Weekly Update: 046

Here comes 2023. Another year has passed, but the same struggle continues for the people of Myanmar. Since the country fell under the hands of the military, nothing good has ever happened. Pro-democracy activists are continued to get arrested, and young fighters in the battlefields are still giving their lives. Yet, the people remain hopeful, and the revolution spirit is still burning. Read this week’s summary here. 

Internal Politics

  • The NUG President said 2023 is a crucial year for the revolution

In his new year speech, the president of the National Unity Government (NUG) Duwa Lashi La said that the new year 2023 is an important year for the people’s revolution as he believes that significant turns of the event will take place. He made a few points which indicated the progress of the revolution such as Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun remaining in the UN, the approval of the BURMA Act by the US which will provide aid to the NUG/NUCC/CRPH, ethnic armed organizations, and CDM/PDFs, ASEAN’s rejection towards the military representatives at ministerial meetings. He also said that the military’s 2023 election is a political trap, and an exit strategy for the junta, and thus, pro-democracy forces must be cautious. 

  • ASSK and President U Win Myint received seven years of jail time for remaining charges 

On December 30, the junta-controlled special court delivered that the detained leaders Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint received seven years of imprisonment for the remaining five charges against them. With 19 legal cases that the regime opened against her, the Lady received 33 years of jail time to this day. Both the president and the state counsellor are in good health, and will plead the case further according to Myanmar Now. The report also said that DASSK will be moved from Naypyidaw Prison to a new location which is yet to be verified.

  • Junta chief meeting families of former military dictators and leaders

In commemoration of the 75th Independence Day, the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing and his wife held a get-together with families of former military leadership on December 31. The attendees included Dr Khin Sandar Win, daughter of former dictator General Ne Win, U Thiha Saw, son of General Saw Maung, Daw Lei Lei Yu, daughter of General San Yu, Dr Cho Lwin Oo, daughter of General Sein Lwin, Daw Than Tha Nu, daughter of Prime Minister U Nu, Daw Nay Yu Ba Swe, daughter of politician U Ba Swe, Daw Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein, daughter of U Kyaw Nyein, and U Zaw Tun, son of Lt. Gen Tun Yi. The families of big-name former politicians and military generals were received at Bayint Naung guest house in Naypyidaw. 

  • Detained cabinet members of Ayeyarwaddy Region were released

In the last week of December, the regime released the majority of cabinet members from Ayeyarwaddy Region Government, including Chief Minister U Hla Moe Aung, as well as speakers of the house of the regional parliament. They were all released after being detained for nearly two years, yet, Minister for Social Affairs Dr Hla Myat Thwe remains in the custody. The regime filed a legal case against her for signing a document where she encouraged civil servants to join the disobedience movement. Analysts said that the release was permitted since the military regime gets ready to hold its sham election in 2023. 

International Affairs

  • China’s new envoy to Myanmar met with northern EAOs

Deng Xijun, the new Chinese special envoy to Myanmar, held a meeting with Myanmar’s ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) in the last week of December. Representatives from EAOs which are based in northern Myanmar met with Deng in Yunnan Province according to the Irrawaddy News’ report. The EAOs included the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP), the Arakan Army (AA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA). After his meeting with the EAOs, the special envoy reportedly travelled to Naypyidaw, however, neither the military council nor China has officially announced the meeting. A political observer said that the visit is seen as a rose to the US’s approval of the NDAA (inclusive of BURMA ac) in the previous week, which China publicly denounced on the international stage. 

  • 185 Rohingyas landed in Indonesia 

Reuters News reported that a total of 185 Rohingya people landed in Aceh, Indonesia’s province on December 25 and 26 after drifting in the sea for weeks. Aceh police said that the group consisted of 83 adult males, 70 adult women and 32 children. According to the UN, the number of Rohingya people who fled to the sea has increased six-fold in 2022, and at least 20 of them died during the journey in recent weeks. The UN also urged governments in the region to recuse the refugees. 

