Hi folks, it is with great sadness that we report another tragic incident today, as the regime’s forces allegedly killed at least 33 people, including monks, in an IDP camp located in Pinlaung Township, Shan State. It is important to note that this incident occurred while investigations were still ongoing for the mass killings that took place in Tar Taing Village, Sagaing Region earlier this month. Although the identities of the soldiers responsible for these terrible acts remain unknown, it is clear that they acted in the name of Min Aung Hlaing. As such, we must hold him accountable for all crimes committed by his forces. Every life lost is a tragedy, and it is our duty to ensure justice is served.Read our highlights of the week below.
- KNU’s Pado Saw Roger Khin denied the accusations
In the previous weeks, we reported the open letter issued by Karen civil society groups across the globe which demanded a change for Karen National Union (KNU)’s leadership. The open letter pointed out that one of KNU’s central committee members Pado Saw Roger Khin was seen involved in new city projects at the border. On March 12, Padoh Saw Roger Khin announced through KNU Central’s Facebook page that he denied his alleged involvement in the new city project. However, he admitted that he attended the groundbreaking event of Trans- Asia International Holding Group on February 17, 2020, in order to fight for the rights of the public whose land plots were confiscated. Saw Roger Khin continued that the new city project is located in the Myanmar government’s territory and not in KNU’s Brigade 6 area, hence, the KNU leadership did not grant the permission.
- Shan Party picked up a former NLD MP as its representative
U Hla Htay, a former parliamentarian representing the National League for Democracy (NLD), confirmed with RFA Burmese on March 11 that he now works at the Yangon Region Representative of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP). The SNDP is widely known as the White Tiger party, and it has now been re-registered at the junta-assembled Union Election Commission with a new name “Shan & Nationalities Democratic Party”. Long-term politician U Hla Htay entered the 2010 General Election from the Democratic Party (Myanmar), and then switched to the NLD during the 2012 By-Election and the 2015 General Election. He won a seat representing Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township in Yangon, representing the NLD. In 2020, he entered the election as an individual candidate. However, Mingalar Taung Nyunt Strike Network declared on March 10 that U Hlta Thay is a corrupt politician. Despite the criticisms, U Hla Htay said that he decided to partake in the regime’s sham election through an ethnic political party because it aims to build a new federal nation.
- The NUG willing to cooperate with Kokang’s MNDAA
U Yee Mon, the National Unity Government (NUG)’s Minister of Defense, sent a formal message commemorating the 34th anniversary of the formation of Myanma National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), widely known as the Kokang Army, on March 11. In the message, U Yee Mon said that the NUG is willing to cooperate with the MNDAA in the anti-regime armed resistance movement. The NUG also promises the eradication of military dictatorship, democracy, and the building of a federal state which guarantees equality, rights and autonomy for ethnic groups. U Yee Mon initiated cooperation with MNDAA politically and militarily. Currently, Kokang’s MNDAA has been clashing with the regime to resume control of the Kokang Region and cooperates in a brotherhood alliance with Ta’ang’s TNLA, and Rakhine’s AA.
- Chinese Ambassador met the junta’s UEC
On March 7, the regime-controlled newspapers reported that the Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai held a meeting with the junta-assembled Union Election Commission, and discussed the situation on the upcoming election. The ambassador asked about the possibility of holding the election, the political party registration law and by-laws, electronic voting systems, and PR systems. This marked the second visit from the Chinese delegation to the UEC. Mr Chen Hai also visited the junta-assembled UEC in April 2022. Prior to the Chinese ambassador’s visit to the UEC, Chinese special envoy Deng Xijun visited the junta chief Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyidaw and announced cooperation with the regime in several sectors including business.
- ICRC head met with deputy junta chief
On March 8, Martin Schuepp, director of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Myanmar met with Soe Win, the deputy chair of the military council, and discussed the situation of detainees in prisons according to the junta-run media outlets. Due to the restrictions regarding Covid-19, prisoners in different prisons across the globe are not allowed to receive family visits, and only received packages from families. The regime’s statement revealed that ICRC discussed with the deputy junta chief allowing family visits for detainees. The regime did not disclose if it has allowed family visits, and the ICRC did not issue any statement regarding the meeting.
- Malaysia’s FM continues the commitment to Myanmar’s situation
Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir said that he will continue to engage with ASEAN member states “to find solutions to Myanmar crisis”. He warned that there is a “possiblity of other powers coming in later to intervene” which can impact the stability of ASEAN region. Hence, while Malaysia does not have a direct responsibility, he said that agreement between ASEAN member states is required to find final solutions for Myanmar because it has impact on the region. Zambry assumed the office in December 2022, replacing Saiffudin Abdullah who has shown support to Myanmar’s pro-democracy forces to this day.
