Weekly Update: 066

Folks, hundreds of Rohingya refugees died and more than 6 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha. The military regime once again refused to allow immediate relief efforts by the UN and the international community. Only starting today, which is a week after the storm, the ASEAN’s relief effort began. This further proved that the military regime does not have the best interest of the public. One exciting news came from Taungoo prison where ten detainees escaped from detention while the rest of the country raged in the wildfire of civil war. Read this week’s update below.

Internal Politics

  • The regime blocked relief aid for the cyclone-affected Rohingya community

In the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha, the civilian-elected National Unity Government (NUG) announced that more than 400 Rohingya refugees died due to the cyclone while the military regime reported only 100 people died as the cyclone hit the Rakhine coastal area. As of May 19, the military regime did not allow any relief aid in Rakhine State which raised concerns about further casualties. On May 18, UNOCHA released a statement that said the UN agency has been closely monitoring the development in Rakhine State and waiting for approval from the military council to enter the area to provide humanitarian assistance. According to Myanmar Now’s report, the Rohingya refugees who remain alive face a shortage of food and drinking water, and prevention is needed for possible health hazards after a storm such as diarrhea. The NUG’s advisor U Aung Kyaw Moe said that blocking relief aid is a violation of basic human rights, and this restriction is the regime’s continuation of their “unfinished genocide”. 

  • Ten detainees escaped Taungoo Prison 

On May 19, ten detainees from Taungoo Prison broke down the cells, attacked the prison guards, took their weapons, and escaped from detention. The escapees include nine males and one female who were PDF fighters who were arrested five months ago for their anti-regime activities in the Bago Region, as confirmed by the spokesperson of the Bagon Region PDF. A shootout took place during the escape and one of the detainees was shot in the leg. Apart from the injured fighter, nine escapees have successfully arrived in a safe place according to the NUG’s permanent secretary of the Ministry of Defense U Naing Htoo Aung. A leaked police telegram said that a veteran sergeant was injured and another sergeant died due to the shootout. Currently, security has been tightened in the Taungoo Prison where President U Win Myint is also detained.

  • CRPH reports 16 NLD parliamentarians died due to lack of medical treatment after the coup

On May 19, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) reported that 16 NLD parliamentarians died because they did not receive adequate medical treatment after the military coup. Due to the military regime’s target against the ruling party, 14 NLD members of parliament died in hiding, and two passed away in detention. U Sithu Maung, the spokesperson of CRPH, said that this new information is documented as evidence to hold the Myanmar military accountable at the international justice systems such as the ICJ and ICC. After the coup in February 2021, the military regime arrested 129 NLD parliamentarians, and while some were released, 88 of them remain detained to this day. 

  • Khin-U PDF and the civil administrative group seized and destroyed military-produced beer

Khin-U PDF and Civil Administration Group seized and destroyed 540 cartons of Dagon Beer produced by the military conglomerate MEHL on May 21. The beers were carried by three cars and were worth MMK 4,2480,000 (approx: USD 20,000). This is part of the campaign to boycott the products by the military conglomerate to cut the budget stream for the regime. Khin-U Civil Administration Group encouraged the public to continue boycotting the military products since the military generals and their families continue to destroy the lives and livelihoods of civilians and resistance fighters. 

International Affairs

  • U Kyaw Moe Tun appealed for international aid after Cyclone Mocha

On May 19, Myanmar’s permanent representative to the UN Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun expressed the need for relief and resettlement assistance in the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha at a UN meeting. He presented that more than 6 million citizens in Myanmar are in need of humanitarian support after the severe cyclone in addition to the military regime’s atrocities. He also raised that international attention and support are needed for Myanmar citizens. While the NUG has allocated USD 1 million for relief and resettlement, U Kyaw Moe Tun encouraged the international community to find multiple ways to provide humanitarian assistance to the Myanmar people affected by Cyclone Mocha.

