Weekly Update: 045

Last Christmas, the regime soldiers carried out a massacre of 40 civilians in Karenni State which made the global news headlines. This year, mass killings in various forms took place all year round and the regime’s scorched-earth policy remains intact. The resistance and resilience of the civilians have never dimmed despite the devastations and sacrifices.

Internal Politics

  • The regime to discuss constitutional amendment with NCA signatories

Spokesperson of Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) General Saw Kyaw Nyunt told RFA Burmese that the military council and seven ethnic armed organizations which signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement plan to meet and discuss the amendment of 2008 Constitution. Representing the KNLA-Peace Council, General Saw Kyaw Nyunt said that the initiation came from the military side, and EAOs will also present their separate demands in addition to the discussion on constitutional amendment. The invitation was extended to three representatives including the leader from each EAO. The seven NCA signatories include the Restoration Council of Shan State, Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, KNU/KNLA-Peace Council, Lahu Democratic Union, Arakan Liberation Party, Pa-O National Liberation Organization and New Mon State Party.

  • Nearly 7000 battles took place between the regime and the KNU in less than two years

In the latest interview with RFA Burmese, the Karen National Union (KNU)’s spokesperson Pado Saw Taw Nee talked from a conflict area that nearly 7000 battles have been fought with the military council from 2021 to October 2022. The latest conflict broke out on December 22, the Karen New Year Day, near Kawkareik Township. When asked about the cooperation between different Karen armed groups, he said that occasional meetings took place among the Reconciliation committee of the Karen armed groups and that they agreed to not interfere with one another, which he sees as progress, considering the past internal conflicts among the groups. Saw Taw Nee also encouraged that, in order to uproot the military regime,  the international community must support the resistance groups, and recognize the National Unity Government (NUG) as Myanmar’s legitimate authority as soon as possible. 

  • AA holds the military accountable for the closure of camps in Rakhine State

On December 23, the regime-appointed chief minister of Rakhine State Dr Aung Kyaw Min said in a state-level meeting that IDP camps will be closed since the state is now in peace. In response to the military’s decision, the Arakan Army (AA)’s spokesperson Khaing Thu Kha said that the closure of IDP camps required providing security and safety for people who are returning to their homes, and to do so, landmines in the region must be cleared, that the authority that makes this decision must be held accountable for the safe return of the IDPs. Otherwise, they are only causing more trouble for the people, said Khaing Thu Kha. According to Myanmar Now, close to 70,000 people have been displaced due to the fighting between the military and the AA. An abbot from Mrauk-U who has been supporting the IDPs also said that the military council must guarantee security and avoid arbitrary arrests if it wants the IDPs to go home. He said that resettlement and livelihood programs must be facilitated for those who are returning home.

  • Fears grow over having potential Dalans at the heart of fundraising  

One of the biggest news/stories in recent days has been about an accusation of a fundraiser turning out to be a military’s informer. The accused, based in Singapore, had been considered as a core member of many fundraising campaigns since day one and was close to members of the NUG. In the last week, her conversation with a military mouthpiece was leaked to the public from the military support channel and people have accused her of being a Dalan since the beginning. It is unknown how much of those accusations were accurate but it’s a fact that she reached out to the military officials for extending her son’s passports, which can only be done by the junta since the countries do not acknowledge the NUG in that way. She has now said publicly that she will end her involvement in the fundraising/resistance. We still do not know where she had been a military informer since the beginning or if she has just turned one recently for her own family’s sake, it is certain that the military has managed to get into the core hearts of the resistance and jeopardized things. Before more damage is done, it’s time to be more vigilant and wary of similar tactics by the junta. 

International Affairs

  • Biden signed the NDAA which includes the BURMA Act

Following the process of the BURMA Act, US President Joe Biden signed the National Defence Authorization Act of which the BURMA Act is a part. The NDAA had approved by the House and Senate this month and finally signed by President Biden on December 23, making it into law. The BURMA Act allows the United States to legally support the pro-democracy groups and resistance forces in Myanmar with non-lethal aid. 

  • UNSC adopted a “rare” resolution on Myanmar, Special Rapporteur says “not strong enough”

On December 22, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on Myanmar, calling the military to end violence and to release all political prisoners including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. This resolution marked the first resolution on Myanmar in 74 years, and 12 out of 15 members of the council, except for China, Russia and India, agreed to the motion. Tom Andrews, Special Rapporteur for Myanmar, said in a statement that the resolution is “notable” but “not strong enough”. He further mentioned that demanding certain actions from the military will not stop it from destroying the lives of 54 million civilians. He said that action to end the Myanmar military’s violence will not come from the Security Council but from the coordinated actions of member states with the political will to support the people of Myanmar.

