Hi folks, here’s another weekly update from the team. One of the biggest news of the week was the NLD’s sacking of four members including the former Yangon Regional Minister U Phyo Min Thein. Nothing is crystal clear about what is going on inside Myanmar’s most influential political organization but one thing for certain is the public is always going to side with the party or the politicians that have the pure and best interest of the country at heart. Another news that deserves more attention is the butchering and killing of more than a dozen civilians in Sagaing Region. The regime’s soldiers reportedly beheaded and killed 14 hostages from Tartine Village, Sagaing Township in one of its routine raids. Concrete proof of the crime is documented in pictures, videos and witnesses. Despite all this, if somebody is still convinced they are contributing to the betterment of the country by lobbying or participating in the junta-organized upcoming election, one requires a double check on their loyalty pledge towards the public or perhaps their intellect.
- NLD removed U Phyo Min Thein and three other CC members
On March 3, the National League for Democracy (NLD) issued a statement which removed U Phyo Min Thein, Daw Sandar Min, U Toe Lwin and U Win Myint Aung from the party, stripping party-related titles and duties. The announcement stated that the aforementioned party members failed to follow the NLD’s rules, abused the party’s name, and comply with the military junta. After the coup, U Phyo Min Thein admitted at the regime’s court that he bribed the detained Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with gold bars and money. Daw Sandar Min and U Toe Lwin reportedly met the Lady in Naypyidaw Prison and asked for her permission to reopen the party offices last year. On these accounts, On the same day, U Toe Lwin wrote on his Facebook, claiming that the current NLD’s Central Working Committee, led by U Aung Kyi Nyunt, does not have legitimacy. He said that since November 8, 2021, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Win Myint both said through their lawyers that they do not recognize the use of NLD’s name, CEC, and its Facebook pages, further claiming that the announcement of his removal is not legitimate. U Toe Lwin named six other NLD higher leaders who remain in the country, and encouraged the media to talk to these people as well. Whatever the internal dispute is, the regime would be happy to see the publicized drama of the NLD.
- 13 political parties to contest in the regime’s sham election
The junta-assembled Union Election Commission (UEC) announced on February 27 that 13 political parties have re-registered with the UEC to compete in the 2023 Election. The registered parties are the military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the Pa-O National Organization (PNO), National Unity Party (NUP), Arakan Front Party (AFP), New Democracy Party (Kachin), Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party, New National Democracy Party (NNDP), Public Service Students Party (PSSP), and Democratic Forces Labour Party. The former Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), Democratic Party (Myanmar) and United Democratic Party have also registered under new names. Among the registered political parties, five will compete nationwide while eight will only enter regionally.
- 88 Gen U Ko Ko Gyi’s People’s Party will remain a political party
After the party conference held on February 28, People’s Party, led by 88 Generation student leader U Ko Ko Gyi, announced that the party will remain a political party under the military regime. U Ko Ko Gyi and his party received severe criticism after the coup for failing to join the people’s resistance movement. The announcement made by the People’s Party said that Myanmar’s democratization process backtracked because of the wrong decisions made by then-political leaders. On the same day, former NLD parliamentarian U Sein Win, who is known as Maubin Sein Win, announced that his party the National United Democracy Party has now been merged with the People’s Party.
- The junta chief made a trip to Rakhine State, AA closely following the trip
The coup leader Min Aung Hlaing travelled to Sittwe and Kyaukphyu from February 26 to 28 where he held meetings with the Western Regional Commander, military families and some business people in Rakhine State. During the press conference on February 27, Arakan Army (AA)’s spokesperson Khaing Thukha said that the ethnic armed group has been closely following the coup leader’s trip to the state to see if he exploits the current situation in Rakhine State on the international stage. The spokesperson also said that the regime’s plan for the repatriation of Rohingyas from the Bangladesh side could be politically motivated especially when the country is not stable.
- KNU held an online convention, and reps from Brigade 5 were absent
On February 27, the Karen National Union (KNU) held its convention online after having postponed it for nearly two years. The convention, which was held after the open letter from the Karen diaspora and society groups last week, was crucial for the selection of new leadership, and central executive committee members. During the online convention, representatives from Papun District (Brigade 5 area) were absent according to the Myanmar Now report. Papun District is an area where KNLA’s Deputy Commandar-in-Chief Saw Baw Gyaw He receives tremendous support from the Karen public, as well as, a resistance stronghold. A district-level leader told Myanmar Now that the absence of Brigade 5 representatives certainly had an impact on the convention, yet he believed that negotiations will be reached. The KNU usually holds the convention every four years, and the last convention was supposed to be held in 2020 but it was postponed due to COVID-19. The current leadership was elected in 2016.
