Weekly Update: 049

Hi folks, here’s our 49th report since we switched to weekly reports at the beginning of last year. One of the most positive news this week was the people’s support of the Spring Valour Condominiums sale organized by the NUG for fundraising purposes. NUG sold out all rooms within 18 hours for a total of nearly USD 11 millions. The housing project is planned to be developed in the land plots in Yangon that have been in control of the military for decades. Hence it goes without saying, if the military remains in power at the end of this resistance, there is no project. Investing hard-earned money in such projects shows the people’s trust on the NUG and the dedication to win this revolution. At the same time, the regime’s airstrikes have been louder than the claps for the NUG; another cruel aerial attack killed multiple civilians in Katha, Sagaing Region. Hence, it is time to convert these funds into means to protect the people. Read our highlights below:

Internal Politics

  • Three Northern Alliance members refused the regime’s demand not to support the pro-democracy forces

From January 5 to 7, the regime’s National Solidarity and Peacemaking Negotiation Committee (NSPNC) held a peace dialogue and pressured ethnic armed groups to not support the National Unity Government (NUG), the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) and the People’s Defense Force (PDF). On January 21, Irrawaddy News reported that three members of the Northern Alliance, namely United Wa State Party (UWSP/UWSA), National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) and Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP/SSA) refused the regime’s request. A source close to these EAOs told Irrawaddy that the discussion was quite intense as the regime side pressured the EAOs to agree not to provide any support to the pro-democracy resistance groups and regard them as terrorist groups. The source continued, “everyone knows which one is the terrorist group. Of course, we did not agree to that point”.

  • ARSA and RSO clashed on Myanmar-Bangladesh border

A clash broke out between the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) near the Zero Point at the Myanmar-Bangladesh border on January 17 and 18, a policeman from Taung Pyo Let Wae, Maungdaw District, who demanded anonymity told Myanmar Now. The news report also said that an IDP camp near the conflict area also suffered from an arson attack. A Rohingya who has been taking refuge in an IDP camp in Cox’s Bazaar told Myanmar Now that it had been circulated that the torching was done by the ARSA. The area where the clash broke out was called “No man’s land”, and both countries’ security forces refrained from entering and trespassing. The torched IDP camp shelters 2000 persons for over four years, and due to the recent arson attack, the majority of the Rohingya refugees fled to the Myanmar side while some to the Bangladesh side.

  • NUCC released CDM policy

On January 20, National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) released a policy on the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). The policy includes four chapters; the first defines the term CDM, the second describes the type of CDM staff such as government employees, public employees, and security forces, the third honors and draws up a plan to find justice for the CDM staff and the last chapter contains the punishment for the non-CDM staff. The fourth chapter attracted some criticism as it mentions that non-CDM staff could be considered the regime’s conspirators and will be punished if found guilty. Experts find the policy harsh as they do not believe that just being a non-CDM is a punishable crime since difficult circumstances prevented many people from joining the movement and still, they are supportive of the resistance from the background. 

  • Junta minister sneaked into an online meeting of resistance groups

Dr. Thet Thet Khine, junta-appointed social affairs minister, sneaked into an online discussion of Arakan Army’s Deputy Chief Dr Nyo Tun Aung, the NUG ministers, and medical family networks on January 20. During the meeting, Dr Nyo Tun Aung shared his 14 years of experience in the revolution to healthcare workers from Medical Family Mandalay (MFM) and Yangon Medical Network (YMN). Dr Thet Thet Khine and one other person from the regime side entered the video conference, and the IT team removed and banned them from the meeting. 

International Affairs 

  • India “taken up” with Myanmar military on aerial operation in border area

On January 10, Myanmar military launched an airstrike near the India-Myanmar border to assault the headquarters of Chin National Front (CNF) near Mount Victoria. Witnesses said that two bombs fell into the Indian’s territory. However, the spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs confirmed on January 19 that there was no violation of their airspace. Yet the ministry had taken up with the Myanmar military as such incidents became a matter for the Indian government. 

