Hi folks, here’s another weekly summary from our team. March looked very promising in terms of armed resistance as the battles have spread out across the country and the junta is facing multiple warfronts. However, it is disheartening to learn the news about three PDF deaths from Myaung Township, Sagaing Region. On March 30, Bo Sin Yine, a deputy battalion commander was injured and captured while covering for his comrades so they could escape from the military raid on the village. Bo Sin Yine was beheaded by the regime’s notorious Belu (Orge) Column soldiers. It was impossible to determine whether he was still alive during decapitation although the whole incident was captured on drone footage. Fellow rangers had to cremate his remaining body without the head. Two other PDF members were also killed during the same event. Aged just 19, their names were not even disclosed due to the potential danger to their families. Another tragic event that was caused by Min Aung Hlaing and his soldiers.
Read the week’s highlights below:
- Forty political parties including the NLD and SNLD dissolved
On March 28, the regime-assembled Union Election Commission (UEC) announced that it has dissolved 40 political parties including the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD). The new electoral law required the political parties to re-register, and 40 political parties including those based in Kachin, Kayah (Karenni), Chin, and Shan states did not re-register under the regime-controlled UEC. A total of 63 political parties have re-registered to enter the sham election planned by the military. Among 63 parties, 12 will contest nationwide and 51 will focus on states/regions according to the UEC.
- The junta chief warned EAOs not to support the NUG and PDFs
During his speech at the Armed Forces Day parade on March 27, junta chief Min Aung Hlaing said that the regime will take effective action against the ethnic armed groups that provide support to the National Unity Government (NUG), and the People’s Defense Force (PDFs) to restore “peace and stability” across the country. He also accused that the current armed conflicts which took place in Myanmar are created by the NUG, PDFs, and EAOs to cause damage to the country. The PDFs responded to this accusation that it is the regime soldiers who are burning the civilians’ homes and killing innocent people.
- Seven NCA signatories met with the regime’s peace team
One day after the coup leader’s warning against the EAOs, seven ethnic groups, which have signed Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the previous governments, held a two-day meeting with the military’s peace negotiation team on March 28-29 in Naypyidaw. According to General Saw Kyaw Nyunt, spokesperson of the KNU/KNLA-PC, they discussed organizing all-inclusive peace dialogues and federal principles. Last week, the military’s peace team also met with three members of the Northern Alliance which have not signed the NCA.
- The regime extorted money from businesses to celebrate Thingyan
While the resistance forces request the public not to participate in the Thingyan festival, the regime’s administration forces the public and local businesses to organize the festivities. According to Khit Thit media, the General Administration Department in Mayangone Township in Yangon organized a meeting and extorted money from local businesses to plan the festive activities. The report stated that each business was forced to donate MMK 300,000 (Approx: USD 150) during the meeting according to a shop owner.
- Derek Chollet on the implementation of the BURMA Act
After his trip to Southeast Asia, US State Department Counsellor Derek Chollet said that the US is working to implement the BURMA Act. The measures include the provision of humanitarian assistance and non-lethal assistance to pro-democracy groups. According to Chollet, the assistance to pro-democratic forces include planning, budgeting, and administrating the areas that are outside of the regime’s control, which make up about 50% of the state. After having met with the Indonesian Foreign Minister during his trip, he is optimistic about Indonesia setting up a special office for Myanmar to find solutions for the crisis.
- HRW demanded Bangladesh halt the Rohingya repatriation process
On March 31, Human Rights Watch (HRW) demanded Bangladesh authorities suspend the Rohingya repatriation process jointly carried out with the Myanmar military for the lives and freedom of the Rohingyas will be “at grave risk”. In the statement, Rohingyas told HRW that they were “lied to, deceived, or otherwise coerced by Bangladesh administrators” to meet with the Myanmar junta’s officials who traveled to Cox’s Bazaar in mid-March. The Rohingyas from the refugee camps have continuously raised their concerns that this pilot project is possibly conducted for the Myanmar military’s political gain. HRW’s South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly emphasized that the safety of the Rohingyas will not be possible when the military regime is committing “massacres around the country and apartheid in Rakhine State”.
