Weekly Update: 041

Internal Politics 

  • Coup leader ordered all civil servants to sign NDA for any official directives

On November 26, Khit Thit media reported that coup leader Min Aung Hlaing ordered all government ministries and its staff members to sign non-disclosure agreements for any official document, and not to post on social media. There is no denying that minutes from the regime’s confidential meetings have been leaked on social media in the past year. A source from Naypyidaw told Khit Thit media that every member of civil services, including cleaners are required to sign the document, and that a collective punishment will be imposed for the entire department if any document leaks. 

  • Regime courts sentenced anti-regime activists 100+ years of imprisonment

Myanmar Now reported on November 25 that anti-regime protesters and resistance fighters in central region faced hundreds of years of jail time from junta courts. Former NLD parlimentarian U Win Myint Hlaing received 173 years of imprisonment from a court in Magway with alleged charges include incitement, associating with “terrorist organizations”, etc. Similarly, 29-year-old Ko Aung Khant Oo who is a member of Beikthano People’s Defense Army recieved 203 years of jail time for similar charges. Sources closed to these individuals said that the jail time increased because the junta courts included cases which happened after their arrest respectively. In Mandalay Region, court inside the Meikhtila Prison also sentenced two resistance fighters in similar manner in October. Ko Kyaw Thet, 30, has received 225 years of jail time and a death sentence while Ko Hnin Maung, 36, has been sentenced 95 years of imprisonment and a death sentence. A lawyer, who remains anonymous, talked to Myanmar Now that these sentences did not make sense, and the regime allowed it to threaten the public. 

  • Rakhine Chief Minister was denied medical care in Sittwe Prison

U Nyi Pu, Chief Minster of Rakhine State under the NLD administration, has been detained in Sittwe Prison since February 2021, and sentenced for more than 11 years of jail time. Suffering from cloudy vision, the family members are concerned of his vision since they have not met him in person since August. 

  • Sittwe-Yangon highway blocked, causing gasoline shortage

In Rakhine State, the military regime has blocked Sittwe-Yangon highway road since November 11. On the day before, the Arakan Army (AA) detonated a landmine against the military convoy which intensified the tension between the AA and the military, triggering the highway road block. Due to the blockage of the highway, gasoline tanker trucks were unable to enter the city and caused gasoline shortage in the city. Mizzima News reported that major gas stations were closed on November 26, making it difficult for civilians’ mobility.

  • KIA confirms that up to 161 casualties from Anang Pa airstrike attack

According to Myanmar Now’s report on November 24, Colonel Naw Bu of Kachin Independnece Army (KIA) said that about 100 people died at the aerial attack at Anang Pa on October 23 on the spot while about 60 people died in the aftermeth where medical aid were blocked by the regime. The data was last updated on November 1, said Colonel Naw Bu. The deceased included officials from Kachin Independence Organization, and Kachin business personnel. After the Anang Pa incident, arbitrary arrests and assasinations from both the regime and KIA sides were frequently reported in the news. 

  • AA announced a temporary ceasefire

The spokesperson from the Arakan Army (AA) announced that an informal ceasefire between the regime and AA has been negotiated. The main reason behind the agreement is the harvest season of the paddy fields, which is the key food supply in Rakhine State. However, the ceasefire decision does not change the political stance of AA, he added. The sudden ceasefire agreement came shortly after the visit of Hideo Watnanabe to Naypyitaw, the chairman of Japan-Myanmar association. 

International Affairs

  • Junta signed MoU with Russia to build nuclear power plants construction

On November 22, Russian state-owned Rosatom Energy Projects announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Republic of the Union of Myanmar at the ATOMEXPO-2022 in Sochi. The MoU was signed to cooperate the joint pre-feasibility study on nuclear power plants construction in Myanmar, using Russia’s small modular reactors technology, according to the statement from Rosatom. 

