Weekly Update: 072

by mohingamatters

Hi folks, here we are with yet another weekly update. This week, we learned the regime’s attempt to withdraw overseas transactions using secret bank accounts, but thanks to the exposé published by Myanmar Now, the plan has been revealed. The NUG seems to have territorial control in the southern part of the country. Unfortunate news is the spread of party drug among Myanmar youths in big cities. Read all about it in this week’s update. 

Internal Politics

  • The military regime opened secret bank accounts to reacquire 

On July 4, Myanmar Now published a new investigative report which exposed the junta’s secret attempt to withdraw overseas transactions with different bank accounts. Myanmar Now investigated that, due to the Western sanctions on state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), the Myanmar junta is unable to withdraw USD 500 million as payments for different energy projects including the Shwe Natural Gas project on the Rakhine coast. Since the transactions cannot be made to the MOGE, the military council made a secret directive to Central Bank in April to create a new bank account named “Kant Kaw” at Myanmar Economic Bank (MEB) with US, Chinese, and Thai currencies to receive the payments on behalf of the MOGE. The secret directive stated that Chinese and Thai currencies will be used instead since it became difficult to receive the payment in US dollars as agreed in the original contract. This directive from April also warned of the possibility of US sanctions on the two banks, MICB and MFTB, and thus the junta planned to use MEB as an alternative. After the US had announced its sanctions on MICB and MFTB in late June, analysts warned that the junta might potentially use Myanmar Economic Bank for its foreign transactions. While MEB is not as instrumental as MICB and MFTB for the management of foreign currencies, it is crucial for border trade and trading with neighboring countries.

  • The regime raided the MOGE office after the expose

According to Myanmar Now’s report, the military forces raided the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise office in Naypyidaw on July 6. The raid occurred after the expose of the junta’s plan to create secret overseas bank accounts to attain the transactions for MOGE. Three separate sources confirmed Myanmar Now that the military forces raided the office because they claimed that there was an informant in the office. One of the sources said that the military checked every staff member and their mobile phones. Another source also said that all staff members from MOGE’s Planning Department were detained after the raid. The latest report said that up to 20 staff have been detained from the planning and finance departments.

  • The NUG limits highway roads in the southern part of the country

On July 1, the National Unity Government (NUG) announced scheduled roadblocks on highway roads in the southern part of the country to prepare for the counter-offensive attacks on the military regime. The NUG’s No. 2 Southern Command restricted the usage of the old Yangon-Mandalay road and highway road, Bago-Sittaung part in Bago Region, Yangon-Mottama road in Mon State, and Yangon-Hpaan road in Karen State from 6 pm to 6 am every day. Automobiles are advised to comply with security checks during unrestricted time periods. This announcement indicated the NUG’s territory control in the southern part. U Maung Maung Swe, permanent secretary of the NUG’s Ministry of Defense told Myanmar Now that several areas have been controlled by the NUG and administrative mechanism has been up and running. Local traders said that apart from taking longer than usual for security checkpoints, everything was normal for traders and transportation.

  • The military council cut half of the pension amount for elderlies

On July 3, Myanmar Now reported that the junta decreased social pension fares for elderlies. Under the NLD administration, over 85 years old elderlies receive MMK 120,000 (Approx: USD 57) disbursed four times annually as a social pension. Starting this year, the regime-controlled Ministry of Social Welfare reduced the pension to MMK 60,000 (Approx: USD 29), disbursing only twice a year. Daw San San Aye, Director-General of Social Welfare department said that when the budget is increased, pensions will be increased according to the budget. Civilians and analysts alike point out that the regime has been carrying out costly airstrikes on civilians, and the junta chief himself has been spending the budget on building the world’s largest stone Buddha image. The regime’s Ministry of Social Welfare has been headed by Dr. Thet Thet Khine, former businesswoman and chairperson of the People’s Pioneer Party (PPP).