- UK sanctions Burmese businesswoman
On March 27, the UK sanctioned Shoon Energy and its director and owner Daw Kyauk Kyar Shwe (Zhao Jia Shui), also known as Daw Khin Phyu Win, for importing, storing, and delivering jet fuel to the military. According to DICA, Daw Kyauk Kyar Shwe is a director, along with a Thai citizen, Yikhao Maneeyok, at the Shoon Energy Thilawa Terminal Company Ltd, formerly known as Puma Energy Asia Sun Company Ltd, a joint venture between Swiss and Singapore-based Puma Energy. According to Amnesty International, Puma Energy sold its stake in National Energy Puma Asia Sun (NEPAS) to Shoon Energy in December 2022. NEPAS is a joint venture with the junta-controlled MPE that is in charge of the import, storage, and sale of jet fuel. Shoon Energy is the second Singapore-registered company to be sanctioned in the aftermath of the Myanmar military’s illegal coup attempt, and covert group Justice For Myanmar, which exposes Myanmar junta-related businesses, said it underscores Singapore’s continued role as a base for businesses providing funds, arms, and jet fuel to the Myanmar military.
- Myanmar economy to remain “severely diminished” says World Bank
On March 31, the World Bank released a regional report that Myanmar’s economic growth was to remain “severely diminished” and GDP was only expected to increase just 3% in the fiscal year to September 2023. According to the report, widespread violence, worsening power shortages, and policy failures would continue to disrupt an already crippled economy thanks to political and social turmoil. “The business environment is unlikely to improve materially while electricity shortages, logistics disruptions, trade and foreign exchange restrictions, and regulatory uncertainty persist,” the report said.
Protests & Fundraising
- Continuing protests across the country
Protests are still going strong, including in Yinmarbin, Kani, Kalay, Myaing, Laung Lone, Monywa, Khin Oo, and Wetlet regions.
- Protest in Tokyo
Burmese and Japanese people staged a protest in front of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) office in Tokyo on March 28. “As a Japanese, I feel humiliated that a prominent party official accepted the terrorist junta’s honor. The military coup was rejected by the Japanese. I want to show that I support the Spring Revolution of the Burmese people, so I came and joined the protest,” said Kumazawa, a Japanese lawyer in Tokyo.
- Fundraising football tournament in Thailand
On April 2, a football tournament in Cha Chin Song City, Thailand, was held to raise funds for the ongoing spring revolution and to support PDF.
- Thousands displaced in Sagaing Region, Kachin and Karen States
Kachin State: Residents from at least seven villages from Kachin State’s Shwegu Township have been displaced by military shelling and airstrikes that began after clashes erupted between March 23 and 26. Myanmar Now reported that thousands of residents, including volunteers from local and international aid organizations, have been displaced.
Karen State: Between March 25 and 26, fighting broke out in the town of Kyondo in Karen State, resulting in the displacement of over 7,000 residents. Residents who are left in the town told Myanmar Now on March 28 that the town was controlled by junta soldiers and Border Guard Force troops. Local relief workers said only about 20 percent of the residents remain in the town, and more than 7,000 can’t return due to the deployment of the junta soldiers and BGF troops.
Sagaing Region: On April 1, a 70-strong military column advanced into the area between Yinmabin and Salingyi townships, causing over 5,000 residents from six villages to flee. A local that spoke to RFA Burmese said that this could be a clearance operation for Letpandaung Hill Copper Project, and the junta forces are helping to get items in and out of Wanbao company compound.
Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Assets
- PDF attack on airforce base damaged a helicopter in Taungoo, Bago Region
On March 25 and 27, the Bago Region PDF conducted an attack on the regime’s airforce base, located in the north of Taungoo Town, Bago Region. The resistance force reportedly fired four free-flight electric rockets in each attack. The second incident damaged a helicopter and killed three junta soldiers, according to Bago Region PDF’s official statement. The regime called it fake news that its base was targeted although its soldiers were witnessed investigating in Doe Inn Village, the nearest village to the airforce, following the alleged incident.
- Patrolling police targeted in Kawa tsp, Bago Region
Eight regime policemen were reportedly targeted in Ohm Nhal Village, 8 miles east of Kawa Township, Bago Region (east) on March 26. The incident took place around 11 pm, PDF ambushed the police as they hung out in the restaurant owned by the village administrator after patrolling duty. Four police were severely injured and the rest ran to safety following a 10-minute intense shooting. One of the injured died on the way to the hospital, according to Kawa PDF which conducted the mission as a pre-tribute to the Revolution day that falls on March 27. The regime reportedly reinforced the security around the village and held investigations nearby.
- Traffic police attacked with a grenade in Tamwe tsp, Yangon
Around 10 am on March 28, a grenade attack on traffic police was reported in Tamwe Township, Yangon. The incident took place in a very busy junction on East Horse racing street. Witnesses said that somebody threw the grenade from an overhead bridge on the road. One female traffic police was injured and taken to the hospital. It’s unknown who was responsible for the attack.
