Folks, the military’s forces attacked the Pazigyi Village again this week, torching civilians’ homes. News also came that the regime is planning to use cluster bombs which are banned internationally. As the Myanmar new year has passed, the junta pardoned thousands of prisoners but only one was a political prisoner. This week, rights groups reported that Iran’s Pasdaran Guards came to Naypyidaw three times since the coup, nothing good possibly could come out of this partnership and we think the news requires more global attention. International businesses continue to fund the murderous Myanmar military despite the public’s outcry to stop business ties with it. The armed resistance, however, continues nationwide with a couple of high-level targets scored this week. Read this week’s update below.
- More air strikes on Pazigyi Village
One week after the massacre, the military regime did not spare Pazigyi Village in Kantbalu Township. RFA News reported that, on April 20, the military’s fighter jets bombed Pazigyi Village, destroying about 100 civilians’ homes. A total of six bombs were dropped according to a local witness. The majority of the villagers left their homes after the first attack on April 11, and they had to watch the village burning from afar. About 5000 civilians from Pazigyi and seven other villages in the area have fled from their homes due to the regime’s attack. About 200 troops have entered and stayed in Pazigyi Village for the time being.
- The military plans to use cluster bombs which have been banned worldwide
On April 22, Khit Thit media reported that the military delivered cluster bombs to Magway Air Force. The cluster bombs were produced in the No. 3 Defense Industry Factory in Pandaung Township, Bago Region, and each main body of the bomb contained 120 explosive submunitions. According to CDM Captian Lin Htet Aung, the military has already produced two types of cluster bombs: Guided gliding and inertia-guided cluster bombs. They has produced ten cluster bombs for each type with the help of technicians from China who came and produced in defense industry factories. However, the Myanmar military does not have aircraft that can carry and drop these bombs so the military imitated and redesigned the 120 cluster bombs which were transported to Magway this week. Since 2008, the Convention on Cluster Munition, an international treaty, prohibits the use of cluster bombs due to their powerful disruptive nature, and as of April 2023, a total of 123 countries have signed the treaty. In light of the recent transportation of these weapons, Captain Lin Htet Aung warned that civilians need to build bomb shelters, avoid staying in groups, and hide the camps from aerial views by camouflaging to prevent these bomb attacks.
- The regime’s supreme court accepts appeals of DASSK and President U Win Myint
According to Irrawaddy News, the regime-controlled Supreme Court has recently accepted the criminal preparation and appeals of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint. These cases involve allegations related to the purchase/lease of a rescue helicopter, as well as charges under Section 130-A of the Penal Law on Elections and Section 3-1(c) of the Government Secrets Act. Previously, the preparation of cases and appeals were dismissed, but now they have been accepted. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team is said to continue pursuing legal avenues in accordance with the law. The acceptance of the amendments and appeals by the Supreme Court indicates that there may be upcoming hearings and decisions in the ongoing trials.
- Myanmar junta grants amnesty to thousands of prisoners, one political prisoner released
The military junta granted amnesty to a total of 3,113 prisoners, including 98 foreigners, on Myanmar New Year’s Day, April 17, according to an official announcement. The amnesty was said to be aimed at bringing peace of mind and was carried out due to humanitarian concerns after the holiday. Among the foreigners pardoned were five Sri Lankans. However, only one political prisoner was released, U Kyaw Win, the former Minister of Planning and Finance under the NLD government, who was arrested on February 4, 2021, after the military coup. The majority of those released were military and police deserters, as well as prisoners convicted of drugs, theft, and robbery. Despite the amnesty, no political prisoners were observed to be released from Yangon’s Insein Prison, according to a family member of a political prisoner who waited in front of the prison on April 17. In 2022, around 1,600 prisoners were pardoned by the junta council, and in 2021, over 23,000 were freed.