Business Matters

  • IFC parted ways with Yoma Bank after the investigation of Yoma Bank’s involvement with the regime

Justice for Myanmar stated that the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank, sold its investments in Yoma Bank after IFC learned of Yoma’s ties with the military council. Yoma Bank provided loans to Pinnacle Asia, owned by the junta leader Min Aung Hlaing’s daughter Khin Thiri Thet Mon, in 2020. The loans facilitated the payments for telecommunication towers for Mytel which is owned by the military. IFC has now sold its 5.4% market shares in Yoma Bank to FMI which is estimated to be worth about $5 million. IFC provided $5 million to Yoma bank as loans back in 2014, and back in 2019, it agreed to take shares from Yoma Bank. JFM stated that IFC reportedly signed the sales of shares agreement with FMI on December 12 although Irrawaddy News cannot further verify.

  • Norway’s Oil Fund resigned as shareowners from Thai owned PTT petroleum company for its cooperation with the military

PTTOR, a subsidiary of Thai government-owned PTT company, announced that it will stop its fuel storage and logistics businesses in Myanmar due to the terrorism act and political instability in Myanmar. On December 15th, Norway’s Oil Fund also announced that it has stopped its own investments of over $100 value of shares in PTT company for its cooperation with SAC. Right after the announcement, PTT also announced that it has stopped its operation in Myanmar. Back in 2019, PTT Oil and Retail Business (PTTOR) formed as a joint venture together with Kanbawza group and established Bright Energy company in which PTT owned 35% shares. Bright Energy is currently building Myanmar’s largest fuel storage tank somewhere near Yangon. PTTOR officially announced on December 22nd that it has stopped its operation, construction, and payment-related works for Bright Energy company. 

  • A gold shop in Pathein Gyi township, Mandalay got robbed for a total value of 1,400 lakhs Myanmar Kyats

According to Mizzima News, a gold shop in Pathein Gyi township, Mandalay was robbed, and lost a total of 1,400 lakhs Myanmar Kyats on December 22. A resident near south Yankin spoke to Mizzima that someone carrying a gun came into Aung Tha Byay jewelry shop, took gold and jewelry including about 50 ticals of gold. This was not the only time that Mandalay’s gold shops were robbed. On December 20, Maw Thit gold shop in Pyigyithagon township was also robbed, and about MMK 2,700 lakhs were lost during the robbery. After the military coup, robberies are becoming more frequent in gold stores and high-end stores.

Protests & Fundraising

  • Myanmar people protested in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok

On December 19, Myanmar expats in Bangkok, Thailand staged a protest in front of Myamar Embassy in Bangkok. Protesters demanded the removal of the military council’s representatives in the embassy for they have been exploiting Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand. They also showed their support for the parallel government NUG. 

  • ABFSU installed a protest banner in Yangon

Despite arbitrary arrests of young students, the All Burma Federation of Students’ Union continued to show defiance against the military. On Christmas Day, the ABFSU managed to hang a protest banner which reads “Uproot the Fascist Military” on a bridge in Yangon.

  • Fundraising Football Match in Malaysia

Myanmar community in Malaysia organised a football match on December 19 to raise funds for the revolution. Organizers announced that close to MMK 100 lakh was raised.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties 

  • Two Thway Thout members killed by PDF in Amarapura, Mandalay

 On December 20, two people were shot and killed by unknown gunmen in a betelnut shop in Amarapura Town, Mandalay Region. Those dead men were later identified as Ko Nay Myo and his nephew Thar Pout, members of Thway Thout, military-sponsored armed thug group. Shortly afterwards, the regime forces arrived at the scene, blocking roads and conducting thorough inspection. No one has been found or arrested. The mission was carried out by a coalition of local resistance forces such as Truth Keeping Force (TKF), Desert Wolf and Mandalay Youngs Force etc.

  • Military informers put on warrant list by the junta for fraud in Mawlamyaingkyun tsp, Ayawaddy Region

Three people known as military informers, U Myint Naing, U Zaw Win and U Hla Nyunt from Mawlamyaingkyun, Ayawadaddy have been reportedly on the run from the military for their alleged money fraud. About 20 troops have been deployed to find and arrest them since December 22. U Zaw Win was arrested but the others are still escaping. According to locals, these three have made lives difficult for pro-resistance people in the area and many were arrested due to their collaboration with the regime. Now, there is little love lost when a similar fate turns to them.

  • SAC’ jailor detained by PDF in Moekaung, Kachin State

In the afternoon of December 24, Kaizar Hlyan, jailor of the regime from Donbat Police Community Facility was detained by UG Black K, a local resistance force, in Moekaung Township, Kachin State. In addition to his primary role, Kaizar had been acting as a military informer, according to UG. He was taken by the rangers as he prepared to go out for golfing and he was alone at home at the time of the arrest. 