Business Matters

  • 170 billion Myanmar Kyats (MMK) approved for MSME businesses

U Maung Maung Win, the regime’s Deputy Minister of Planning and Finance, spoke during MSME fund management meeting on December 28 that they have approved an additional 170 billion MMK from the national funding of 2022 – 2023 financial year with the aim of development in MSME sector. He said that the funding has already been approved by the junta cabient, and the funding will be used for MSME development, exhibition and events, and disbursement of short-term and long-term loans at low interest rates for MSME businesses. The military council initially set up 400 billion MMK loans for the prosperity of the country’s economy, and this additional MSME funding was launched for the development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. The junta leader said that this additional funding and COVID-19 special loans are established for improving the economy of the country after it has been hit by COVID-19.

  • Over 300 companies wanted to strike off their company statuses in 2022 under the regime control 

Many local and international businesses in Myanmar have stopped their operations after the military coup, and there are over 300 companies that are planning to entirely shut down their companies with the bankruptcy law in this year. Based upon the National Records from January 7 to December 16, 2022, over 330 companies wanted to terminate their companies. According to weekly reports, most companies wanted to officially close down their businesses after clearing all the debts whereas other companies are calling for shareholding meetings and are preparing voluntarily to strike off their company status. U Min Naung Khine, permanent cabinet minister of the Ministry of Justice from NUG, said that businesses in Myanmar find it difficult to continue doing business in Myanmar with the country’s overall situation deteriorating since the military coup, and therefore, decided to withdraw their company licenses. 

  • Myanmar Citizen Bank (MCB) shut down five of its bank branches 

Myanmar Citizen Bank (MCB), a local private bank listed in the Yangon Stock Exchange, announced that it shut down five of its bank branches on December 28. With the approval of the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM), MCB announced to their investors and shareholders that they have closed down Monywa branch, Muse branch (1), Mandalay branch (4), Taze branch, and Zee Kone branch. A representative from MCB Yangon Head office spoke to DVB that two branches from Sagaing Region are shut down due to political instability in the region whereas three other branches, Monywa, Muse, and Mandalay branches are closed since 2020. One of MCB’s shareholders, however, said that the bank has not informed the main reason for shutting down their branches although he guessed that the decision was made in an attempt to cut down the expenses while the profits are declining. 

Protests & Fundraising

  • Protest against junta’s election led by Myanmar Citizens in Malaysia

At the Malaysian office of the NLD (OC) international branch, Myanmar citizens led a protest against the 2023 alleged election to be held by the Junta on December 26. Protesters showed their rejection of the military, their distrust at the 2023 election, and their support to the People’s Defense Force and the NUG. 

  • Door mats with the junta chief’s face for fundraising 

As the revolution drags on, pro-democracy supporters find ways to sustain the armed resistance, including creative fundraisers to draw attention of the public. Young revolutionary activists from Singapore, Korea and Myanmar created door mats with the face of junta chief Min Aung Hlaing for fundraising. Five Fingers and Spring Embrace Team said that the door mats are only available for purchase in Singapore and South Korea for now. 

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Police station in Dawei SEZ targeted in Tanintharyi Region

On the morning of December 24, local resistance forces mounted an assault on the police station of Dawei Special Economic Zone. The station is located 18 miles north of Dawei City near Nabulae Village, Yephyu Township, Tanintharyi Region. Although the rangers surrounded the facility for over one hour, they eventually had to retreat due to the stronghold from the regime’s police, who responded with artillery fire. Five local PDFs, led by DGRF, coordinated the attack in which at least two policemen were wounded. Following the incident, civilians from the nearby village were reportedly detained by the regime’s forces for questioning.

  • Regime soldiers became nightclubs’ guards in Yangon

Following minor explosions in the nightclubs and bars owned by the military-affiliated families in Yangon, the regime’s soldiers have been posted in those businesses as security guards. Resistance forces have warned the civilians not to go to those places as they generate revenue for the junta, and carried out small missions targeting them a number of times. Now the club owners from Mayangone Township have bribed the military officials to deploy armed soldiers in their facilities for protection. It can be a high-paying job for soldiers, hence, the officials reportedly appoint those who are close to them.