- ICANN invited junta’s lackey to its annual forum
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) held its annual community forum in Mexico this year, and invited Myo Swe, who works as teleco regulator under the regime. Justice for Myanmar, local advocacy group, revealed that Myo Swe also serves as an advisory committee member at ICANN. The group called on the ICANN and reminded that Myo Swe is one of the key personnel to orchestrate “digital dictatorship” which included internet shutdowns and surveillance in Myanmar after the coup.
- Rakhine Businessman sues junta-owned insurance company
The owner of a rice mill in Rakhine State recently announced its lawsuit against Aung Thitsa Oo insurance company for allegedly failing to provide the mill with a necessary payout after the business allegedly suffered damage due to reported criminal activity. Aung Thitsa Oo is part of the military conglomerate Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL). Aung Zaw Win, the owner of the rice mill, and his lawyer said that the rice mill was targeted during a clash between the military troops and the Arakan Army (AA), although the pair did not say which side of the clash caused the damage. The owner said that the damage was caused in March 2021, a month after the coup, and he filed for an insurance claim through a military-owned Myawady Bank, but neither the bank nor the insurance company responded to his claim. The pair is determined to pursue further legal action against Aung Thitsa Oo company.
- Singapore’s Keppel Land sells Sedona Hotel for more than 57 million US dollars
Singapore-based Keppel Land announced the sale of its Myanmar subsidiaries Greenfield Development and Straits Greenfield, marking the latest sale of high-value divestments by foreign companies. According to the Straits Times, Keppel Land will receive US$57.4 million in cash for the sale of Straits Greenfield, a company authorized to build hotels in Myanmar and currently operating the Sedona Hotel Yangon, a five-star hotel with a 29-story tower overlooking Inya Lake. Spring Blossom Ventures, about which no information could be found in the regime’s corporate database, will be the buyer, and the sale is expected to close in the first half of 2023.
- Naypyitaw Development Bank announced that it will sue 8 SME owners
While the regime’s leader Min Aung Hlaing recruited SME owners for business development, state-owned Naypyitaw Development Bank (NDB) announced that it will sue 8 SME owners for its overdue debts of 20,000 lakhs Myanmar Kyats (MMK). The letter to repay the debt was issued amidst the economic decline of Myanmar with international sanctions. NDB announced in the junta-run newspapers on March 8 that it will sue SME owners if they fail to repay their loans within two weeks. It stated that the loans have been provided through JICA for SME business developments, and SMEs have failed to pay the principal, interest, and insurance fees multiple times. The NDB’s announcement also revealed information of the SME businesses which included personal information of the owners, identification numbers, types of business, location, and loan amount. Types of businesses include silk and embroidery, grinding businesses, restaurants, weaving, pharmaceutical, and copier shops from Mandalay and Naypyitaw. They have taken loans from a minimum of 460 lakhs to a maximum of 5,550 lakhs. When contacting these SME owners, they said that they cannot repay the loans due to the decline of the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is further deteriorated by the political coup.
- Foreign currencies taxpayers to open bank accounts under SAC banks for tax payments, CBM announced
According to Mizzima News, foreign currencies taxpayers are ordered to open foreign bank accounts under Myanmar Economic Bank, Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB), and Myanma Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) in order to pay the taxes. Moreover, if they have opened foreign bank accounts in private banks and foreign bank branches, they cannot exchange their currencies to Myanmar Kyats for tax payments, but instead, have to transfer the foreign currencies to MEB. In addition to that, CBM instructed that they have to pay the tax amounts in the currency exchange rate set by them, and if the taxpayer is the one living abroad, one needs to pay the taxes in foreign currencies.
- Zalongyi local business owner arrested in Mandalay, brand shut down following social media confusion
Zalongyi local curry paste business owner was arrested in Mandalay by the regime’s forces on March 9 following a social media confusion among netizens. Ignited by a falling out between a prominent social media influencer/ pro-resistance activist and her doubters, some people called her out for selling Zalongyi brand in her new convenience store. Consequently, the business owners had to write on social media that their brand is not the same as the other Zalongyi which had been boycotted by the public for being associated with the military. For the very reason, the soldiers raided their shop the next morning before arresting the owner and seizing all stocks. Now, all the outlets selling the brand have stopped the sale, effectively putting a local brand out of business.
Protest & Fundraising
- Continuing protests across the country
Protests continue to take place across the country including in Yangon, Kyan Khinn, Laung Lone, Yinmarbin, Kalay, May Myo, Myaing, Monywa, Pakokku, and Wetlet regions.