- Dr Noeleen Heyzer talked to OIC about the Rohingya refugees
On February 20, UN Special Envoy to Myanmar Dr Noeleen Heyzer travelled to the headquarters of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Saudi Arabia. During the meeting with Yousef Al-Dobeay, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Dr Heyzer raised the situation of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the recent ration cut from the WFP, and called for the responsibility-sharing among the OIC member states while recognizing Bangladesh’s shouldering of disproportionate responsibilities.
- Rights groups revealed international companies which supply aviation fuel to the junta
On March 1, Global Witness, Amnesty International and Burma Campaign UK published a new report which uncovered that companies from Europe, Japan, India and Thailand involved in new shipments of aviation fuel to the military junta which has been using airstrikes against the civilians. The involvement of these international companies varied from selling aviation fuel, facilitating transactions, and docking the oil tankers at the respective countries’ ports. The UN reported that the Myanmar military conducted at least 670 airstrikes in 2022, including the infamous Let Yet Kone massacre where bombs fell on a primary school and killed at least 11 children. The new report shows that despite Western sanctions, the military regime continues to receive aviation fuel from abroad, resulting in the killing of more civilians in the country.
- Myanmar remains on FATF list
On February 24, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) released the updated list on the countries with financial jurisdictions deficiencies and Myanmar remains on the list since its first inclusion in October 2022. The FATF has provided a list of eight recommendations for Myanmar to address these deficiencies and says the country will remain on the blacklist until its full action plan is completed.
- Nestlé to halt production in Myanmar
Nestlé, the Swiss food giant, will halt all production in Myanmar, a spokesperson said on February 27. The company became the latest company to withdraw from the country following a military coup two years ago. Since the coup, many foreign firms have exited the market, including oil behemoths TotalEnergies and Chevron, as well as Norwegian telecoms operator Telenor. Nestlé’s factory in Yangon’s commercial hub, as well as its head office, would cease operations due to the current economic situation, with no timeframe provided. In Myanmar, Nestlé sells Nescafe instant coffee, Maggi noodles, and Milo chocolate malt beverages. According to the spokesperson, a Myanmar company would market and distribute Nestlé products from Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
- Two garment factories in Yangon closed, causing unemployment for 2000 workers
More than 2,000 workers lost their jobs after two garment factories in Yangon’s Shwe Pyi Thar Township closed on February 28, according to the Solidarity Federation of Trade Unions (STUM). The two factories, GTIG Garment and GY Sen Garment, each employed over 1,000 people. “Workers will face difficulties. It is impossible to find another job very soon.”, a STUM official said. Chinese nationals owned both factories and according to the STUM, workers were informed they would be compensated.
Protests & Fundraising
- Continuing protests across the country
Protests are still going strong, including in Yinmarbin, Kalay, Myaing, Monywa, Yangon, Kani, Myaung, and Laung Lone regions.
- Myanmar Expats Stage Protest in Washington
On February 26, Myanmar expats gathered outside the White House and the State Department in Washington, calling for a no-fly zone in Myanmar and harsh action against the junta.
- Youths gave talks on banning PTT and PTTEP products
The revolutionary youth of the Dawei District Democratic Movement Strike Committee gave a talk on boycotting PTT and PTTEP products on March 1. PTTEP and PTT have 25.5% of the Yadana Natural Gas Project, 19.32% of the Ye Ta Gon Project, and 80% of the Zawtika Project, which are oil and gas projects in Myanmar. It is a large oil and energy company owned by Thailand that has invested and is paying millions of dollars to the Junta.
Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties
- Military informer/Dalan shot and killed in Monywa, Sagaing Region
On the afternoon of February 27, a military soldier-turned-spy was reportedly shot and killed in Monywa City, Sagaing region. He was identified as Than Naing who had been collecting and informing news on the PDF rangers in the area. A local-based People’s Defense Force (PDF) named Bandoola led the attack in collaboration with three other forces to carry out the mission. Bandoola rangers said that civilians had brought up the information about Than Naing to them and they conducted the operation following an investigation into him. A grenade and bullets were found on him when Than Naing was killed.
- Regime’s intelligence unit attacked in North Oakkalpa tsp, Yangon
On the night of February 28, Yangon’s PDF mounted an assault on the intelligence unit of the regime located near Bayli Bridge, North Oakkalapa Township, Yangon. The operation was conducted under Mission Impossible 1 (MI1) Mission. At least 10 personnel from the unit were reportedly killed. People nearby said they heard gunshots and sirens of ambulances throughout the night. A spokesperson from PDF said that this is the beginning of the second wave of operation in Yangon named Eagle Wave and more attacks are to come in the near future.