- Three celebrities and a journalist detained for their writing on social media
Journalist U Kyaw Min Swe, actresses May Pannchi and Myat Thu Thu, and singers Shwe Yee Thein Tan and May La Than Sin were detained and pressed charges for sedition this week. According to BBC Burmese, they were detained for showing their sympathy towards Pazigyi Massacre on their social media. May Pannchi, Shwe Yee Thein Tan, May La Than Sin, and U Kyaw Min Swe were detained on April 11 and Myat Thu Thu was detained on April 12. They were initially detained at Aung Thabyay Interrogation Center and were kept there for about 10 days. Only on April 20, cases were opened against them at Sanchaung and North Dagon police stations.
- Five detainees died due to heat exhaustion in Obo Prison, Mandalay
On April 23, Khit Thit media reported that a total of five people in Obo prison died due to heat exhaustion. The report said that three men died in March, and two women died in April due to the extreme weather. Mandalay is known to be extremely hot in the summer, and the Obo Prison management poorly managed the extreme weather crisis. Up to 90 detainees are kept in one hall, and they experienced a shortage of water. According to Khit Thit media’s source, detainees suffered dizziness due to the heat, and they did not receive proper medical treatment. The prison wardens also cut off power from 11 am to 2 pm, letting the detainees suffer in the heat with no electric fans.
- Junta authorities tighten restrictions for Myanmar nationals abroad
Myanmar nationals residing in Thailand and Malaysia are facing more difficulties in renewing their passports, according to a report by BBC Burmese on April 20. The junta-controlled consulate in Chiang Mai announced that six additional requirements must be met when renewing visit or student passport. The requirements include reference letters from both parents, a recommendation letter from the relevant police station, government official ID card copies, a handwritten letter detailing activities in Thailand, and supporting documents from schools. In Malaysia, Myanmar nationals from Sagaing Region have to wait for over a year for an appointment, and junta staff are reported to have visited the applicant’s family members to check if they have a family member living in Malaysia. One family member was arrested after a person in Malaysia was reported to be supporting the Spring Revolution online.
- Iran Pasdaran Guards met with the military council three times, leaked documents show
On April 21, the Intelligence Online group exposed that Iran’s ‘Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ which is also known as ‘Pasdaran’ secretly held meetings with the military council in Naypyidaw three times since the coup. According to the leaked documents that IO secured, flights from Iran landed in Myanmar once in December 2021, the second time in January 2022, and the last in February 2022. Led by Ismail Qaani, about a dozen Pasdaran Guards stayed in Naypyidaw’s Jasmine Hotel for six weeks. Among the Quds Forces, are specialist hackers, software programmers, and engineers who are trained to carry out unusual intelligence works. While the Myanmar military and Iran government do not issue anything regarding these visits, the international community shows concern for the developing relationship between Myanmar, which is currently under military rule, and Iran, which has received international sanctions.
- ICJ rejected the military’s request to extend the Counter-Memorial filing
As a follow-up on the Myanmar v Gambia case at the International Court of Justice, Myanmar was due to submit the Counter-Memorial on April 24. Last month, the junta’s representative sent an appeal to the ICJ to extend 10 months for the filing, requesting to submit it by February 2024. On April 6, the ICJ rejected the regime’s request for a 10-month extension, however, the international court extended one month for the filing of the Counter-Memorial. Now the military is due to file it by May 24, 2023.
- Thailand’s DPM met the junta chief
Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Don Pramudwinai met with the junta chief Min Aung Hlaing on April 21 in Naypyidaw. According to the regime-controlled news outlets, the pair discussed “peace and stability in the border region of both countries” which included the reduction of human trafficking, drug trafficking, and arms smuggling at the border area. In addition, they reportedly discussed transboundary smog pollution taking place at Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand borders.
- Beverage giants funding the junta, Justice for Myanmar reports
Justice For Myanmar conducted an investigation into tax records released by Distributed Denial of Secrets and revealed that major alcoholic beverage companies like Heineken, Carlsberg, and ThaiBev are providing millions of dollars in tax payments to the junta. When calculated for the entire year, these companies are paying a staggering amount of 155 million dollars or 250 billion kyats to the Junta as taxes. These funds are being used to support the junta’s war crimes, providing significant financial backing for their illegal activities.