  • Junta ordered the closure of nightclubs and bars linked to party drugs 

The military council issued an order to close down popular nightclubs and bars in Naypyitaw, Yangon, and Mandalay for the presence of illicit drugs such as ecstasy and ketamine. The directive, made on July 3, was prompted by the widespread availability of party drugs in these establishments. As a result, all nightlife venues have been shut down indefinitely. Over the past two years, nightclubs in major cities like Yangon and Mandalay have emerged, selling drugs like ecstasy, ketamine, and the infamous Happy Water cocktail, facilitated by corruption and weak law enforcement. Notable nightclubs associated with drug-related activities, including Honey Nest, The One Entertainment, Pioneer, Domino, Myst, MarZ, Vuvuzela, and Transporter, have also been ordered to cease operations. On June 26, the military regime made headlines by announcing the destruction of narcotics worth $500 million in commemoration of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. However, Lieutenant-General Soe Htut, the chairman of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, admitted that the regime’s efforts to combat drug abuse have been unsuccessful.

International Affairs

  • Singapore to pressure the regime to implement 5PC

On July 5, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that its government will put pressure on the Myanmar junta to implement the five-point consensus (5PC) which was agreed upon two years ago. In April 2021, the ASEAN leaders held an emergency meeting to help find a solution to Myanmar’s political situation, and the junta chief Min Aung Hlaing was present. The consensus included ending all forms of violence, organizing dialogues with all stakeholders, and provision of humanitarian assistance. On July 3, the Singapore government denied that none of the Singaporean companies facilitated the Myanmar regime’s purchase of weapons, and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated that it will support Indonesia and other ASEAN member countries to pressure the Myanmar junta to cease all violence in the country. 

  • Myanmar’s situation was presented at the Human Rights Council, and the regime responded

At the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council, Volker Turk, UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented the current violations of human rights in Myanmar and said that perpetrators should be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The HRC Council was held on July 6 in Geneva, Switzerland, and after the High Commissioner’s presentation, the Myanmar military council responded by issuing two statements that claimed that it was Myanmar’s “internal affairs” and there is no violation of international peace and security. The statements were issued by the regime’s representative office in Geneva, and the statements included strong wording, putting the blame on the European Union and other Western countries. The regime’s statement said that the number of displaced people has been exaggerated and accused the UN high diplomat was advocating for the NUG and PDFs. 

  • Indonesia urged to hold an all-inclusive dialogue to find a solution for Myanmar

According to Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi encouraged organizing an all-inclusive dialogue to find solutions to tackle Myanmar’s political turmoil. Ms. Retno said that she has engaged with the NUG ministers and the regime-appointed ministers more than 110 times either in person or via telephone. She said that without an all-inclusive dialogue, there will be no peace in Myanmar. She said that conflicts can only be resolved if there is a passionate and genuine commitment to bring peace.

  • Timor Leste engaged with the NUG despite the regime’s objection 

On July 1, the NUG’s foreign minister Daw Zin Mar Aung attended the oath-taking ceremony of Timor Leste’s new government in the capital Dili. She was invited by the President of Timor Leste Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta, and accompanied by the NUG’s representative for the Czech Republic U Lin Thant. On July 5, the regime-controlled newspapers published that the military council summoned charges d’affaires from the Embassy of Timor Leste and expressed their disapproval. U Aye Chan, permanent secretary of the regime’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Mr. Avelino Fernandes Ximenes Pereira that the military council is against Timor Leste’s invitation of the NUG leader to the state-level ceremony, and prevented them not to invite again because engaging with the NUG meant that Timor Leste violated the international treaties on anti-terrorism. The NUG’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs U Moe Zaw Oo said that Timor Leste invited Daw Zin Mar Aung for the second time after the regime’s objection. He said that it shows that Timor Leste will officially engage with the NUG on a government-to-government level. 

  • Thailand to deport undocumented Myanmar children

Thai authorities are planning to deport 126 Myanmar children for illegally entering the country. Myanmar children were going to school in a village in Chiang Rai Province in Northern Thailand, and they have now been taken to Chiang Rao Province on July 5, and Thai’s Immigration, Social Development, and Human Security department has arranged their deportation back to their parents in Myanmar. Criticism rose on the deportation of these children. Darunee Paisanpanichkul, deputy head of Chaing Mai University’s Law Department, said that it is not appropriate to send them back to Myanmar although they are undocumented. He said that the district-level administration office should issue ID cards for these children and allow them access to education.