  • Explosion in military-owned Myawaddy bank injured soldiers in Mandalay

On the evening of December 26, a grenade was thrown inside the security gate of the state-owned Myawaddy Bank, injuring soldiers on duty in Mandalay. The incident happened at  the bank’s branch located on 115th Street, Pyigyitagon Township, Mandalay. There were two soldiers present, and both of them were wounded.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Explosions took in Yangon, injuring civilians 

Two explosions took place in Yangon last week. On the evening of December 18, a major blast occurred on the ferry ship transporting people and commodities between Yangon and Dala Township. A total of 17 people including 15 men and 2 women were wounded, some of them were in critical condition. The regime’s media said it was PDF who carried out this mission, however, many believed it was the doing of the junta’s own forces because it is right out of their playbook. And Yangon-based PDFs have also claimed that they had nothing to do with the incident. Similarly, another explosion took place in Tamwe Township on December 23. The junta has opened a Christmas market there and the explosion injured three people including children. This is also considered another tactic by the regime to portray PDF as a terrorist organization although its own people carried out the mission, according to people on ground. 

  • Kamaryut media co-founder given five more years in prison 

U Hanthar Nyein, the detained co-founder of Kamaryut Media, has been sentenced to five more years by the military tribunal for the violation of the Electronic act 33A. Before this news, many expected his release because he was nearing the end of the first two-year sentence given for the Sedition act 505A. U Hanthar Nyein was abducted in March 2021 and he was sent through intense interrogation before being put in Insein prison. He has now spent his second birthday in prison on Christmas. His family said U Hanthary Nyein has now faced all his charges. 

  • Junta set up trap to abduct queer NLD member in Mandalay

Khin Maung Chin @ Chin Chin, a queer member of the NLD party from Mandalay was beaten up and arrested by the junta’s forces on December 19. The regime soldiers apparently came to Chin Chin’s place, pretending to be customers before the arrest and harassment. Chin Chin had reportedly stopped political involvement after the coup and focused on their business of selling peanut oil. Recently, Chin Chin posted birthday wishes to the NLD members and called the State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi “mother” on Facebook, hence the military supporters called for Chin Chin’s head and even suggested the same tactic to arrest them.   

  • Teenager shot and killed by SAC soldiers in Kantbalu tsp, Sagaing Region

On the evening of December 19, the regime’s forces and Pyu Saw Htee members raided and terrorized Zeepinthar Village in Kantbalu Township, Sagaing Region. Many villagers fled the scene, fearing for their lives. Some did not have time to run and a few villagers including a 13-year-old Mg Thutazaw decided to hide in a toilet and unfortunately, the troops found out and started opening fire toward it. Mg Thutazaw was shot and killed on the spot and others were injured. They reportedly went on and set two houses on fire before leaving. Many speculated it was a retaliation on the village for refusing to form a Pyu Saw Htee group and take commands from the military.

  • Airstrike killed four civilians in Saw tsp, Magway Region

On the afternoon of December 26, the regime’s forces conducted an airstrike in Nyaungkan Village, Saw Township, Magway Region, killing at least four civilians and injuring another four. It was reported that there was no on-going clash in the area and it was a deliberate attempt by the junta to threaten people’s lives.

Armed Resistance

  • A dozen of SAC soldiers killed during clashes in Ye-U tsp, Sagaing Region

Since December 14, clashes have broken out between the regime’s army and the local resistance forces in the west of Ye-U Township, Sagaing Region. At least 15 soldiers were confirmed dead while 4 men were also lost from the people’s rangers. The pictures of the dead soldiers were published by Shwebo PDF who claimed that they had also seized weapons from those clashes.

  • Battles intensified in Yesagyo tsp, Magway Region

Battles between the SAC soldiers and the local resistance forces have been more frequent in the south of Yesagyo Township, Magway Region. On December 18, the military’s army raided and seized a station of PDF near Kyaukhtet Village. They managed to seize 16 handmade guns and 2 grenades. Following that day, multiple clashes took place during December 19 and December 21 Both sides suffered casualties, at least two deaths from PDF including a CDM policeman were confirmed. SAC’s forces reportedly abducted 20 villagers from Thaetaw and Oakkan villages to use as porters as well. 

  • Nine soldiers of KNPLF and two civilians killed in Karenni (Kayah) State

On December 17, a truck carrying Karenni National People’s Liberation Front (KNPLF) soldiers and three civilians was attacked by Karenni Army (KA) and Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) in Bawlakhe Township, Karenni (Kayah) State. Six soldiers and two civilians were killed on the spot. Three soldiers were injured before they were found and killed later. Only survivor is a civilian driver who has now arrived in KNPLF’s territory and become a witness in the investigation. KNPLF had separated from the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) in 1978 and reformed itself as a border guard force in 2009. Many believe KNPLF is a partner organization of the regime. KA said it had opened an investigation on the case. 

  • NUG prime minister attended military training graduation ceremony in Karen State

On Christmas day, the NUG’s prime minister Mahn Win Khaing Than attended the Cobra Column’s military training graduation ceremony. that took place in the Karen National Union (KNU)’s brigade 6 territory. The prime minister also transferred 50 firearms and 1 million Myanmar Kyat to the Cobra Column.  

Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit, RFA Burmese, Irrawaddy, Mizzima, Burma VJ

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