- USDP’s counselor house targeted with bomb in Naypyitaw
On February 28, an explosion took place inside the house of U Mya Nyein, the counselor of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the military’s proxy political party. The house, located in Shwekyarpin Ward, Zabuthiri Township, was attacked with a grenade and its second floor was reportedly destroyed by the blast. There was no casualty as the family was out. U Mya Nyein, the 77-year-old man with many housings and properties, severed as the vice chair of Amyothahluttaw from 2010 to 2015 and now take the counselor role in the party. He is known for his outbursts against the National League for Democracy (NLD) throughout the years. Two more explosions took place in the same township in Naypyitaw following this incident despite the tightened security. On March 1, a blast occurred in Mandalay Paradise Restaurant owned by a crony named U Kyaw Myint Hlaing, the former director general of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation who is also a friend of the former dictator U Than Shwe and the former president U Thein Sein. The third one happened at a police inspection gate on the evening of March 2 when a grenade was thrown toward the regime’s police where at least four men were either injured or killed.
- PDF ranger turned military informer shot and killed in Mandalay
On the afternoon of March 2, a 20-year-old man was found dead at the corner of 10th and 62nd streets, Aungmyaethazan Township, Mandalay. According to the witness, he was on his motorbike and an unknown gunman fired on him from close range. The dead man was later identified as a former ranger from the local-based urban guerilla force named Mandalay Independent Association who jumped ships to join the regime’s informant squad. The man reportedly stole weapons from the team and gave them to the military while he continued working as a spy as well as a drug dealer.
Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence
- Massacre committed by regime’s forces in Sagaing tsp, Sagaing Region
Between the evening of February 28 and March 1, 15 villagers were brutally tortured and killed by the regime’s soldiers in Tartine Village, Sagaing Township, Sagaing Region. On February 28, the junta’s forces marched along the Ayawaddy River from Myinmu Township and conducted a surprise raid on Tartine Village. They ran into Ko Michael @ Ko Kyaw Saw, a villager PDF leader on the way to the village. They tortured, butchered, and killed him before entering the village. Ko Michael’s disfigured body was found in pieces the following day. The regime’s soldiers abducted 14 villagers including three women and took them as hostages on their exit. The dead bodies of all of them were later found bearing bullet wounds and torture signs. Those identified were Ko Michael’s brother Ko Tun Tun aged 25, Ko Kyaw Soe aged 35, U Soe Naing aged 47, U Nga Lin aged 45, and Ko Kyaw Kyaw aged 34. The local groups have called for more serious intervention from the international community as they believe the military is set to turn these areas into ashes sometime soon.
- Five killed by the regime’s artillery in Shan-Karenni border
In the last week of February, a total of five people were killed by the regime’s heavy weaponry in Pinlong, Pekon, and Demoso townships on the border of Shan and Karenni states. On February 24, a 46-year-old woman from Taungsalone Village, Pinlong Township, Shan State died of wounds from the artillery. On February 27, the junta’s soldiers fired cannons toward villages near Demoso Town, killing a 70-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman. On February 28, another strike fell on a monastery where the internally displaced people were taking refuge in Khaungei Village, Pekon Township. Two brothers, aged 19 and aged 15 were killed. Since February 24, armed conflict in Karenni State has intensified between the local resistance forces and the alliance of the regime and Paoh National Army (PNA) and these artillery strikes were from those battles.
- Regime’s airstrike resulted in two deaths in Shweku tsp, Kachin State
On February 27, the regime’s forces reportedly conducted an airstrike in Shweku Township, Kachin State without an active battle going on nearby. On that afternoon around 3.30 pm, the junta’s military chopper opened fire on the gold-mine workers who were sifting gold between Paukkone and Thinbawinn villages. A 48-year-old woman and a 57-year-old man were killed on the spot. Three others, two women and a man were also severely injured by the aerial attack. According to local sources, there was no active battle in the area for nearly two months and this attack was a deliberate act from the regime to kill civilians.
- Pyu Saw Htee members killed four civilians in Myingyan tsp, Mandalay Region
On the evening of February 28, the military-sponsored Pyu Saw Htee group abducted four people, three men, and one woman, from Layywasone Village, Myingyan Township, Sagaing Region. And their dead bodies were found near the village irrigation stream the next morning. The victims were Ko Soe Thu Aung, Ko Phoe Aye, Ko Maung Maung, and Ma Khin Yu Mon, all of them were supporters of NLD. It’s unclear why they were targeted but people speculated it must be related to the death of a military informer in the village on February 21. Although they may not have been involved with the mission, the military-backed thugs killed them for being NLD supporters, as a point of retaliation.