Business Matters

  • French banks and pension fund accused of supporting the junta

According to a joint report released by rights groups Justice for Myanmar (JFM), Info Birmanie, and BankTrack, five major French banks and a state-funded pension fund from France have been accused of supporting the Myanmar junta through their business connections. The report, endorsed by ALTSEAN-Burma, the International Federation for Human Rights, and Reporters Without Borders, reveals that Crédit Agricole, La Banque Postale, Groupe BPCE, BNP Paribas, Société Générale, and the Fonds de réserve pour les retraites (FRR) pension fund have continued to invest in 22 companies associated with the military regime. These financial institutions and the pension fund have collectively invested over US$6 billion, with 75% of the investments directed toward the fossil fuel industry. Yadanar Maung, the spokesperson for JFM, said that French banks and pension funds are still providing financial support to companies linked to the junta, which is responsible for committing atrocities against the people of Myanmar.

  • Myanmar Agro Exchange Debuts on Yangon Stock Exchange, Amidst Controversy

Myanmar Agro Exchange (MAEX) becomes the eighth company to debut on the Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX). MAEX is the developer of Yangon’s Danyingone Wholesale Market, which commenced its first phase in 2018 and is expected to be completed by 2027 in four stages. Established in 2015 as a collaboration between the Yangon Regional Government and the Yangon Municipal Development Committee (YCDC), MAEX was part of a plan initiated by the military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party government. Following the coup, the Myanmar military assumed control of the YCDC and seeks to benefit from MAEX’s new listing. Under the development agreement, the YCDC receives 25% of MAEX’s revenue. However, the YCDC has faced allegations of land confiscation and the demolition of settlements and shops in Yangon since the military’s coup attempt.

Protests & Fundraising 

  • Activists commemorated the 7th July crackdown on students

Activists in Yangon, Yinmarbin, Kani, Myaing, Kalay, Butalin, Pauk, Chaung Oo, Tant Se, Pyin Oo Lwin, Pa Lae, Wet Let, Myaung, Laung Lone, Thayet Chaung, Monywa, Kyan Khin,  gathered in public places to mark a brutal crackdown on student protests on the Yangon University campus 61 years ago by the former military regime led by dictator Ne Win. 

  • U Min Ko Naing’s painting auctioned for $12,345 to support Mandalay Resistance Movement 

A painting by 88 Generation student leader Min Ko Naing was auctioned off for US$ 12,345 (about 37 million MMK), with the proceeds benefiting the anti-regime resistance movement. The painting, “Pyi Taw Win” (Returning Home), depicts the atmosphere of Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, and was auctioned to benefit the Mandalay People’s Defense Force (PDF). The auction is part of a project to send weapons and ammunition to the PDF in order for it to carry out a military operation to remove the junta’s troops stationed in the Mandalay Palace. The painting was the last of the “Pyi Taw Win” project’s auctions. The auction started on June 27 with a starting bid of US$ 1,988 (about 6 million MMK).

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Six regime targets blown up in Yangon

On the evening of July 4, explosions took place simutaneously in six different facilities of the regime in Yangon. The targets were the office of the Ministry of Information, the office of the Ministry of Immigration, and the office of the Copyrights and Registration in Bahan Township, Myoma Police Station in Hlaingthaya Township, Township Court from South Oakkalpa Township and an inspection checkpoint on Tapinshwehtee Road in Thanlyin Township. A total of 12 bombs were used in the missions. Five urban guerilla forces under the NUG coordinated the operation. 

  • CDF issued warrant for the regime’s administrative staff in Tonzang tsp, Chin State

On July 5, the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) issued warrants for the junta-appointed ward administrator and education officer in Tonzang Township, Chin State. Those regime staff have been reportedly lobbying for the regime’s schools opening and against the CDM. Since they are both Chin ethnic and may have the Chin State’s best interests at heart, CDF previously decided not to target them. However, they have refused to quit their support to the regime and even sent warnings to CDF hence the arrest warrants have been made now.