  • Village ward administrator shot and killed in Bilin tsp, Mon State

On the morning around 10 am on December 29, ward administrator U Soe Thein from Kyar Kwin Village, Bilin Township, Mon State was gunned down by unknown men in his house in the village. U Soe Thein was shot four times and killed on the spot. It is unknown who was responsible for the attack. Bilin Township has witnessed many similar incidents; at least 30 villages are now without a ward administrator. 

  • Ward administrator who led arbitrary arrests shot dead in Hlaingthayar tsp, Yangon

On the afternoon of January 1, 2023, the junta-appointed ward administrator Ye Tun Oo from Hlaingthayar Township, Yangon was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in a teashop near his office. Ye Tun Oo is notorious in the neighborhood as he coordinated with the regime’s soldiers to arrest active youths in the area following the coup. He was also a member of the Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP), the military’s proxy political wing.  

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • CDM medical professor detained in Mandalay

On December 25, a nephrologist/professor Dr. Win Khine was detained by the regime’s forces in Chanayetharzan Township, Mandalay. The professor has been in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) since the coup and has only been seeing his patients discreetly to avoid arrest. However, on Christmas day, the regime’s forces disguised as patients and arrested the doctor at Nandaw Private Hospital. Dr. Win Khine’s family has not been able to get in touch with him since his arrest.

  • Youths & activists received hefty prison terms in Yangon

In the last week of 2022, the junta ensured that detained political prisoners would receive lengthy sentences. Within five days, 23 young university students/activists have been found guilty of multiple charges and sentenced to years behind bars by Insein Special Court under the regime. Nine of them were given 50 to 100 years imprisonment – Ko Kyaw Soe Line 95 years, Ko Ye Yint Ko 91 years, Ko Sithu Phyo 91 years, Ko Kyaw Kyaw Khant 91 years, Ko Aung Nyein Chan 88 years, Ko Lamin Tun 54 years, Ko Zaw Ko Ko Win 53 years and Ko Ye Yint Bo 51 years. The most common violations were the Counter-Terrorism Law 54, the Unlawful Associations Act 17A, and the Arms Act 19F.

  • Lawyer Ywet Nu Aung jailed for 15 years in Mandalay

A prominent lawyer Daw Ywet Nu Aung has been sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor by the junta’s tribunal inside Obo Prison, Mandalay on December 28. Daw Yuet Nu Aung received this sentence after spending 8 months in detention. She was charged and found guilty by the regime with the Counter-Terrorism Law. The witness, who is also a political prisoner, put forward by the plaintiff (which means the regime) confessed during the trial that he had been tortured and forced to involve her name in his statement so that the military was able to prosecute her. The 43-year-old lawyer was a legal representative for many political prisoners including the likes of the Mandalay Regional Minister Dr.Zaw Myint Maung post-coup and she was detained by the regime’s forces on her way back from one of his trials.

  • Seven villagers killed and dumped roadside in Nganzon tsp, Mandalay Region

On the evening of December 24, seven men were abducted by the regime’s forces in Yezin Village Nganzon Township, Mandalay Region. All of them were now reportedly killed by the soldiers. The villagers found four dead bodies near the village on the same night and three more bodies were dumped in a different location five miles from the village. On the night before the abduction, a member of Pyu Saw Htee was killed in the village and the murders of seven villagers must have been retaliation from the military. The victims were 62-year-old U Sein Maung Myint, 50-year-old U Sein Aung, 43-year-old U Kyaw Tin, 37-year-old Ko Swe Lin Aung, 38-year-old Ko Myo Naing, Ko Naing Win Swe and Ko Thukha.

  • Teashop owner couple murdered by Pyu Saw Htee members in Tamu tsp, Sagaing Region

On New Year’s Eve, more murders by the military-sponsored armed group were reported in Sagaing Region. Ko Chit San Maung and his wife, owners of a teashop in Myoma Ward, Tamu Township were shot and killed by Pyu Saw Htee members who arrived at the shop on a motorbike before opening fire on the victims. The couple is survived by two children, one was also injured and hospitalized by the attack and the other is only 10 months old. According to local sources, the victims had not been involved in any political activities but Pyu Saw Htee group had threatened publicly that they would kill two civilians for every member that is targeted by PDF.  