- Four villagers killed in Yinmabin Tsp, Sagaing Region
On March 1, four dead bodies were found in Kone Village, Yinmabin Township, Sagaing Region where the regime’s troops had raided a day prior. Three of the victims were identified as U Sann Lin, U Aye Lwin, and U Tin Tun. All three of them were left in the village due to disability while the rest of the village ran to safety in fear of the soldiers. U San Linn and U Aye Lwin were shot and killed while U Tin Tun was killed in his house fire set by the soldiers. The last victim was a 30-year-old man from nearby Intaw Village who was brought along by the troops as a guide before he was also killed. The soldiers went on to set the village on fire, and over 300 households were burned down including storages of paddy and beans.
- Regime’s forces blocked transportation of food and grocery to Matupi, Chin State
It was reported that the regime’s soldiers have banned carrying food and grocery into Matupi Town, in the south of Chin State for more than a month. The soldiers hold a security post at the entrance of the town and they have reportedly stopped and seized all items that people have carried up to their gate. According to local sources, the soldiers are doing this because they want to block supply to Chin Defense Force (CDF). Now, medicine and rice supply in the area have become dangerously low, people cannot buy even if they have enough money. Matupi Town has about 60,000 inhabitants and although people grow rice there, 70% of the supply comes from the plains. In addition, the regime has also cut off of telephone communication in the town since January 7, 2023.
- Karenni resistance forces attacked the regime’s artillery station in Bawlakhe tsp, Karenni State
On February 27, a joint force of the Karenni Army (KA) and Karenni Nationality Defense force (KNDF) carried out an assault on the regime’s artillery post near BP 12, Thai-Myanmar border in Bawlakhae Township, Kareeni State. Karenni Military Information Center (KMIC) said the clash went on from 6.30 am to 8 am and 10 people from each side suffered death. As the rangers planned to continue the attack on another station about 400 yards away, the regime’s jets came and dropped bombs. A total of five jets conducted airstrikes. The rangers managed to seize and carry back a few weapons plus a cannon before retreating. The station in question is now back under the control of the regime.
- PDF members captured and brutally killed in Myinmu tsp, Sagaing Region
In the last week of February, five dead bodies of young PDF members were found in Nyaungpinkan Village, Myinmu Township, Sagaing Region. Two of the victims were Ko Lamin Sein @ Phoe Sein aged-15 and Phoe Kae aged-17, from ACID Army People Defence Force. They were abducted by the troops while trying to plant a bomb and used as human shields. The soldiers later killed the teens by chopping their heads and body parts off. Since there was no bullet wound found on the victims, they must have suffered barbaric torture before death. Another two named Ko Myo Zin and Ko Zaw Myo Thant were also shot and killed during the clash that took place in the nearby Kantaw Village. Both were also chopped into pieces after death. Their heads were later placed on spikes in the village by the soldiers.
- Detonation attack killed five regime soldiers in Khin-U tsp, Sagaing Region
On March 1, the local resistance forces carried out a landmine denomination attack on the regime’s convoy near Yartaw Village, Khin-U Township, Sagaing Region. At least five soldiers were killed in the blast. The convoy was reportedly transporting items the soldiers had robbed from villages in the west of Khin-U Township to Ye-U when the attack took place.
- Battle killed four PDF members and three villagers in Wetlet tsp, Sagaing Region
On March 2, a clash broke out between the regime’s troops and the local resistance forces near Kyeekan Village, Wetlet Township, Sagaing Region. Four PDF members such as U Chu aged 55, Ko Tu Naing aged-30, Ko Min Min aged-40, and Ko Bo Than aged-45 were killed in the battle. The troops went on to terrorize the village and three villagers who ran into them were also killed. The victims were 75-year-old U Kyaw Aye, 40-year-old U Naing Myo Min, and 55-year-old U Soe Tint. Since the end of February, the regime’s army has been conducting an offensive on Welet Township in three columns. About a hundred households have been burned down in the process in addition to casualties.
- Clashes broke out more frequently, hundreds fled homes in Kawthoung tsp, Tanintharyi Region
More intense and frequent skirmishes have been reported in Kawthoung Township, Tanintharyi Region since February 19 when the local PDFs declared their control on three villages in the area namely Winedin, Ayemyamingalar, and Tatoomyaingthaya. Since then, the regime’s forces have been clashing with the resistance forces near Winedin Village. Hundreds of civilians have fled their homes due to the tension on the rise. At least 230 people have taken refuge at the Thai border according to a PDF member.
- Passport office saga
On February 27, passport services in Yangon were unexpectedly suspended. After a two-month hiatus, passport applications were briefly resumed on February 24 via an online booking system. Before services were abruptly suspended, at least 8,519 people were able to apply for passports. According to the staff on why it was suspended again, he said the booking website needed maintenance. The passport office’s website operated again on March 1.
Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit Media, Mizzima News, The DVB, The Irrawaddy, Karenni Military Information Center