Weekly Update: 043

Folks, we are back with yet another weekly update. This week was eventful both inside and outside of Myanmar. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was visited by a couple of NLD members regarding the resumption of the NLD, to which the lady said no. This week has also been unfortunate for the Rohingya community as they faced devastating fate during their journey to freedom. On the international stage, the US House passed the BURMA Act which is designed to support the resistance groups with non-lethal aid. Read our full weekly wrap-up below:

Internal Politics

  • Two NLD members requested DASSK’s permission to enter in 2023 election

On November 23, former NLD parliamentarian Daw Sandar Min, and a member from Ayeyearwaddy Region U Toe Lwin visited Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the prison. The regime did not give prior notice to the detained leader for the arranged meeting. Daw Sandar Min and U Toe Lwin requested to reopen NLD offices and to enter the upcoming election held by the military council. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi denied the requests and asked not to come back.

  • Junta to sue former KBC leader

On December 5, the former leader of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) Dr Hkalam Samson was detained at Myitkyina Airport in Kachin State. He was arrested on his way to Bangkok, Thailand where he planned to take medical treatment. On the next day, four representatives from KBC were summoned to the Northern Command and were told that Dr Samson will be sued due to his crimes although the exact charges were not disclosed to the KBC representatives yet. 

  • Obo prison limits package delivery for Dr Zaw Myint Maung

On December 8, Myanmar Now reported that the prison management limited the parcel allowance for Mandalay Chief Minister Dr Zaw Myint Maung who is detained in Mandalay Obo prison. Starting in December, his family was told to deliver parcels only once in every two weeks, and only one package in each delivery. Initially, the delivery was allowed once a week, and two packages in each visit, hence, the new rule cuts half the original allowance. Dr Zaw Myint Maung suffers from leukaemia, and his family told Myanmar Now that medical supplies are allowed to deliver with no restriction.

  • Rohingyas in the Andaman Sea were rescued and handed over to the junta

More than 150 Rohingya people who were drifting in the Andaman Sea were rescued by a Vietnam oil vessel and handed over to Myanmar coastal guards, controlled by the military regime. The vessel that Rohingya embarked on left Bangladesh on November 25, and began to leak in early December when the occupants faced a shortage of food as they were stranded. They en routed to Malaysia according to Myanmar Now’s report, and at least five passengers died due to the food shortage. 

  • 13 dead bodies of Rohingya men found in Yangon outskirt

Junta-appointed local authorities told Myanmar Now that 13 dead bodies of Rohingya men were found on the side of the road between Mingalardon and Hlegu townships of the Yangon Region on December 5. The deceased were aged between 16-20 and said to have passed away due to insufficient oxygen since there was no external wound. Another source told Myanmar Now that young men were trafficked in a car due to the regime’s restriction on the movement of Rohingya people. Due to the 2012 Rakhine Conflict, Rohingya are placed in IDP camps that authorities have built, and their rights to movement have been taken away. However, they have attempted to travel to Thailand and Malaysia, and get arrested in the process. 

International Affairs

  • NUG Minister delivered a speech at the EU parliament

U Aung Myo Min, the National Unity Government (NUG)’s Minister for Human Rights, delivered a speech at the EU parliament on 9 December. He was welcomed by Vice-President Heidi Hautala and was recognized as the legitimate representative of the Myanmar people. In this speech, U Aung Myo Min presented four points: 1) the ASEAN’s five-point consensus is not working, and ASEAN alone cannot help Myanmar’s crisis; 2) the international community must recognize the NUG as the legitimate authority, 3) economic sanctions must be broader and must include aviation fuel imports which help the regime to implement airstrikes; and 4) humanitarian aid must be delivered through the NUG and ethnic groups. 

  • US House passed BURMA Act; the Senate’s vote is expected within weeks

On December 8, the US House of Representatives approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which included the BURMA Act with new amendments. The amended BURMA Act allows the US government to impose sanctions on the military regime, and provide the pro-democracy opposition and resistance groups with non-lethal aid. The BURMA Act, together with the NDAA, will become law only if both the House and the Senate approve. The House previously passed the unamended bill in 2021 April, however, the Senate did not vote on it. The Senate’s vote is expected to take place within weeks according to Myanmar Now’s report.

  • Three military entities were listed in the latest UK sanctions

On December 9, the UK Foreign Secretary announced a list of sanctions which targets corrupt actors, those who violate and abuse human rights, and perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict. Among individuals and entities across the globe, Myanmar military entities were listed for “committing systematic atrocities against the people of Myanmar, including massacre, torture, and rape”. Namely, the Office of the Chief of Military and Security Affairs is placed under sanctions for committing torture, rape and sexual violence during interrogation since the coup while the 33rd and 99th Light Infantry Division for its clearance operations in Rakhine State in 2017 where the members committed attacks including sexual violence. The latest wave of sanctions is to mark International Anti-Corruption Day and Human Rights Day. 