- UG Urban Guerrilla movie screening in Malaysia
A resistance movie, “UG Urban Guerrilla” directed by The-Khit-Nay, was screened on March 5 in Port Klang, Malaysia, and it is reported that there has been a large audience attending the show. The screening was organized by the Shwe-Wah-Yaung Foundation and supported by the revolutionary forces in Malaysia. There were also Burmese traditional drums performances and the revolution play named, “Spring Return”.
Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties
- Dalan shot and killed in Kyunsu tsp, Tanintharyi Region
On March 5, a military informer/dalan named Khin Cho was shot and killed by the People’s Defense Force (PDF) in Myaingthar Village, Kyunsu Township, Tanintharyi Region. Khin Cho was notorious for documenting the pro-resistance people’s movement and blackmailing them as well as monitoring PDF’s actions and reporting them to the junta’s navy in the area. Local PDF conducted a mission and took him out with a gun attack around 8 pm on that evening.
- Military captain died in hospital after PDF attack in Moekaung tsp, Kachin State
On March 9, a military captain named Zin Min Oo met with an ambush attack from PDF in Moekaung Township, Kachin State. The man had been reportedly posing as a civilian and carrying out intelligence tasks in the town, but that morning around 10 am, Moekaung PDF and allied forces managed to identify and open fire on him between Sedihum Village and Nanmatee Town as he traveled from one place to another for reporting duties. He took four bullets and was sent to the hospital as PDF retreated. Zin Min Oo died two days later in Moe Kaung Hospital.
- Gas pipeline targeted in Bilin tsp, Mon State
On the early morning of March 9 around 4 am, a gas pipeline was blown up in Pauktaw Village Tract, Bilin Township, Mon State. A landmine that was reportedly set up on the pipeline exploded, igniting a 3-hour-long fire. Local sources said the pipeline was used for transporting natural gas to Thailand and was a main revenue stream for the regime. However, the junta’s Yangon Electricity Supply Committee said the pipeline supplied gas for Yangon’s utility. It was the second time that a gas pipeline was targeted in Bilin Township, the first attempt took place on October 1, 2021.
- Dalan couple killed in Pyigyitagon tsp, Mandalay
On the morning of March 11, husband and wife were shot and killed between 67 and 68 streets in Pyigyitagon Township, Mandalay. They were identified as Ko Thein Than Soe and Ma Pont Pont, agents of the Passport Office who had reportedly coordinated with the regime’s forces in the arrests of urban guerilla rangers in Mandalay. The shooting took place as they were on their motorbike to the ward administrative office. Special Task Force – Mandalay (STF- MDY) claimed responsibility for the attack and warned the rest of the junta’s lackeys of a similar fate.
Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence
- Three including mentally challenged person murdered in Yinmabin tsp, Sagaign Region
Since March 3, the regime’s forces have been marching in the north of Yinmabin Township, Sagaing Region, murdering everyone they stumble on the way. At least three civilians were killed in the meantime. As they raided Myauknone Village, the soldiers beat up a 50-year-old mentally challenged person named U Phoe Ni to death, and killed and burned a 25-year-old Ma Moe Wai. Local sources said that Ma Moe Wai was raped by a group of soldiers before being killed as there were used condoms found near her burned body. In addition, another villager from Paykone Village named Ko Nyan Win was also tortured and killed as he ran into the military convoy.
- 13 villagers arrested in Waw tsp, Bago Region
On March 5, the regime’s soldiers reportedly abducted 13 people from Phayarpyo Village in Waw Township, Bago Region. The villagers were accused of associating with local resistance forces and abducted in relation to the PDF attack that had taken place in the previous week. On February 26, PDF conducted a mission that blew up the junta’s inspection gate, killing three junta’s lackeys and injuring four militia members. The inspection gate is located four miles from Phayarpyo Village and now 13 villagers have been abducted in retaliation by the regime’s soldiers.
- Former PO of U Phyo Zeya Thaw died in Yamethin Prison, Mandalay Region
U Khin Maung Tint, the former personal officer of the late U Phyo Zeya Taw, died this week while serving his time in Yamethin Prison, Mandalay Region. The 60-year-old man suffered from several vital diseases including lung cancer, he was hospitalized as his health deteriorated on March 3 and passed away on March 7. Before the coup, U Khin Maung Tint had worked as a personal officer for U Phyo Zeyar Thaw, who was executed by the regime last year. He was arrested in late 2021 before being sentenced to five-year-imprisonment with Counterterrorism Act 52A. U Khin Maung Tint, a well-loved Naypyitaw resident, is survived by his wife and two sons.