  • Coup leader received Thai military’s Chief of Staff for three-day meeting

On January 19, junta chief Min Aung Hlaing welcomed General Chalermpol Srisawat, Thai military’s chief of staff, and his delegate in Ngapali beach in Rakhine State. The three-day meeting marked the eighth annual gathering of Myanmar and Thailand’s military leaders. The press statement issued by the Royal Thai Armed Forces stated that the two sides discussed “a friendship sporting event to boost a relationship of both sides’ personnel and families, an exchange of military cultures, an exchange of combat medical matters, [and] a cooperation in Military Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.” The statement further said that plans were also made on border security issues, the repatriation of displaced persons, and drug trafficking. The Thai-Myanmar border has long seen conflict between the Myanmar military and the longest ethnic group Karen National Union (KNU), and now the newly emerged resistance groups. This meeting raised concerns for the armed resistance groups, and netizens widely denounced Thai officials’ meeting with the junta chief. 

Business Matters

  • SAC threatened legal action against businesses without company bank account

The Ministry of Labor under SAC warned businessmen in the garment industry that they would take legal action against businesses that have not yet opened bank accounts. According to the statistics from the Ministry of Labor, only 300+ garment businesses have opened their business bank accounts although there are over 700 businesses. One businessman from UMFCCI spoke to Irrawaddy that businesses should rather use business bank accounts. However, most businessmen are using their personal bank accounts for their ease of convenience as they do not require approval for decisions whereas it is required in business bank accounts. SAC is forcing businesses to use business bank accounts so that they can collect taxes. 

  • Min Aung Hlaing’s son planned solar project, asked permission from his thief-daddy

 Golden Future Linkage, owned by the junta’s son U Aung Pyae Sone, has reportedly sought approval from SAC whose father is the chairman, for building a solar project in Tharzi Township in Mandalay Region. Naypyitaw-based Golden Future Linkage, in collaboration with China Energy Engineering Corporation Limited (CEEC), planned to implement the solar project for electrification that can produce 40 Mega Watt electricity on 230 acres of land in Nyaungpinthar and Thabyaywa villages in Tharzi Township, Mandalay Region. The estimated time for project completion is 9 months, and after the project completion, 1 kWH will be sold for USD 8.5 cents (about 140 Myanmar Kyats).

  • Tens of thousands of Chinese tourists expected to return to Myanmar 

Travel agencies in Myanmar expect tens of thousands of Chinese tourists will enter the country in 2023 as Beijing has dropped its Zero-COVID policy of lockdowns and has allowed Chinese to travel abroad. The junta’s Ministry of Health claims that existing COVID-19 travel requirements of the country will prevent a flood of new cases this year. 

  • Frauds in Shweli

According to the Burmese-Chinese border business community, there are frauds with a service fee of 1,000,000 Kyats or more for a job in Shweli, China. Border business community said that people don’t have to pay a lot of service fees, and they are allowed to work if they bring their ID cards and censuses. Since March 30, 2021, Muse-Shweli gates have been closed and on January 14th, the Mant Wein-Kyal Gaung gate was officially reopened by mutual agreement between the two countries. Currently, only commercial vehicles are allowed and other types of visits are not allowed yet. 

Humanitarian Affairs

  • Military’s presence across Sagaing Region displaced thousands of residents

In Sagaing Region, military columns entered Salingyi and Khin-U townships on January 15 and 16 respectively, causing over 8,000 residents to flee in fear. On January 21, another column of junta soldiers advanced into Kantbalu Township with the aim of conducting a clearance operation in Inn Ma village, residents told RFA Burmese. No arson attacks were reported in Salingyi and Khin-U townships, but residents said that they had been running to the north side when the junta soldiers entered from the south side, and vice-versa. In Inn Ma village, residents said the junta soldiers torched the houses in the village, causing over 3,000 villagers to flee. But the figure of how many houses were torched is still being investigated and the village is inhabitable at the time of reporting according to RFA Burmese.

  • Junta’s airstrikes on India-Myanmar border cause turmoil among Chin residents

Between January 10 and 11, junta troops conducted airstrikes against Chin National Front headquarters in Chin State’s Thanglang Township, causing over 200 residents to flee to India, Chin Human Rights Organization told RFA Burmese on January 19. Residents started fleeing on the day of the airstrikes and as of January 14, a total of 200 Chin residents are recorded in Mizoram State, India. In the aftermath, about 59 schools across Thantlang Township also had to close down indefinitely as a precaution for further airstrike attacks, Thantlang Township Interim Education Board told The Irrawaddy on January 17. The schools are interim schools which were opened on September 1, 2022, to educate over 10,000 students on a 9-month program, organized by Interim Education Board.