  • ASEAN’s aid for cyclone-affected areas starts today

Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry announced that ASEAN’s humanitarian assistance for the cyclone-affected people from Myanmar will begin on May 21. Aid items for Myanmar are now stored in Subang, Malaysia, and Chainat, Thailand. These aid items will be dispatched on May 22 and 23 with the help of military aircraft provided by Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand. According to Malaysian news outlet Bernama, officials from the ASEAN Secretariat, representatives from AHA Centre, and emergency response teams from Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Thailand are already in Myanmar for the relief effort. They will be collecting data and field information, and conducting quick assessments of needs according to the Indonesia Foreign Ministry.

  • UN Rapporteur’s latest report revealed Russia and China selling military aircraft to the regime

Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar, published a report on May 17 revealing that the military regime had purchased weapons and raw materials worth at least one billion USD from foreign nations to crack down on the anti-regime forces. The report, titled “Billion Dollar Deadly Arms Trade Fueling Human Rights Abuses,” highlights that Russia and China are the main exporters of weapons and raw materials to the military junta. It mentions Russia’s supply of Mi-35 helicopters, MiG-29 jet fighters, and Yak-130 aircraft, while China is reported to have provided K-8 jets. These aircraft have been deployed in schools and medical facilities, causing significant harm to civilians, as evidenced by airstrikes targeting residential areas and civilian zones, as indicated in the report. The NUG’s spokesperson U Nay Phone Latt said that foreign countries selling weapons to the regime means that they are ignoring the will of Myanmar people. He also appealed to the international community not to support the Myanmar military regime, considering the wishes of the Burmese people.

  • HRW urged to halt the Rohingya repatriation pilot project

On May 18, Human Rights Watch released a statement that urged the United Nations and respective stakeholders to stop the Rohingya repatriation pilot project for the military regime is not properly prepared for the repatriation. The statement said that about 1100 Rohingya refugees will return to Myanmar this month as a part of the pilot project but the situation on the group does not promise a safe return. HRW’s researcher Shayna Bauchner said that while the Rohingya refugees burden the Bangladesh government, returning them to the control of the brutal Myanmar military regime will only let the Rohingyas suffer once again. The pilot project was agreed between the two governments with the consultation of the Chinse government and planned to repatriate the Rohingya refugee before the monsoon. The Rohingya representatives, who visited the Hla Pho Khaung and Kauk Chaung camps in Maungdaw Township which are allocated for their return, said that these places are not appropriate for their repatriation. It is also reported that these camps are supported by the regime’s security outposts. Although the Rohingya refugees want to return to Rakhine State, they said they will only return if their land, livelihood, freedom of movement, security, and civil rights are guaranteed. 

Business Matters 

  • The emergence of a new crony in Myanmar’s electric vehicle industry

Myanmar has been plagued by power disruptions since the 2021 coup, but a new crony has come to the public’s notice for her support of electric cars (EVs) and charging facilities. The new crony is Daw Khine Zaw, chief executive officer of the Earth Group Companies and a sister-in-law of arch-crony and major arms dealer U Tay Za, the Htoo Group of Companies chairman. Since the days of the previous military dictator Than Shwe, Daw Khine Zaw has been active in military-related companies. She is also related to current junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and his family. According to sources, Daw Khine Zaw was the one who persuaded Min Aung Hlaing to promote the usage of EVs, notably electric buses, in Myanmar. She has been involved in the renewable energy industry, notably solar power, for numerous years. Prime Automotive Myanmar, a subsidiary of Daw Khine Zaw’s Earth Renewable Energy, is authorized to import electric vehicles, while Earth Renewable Energy is authorized to construct charging stations.

  • Lawsuit settlement reached for the case of YFA garment factory and a worker

Solidarity Trade Union of Myanmar (STUM), an organization supporting workers’ rights, has announced that they have reached a settlement with the regional law office in a lawsuit involving YFA Garment Factory and its owner in Shwe Pyithar Township, Yangon Region. The agreement includes a compensation of 10 lakhs for the affected worker, Mai Popo Hlaing, who filed the lawsuit citing wrongful termination. Although the factory has made the payment and the worker has signed the agreement, the STUM official mentioned that it falls short of obtaining a legal ruling against the employer’s actions. The lawsuit, which accused the worker of breaching the employment contract, will be officially closed on June 20 at the Shwe Pyitha Township Court as per the agreement between the two parties.