- Junta chief’s personal request to remove his daughter’s name from Burmese arms broker’s case in Thailand
Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing requested Thai authorities to exclude his daughter’s name from the legal case of Burmese arms broker Tun Min Latt, who is currently under arrest and trial in Thailand. Tun Min Latt was arrested in Bangkok in September 2022, along with three Thai nationals, and the raid resulted in the seizure of drugs and valuables worth 200 million baht (US$5.4 million). Thai authorities also discovered bank accounts and documents linked to condominium properties owned by two adult children of Min Aung Hlaing, revealing the connection between the junta leader’s family and the detained arms broker. This move by the coup leader is seen by many as an attempt to conceal his family’s involvement in the case.
- PTTEP to resume Zawtika gas block project despite criticism
PTTEP International (PTTEPI), a subsidiary of PTT, a Thai oil and gas company, is set to resume a new project in the Zawtika gas block in the Gulf of Mottama, despite facing criticism. According to a recent report by Upstream Online, PTTEP carried out testing in the M-3 block of Mottama Offshore as part of the Aung Thinkha Development program in February 2022. Initially, PTTEP held an 80 percent stake as the operator of the M-3 block, but after MOECO Mitsui Oil Exploration Co. withdrew their investment, PTTEP became the sole investor with a 100 percent stake. PTTEP expects the Zawtika project to produce an average of 324 cubic feet of gas per day from 2019 to 2023, with a projected increase to an average of 400 cubic feet of gas per day by 2024, as per their statement.
- Continuing Protests
Protests across the country are still going strong, including in Yangon, Yinmarbin, Laung Lone, Kyan Khin, Myaing, and Kalay regions.
- Blue Shirt for Burma Day: Global call for political prisoner release
Pro-democracy supporters from various countries wore blue shirts on Blue Shirt for Burma Day, calling for the release of political prisoners in Myanmar. Some also wrote the names of currently imprisoned individuals on their hands. The annual event, which was initiated two years ago, aims to honor U Win Tin, a renowned Burmese pro-democracy activist and journalist.
- Protests in Australia and South Korea over Pazigyi airstrikes
Protests were organized in Sydney, Australia, and Seoul, South Korea by the Burmese diaspora and their allies in reaction to the airstrikes that occurred in Pazigyi Village in Kantbalu Township, Sagaing Region, resulting in the loss of 168 lives. The National Unity Government (NUG) said during a press briefing on April 16 that the casualty count from the military’s assault in a resistance stronghold could potentially increase.
- Over 20,000 fled after junta raids in Sagaing Region
Between April 18 and 19, junta’s military columns advanced into Sagaing Region’s Kanbalu and Khin-U townships, causing over 20,000 residents to flee for their lives. A resident of Kanbalu told RFA Burmese that two military columns raided Kabulu Township, causing over 4,000 residents to flee. The residents are reported to be from a total of eight villages, including Pa Zi Gyi village, which was recently under-attacked by junta airstrikes on April 11. In Khin-U Township, junta forces raided Myinn Daung village on the morning of April 19, causing around 20,000 residents from nearby 21 villages to flee for their lives.
- Over 10,000 villagers in dire need of assistance in the wake of Kachin State’s Shwegu clashes
Residents of Kachin State’s Shwegu Township have yet to return to their homes after nearly three weeks of fighting that ended on April 10, residents told Myanmar Now. Most displaced residents are taking refuge in nearby monasteries and lumber mills. They are scared to return homes in fear of resumed attacks by the junta forces after the Thingyan holidays. The clashes, which began on March 23, left nearly 1,000 houses destroyed by repeated junta raids and airstrikes and also killed at least 11 civilians in Shwegu Township.
Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties
- Three died during attack on the junta’s airforce officer in Thanlyin tsp, Yangon
On the morning of April 18, a gun attack was reported in Thanlyin Township, Yangon Region, claiming the lives of three middle-aged men. They were 48-year-old U Aung Nyi Tun, 53-year-old U Aung Myo Swe, and 58-year-old U Khin Maung Thein, all were family members living in the same compound in Thanlyin’s Htanpingone Ward. One of them used to serve in the military but he had retired seven years ago and the rest were only businessmen according to their families. However, the brother of U Aung Nyi Tun named U Kyaw Swa Tun is currently serving in the regime’s air force and they live in the same location. Hence the hit was speculated to have taken place. Instead, the key person escaped the same fate since he was away at the time of the incident.
- Regime’s UEC Deputy Director-General shot and killed in Yangon
On the afternoon of April 22, U Sai Kyaw Thu, the deputy director for the Regime’s Union Election Committee (UEC) was reportedly shot to death in Thingankyun Township, Yangon. Two armed men on a bike stopped in front of his car and started firing as he was heading home after dropping off his wife at the nearby Aung Yadanar Hospital. The man suffered five gun wounds on the body and passed away on the way to the hospital. “For the Yangon” Urban Guerrilla Force under the control of NUG claimed responsibility for the attack. U Sai Kyaw Thu served as the director of the UEC since 2015 and he was promoted to the current position following the military coup due to his close connection to U Thein Soe, the junta-appointed UEC Chair. And he reportedly acted as the military’s witness on the trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint on the election fraud cases.
- Blasts occurred in the Police Chief’s house compound in Pathein, Ayawaddy Region
Around 8.50 pm on April 22, two explosions took place in the house compound of the regime’s regional deputy police chief in Pathein, Ayawaddy Region. The security in the location is heavily armed since there is a police staff housing and a high-ranking officer’s house nearby. After the first bomb was blasted, police and soldiers arrived at the scene for inspection and that’s when another one was triggered. The casualty was not verified at the time of reporting although people witnessed the sound of ambulance sirens. Pathein Special Task Force (PSTF) claimed responsibility for the attack that was carried out by remote control.
- Regime’s battalion commander killed in a KTV in Hpakant, Kachin State
On the morning of April 23, three people were reportedly killed during an attack that took place in a Karaoke center in Hpakant Town, Kachin State. One of them was identified as the regime’s Infantry Unit 13 Commander Deputy Major Zaw Maung under Battalion 33. The other two were said to be gems businessmen close to the military, one of them called U Wa Tote, who was accused as the military’s conspirator in the airstrike on Anangpa Village back in October 2022. At least ten people were celebrating in the room when the raid by unknown gunmen took place around 5 am in the morning. Two more people and KTV staff were also injured in the incident.
Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence
- Regime detained people for sympathizing with airstrike victims
Following the regime’s airstrike that killed about 170 people including many young children In Pazigyi Village, Sagaing Region, many people including prominent figures showed sympathy on social media by changing their profile pictures to black images. Some of them were reportedly abducted by the junta for such action. Notably, the actor May Panchi, the singer Shwe Yi Thein Tan, the columnist Kyaw Min Swe, and the singer May La Than Sin were arrested and charged with the sedition act 505A. It is possible that many ordinary people get detained with the same charges but they don’t make the news.
- Regime’s airstrike destroyed independent hospital while 21 abducted in Myaing tsp, Magway Region
On April 18, the regime’s forces conducted airstrikes on Makyeekan Village, 17 miles north of Myaing Town, Magway Region. Following that, 21 people including medical staff and patients were abducted by the soldiers. The hospital was built and donated by the Japanese government in 2017 and it’s been run by the people since 2021 according to local sources. Now, the main ward is almost completely ruined, and the 25,000 USD-worth ultrasound machine was also destroyed. The regime released the statement that its forces had found various military equipment in the hospital compound and arrested 30 people associated with the PDF. The local sources claimed otherwise and said the hospital was simply attending to the villagers and would not admit any armed persons. The NUG also claimed that the regime had targeted public medical centers across the country more than 10 times in April alone.