Armed Resistance

  • SAC forces ambushed PDF station, many rangers died in Shwebo tsp, Sagaing Region

On December 27, the regime’s army used a private construction truck to enter the PDF’s territory and carried out an assault on the PDF’s station in Tipin Village, east of Shwebo, Sagaing Region. About 50 soldiers disguised as construction workers before they raided the station. Four rangers such as 33-year-old Ko Phoe Aung, 25-year-old Ko San Wai Phyo, 21-year-old Ko Nyi Zaw, and 25-year-old Ko Wine Chit were shot and killed on the spot while about 20 more people including civilians are still missing.. Following the raid on the station, the regime’s soldiers continued terrorizing the village, setting at least 150 houses on fire and carrying out indiscriminate shootings. A villager named Daw Lin, aged 50 was killed as she suffered a gunshot to her arm.

  • Major clash broke out in Kawlin tsp, Sagaing Region

On December 28, a battle took place between the regime’s army and the resistance forces in Kawlin Township, Sagaing Region. The clash began as PDF arrived in Ywar Haung Village, three miles west of Kawlin Town, and acted to protect the village where about 70 of the junta’s soldiers had been setting fire on. The fight started at 4 am in the morning and lasted until 7 am. Seven soldiers from the junta were killed while three PDF rangers were also injured. Before PDF arrived, 13 houses from Ywar Haung Village and 40 houses from the neighboring village Thaekaw were burned down by the regime’s soldiers.

  • KNLA captured SAC soldiers in Laykaykaw Battle in Karen State

Karen Nationality Liberation Army (KNLA) released that it had captured seven military personnel of the regime including an officer along with weaponry during Laykaykaw battle that broke out on the morning of December 30. Those soldiers were using a private vehicle to move position when KNLA arrested them near Yathaygu Village. KNLA added that all captives had been involved with the clash and they were now kept and treated according to its regulations.

  • KIO Chair urged the people to unite against SAC

General N’Ban La, the chair of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) delivered a new year speech on January 1 in which he said that the people of Myanmar must unite against the common enemy, the regime led by Min Aung Hlaing. He said the people must now consider the SAC, a total enemy, and demolish its forces in unity. He added that those who would participate in the military-led election in 2023 are supporters of the regime. The general also urged the neighboring countries to help the people and the armed forces in this resistance. 

Others

  • Night curfew cancelled for New Year Celebrations

Junta issued a statement on December 29 that the night curfew in Yangon will be cancelled for one day for the New Year celebration on the night of December 31. With the plans to hold a New Year’s Countdown Party in Yangon’s People’s Square and Park, with fireworks and a music concert, the curfew imposed under Section 144 of the Criminal Code has been cancelled from 12:00 PM on December 31 to 4:00 AM on January 1, 2023. Netizens saw this cancellation of curfew as a part of the regime’s attempt to impose normalcy in post-coup Yangon. 

  • Nearly 40,000 people leave Myanmar every month since October, IOM reports

Nearly 40,000 people are leaving Myanmar every month in search of peace, stability and better economic prospects, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In the report released on December 28, the IOM predicted that mass migration has taken place since October 2022, and the common destination for relocation is the bordering country, Thailand. The report predicted that more migration is expected in 2023 due to the ongoing instability, and humanitarian organizations which provide aid to migrants could face pressure. 

  • Patients facing difficulties after five private hospitals were forcibly closed

In-patients from five hospitals in Mandalay whose licenses were revoked by the military are facing difficulties. A family member of a patient at Myodaw Hospital told Mizzima News that Mandalay General Hospital and other private hospitals are not able to accommodate in-patients of the closed hospitals. The healthcare workers community in Mandalay said that the military pressured Myotaw, Nantaw, Kantkaw, Sein Pan, and Htet Nay Lin hospitals for hiring CDM staff. Among these five hospitals, Myotaw, Nantaw, and Kantkaw are renowned hospitals that have been treating hundreds of patients on a daily basis. The forced closure is effective starting 1 January, displacing many in-patients. 

Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit, BBC Burmese, DVB Burmese, Mizzima, The Irrawaddy, Myanmar Pressphoto Agency, RFA Burmese, RPDM News, Aljazeera

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