- Alleged dalan targeted in Mandalay
On the afternoon of March 28, a man was shot in Patheingyi Township, Mandalay Region. He was identified as U Than Naing Oo, 53-year-old from Gwaygyikone Village. He was attacked by a man and a woman on a motorbike as he was sitting in the restaurant after facing a trial for a non-political case in court. A Mandalay-based Urban Guerrilla Force claimed responsibility for the attack and said that U Than Naing Oo was a military informer and many youths were arrested due to his cooperation with the soldiers. He was shot in the chest and arm and now taking treatment in the hospital.
- Four dead during attack on security gate of military-owned banks in Monywa, Sagaing Region
Around 6 am on April 2, the soldiers on security duty in front of the military-owned Myawaddy Bank and Myanmar Economic Bank were reportedly attacked in Monywa Town, Smagaing Region. At least four were killed as the resistance rangers managed to carry out the ambush in the early morning. Two local forces under the control of the NUG coordinated the operation.
Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence
- Thirteen civilians killed during regime’s offensive in KNU’s controlled areas
Karen National Union (KNU) released a statement that the regime’s offensive in March had killed 13 civilians and injured 16 others in its controlled areas. Such losses were caused by the combination of airstrikes and artillery shelling from the regime and took place in the KNU’s Brigade 1 territory in Thaton District. Among the dead victims, three were women and among the injured, seven were women. According to the same statement, the regime has committed nearly 1,500 violations against human rights and 900 times of artillery shelling in the KNU’s controlled territories since the coup. A soldier who has joined the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) previously confessed that the regime has ordered its soldiers to target the villages and civilians if KNU conducts an offensive on them.
- Regime’s airstrike killed 10 civilians in Thantlang tsp, Chin State
On March 30, the regime’s forces conducted an airstrike on Phokwar Village, six miles north of Thantlang Town, Chin State. Despite lack of active conflict in the area, the military jet shelled four bombs on the village in the morning attack. At least 10 civilians were killed including three children and five women while more than 20 were injured. A church and many houses were also damaged by the aerial attack. The attack came three days after the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing vowed to eradicate all the ethnic armed organizations that cooperate with the NUG and support PDF.
- Regime’s airstrike near IDP camp killed six civilians in Tigyaing tsp, Sagaing Region
On the evening of March 31, the regime’s forces conducted an airstrike near an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Tigyaing Township, Sagaing Region. Without an active battle nearby, two fighter jets dropped eight aerial bombs near U Larba Pagoda/IDP camp that’s located between Walgyi and Indaung villages. At least six villagers were killed and five were injured while a few houses were also destroyed. Four of the dead victims were identified as U Soe Naing (aged 47), Daw Nyo Nwae (aged 47), Ko Aung Paing (aged 16), Ma Marlar Moe (aged 23). Two five-year-olds were among the injured victims.
- Forty IDPs arrested by regime in Shweku, Kachin State
Following fights between the regime’s army and the resistance forces last week, over 7,000 residents from seven villages from Shweku Township have been forced to leave their homes and seek safety in IDP camps and monasteries in Shweku Town, Kachin State. On March 31 and April 1, the regime’s forces searched the monasteries and abducted at least 40 people who allegedly associated with resistance forces. The soldiers also pressured the rest of the IDPs to return to their villages.
- Two villagers abducted and burned to death in Sarlingyi tsp, Sagaing Region
On the morning of April 1, the regime’s forces raided and terrorized Bitetayat Village in Sarlingyi Township, Sagaing Region. Two villagers were abducted and burned to death. One of them was identified as Ko Aye Ko and the other body was burned to the point that it couldn’t be identified. In additionally, a house and a restaurant were also torched by the same soldiers.
- Regime’s artillery injured two children in Thaton tsp, Mon State
On the morning of April 2, the regime forces’s Infantry Unit 9 shelled artillery toward Chaungsaunt Village in Thaton Township, Mon State. The artillery fire injured two brothers named Saw Chileekee (aged 15) and Saw Phalaydei (aged 14) in the lower body parts. Both victims have now taken medical treatment, according to the KNU officer who reported the incident.
- March battles in Chin State claimed deaths of at least 50 regime soldiers
Chin Defense Force (CDF) – Matupi released a statement that about 52 regime soldiers were killed during clashes in Chin State in March alone. Most casualties came during detonation attacks on the regime’s reinforcement convoy. The highest number was recorded on March 29 when two separate landmine attacks resulted in the deaths of 18 soldiers. CDF-Matupi also said that since the coup, 127 battles had taken place in Matupi township which claimed the lives of 398 regime soldiers and 24 resistance rangers. At least 18 civilians were also killed by the junta’s forces during that period.