- Nearly 50 civilians abducted by regime following attacks in Kayan tsp, Yangon
The regime’s forces went on an abducting spree after their locations were targeted by the resistance rangers in recent weeks. From March 30 to April 14, seven of the regime’s stations such as the police station, immigration office, and checkpoints were attacked and at least four men were killed. In one of those incidents, a CCTV record picked up the attacker with tattoos on his leg and the regime’s soldiers abducted young men with tattoos on their legs. In similar fashions, nearly 50 people including ten women have now been detained and put through interrogation in relation to the attacks. PDF sources said that none of them were their members although one of their hideouts was raided and two guns were seized.
- Regime’s forces attacked Pazigyi Village with aerial bombs again in Sagaing Region
On the afternoon of April 20, the regime’s air force reportedly conducted yet another aerial strike on Pazigyi Village, Kantbalu Township, Sagaing Region. On the previous evening, about 100 junta troops attempted to raid the village via ground operation but instead decided to camp in the east of the village. And the fighter jets came the next day, dropping aerial bombs and setting the village on fire. Although no active battle is witnessed near the area, the junta has been excessively attacking the village. On April 11, a major airstrike was launched against the hundreds of villagers gathering for a ceremony and about 170 people were killed.
- Two-day battle claimed dozens of regime’s soldiers near Myawaddy tsp, Karen State
On April 18 and 19, a clash broke out between the regime’s army and the resistance forces in the Maekanal area, near Myawaddy Town, Thai-Myanmar Border in Karen State. The coalition of forces led by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) clashed against the regime’s army and its ally Border Guard Forces (BGF) that evening due to the regime’s artillery offensive. The two-day battle saw at least twenty deaths from the regime and twenty-three more soldiers were injured while KNLA also suffered two ranger casualties and seven were wounded. About 8 weaponry from the regime’s army was also seized. The battle reportedly caused major traffic on Asia Highway Road with hundreds of containers stuck on their way to border trade.
- Regime’s airstrike on people’s administrative office killed 3 and injured 12 in Htilin tsp, Magway Region
On the afternoon of April 20, the regime’s forces conducted an airstrike on the people’s administrative office located 1 mile north of Htilin Town, Magway Region, leaving three members dead and several injured. Three aerial bombs were dropped in the area, and one of them hit the main office building. Two men and one woman died on the spot while eight women and four men were injured. Four of the injured were in critical condition according to the rangers from the Yaw Defense Force (YDF) who went to help after the incident took place. People’s administrative offices have been formed in various parts of Myanmar by the NUG to claim territory and the regime’s forces have also accelerated their efforts to demolish them.
- CNA’s station attacked by airstrike in Tedim tsp, Chin State
Around 11 am on April 21, the regime’s air force reportedly conducted an offensive on the Chin National Army’s Brigade (4) located in Tedim Township, north of Chin State. Two bombs dropped on the CNA’s outpost on the India-Myanmar border saw one death with five more members injured, reported by a CNA spokesperson. Since April 17, about 100 regime troops have marched from Sagaing Region’s Kalay Town to Tedim and they have encountered multiple ambushes along the way. And hence the aerial attacks have been carried out to keep clear of the rest of the journey, many speculated.
- 100 regime soldiers died during battles in Shan-Mandalay border areas
The NUG released news that the battles that took place between April 5 to April 22 in the border areas of Naungcho Township, Shan State, and Pyi Oo Lwin Township, Mandalay State resulted in at least 100 deaths of the regime soldier. During the 18-day period, which included four major battles and eighteen small clashes, the regime sent about 900-1000 men to the battlefield. Among the junta’s casualties was Deputy Major Commander Myat Min Oo from Infantry Unit 147, who was shot dead in his car after refusing to stop at a PDF checkpoint.
Sources: Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now, BBC Burmese, Mizzima News, RFA Burmese, The DVB, The Irrawaddy, Than Lwin Times.