  • Foreign detainees talked to international media

Upon their release from Myanmar’s prisons, Australian economist Dr Sean Turnell and Japanese filmmaker Tobu Kubota talked to international media about their stay under the regime’s detention. Dr Sean Turnell talked to the Australian newspaper on November 22, sharing his experience where he exposed that he was kept in a solitary confinement before being moved to Insein prison, and infected with COVID for five times in 21 months of detention. While appreciating the support he received upon his release, Dr Turnell wrote on his Facebook that Myanmar people remain No. 1 victim as “the 53 million people in Myanmar continue to suffer under a regime that is about as unrepresentative of them as is possible to imagine”. He also described Min Aung Hlaing & Co as “knaves and fools”. On the other hand, filmmaker Kubota also talked to Turkish media TRT World about his experience which included the change of behaviors among the regime’s soldiers after having found Kubota’s previous work on the Rohingya. Although former British Ambassador Vicky Bowman, who was released on the day, has not made any public statement, she has been active on LinkedIn. 

  • WHO Chief to Myanmar presented his credentials to junta’s foreign minister

On November 23, junta administered Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued that its minister Wunna Maung Lwin received World Health Organization (WHO)’s representative to Myanmar Dr Thushara Eraj Indranah Fernando in Naypyidaw as the WHO chief presented his credentials. International organizations, especially aid provision NGOs, have been in a predicament after the coup as they face a decision whether to work with the junta. To this day, several internation organizations, including the United Naitons, have failed Myanmar people by choosing to work with the junta, and shaking their blood-soaked hands.

  • Indian officials meet the coup leader to discuss “cooperation on defence” 

On November 21, coup leader Min Aung Hlaing met Vinay Mohan Kwatra, a secretary from India’s Ministry of External Affairs, in Naypyidaw to discuss “coperation of defence” and “security, peace and tranquillity at the border region of both countries”. 

Business Matters

  • Australia’s ANZ Bank to exit Myanmar by early 2023

Australia’s ANZ Bank announced on November 22 that it will exit Myanmar by early 2023 due to increasing operational complexities in recent months. ANZ’s decision to leave Myanmar comes three weeks after the activist group Justice for Myanmar (JFM) revealed the bank’s dealings with Innwa Bank, a subsidiary of the military-owned Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC). ANZ which has been in Myanmar since 2015 will be the first foreign bank to do so in response to the FATF’s blacklisting of Myanmar (Financial Action Task Force).

  • SAC to investigate gold trading businessmen for withdrawing millions of Myanmar Kyats

State Administration Council (SAC) is planning to investigate seven gold trading businessmen for withdrawing millions of Myanmar Kyats (MMK). These seven businessmen have been allegedly withdrawing millions of cash from CB Bank and Myanmar Apex Bank since October. Therefore, SAC’s gold market regulation subcommittee instructed the Yangon field investigation team in a confidential letter to investigate them. According to the letter, a total of 490 million MMK have been withdrawn by them. The names of those businessmen have not been disclosed. It’s said that Myanmar Gold Association will officially announce after the investigation is completed.

  • Singapore the leading foreign investors in Myanmar for the past 7 months

Within the past 7 months, Singapore has invested in Myanmar for a total of 1.154 billion USD, and it is equivalent to 80% of total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). According to the statistical data from Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA), a total of 52 foreign investment businesses for a value of 1.451 billion USD, has entered into Myanmar market from April 1st to October 31st in the 2022-2023 financial year. Singapore is the leading foreign investor in Myanmar with 80%, followed by Hong Kong with over 160 million USD, China with over 90 million USD, Japan with over 21 million USD, South Korea with over 4 million USD, Taiwan with 3 million USD, Brazil with 1.5 million USD, and UK with 0.3 million USD respectively.

Humanitarian Affairs

  • About 385 Houses Torched in Sagaing Region’s Khin-U Township

Between November 18 and 20, a total of 385 houses from seven villages in Sagaing Region’s Khin-U Township were torched by junta troops within three days. More houses from the northern part of Khin-U continued to be torched on the morning of November 21 as well, a resident told RFA Burmese.