  • Over 55 skirmishes occurred in KNU-controlled Region within two weeks, over 5,000 residents displaced

The Karen National Union reported on January 20 that there were a total of 55 clashes between January 1-15 this year with over 5,000 residents displaced in KNU Brigade No. 3-controlled area. The displacement was reported in Kyaukkyi and Mone townships.

  • Junta’s continuous ‘Scorched-Earth Campaign’ in Sagaing & Mandalay regions

Junta troops in Sagaing Region have been amping up their arson attacks across the religion with a new vengeance after the new year.

●       Between January 13 and 14, a column of some 80 soldiers moved into Ye-U Township and torched a 129-year-old Catholic church and at least 120 houses in Chan Thar village, a predominantly Catholic village with a Buddhist minority, a member of a local resistance force told Myanmar Now.

●       On January 17, another column of junta soldiers raided Htone Bo village in Sagaing Township and torched 13 homes. The village is located five miles north of the historic Mingun Bell and Mingun Pagoda, a world-famous destination.

●       The arson attacks spilled over to the neighboring Mandalay Region on January 24, where junta forces burned down 39 houses in Ngazun Township. Residents said the junta troops assumed that members of the People’s Defense Force from Myang Township were sheltering in Shwe Pauk Pin Kyun village, and advanced into the village at 4am.

●       In Tabayin Township, local resistance forces told RFA Burmese that a total of 3,514 houses, five monasteries and 24 shop buildings were torched between December 2022 and January 2023. The arson attacks occurred across 37 villages and two wards.

Protests & Fundraising 

  • Continuing protests across the country 

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

  • Protests against Junta’s election 

Local residents and resistance fighters staged protests against the so-called election planned by the Junta, in Khin-U and Ayadaw Townships, Sagaing Region. 

  • Dissemination of posters against Junta’s election 

January 21: In order to oppose the so-called election to be held by the Junta, the Octopus (People’s Youth Organization) distributed posters in Yangon saying, “Fight against illegitimate and shameful election of fascist military”.

  • Spring Valour Condominiums sold out within 18 hours

On January 21, the NUG Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment started selling Spring Valour Condominiums that are planned to be constructed in the land currently controlled by the military in Yangon. And all apartments were sold out within 18 hours for a total worth of USD 10.35 Million. The NUG Minister U Tin Htun Naing said that all 3-bedroom and 1-bedroom were sold out even in the first hour. NUG also reported that it had received advanced orders for buying 80% of the total rooms before the official sales date. Spring Valour Condominiums were sold on a 3-month installment plan, and real estate agents analyzed that NUG’s sales price is ten times cheaper than the market price, and thus, recommended buying them.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • NUG’s police station arrested killer of NLD officer family in Kantbalu tsp, Sagaing Region

The National Unity Government (NUG)’s police station located in Sagaing Region arrested a man named Ye Min Naung on January 18 on suspicion of committing mass murders in Ngarmyaung Village, Kantbalu Township. An investigation has been launched since January 13 when U Kyaw Hlaing, the officer of the National League for Democracy (NLD) from the village was murdered along with his family. Ye Min Naung was found guilty by the NUG’s court, which announced that the culprit would be tried according to human rights standards and principles while it continued finding the rest of the killers.    

  • Election committee office bombed in Indaw, Sagaing Region

On the evening of January 17, the election committee in Indaw Town, Sagaing Region was attacked with two bombs by urban guerilla forces. Although the blast was not severe, the regime’s soldiers carried out a shooting spree by firing artillery following the incident, one of which was aimed toward downtown and injured two people: a 30-year-old man and a 3-year-old child. Indaw is in the upper Sagaing Region; near Kachin State, where PDF and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) coordinate military operations against the regime’s forces. 