  • Switzerland invited the junta’s representatives to the development summit and faced criticisms

On December 7, the rights group Justice for Myanmar (JFM) called on the Switzerland government for inviting the junta to Effective Development Cooperation Summit which will be held from December 12 to 14 in Geneva. JFM’s media release exposed that the regime’s deputy minister for investment and foreign economic relations Dr Wah Wah Maung was invited by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) via Myanmar’s permanent mission in Geneva, which is currently controlled by the regime. JFM also pointed out that Swiss Ambassador Tim Enderlin held a meeting with the regime’s minister Ko Ko Hlaing earlier in the week, providing legitimacy to the military regime. Following the criticism, the SDC responded that it invited all permanent missions in Geneva to register generally, and that the Summit is open to representatives of governments accredited by the UNGA, which excluded Myanmar currently. 

Business Matters

  • Real estate agents must apply for registration certificates, SAC ordered

General Administrations Department (GAD) under the regime released an official statement 1/2022 on November 9 that real estate agents must apply for registration certificates from GAD in order to officially work as real estate agents. GAD further added that a real estate registration certificate is required in order to prevent money laundering in Naypyitaw, other states and regions, and self-administering zones.  A real estate agent from Shwe Pyi Thar spoke to Mizzima News that real estate agents will now need to attend training courses from relevant organizations, and only after receiving the certificate, can they officially work as real estate agents. Moreover, they must apply to be a member at  Myanmar Real Estate Development Association, in order to be eligible to attend anti-money-laundering courses as well. With these certificates, they must apply for a real estate license in GAD.   

  • SAC further co-operated economic activities together with Russia

Although SAC has been trying to improve the economic situation in Myanmar through co-operating business activities with Russia, economic researchers pointed out that it will not help much in improving the overall country’s economy. Min Aung Hlaing, the chairman of SAC, met with the minister of Economic Development of Russia Maxim Reshetnikov on December 5 at Naypyitaw. SAC announced that discussions were made to improve the overall economic cooperation between the two countries. To improve the tourism industries of the two countries, both parties discussed the expansion of direct flight options for Myanmar-Russia and vice versa. Furthermore, they discussed cooperation in the Energy and Mineral Sectors, and the formation of Myanmar-Russia associations. Despite the ambitious plans, economic researchers pointed out that investment from Russia alone will not be enough for the recovery of the overall Myanmar economy. Currently, SAC is under economic sanctions across international organizations, and Russia, also, is facing a similar situation. Therefore, it is not very likely that these two countries, which are heavily hit by sanctions, can improve their economic situations through cooperation.

  • Sacked garment workers from Adidas shoe factory will resolve their issue in Naypyitaw

Irrawaddy News reported that workers from the Bao Qing factory, which manufactures Adidas shoes, in Shwe Pyi Thar township, Yangon will resolve the issues of their 26 staff being terminated from the factory at the labor office in Naypyitaw. In the last week of October, Bao Qing Factory workers demanded factory raise their daily wage from 4800 Myanmar Kyats (MMK) to 8000 Myanmar Kyats due to inflation. Instead, the factory decided to fire 26 workers among over 2,000 protesters. According to Myanmar law, a factory cannot fire anyone while workers are negotiating with it. However, the factory still went ahead with its decision, firing the staff who led the protest. Due to the factory’s unfair actions, the workers are now planning to resolve this issue in the Naypyitaw labor office.

  • More than 1,000 migrant workers in Laukkai return home 

Residents of Laukkai said that on December 6, more than a thousand migrant workers left due to the news that there would be a fight in Laukkai, Kokang, an autonomous administrative division. Workers from all over Myanmar come to work in hotels, restaurants, and gambling businesses in Laukkai City on the China-Myanmar border. Residents said that news of an impending battle between the Junta and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) is spreading across Laukkai.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Regime soldiers met with explosion on their way to seal off PDF’s house in Kalay tsp, Sagaing Region

The junta’s army reportedly planned to seize and seal off the house of a People’s Defense Force (PDF) soldier in Sagaing Region last week. Apparently, the ranger in question and her comrades received the information beforehand hence they set up a bomb that exploded once the soldiers came in, killing and injuring many of them. The ranger is currently serving under Battalion Unit.6 PDF-Kalay. She has recently lost her parents and she burned down the only house she inherited from them to get back the regime soldiers.