- Twenty regime soldiers died during a week-long clash in Karen State
Cobra Column, a coalition of resistance forces and KNU said that the military operation between March 25 to March 31 resulted in the deaths of at least 20 regime soldiers and 11 captives. The operation was kickstarted by simultaneous raids on four junta-controlled locations such as Mywawaddy Trading Zone, Thingannyinaung Police Station, Military Station 275, and 355 in Myawaddy Town on March 25. The clash intensified in the following days as the regime responded with airstrikes and artillery fire. On March 31 alone, the regime’s forces shelled artillery 135 times, destroying multiple civilians’ houses.
- Three PDF members killed during battle in Myaung tsp, Sagaing Region
On March 30, the regime’s Belu (Orge) Column raided Swelwalo Village from three different directions, which is located five miles south of Myaung Town, Sagaing Region. Three PDF members including a deputy commander were killed as they fought back 87 troops to buy time for their comrades to run. Bo Sin Yine, the deputy commander, was captured with wounds and decapitated by a soldier. His remaining body was found by fellow rangers and cremated on the same day without the head. The incident was captured on drone footage as the soldier cut off the head and carried it along as a souvenir. It’s unknown whether Bo Sin Yine was still alive during the beheading. The names of the two other fallen rangers, aged 19 each, were not disclosed due to the risks for the remaining family.
- Regime’s airstrike during clash injured two IDPs in Kalay tsp, Sagaing Region
On the morning of March 31, fighting broke out between the regime’s army and the local resistance forces between Pyintawoo and Nansaungpu villages, north of Kalay Town, Sagaing Region. The regime’s army used a helicopter to fire from the sky which resulted in wounding the civilians who left the villages to find safety in Kalay Town. The regime’s soldiers reportedly shot artillery toward the battle area from Aungzeya Ward, Kalay Town.
- Two-day-battle saw dozen deaths of regime soldier in Depayin tsp, Sagaing Region
The regime’s forces have been reportedly conducting an offensive in Depayin Township, Sagaing Region recently. An encounter between them and the local PDF was witnessed on March 31 in Makyikaut Village, which continued to the next day. The two-day battle saw at least 30 deaths from the junta’s side and two from PDF. Two helicopters came as a reinforcement and conducted aerial attacks, effectively displacing villagers.
- Regime’s forces suffered casualties during guerilla attacks in Magway Region
On the afternoon of April 1, the regime’s soldiers were attacked by a landmine detonation in Yesagyo Town, Magway Region. Yesagyo PDF conducted the operation on the junta’s military column that was stationed in the Katkyaw Monastery, Thukawaddy Ward. Two soldiers were killed on the spot, one more died at the hospital and several were wounded. In the same township, local PDF conducted a ground operation as an ambush on the junta’s convoy where five soldiers were killed and one ranger also died due to an RPG failure. Moreover, a guerilla attack from YDF and CDF-Mindat on the junta’s convoy near San Village, Kyauthtu Area, Saw Township resulted in the deaths of at least 30 regime soldiers on March 30.
- Junta demolished around 100 shops in Mingaladon
Shop owners from Yangon Region’s Mingaladon Township said the military council forced them to destroy their shops on March 27. About 98 shops in three locations were destroyed. According to three shop owners who spoke to Myanmar Now, junta soldiers showed between March 25 and 26, and removed the meter boxes from the shops, and were threatened to bulldoze the shops if they did not destroy them themselves. One shop owner said that she heard that a shopping mall is being planned to be built in the area, and the person who destroyed it first will have the first opportunity to open the new shop. The shop owner also said that she bought the shop from a veteran more than ten years ago for 100 lakhs Myanmar kyats.
- Over 1,000 migrant workers laid off in Bangkok
About 1,060 Myanmar migrant workers working at an electronics company in Thailand were laid off from duties on March 30, Myanmar Now reported. Cal-Comop Electronics (Thailand) opened in the Mahachai area of Samut Sakhon near Bangkok only gave two-day-notice to the workers before letting them go, according to Ko Kyaw, a worker who has been working at the company for more than seven months. The company reportedly paid one month’s salary into the workers’ bank accounts, but on the day of the dismissal, armed security guards were stationed in the factory compound. The company gave the reasons that this was to solve the problem of overstaffing in a statement signed by the Executive Director of the Human Resources Department. According to Ko Kyaw, the company divided the work hours into three shifts with the aim of operating 24 hours a day, and the workers protested and were fired about two weeks later.
Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit Media, RFA Burmese, Mizzima News, BBC Burmese, The DVB, The Irrawaddy, The Reuters