  • ​​Challenges mount for Yangon residents after Cyclone Mocha

Residents in certain areas of Yangon are facing ongoing challenges as commodity prices remain high for more than two days after Cyclone Mocha. The local community is experiencing hardships, with some attributing the price increase to food hoarding driven by fears related to the cyclone, leading to a scarcity in the market. Frustration is mounting among residents as the cost of basic food items has doubled or even tripled. In addition, the regime’s ban on motorbikes has forced many people to rely on the overcrowded Yangon Bus Service (YBS) for transportation, resulting in increased fares and overcrowding. The combination of high commodity prices and transportation difficulties has created significant challenges for daily wage earners. The lack of a solution to address these issues has drawn criticism from local residents, particularly women who are disproportionately affected by the soaring prices of essential goods, reaching up to 5,000 kyats per month.

  • Military-owned MEC seizes control of gold mining block

The Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC), a military-owned enterprise, has taken over the Moe Thi Moe Mi Shwe gold mining block in Ramethin Township, Mandalay Region. Previously operated by U Soe Tun Shein’s National Development Company, the block was suspended in 2018 due to a legal dispute. Following the military coup, the MEC assumed ownership of the 6,000-acre block, leading affiliated companies to vacate the area. Shareholder companies of the National Development Company now face uncertainty regarding benefits and contract details. Under the MEC’s leadership, plans are underway to resume gold mining in the block and potentially allocate blocks to qualified companies meeting specific criteria. U Soe Tun Shein, previously prosecuted for defying the order to halt gold production, has been acquitted of one case by the regime but continues to face other legal proceedings. The military’s increasing involvement in sectors like mining and manufacturing follows a trend reminiscent of former dictator U Than Shwe’s strategy to consolidate state-owned enterprises for military benefits.

Protests & Fundraising 

  • Continuing protests

Protests across the country are still going strong, including in Kyan Khin, Monywa, Yinmarbin, Myaing, and Laung Lone regions. 

  • Myanmar people protest against China in Tokyo 

On May 16, Myanmar citizens residing in Japan staged a protest in front of the Chinese embassy in Tokyo, expressing their discontent with the Chinese government. A letter of warning was also sent to the Chinese Embassy, representing the opinions of Myanmar people regarding the loss of lives in Myanmar and the hindrance to the country’s democratic transition.

  • Harr 5 Kaung anniversary comedy show to the revolution

In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the “Harr 5 Kaung” comedy group, their comedy show video will be screened globally as a means to generate funds for the ongoing spring revolution. Since the military coup, the “Harr 5 Kaung” comedians have been actively involved in opposing the junta, and in collaboration with the We Love Motherland (MM) group, they have filmed comedy performances to celebrate their milestone anniversary. The newly produced video, titled “Spring Victory,” is planned to be showcased with fundraising efforts for the revolution organized by the CRPH-OFP groups worldwide, starting with its premiere in Malaysia.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Hospital head targeted and killed in Sint Kine tsp, Mandalay Region

In Mandalay Region’s Sint Kine Township, Dr. Tin Cho Cho, a non-CDM doctor/ director of Myitnge Railway Factory Hospital head who oppressed the CDM health workers in Plate Town, was shot and killed on May 15. Around 5.00 pm on that day, gunmen attacked Dr. Tin Cho Cho in her house in Plate Town. Locals reported that Daw Tin Cho Cho treated the workers arrogantly when they were admitted to the hospital and she also threatened CDM teachers and health workers to work under the regime. It’s unknown who was responsible for the attack.