  • Blasts reported in Yangon

At least three attacks on the junta’s forces were reported on December 10. In the afternoon around 3.45 pm, the soldiers on security duty at the electricity supply office in Hlaing Township were attacked with a grenade. Three urban guerilla forces Emerald Girls Army (EGA), Freeland Attack Force (FLA), and Revolution of 21 Century coordinated the blast. And on the evening around 8.30 pm, the staff housing of Hlaing Thaya Police Station was blasted with remote control by the War of Hunter Revolution Force (WHO). Around the same time, Last Battle PDF and Dark Shadow UG attacked the air force’s officers’ housing with grenades.

  • Military-owned telecom Mytel tower targeted in Paukkaung tsp, Bago Region

Mytel telecom, the joint venture between the Vietnamese military and Myanmar military, has been targeted several times since the coup. The last incident took place in Paukkaung Township, Pyay District, Bago Region. Two local resistance forces blasted the communication tower of Mytel in the west Kaung Si Village with five landmines on the early morning of December 10. All rangers retreated safely after the blast.

  • SAC’s lapdogs attacked in Mandalay and Tanintharyi regions

On the evening of December 10 around 7.45 pm, Wundwin Township Revolution Force (WTRF) conducted an operation, taking out the military informer/ Pyu Saw Htee member Mg Shein in Thaetawlay Village, Wundwin Township, Mandalay Region. Mg Shein was notorious in the area for bullying, blackmailing, and torturing the public with help from the junta’s army. On the same day in Tanintharyi Region, Spring Dhamman PDF (KLA) raided a policeman’s house in Kalai Aung, Ye Phyu Township, Tanintharyi Region, initiating a 30-min back and forth firings against the security soldiers. The policeman in question Ye Win Tun was reportedly trading drugs and harassing people and hence he was targeted as such.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • NLD party member brutally murdered in Pwint Phyu tsp, Magway Region

Another member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party was murdered in Pwint Pyu Township, Magway Region. On December 4, the victim U Win Htay and his family were stopped by the regime soldiers for questioning on their way back from a medical check-up and they were let go since nothing suspicious was found. However, they were stopped again by a group of armed people about five miles west of Monechaung River and U Win Htay was taken against his will. On the following day, the 45-year-old man’s dead body was found two miles away from where he was first taken. His body bore multiple torture signs, cuts, and beaten wounds.

  • Youth killed within 36 hours interrogation center in Lewe tsp, Naypyitaw

A 19-year-old Ko Phone Myat Ko was abducted by the regime soldiers on the evening of December 1 under suspicion of a bombing near the police station on the same day. And he was reportedly killed within 36 hours in Ywardaw interrogation center in Pobba Thiri Township, Naypyitaw. The military soldiers told his family that he died of heart failure, the dead body was covered with blanket and the family was only allowed to view his face. According to local sources, Ko Phone Myat Ko was killed because he refused to give up the names of five rangers who were responsible for the bombing.  

  • Myanmar’s famous traditional dance performer detained in interrogation center

One of Myanmar’s most famous traditional dance performers Phoe Chit has been detained and is currently put through the interrogation process by the regime’s forces. Phoe Chit was arrested in his home on November 30 but it did not make the news until this week. His companion, music composer Shan Htun (Myanmarsar) was also abducted in a separate location on the same day. It’s unknown why they were both arrested. Phoe Chit, a former president of the traditional dance association, quitted from his position five days after the coup because he refused to work with the military government.

  • Political prisoner beaten up by guards and feared for life in Insein Prison, Yangon

On December 6, a political prisoner named U Win Htut Oo @ Ko Thadoe was ganged up and beaten brutally by guards in Insein Prison. His alleged crime was calling the warden “hey young brother” as he saw him passing by. He was reportedly beaten up by a group of many guards at least three times until he lost consciousness. The guards also forced a vibrator down his throat. U Win Htut Oo is now hospitalized and fighting for his life with multiple wounds. The 40-year-old was found guilty of two violations by the military tribunal and sentenced to six years and currently facing one more charge.

  • Four female detainees required urgent medical treatment in Kalay Prison

Four out of nine female PDF medical trainees who were abducted by the regime forces last year in Sagaing Region reportedly require immediate medical treatment inside Kalay Prison. Two of them still have wounds from the day their station was raided and they were abducted and the other two were injured during interrogation and suffered fresh wounds from hard labor inside the prison. Although the family tried to send medicine, it was not allowed by authorities. All four of them are of Chin ethnicity and were sentenced to at least 12 years in prison for volunteering as medical staff in the PDF station.