- Two civilians injured and 40 arrested in action-filled Hpakant, Kachin State
Around 10 pm on March 7, the regime’s soldiers raided a teashop in Hpakant, Kachin State, and arrested everyone in the shop including its owner. In total, 40 people were detained. It remains unknown why they were arrested or where they have been kept. On the previous day, a 40-year-old Daw Mar Mar Aye, an NLD member was also abducted as she was hiding in her sister’s house in Hpapyin Village in the same township. The arrests have taken place following the battle between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the regime’s forces on March 5. On that day, a 50-year-old woman and her 10-year-old daughter were reportedly injured by the junta’s artillery.
- Regime’s forces committed another massacre in Pinlaung tsp, Shan State
On March 12, the local resistance forces found the dead bodies of 30 people and 3 monks in Nantnein Village, Pinlaung Township, Shan State. According to initial reports, the regime’s soldiers raided the village on March 11, using airstrikes and artillery fire. The troops then rounded the monastery, which had been used as a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP), ordering everyone to come out and line up before opening fire and killing all of them. In total, there were 30 IDPs and 3 monks. The process of identification and cremation of each victim has been coordinated between Karenni Nationality Defense Force (KNDF), Karenni Army (KA), and regional PDFs who have vowed to take vengeance against the regime for this massacre.
- CNA bombed regime’s helicopter in Thantlang, Chin State
Chin National Army (CNA) said it had used a drone to bomb the regime’s helicopter on March 3 as the aircraft landed in Thantlang for supplies. CNA shared a video that showed a blast occurring near a helicopter and smoke leaking out of the helicopter as it flew back. Since the turn of the year, the regime’s forces conducted at least 115 airstrikes and half of them were toward Thantlang as they accelerated efforts to control the town.
- Five PDF rangers died during army raid in Ye-U tsp, Sagaing Region
On the early morning of March 4 around 4 am, about 130 regime troops mounted an assault on Falangone Village, 3 miles west of Ye-U Town, Sagaing Region. The soldiers targeted two buildings in the village that were housing PDF members. Although many ranges managed to escape the ambush, five were killed in the battle. All of them were aged between 18 to 35, and the burned bodies were only found on March 6 after the army left the village.
- Nine PDF rangers, including NLD chair, killed in regime’s offensive in Kawthoung tsp, Tanintharyi region
On March 4, the regime’s forces conducted an offensive on a PDF station near Winedin Village, Kawthaung Township, Tannintharyi Region. In the surprise attack, nine PDF rangers were killed. U Thet Naing, the chair of NLD for Kawthoung Township was also one of the fallen rangers. The 40-year-old man was the first person from Kawthoung to be listed by the junta on a warrant with the 505a sedition act. U Thet Naing chose the armed resistance and fought against the regime soldiers until his last breath. The armed conflict in Kawthoung Township has accelerated since February 19 when the PDF declared certain areas as its territory including Winedin Village.
- PDF member claimed responsibility for accidental attack on civilians in Myinchan tsp, Mandalay Region
On March 7, a vehicle carrying nine people was attacked on Myinchan-Nahtoegyi Road, Mandalay Region. The incident saw three civilian deaths including a 6-year-old child. A local resistance force confessed that it was their mistake as the car was following a military official’s vehicle whom they had intended to attack. The situation confused the rangers and led them to make a wrong judgment to target the second car instead. Three passengers such as Mg Shwe Phone Thit, U Than Htike Myo, and Daw Nyein Thandar Thin were killed while two others on board were injured.
- Clashes reported in Shweku, Kachin State
On the morning of March 9, the local PDF conducted an offensive on the regime’s army in Shweku Town, Kachin State. PDF said its forces attacked the 100-troop convoy near Tharyarkone Village, a few miles north of the town. About 9 people including a commander were speculated to be killed in the attack while PDF rangers managed to retreat without casualty. The same regime convoy had been terrorizing villages in the area, it set Kyauttalone Village on fire on March 5, burning down at least 30 households.
- Junta’s matriculation exams began
Junta-administered matriculation exams began on March 8 in Myanmar amid tight security. According to the Examinations Department, 180,000 students from across the country have registered to take the exam. Prior to 2021, the number of students sitting for matriculation exams increased by about 50,000 per year, but it has dropped by one-third since the military coup. The National Unity Government (NUG) has declared that the regime’s matriculation examinations are illegal and unrecognized.
Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit Media, The DVB, Mizzima News, RFA Burmese, Malay Mail, Justice for Myanmar