  • Two village administrators killed in Htantapin tsp, Bago Region

On January 17, two unknown gunmen on their motorbikes followed and opened fire on a vehicle carrying village administrators from Chaung Wa Village, Htantapin Township, Bago Region. Both people in the car U Soe Naing, the current administrator, and U Khin Maung Win, the former in charge were shot and killed on the spot. Tragically, a bullet from the scene flew toward bystanders and hit an infant who was being held by his mother in her arms. The young victim was taken immediately to the hospital but did not make it. It’s unknown who was responsible for the mission. 

  • Junta’s conspirator shot and killed in Kyaukse tsp, Mandalay Region

Around 8 pm on January 18, a man named U Tun Oo was shot and killed in Thasilay Village, Kyautse Township, Mandalay Region. The 40-year-old man had been notoriously conspiring with the regime by informing the soldiers about the people in the resistance movement since the coup and recently he had been witnessed collecting census data in order to help organize the election. Kyaukse-based People Revolution Force (PRF)-Kyaukse claimed responsibility for the attack. PRF also said that it had warned the man many times previously and he did not listen hence he had to be dealt with the ultimate resolution.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Regime’s airstrike killed seven civilians in Katha tsp, Sagaing Region

Following a battle on the previous day, the regime’s forces conducted airstrikes on Moetarlay Village, Katha Township, Sagaing Region on January 19. Two fighter jets flew above the village and dropped bombs twice although the village was at least five miles away from the battle zone. The airstrikes killed at least seven villagers and multiple livestock, injured over 30 people, and destroyed households. The dead victims were six females; three of them were burned to death by the explosion and one man. The bombs were dropped at a time when the whole village was preparing for a donation ceremony. The casualty and injury list might increase in the coming days.

  • Villager tortured and killed by SAC’s soldiers near Wang Bao Company in Sarlingyi tsp, Sagaing Region

On January 19, a dead body was found near the copper mining project operated by the Chinese Wang Bao Company in Sarlingyi Township, Sagaing Region. It was later identified as Ko Khine Soe, from Kyautphyutaing Village who was abducted by the regime’s forces on January 13. The 36-year-old man was transporting his mother and sister to an internally displaced camp and was detained on his way back along with six other people who were let go on the same day. Ko Khine Soe was kept under detention due to the documents found in his backpack that were related to donations for displaced people. His dead body bore multiple wounds and torture signs. His whole face had been beaten up terribly to the point that the face was also unrecognizable.

  • SAC attacked NUG hospital in Myaing tsp, Magway Region

On the afternoon of January 21, the regime’s forces reportedly carried out aerial attacks on the hospital under the control of the NUG in Bahin Village, Myaing Township, Magway Region. The airstrike was conducted without any ongoing clash nearby. Initial reports described that an elderly was killed and two PDF rangers were injured in the attack which also caused damage to the x-ray room. About 50 patients had to be evacuated from the facility. Although NUG has declared that it has the weapons to stop airstrikes, nothing has been seen in action, and people have criticized it.  

  • Framed NLD member/LGBTQ faced terrorism charge in Mandalay

U Khin Maung Chin @ Chin Chin, a former member of NLD has been charged with Counterterrorism Law Section 52A after he was framed and arrested by the regime’s soldiers in last year’s December. Chin Chin is also a member of LGBTQ community, who has not been politically active since the coup and caring for their 90-year-old mother. However, the regime supporters called for the arrest as Chin Chin posted on Facebook a birthday wish for the former Mandalay Regional Minister Dr. Zaw Myint Maung and referred to the State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi as “mother”. Chin Chin has been detained in Obo Prison, Mandalay now and has had the first hearing inside the facility on the terrorism charge.

  • Seven people including NLD MP abducted in Nyaung-U, Mandalay Region

On the night of January 16, U Win Myint Khine, the former member of regional parliament from NLD was abducted along with his son Ko Khine Thiha and two others by the regime’s forces in his house in Nyaung-U, Mandalay Region. The 60-year-old former MP has no longer been involved in politics, according to local sources; however, the junta’s supporters claimed that U Win Myint Khine has been supporting PDF and he was arrested on the same charges. The other detainees are identified as U Kyaw Thu, aged 55, and Ko Arkar Min, aged 25. Earlier in the month, a 20-year-old Ma Shwe Phoo Eain, a 35-year-old Ma Ei Ei Thein, and one more woman were also abducted in Nyaung-U. The family members of those detainees refused to speak out since they were terrified of the regime adding more charges to the victims. 