  • Junta Bulldozes Houses in Yangon and Mandalay Regions

The military council led by Min Aung Hlaing bulldozed some houses in five wards in Yangon’s Mingaladon Township on November 23 but a deadline for the demolitions was extended until November 25, said a resident. About 50 police and people in civilian clothes demolished houses and a monastery, the resident said. The wards are on farm land on which people had been permitted to live under a decision by Yangon’s Northern District Court in 2016. At least three residents of the wards have committed suicide since the order was issued to dismantle houses before the demolitions began. In Mandalay city’s Pyigyitagon Township’s (K) ward, the junta forces also demolished more than 1,200 houses with at least two bakho trucks on November 24, said the residents. At least 2,000 people are now homeless on the street and most of them were not able to take any of their belongings since the junta forces bulldozed houses, said a resident. The houses were demolished for encroaching on the land owned by the railway department and boundaries of irrigated land and electric tower, the residents told RFA Burmese. The houses destroyed reportedly ranged from solidly built houses to shacks. 

Protests & Fundraising 

  • Continuing protests across the country 

Protests across the country are still going strong, including in Myaing, Yinmarbin, Kalay, and Kani.

  • Myanmar citizens in Thailand gathered together for fundraising 

November 22: Myanmar citizens in Thailand gathered together and divided into two groups to raise funds for ongoing Myanmar’s revolution in Bangkok. This fundraising activity raised over 20,000 baht in total.

  • A resistance movie earn more than $17,000 for a 1-day showing 

November 22: A resistance movie by Director Ko Pauk was screened at the Ramallah-American Club in Jacksonville, United States and raised more than 17,000 USD. The proceeds will be donated to Myanmar’s ongoing revolution by coordinating with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) of the National Unity Government. 

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Pyu Saw Htee meeting ambushed, casualties reported in Pakokku tsp, Magway Region

On November 21, Pyu Saw Htee meeting was held in Anoutphonekan Village, north of Pakokku, Magway Region to recruit more people. It was raided and ambushed by hundreds of PDF soldiers from 15 local forces, leading to a 20-minute clash. Artillery shots were fired from both sides. At least four Pyu Saw Htee members were killed and several were injured according to a ranger. The meeting was organized by Pyu Saw Htee member Min Zaw Oo in order to strengthen their forces in Magway Region, who was recently discharged from the hospital for wounds in the battle between the regime forces and Myaing PDF on November 5.  

  • Regime soldiers guarding MEC Bank killed during bomb attack in Myinmu tsp, Sagaing Region

On the evening of November 22, a bomb attack was targeted at the regime soldiers on security duty at the state-owned Myanmar Economic Bank (MEB) in Myinmu, Sagaing Region. The soldiers were reportedly having drinks at the time of the attack and the bomb fell in the middle of them. At least five were killed and two were severely injured. Local resistance forces named Zero Guerilla Force and True Fighter coordinated the operation. Some rangers were also injured as the regime’s forces from a different location followed and opened fire on them on their way back after the mission.

  • Pyu Saw Htee members shot dead in Amarapura tsp, Mandalay Region

Pyu Saw Htee members/military informers Thein Min Tun and Min Swe from Amarapura Township, Mandalay Region were shot and killed by Myitnge People’s Defense Force (PDF). Thein Min Tun, also a hundred-household administrator of Fyautseikkone Village was shot and killed in front of his house on November 22 while the military informer Min Swe from Thayettan Village, Myitnge was shot seven times to death on the following day. Both of them had coordinated with the military forces, and at least four PDF members were arrested due to their tips.