  • Pyu Saw Htee leader killed during house raid in Kyun Hla tsp, Sagaing Region

On May 17 around 4 am, a local resistance group and the People’s Defense Force (PDF) – Kantbalu district carried out a raid at a house located in Kyeegone village on Kyun Hla- Thaphan Pyay Dam Road in Kyun Hla Township, Sagaing Region. An exchange of gunfire occurred between the two sides. During the battle, U Myint Naing, known as the leader of Pyu Saw Hee Group in the region, aged 53, along with his wife Daw Nu Sein, also 53, and their 20-year-old son, Ko Aung Chan Myae, who were also members the militia, were killed. Additionally, three guns were confiscated from the house. U Myint Naing, who oversaw the Pyu Saw Htee Gate Camp in Kyun Hla, situated on Tha Phan Pyay Dam Road, had reportedly committed various offenses, including compelling locals to attend militia training. The target of the raid was U Myint Naing, and according to a PDF official in Kyun Hla Township, a firefight erupted when they retaliated.

  • One died during attack on Pyu Saw Htee house in Mandalay

The house of a Pyu Saw Htee leader, Than Naing, was targeted with a bombing in Mandalay, resulting in the death of a resident and injuries of others who were present. The incident took place on May 19, two young individuals on a motorcycle threw a homemade grenade into the house, that is situated between 52nd and 103rd Street in Chanmyatharsi Township. The bombing injured three people, including Than Naing’s mother who passed away with wounds on the way to the hospital. It remains unknown who was responsible for the mission. On the day prior, an administrative office was also attacked in Myakantha Village, Patheingyi Township in Mandalay. Nat Soe underground resistance force and PDF-Patheingyi carried out the operation.

  • Military-owned liquor brands confiscated in Khin-U tsp, Sagaing Region

It was reported that the resistance forces detained three trucks that were transporting Dagon beer bottles, produced by the military-owned factories in Khin-U Township, Sagaing Region. And they confiscated all the products that were worth MMK 42,000,000 (approx.. USD 20,000) in front of the public. The Khin-U PDF and LDF have requested the boycott of military products since it is one of the main revenue streams of the regime.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • 30 civilians including three children taken hostages by regime in Hpakant tsp, Kachin State

According to local sources in Hpakant Township, Kachin State, the regime’s soldiers took over 30 villagers including three underage students as hostages as they passed through the rural area. 20 are from Nantyarr Village on Hpakant-Karmine Road, 20 miles east of Hpakant, and 10 from Yaykartar and Khin Taung villages. The military troops have been frequently ambushed by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) on that route, it is possible the column is using local residents’ human shields.  

  • A child died and over 10,000 people displaced in Muu tsp, Karen State due to the regime’s offensive

The Karen National Union (KNU) has reported that the regime’s military opened fire on several villages in Muu Township, resulting in the death of one child and causing over 10,000 people from nine villages to flee. On May 18, at approximately 8:00 am, the combined forces of the regime army’s Infantry Units 599, 590, 48 and Battaltion Unit 44 fired 25 heavy artillery shells before entering Kyuntaw village. An additional five heavy weapons were fired into Nyaungpintha Village, where a 14-year-old boy named Mg Min Ye Set was killed by the impact. Moreover, 47-year-old Ma Hla San and 18-year-old Mg Myint Myat Thu were also injured. Consequently, about 13,993 civilians have fled from nine villages in Muu Township due to the regime’s offensive.

  • Husband and wife assaulted and killed in Okfo tsp, Bago Region

The regime’s soldiers reportedly assaulted and killed a husband and a wife in Okpho Township, Bago Region. On May 10, Ko Mya Min Htet and his wife Ma Thet Thet Oo were arrested by the soldiers after being accused of being PDF members in Tharsi Village, Yangon-Pyay Road, Kyopinkaut Township, Bago Region. They had been detained at Infantry Unit 6 until May 19 when they were taken to Bago Yoma and asked to locate a PDF camp. In the forest, the soldiers reportedly raped Ma Thet Thet Oo before shooting and killing both. The bodies were buried with explosives in the forest.