Armed Resistance

  • Fight broke out in Yedashe tsp, Bago Region

On January 16 and January 17, violent clashes took place between the regime’s army and the PDF soldiers under NUG in Yedashe Township, the northern part of Bago Region that shares a border with Naypyitaw. The junta’s military convoy was first ambushed by PDF and allies with the detonation of landmines near Nagyat Village on the first day. On the following day, three more encounters were reported. Many men were said to be killed from the junta’s side but the exact number remains unknown. One ranger died fighting as well. The Bago Yoma area is where most resistance forces from the plains are based and the regime is determined to take control of the territory.  

  • PDF attacked village where Pyu Saw Htee training was given in Kantbalu tsp, Sagaing Region    

On the evening of January 17, a coalition of local resistance forces conducted an offensive on Yaw Village where the regime’s soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee members are based. The attack began with grenade drones followed by a ground operation. The 45-minute-long clash saw at least three deaths of the soldiers with nine injured. The rangers retreated without casualty when the junta’s forces started firing artillery. PDF unit 4 from Kantbalu District, People’s Revolutionary Front (PRF), MPF-U18, Kanbalu Underground Warriors, and Dynamite Empire coordinated the offensive.

  • SAC forces seized PDF station in Gantgaw tsp, Magway Region

On January 18, the junta’s army conducted an offensive and seized a PDF outpost located near Saidu Village, three miles away from Gantgaw Town, Magway Region. The artillery was fired toward the station before about 70 troops raided the area. PDF members were outnumbered hence they deserted the post and moved quickly to safety. The soldiers stole the personal belongings of the rangers and set up a landmine before they left. When PDF members later came back to the station, one of them was injured in the leg by the explosion.

  • Clash intensified, the regime conducted airstrikes in Katha tsp, Sagaing Region

A three-day battle between the regime’s army and the resistance forces has been reported from Moetarlay Village, Katha Township, Sagaing Region. The clash started when the SAC’s military convoy under Battalion Unit 77 was ambushed by a coalition of guerilla forces such as People’s Defense Force (PDF), PDT, and All Burma Students’ Defense Force (ABSDF) between Singonetine and Tatkone villages, 20 miles north of Katha Town on January 18. About 70 SAC troops suffered many losses and got stuck in the area until two fighter jets came to their rescue by conducting airstrikes. The aerial attack continued the next day until all SAC soldiers were evacuated. Up to seven civilians were killed due to the airstrikes. A commander from the junta was said to be killed in the combat but it has not been verified yet.

  • Five SAC soldiers died during shoot-out in Ye tsp, Mon State

On the morning of January 20, a shoot-out occurred when the regime’s soldiers were ambushed by Ye Guerilla Force (YGF) near Ywarthit Village, Ye Township, Mon State. It lasted just five minutes, and five regime soldiers were killed on the spot while one escaped with wounds. The rangers were able to collect three rifles and retreat successfully. YGF said it is very difficult to get arms in this situation, first of all, weapons are expensive, and second, it is possible to get cheated by the seller. Hence, YGF conducts ambushes and attempts to seize the enemies’ weapons. In addition to YGF, Yebalu, Mon State Revolutionary Union (MSRF/MSRO) and Mon State’s Defense Force (MSDF) are active in the Ye area.

  • Restaurant in Yangon came under fire for help arresting PDF members

On January 21, two members of an urban guerilla force attempted a grenade attack on the ward administration office in South Oakklapa Township, Yangon. As they were rushing to safety after the mission, staff from a nearby restaurant named Ngwe Taung followed them and got a hold of one while another one narrowly escaped. They reportedly beat up the ranger, who is named Thar Din badly and put him in the police’s custody. Some reports said they beat up the young man to death but there was no verification. Yangon-based resistance forces have warned the restaurant to face repercussions and the civilians have also reminded each other to boycott the place. 

Source: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit News, Mizzima News, The Irrawaddy, RFA Burmese, The DVB, Tachileik News Agency, The Wire

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