers on Sagaing-Gantgaw Road and it was found out that the truck was carrying items such as medicine, food, and clothes for the People’s Defense Forces (PDF). Following the incident, a doctor and four nurses from Mandalay were detained by SAC with the accusation that they were the ones responsible for delivering that aid package. The victims are Dr Min Zaw Oo @ Nay Myo Oo, lecturer of Mandalay Medical University, Daw Zin Mar Win, Daw Poe Thandar Aung, Daw Kyi Thadar Phyu, and Daw Yoon Nandar Tun, all of them are participating in Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). Follow-up reports said that about a dozen of medical staff has been arrested in relation to this case.

  • Orphanage raided and sealed off for associating with PDF, leaving children homeless in Mandalay

A Christian orphanage located in Sa Lone Ward, Pyigyitagon Township, Mandalay was forced to close by the regime soldiers, leaving children homeless and helpless on November 2. On that night, the junta’s forces arrived in multiple numbers, and raided the building, ordering the children to carry their things and leave the place before they sealed it. They also placed a notice in front of the building that reads “This land/building is sealed off for supporting the terrorist PDF”. It’s unknown whether it’s true or not, however, the children have been put on the streets overnight with no place to live.

  • Three including pregnant woman arrested in place of wanted person in Nyaunglaypin tsp, Bago Region

On the evening of November 2, the regime soldiers arrested three family members of a young person who was accused of involving in an attack that took place earlier on the day in Pazunmyaung Village, Nyaunglaypin Township, Bago Region. The attack took place inside the ward administrator’s house and, injured family members. Three hours later, SAC soldiers raided a house in the village and as they couldn’t locate the young man they wanted, they instead took his pregnant wife, father, and a family member. The woman was released a day later but two others were still kept under custody.

  • Regime’s artillery killed two in Kantbalu tsp, Sagaing and injured four students in Kutkai, Shan State

On November 3, artillery fire from the regime fell on a house in Zeekanarr Village, Kantbalu Township, Sagaing Region. The 12-year-old Mg Paing Shin Mhuu was killed on the spot with a head injury and his 68-year-old grandma died the next day with a wound in the chest. The house was also burned, and the rest of the people were terribly hurt including a 7-year-old girl. On the same day across another region, SAC’s forces shelled artillery into a seminary of Kachin Baptist Church (KBC) in Kutkai Town, Shan State, injuring four students. There was no active battle in the area and locals believed it was a deliberate provocation from the regime.

  • Political prisoner/artist had jaw broken during dispute in Insein Prison

A painter named Ko Hlaing Nyi @ Ko Kyaw Thu Myint was beaten badly by convicts inside Insein Prison following an argument. It was reported that Ko Hlaing Nyi requested to meet authorities to see an issue solved and it was not taken well by the cell leader who is normally ordered by the warden to oppress the political prisoners. The cell leader and his followers beat up the artist, breaking his jaw in the process before moving him to another cell. Ko Hlaing Nyi was later sent to the hospital for a head injury. The painter was arrested in March 2021 for allegedly attacking policemen and he was also one of 89 people that were tortured for participating in the silent strike inside Insein Prison in December last year.

Armed Resistance

  • Twenty-one members of PDF arrested in Yangon

The junta’s propaganda media released news on November 3 that SAC had abducted 21 members of PDF along with weapons during the week of October 18 to 24 in Dala Township, Yangon. The detainees included four women and they were accused of four robberies and six attacks. Yangon UG Association (YUA) said that the arrests were confirmed but the accusations were not true, especially with robberies.

  • SAC moved to control Moebye-Loikaw Road between Shan and Kareeni (Kayah) States

In an attempt to control the road between Moebye and Loikaw towns, a strategic route for food supply and reinforcement to Shan and Karenni (Kayah) states, the regime’s forces conducted an offensive near Saung Kan Village in the east of Pekon Lake in the last days of October. In the three-day clash, two PDF rangers were killed and at least 10 more were injured due to SAC’s artillery. It’s unknown how many of the junta’ soldiers were killed although there were some casualties. A coalition of Pekon PDF, Karenni Nationality Defense Force (KNDF), Urban Revolutionary Front (URF) joined forces in the clash.

  • Thirty SAC soldiers killed and four PDF member abducted in Kantbalu tsp, Sagaing Region

According to Kantbalu PDF, about 30 soldiers of the regime were killed from October 22 to November 2 due to detonation and drone attacks. Troops along with fellow Pyu Saw Htee members were targeted as they were terrorizing villages located in the northeast of Kantbalu Township. They were witnessed robbing and burning in those areas.  Four members of PDF were also abducted during missions and could not be contacted since then.

  • Weapons seized by Thai police in Maesot

On November 5, Thai police raided a house that was leased to a Myanmar national in Maesot, Thai-Myanmar border town controlled by Thailand, and seized at least 59 guns that were to be transported to the liberated areas of Myanmar. According to news, the order of the raid came directly from Bangkok. The Myanmar national tenant is also said to be under custody now and more arrests of related individuals are expected.

  • Five rangers and one civilian killed during SAC’s offensive in Pauk tsp, Magway Region

On November 1, five members of PDF were shot and killed by the regime’s forces as they were moving in a truck to conduct a guerilla attack near Saypingyi Village, Pauk Township, Magway Region. The rangers were carrying hand-made artillery to stop the military’s offensive in Myaing Township and they ran into the troops on the way who opened fire first and killed five of seven on board. The same military unit shot and killed a civilian on their route. The victim was 27-year-old Ko Zaw Min Oo from Latkhotepin Village, Myaing Township, Magway Region.

  • Five including a commander from SAC killed during clash in Yaw, Magway Region

Yaw Defense Force (YDF) said that it attacked the military unit of SAC that had been terrorizing and burning villages in the Yaw Area, Magway Region and killed five including a commander. The clash broke out when the 100-troop unit arrived four miles from Parmyin Village.  The troops approached the village in small groups and 8-men team was ambushed by YDF that saw at least five deaths. 

Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit, DVB,Irrawaddy, RFA Burmese, Ayeyarwaddy Times, Eleven, Save the Children 

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