  • Regime’s artillery injured two civilians in Moebye tsp, Shan-Karenni border

The regime’s heavy weaponry resulted in the injuries of two civilians in Moebye Township, Shan-Karenni (Kayah) border this week. At 7:00 pm on May 19, the regime’s forces fired a large artillery shell in Mobye Town, which landed in District 3, causing injury to a 21-year-old woman named Ma May Zin Htoo. She sustained a leg injury from the impact of the weapon. Additionally, the heavy artillery caused damage to the glass windows of nearby houses. Also on May 18, around 1:00 pm, a resident of Kone Tha Village was wounded by the junta’s heavy weapons. The 41-year-old U Kaw Lu suffered injuries to his waist and body.

  • Man killed in interrogation in Dawei, Tanintharyi Region

On May 15, a man named Ko Kyaw Thura was detained by the regime’s forces in Dawei Town, Tanintharyi Region on his way home from work. He was sent to an interrogation center and on May 20, his family was informed that he died during questioning and his body was buried by the soldiers. It remains unknown whether he was involved with resistance movements or not. Ko Kyaw Thura is survived by his wife and a 15-year-old daughter. After Ko Thura’s arrest, seven more people, four men, and three women were also arrested from the same ward (Daungngu) on May 16 and they too are going through an interrogation. 

Armed Resistance

  • Two-day battle saw dozens of soldiers deaths in Bilin tsp, Mon State

Since May 15, the regime’s forces have been conducting an offensive in Bilin Township, Mon State and they have encountered guerilla attacks from the coalition of Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and PDF. On May 15 and 16, 230-strong regime troops were attacked from three different locations by the allied resistance forces near Taungkalay and Winkatine villages. At least 25 soldiers were reportedly killed during those clashes as well as landmine detonations. In a separate incident, the regime’s forces have destroyed two highway roads leading to its Battalion Unit 44 headquarters in Kyaikhto Town, in an attempt to prevent attacks. One road connects with Asia Highway Road and one with Bilin. The destruction of the roads has caused a significant challenge for people’s transportation. 

  • Eleven regime men died during attack on security checkpoint in Myaing tsp, Magway Region 

On the evening of May 17, combined local resistance forces conducted an attack on the regime’s security checkpoint in Thayetgwa area, Myaint Township, Magway Region, resulting in the death of at least 11 soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee members combined. About 13 were assigned to the outpost and only two escaped during the raid. In Myaing Township, regime’s outposts have been frequently attacked and it’s reported that Pyu Saw Htee members and soldiers are even scared to go out for food etc.  

  • Both sides suffered casualties during 5-day clash in Demoso tsp, Karenni (Kayah) State

The regime’s army and combined forces of Karenni Army (KA) and Karenni Nationality Defense Force (KNDF) reportedly clashed from May 14 to May 18 on Taneelarhe hills in the east of Demoso Township, Karenni State. During the battle, the regime’s forces utilized aerial strikes and heavy weaponry that injured a few civilians from nearby villages. One ranger each from KA and KNDF were killed and five more were injured, the regime’s side also had casualties but the exact figure remains unknown.

  • Yangon urban guerilla force members arrested for the killing of UEC director

On May 20, the regime’s state media released news that they have arrested ten members of Yangon Revolution Force (YRF) and For the Yangon Force who were responsible for the killing of U Sai Kyaw Thu, Director-General of Union Election Commission (UEC). The incident took place on April 22, when U Sai Kyaw Thu was shot and killed by two men in South Oakkalapa Township Yangon. According to a close source, only three of the detainees were the actual culprits and the rest were random civilians. In this week alone, 30 youths from Yangon have been reportedly arrested by the regime for allegedly plotting armed resistance movements.

  • Clashes intensified in Mawlite tsp, Sagaing Region

On May 20, the regime’s forces detained 32 villagers and used them as human shields to conduct an offensive in Mawlite Township, Sagaing Reigon. The victims were from Taung In Village and the troops were intercepted by the local resistance forces and a major clash broke out. The regime sent A-5 fighter jets to send reinforcement and carry out aerial attacks. Casualty remains unknown. 

Source: Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now, The DVB, Irrawaddy, RFA Burmese, Ayeyarwaddy Times

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