  • Inspection gate blasted, four soldiers killed in Hmawbi, Yangon

On the morning of November 23, the inspection gate occupied by the regime’s soldiers near Thae Phyu Village, on No.4 Road between Yangon to Hmawbi was detonated by remote control, resulting in at least four deaths and many injured soldiers. Yangon Urban Guerrilla Army (YUGA) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Journalist sentenced to two years in jail

Ma Thuzar, a freelance journalist who has been detained by the regime since September 1, 2021 was sentenced to two years in prison by the military tribunal inside Insein Prison, Yangon on November 22. Ma Thuzar was charged with Sedition Act 505 A. Before she was located by the regime’s forces, her husband was arrested in her place and tortured for four days. Ma Thuzar was captured 3 months later and she was put through intense interrogation for a month before being sent to Insein Prison.

  • Monk and four youths who led non-violent protests given 3-year imprisonment in Mandalay

The military tribunal from Mandalay sentenced 3-year-imprisonment to U Kalayarna @ U Yaw, the 40-year-old prominent monk from Mandalay who led non-violent movements against the coup, and four youths such as 20-year-old Ko Nay Ye, 25-year-old Ko Pai Nwe Oo, 30-year-olds Ko Kaung Khant Zaw and Ko Hein Maung. They were arrested on the same day at the end of October and sentenced during the very first trial under the sedition act 505A, after being denied a proper legal consultation and defense.

  • SAC’s artillery killed a civilian and injured seven in Hpakant, Kachin State

On November 23, the regime’s military convoy was detonated with a landmine twice near Spot Village and Thaungkawt Village, Hpakant, Kachin State. Casualties were speculated by local sources but cannot be confirmed. As retaliation, the SAC soldiers from Hpakant Strategy Camp fired artillery toward the incident area at least six times. Those fell on Thaungkawt Village, destroying four houses and killing a 47-year-old villager named Ko Tar Tee on the spot while injuring at least seven more civilians. At the time of reporting, many villagers have fled their homes to escape more attacks.

  • Rail-way staff detained for sharing news about Min Aung Hlaing on Facebook

A 35-year-old clerk from Naypyitaw Central Railway Station was reportedly arrested on November 16 for sharing the news related to the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing on Facebook. His name is Ye Ko Ko and he apparently shared the news about a train nearly hitting Min Aung Hlaing’s motorcade earlier this month and how the engine driver was arrested for the case. Both news regarding the train and its driver were not confirmed by mainstream media but the arrest of Ye Ko Ko is verified. Ye Ko Ko is unwell, and he regularly has to take medications to take care of himself, now that his family is worried both for his health and their security.

  • Political prisoner stabbed by cellmate in Dawei, Tanintharyi Region

On November 26, a pollical prisoner named U Naing Oo, aged 50 was stabbed in his neck by his cellmate who had been sentenced for murder. U Naing Oo is now hospitalized and in critical condition. He has been charged with Sedition Act 505A and Anti-terrorism Act 52 for his political activism and sentenced to nine years in prison. Although prisoners of consciousness must be separated from normal convicts, he was forced to share a cell with a murderer and his life has been put in danger now.   

Armed Resistance

  • Cobra column ambushed by SAC, three rangers died, two missing in Myawaddy, Karen State

On the evening of November 22, the cobra column under Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) was ambushed by SAC soldiers during a routine supply trip which resulted in the loss of at least three rangers. The attack took place on Myawaddy-Wawley Road on their way back from shopping in Kyautkat Village.  SAC soldiers used auto machine guns and opened fire continuously on the truck that was carrying 12 rangers. Five escaped, three including a prominent supply ranger named Naw Al Mu were killed, two including a pregnant woman were injured and two were still missing.

  • SAC conducted airstrikes on Sagaing-Kachin border for three days

Since November 21, SAC soldiers have been reportedly bombing the regions on the border of Sagaing Region and Kachin State from the sky. They are said to be targeting the villages where the PDF and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) are most active. On the afternoon of November 22, a bomb fell between Oungthoung and Inpin villages at the west of Indaw Township, but no casualty was reported. On the same day, Pamone Village in Banmauk Township and Darwal Village close to KIA’s headquarter in Mohnyin Township were also bombed. Villagers were injured in the latter incident. The aerial attacks were increased after the battle on November 18 that saw 20 deaths from the junta’s army, according to Indaw PDF.