  • Eighteen Myanmar Nationals detained in Mae Sot, Thailand

On December 7, Thai authorities raided Burma Spring Center, an organization that helps Myanmar immigrants, and detained at least 18 people temporarily. The detainees included workers and people in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) who had been taking refuge in Thailand. Many feared the deportation of CDM staff but all of them were released shortly afterward.

Armed Resistance

  • Pyu Saw Htee village ambushed by PDF in Monywa tsp, Sagaing Region

On December 5, local resistance forces conducted artillery attacks on Tawpu Village where the Pyu Saw Htee movement is strong in Monywa, the capital of Sagaing Region. At least 10 artillery canons and 50 free-flight rockets were fired toward the village, according to Chindwin Attack Force which led the operation. Pyu Saw Htee group also responded by artillery fires and the clash lasted over two hours.  

  • Regime soldiers guarding the regional minister’s convoy attacked in Dawei tsp, Tanintharyi Region

Two local resistance forces joined an alliance to mount an assault on the junta’s military column on Dawei-Hteekhee Road in Tanintharyi Region on December 5. The SAC’s military column, made up of nearly an hundred troops, was deployed to provide security for the regional minister Myat Ko’s visit to Phaungtawgyi hydropower project in Dawei and it was met with an ambush attack. At least five soldiers were said to be killed and the soldiers retaliated by opening continuous fires indiscriminately, according to local sources.  

  • SAC abducted 11 civilians during clash with KIA in Hpakant, Kachin State

After a two-day skirmish against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the first week of December, the regime’s force reportedly abducted 11 civilians from Mhawpone Village. The clash was ignited near Mhawpone Village when the regime forces were ambushed by the combined forces of KIA and PDF. Both sides suffered casualties, two were verified dead from the resistance forces. Local villagers were caught up in the battle and forced to hide inside a monastery. Some of them were abducted and released by the regime’s soldiers but at least 11 of those, made up of 4 men and 7 women, who were younger than 30 have remained under detention to this day.

  • Three military stations of SAC attacked in Pulaw tsp, Tanintharyi Region

On December 8, Crocodile Column, a coalition of local resistance forces conducted guerilla attacks on three military stations of the regime in Pulaw Township, Tanintharyi Region. Those camps were in Pulawkone Village, Taminetaung Village and Nan Taung Village. The rangers conducted operations and it led to clashes against the regime’s soldiers who responded with artillery. The clash lasted from 6 am to 10 pm and at least two Pyu Saw Htee members were reportedly killed.

  • Police station in front of Chinese copper project came under fire in Sarlingyi tsp, Sagaing Region

In the late evening of December 8, a local resistance force conducted an attack on the police station in front of Wangbao Chinese-Myanmar joint venture copper project compound. The people’s rangers fired cannons toward them and at least five policemen were reportedly killed, two on the spot. The regime’s policemen and soldiers came out of their camps and retaliated by opening fire indiscriminately before the rangers were forced to retreat. Consequently, the junta’s soldiers conducted intense inspections of vehicles on the road. Wangbao Company has been continuously collaborating with the military-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) since a decade ago and is notorious for repeatedly ignoring the best interests of Myanmar people.

Protests & Fundraising

  • Continuing protests across the country 

Protests across the country are still going strong, including in Mandalay, Yinmarbin, Kalay, Myaing, Monywa, Laung Lone, and Kawthaung. 

  • Protests against the coup’s death sentencing to seven students 

The activists and students call for the junta to #StopExecutingOurStudents after the Dagon University students were sentenced to death. Activists in May Myo, Pyapone and Laung Lone townships staged protests against this injustice death sentence by holding signs saying “Stop Executing Our Students”. Myanmar and Thai students held a joint protest and demonstration against the execution of the seven university students in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Nepalese students also showed their solidarity with Myanmar university students who had been sentenced death penalty by chanting in front of the Embassy of Myanmar in Nepal. A petition to halt the executions in Myanmar has gained more than 20,000 signatures.

  • Myanmar people in Thailand’s monthly support for the revolution 

At a place, a few hours’ drive from Bangkok, Thailand, young people cook to deliver food to people fleeing the war and fighting for democracy in Myanmar. Among these 50 young people are those who fled the danger of being arrested and killed after protesting against the military coup and those who have been in Thailand for many years. 

  • Fundraising activity for Spring Revolution in Bangkok raised 4,900 baht in a day

On December 5, it is reported that the UG family group in Bangkok, Thailand, received 4,900 baht in a one-day fundraising activity for the Spring Revolution on the birthday of the King of Thailand.

Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit, RFA, Reuters, DVB News

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