  • Six members killed by PSDA for desertion in Muse, Shan State

On the evening of November 23, six rangers from People Security & Defence Army (PSDA) were killed by their fellow crew for deserting the force in Muse, Shan State. Fourteen people in total left the force after questioning the administration and the use of funds. They were all attacked by their former comrades on that night, six were killed, four were arrested with wounds and four escaped. The dead victims were Ko Raw, Ko Kyaw Kyaw, Ko Hlaing Gyi, Ko Mhone Daing, Ko Nay Gyi, and Ko Mg Zaw, all of them are younger than 30. The pictures circulated on social media showed dozens of bullet wounds in each dead body. PSDA released a statement that they were attempting to recruit them back to the camp and the victims responded with violence first hence such a clash was ignited.

  • Eight including a child killed during SAC’s raid in Khin-U tsp, Sagaing Region

On November 23, the junta’s forces raided and carried out a ground clearance operation in Monhla Village, Khin-U Township, Sagaing Region. SAC used 80 troops on ground in addition to artillery and airstrikes. During the raid, a nine-year-old child was shot and killed by the aerial attack, a 40-year-old woman was killed by artillery and six members of PDF were also killed while trying to defend the ground.

  • SAC convoys detonated with landmines several times, dozens killed in Chaung U tsp, Sagaing Region

On November 25, the regime’s forces traveling from Monywa to Sagaing were detonated with landmines up to seven times by Chaung U PDF. The attacks destroyed eight trucks and killed at least 21 soldiers including a commander. No one from the resistance forces was harmed, however, in preparing for such blasts a day prior, five rangers were killed and four were injured by an accident while setting up the explosives.

  • Clash intensified in Myawaddy, Karen State as SAC attempted to occupy Thay Baw Boe Station

Since November 21, SAC’s forces have been reportedly intensifying their offensive to take back control of Thay Baw Boe Station from KNLA. SAC’s battalion unit 44 has mounted attacks on the station that is located near the Thaungyin River between Thailand and Myanmar. They have used ground missions, artillery, and airstrikes in the clash. A villager was injured by artillery on the evening of November 24.  

Others 

  • Myanmar listed among the 10 countries with worst labor rights

Myanmar has been named one of the world’s ten worst countries for violations of labor rights. It was stated in the International Trade Union Confederation’s Global Labor Rights Index for 2022. (ITUC). Myanmar was not included in this list prior to the coup, but it has been mentioned in this list for two years in a row since the coup in 2021.

  • Female sex workers abducted by junta forces go missing in Mon State

Female sex workers in Mon State have gone missing after being forced to leave with junta forces from illegal massage parlours and brothels, said women’s affairs activists. Members of junta forces force the women to accompany them after negotiating with their bosses or by threatening them with their weapons, activists said. An activist said some sex workers have not returned to work after being forced to accompany junta forces and there were concerns about their safety because their whereabouts were unknown. Currently, about four or five women are reported to be missing. According to the activist, the owners of karaoke lounges or massage parlors cannot stop junta forces from taking their workers. If a worker goes missing under such circumstances, the owner will say the women fled. Owners dare not ask junta forces where they have taken the women, the activist added. A sex worker said owners have to pay bribes of more than 1 million Myanmar kyats to junta forces to provide sexual services, adding that junta forces never pay for sex. There are about 800 female sex workers in Mon State and most are facing difficulty making a living because of a 12pm to 4am curfew imposed by the junta.

Sources: Khit Thit, Myanmar Now, Mizzima, RFA, DVB, Ayeyarwaddy Times, Than Lwin Times, Frontier Myanmar

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