  • Village administrator/Pyu Saw Htee member shot dead in Oakpho tsp, Bago Region

On the evening of July 6, the regime’s village administrator U Myint Oo was shot dead in his home in Kaikalay Village, Oakpho Township, Bago Region (west). The man was also a member of the Pyu Saw Htee group, the regime-sponsored armed thugs, and was notorious was conspiring with the police and soldiers in torturing and oppressing people. Locals had sent complaint letters about him several times and the guerilla force under the NUG’s Tharyawaddy Unit 3802 took action eventually.

  • The regime protects MyTel towers with explosives nearby in Bago Region

Due to the constant targeting of the MyTel telecommunication towers by the PDF, the regime has reportedly set up explosives around those towers in Bago Region. A CDM soldier said that he was one of those assigned to assemble bombs around 100 MyTel towers in the Pyay and Tharyawaddy districts in the Bago Region (West). About five explosives have been put around each tower since 2022. 

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Dozens of youths arrested in Yangon

Over 20 young people were detained by the regime’s forces in the first week of July in Yangon. July 7 marks a significant date in Myanmar history as the military bombed the students’ union in Yangon University. This year, youths were arrested in relation to commemorating the event in Mingalardon, Kamayut, Shwepyitha, South Dagon and Kyimyindaing townships. On July 3, a young man and a woman were abducted by the regime’s soldiers as they attempted to hold a banner that reads “Don’t forget 7.7.1962” near a school in Shwepyitha Township. Also on July 1, Ko Nyan Lin Htet, a Myanmar-major student from Yangon University, was arrested during inspection on Insein Road, Kamayut Township. 

  • Two political prisoners from Daik-U Prison died in detention

On July 5, the family of Khant Lin Naing was informed of his death, and, another political prisoner Aung Myo Thu’s family also received a similar letter according to Myanmar Now’s report. Khant Lin Naing and three other detainees were taken from Daik U Prison by the regime’s forces on May 28, and more than a month later, he was announced dead. In the letter sent to Khant Lin Naing’s family, it was stated that the car that brought him almost got into an accident, and the regime forces fired a few shots, and then he passed away. Khant Lin Naing was deputy chairperson of the Bago District of All Burma Federation of Students’ Unions (ABFSU) and was arrested on December 12, 2021. The military council announced that he was sentenced to 15 years. Aung Myo Thu was also in the same case as Khant Lin Naing. Myanmar Now reported that in May the regime’s forces took several political prisoners outside of Daik-U Prison for no concrete reason.

  • Two men arrested for killing military lobbyist shot dead by soldiers in Yangon

Ko Kaung Zarhi Hein (aged 23) and Ko Kyaw Thura (aged 30) who were arrested last month for the killing of the regime’s lobbyist/singer Li Li Naing Kyaw were reportedly shot and killed by the soldiers in Yangon on the evening of July 6. According to the sources close to the junta, the detainees were shot dead near Maungmakan Road, North Dagon ward.29 as they attempted fleeing after being told to show the evidence used in the mission. Earlier in June, the mother of the cousion of Ko Kaung Zarni Hein were also beaten and shot death by the Pyu Saw Htee group in Htantapin Township, Yangon. 

  • Seven civilians killed by the regime soldiers in Wetlet tsp, Sagaing Region

On the morning of July 6, seven cilvians were shot and killed by the regime’s forces in three different locations in Wetlet Township, Sagaing Region. The first victim was U Phoe Lwin (aged 55) from Thanmayoe Village who was shot dead while selling fishes off his motorbike. From the same village, the truck carrying six women and a driver were targeted. The soldiers opened fire continuously on the vehicle until three women and the driver were killed and the rest were severely injured. The dead victims were driver Ko Lwin Moe (aged 27), Daw Hnin Hlaing (aged 57), Daw Aye Nu Win (aged 40) and Daw Nu Khine (aged 46). After these incidents, the soldiers stormed into the village, conducting indiscriminate shooting. In the process, Ma Phyu Phyu San (aged 30) and U Thein Hlaing (aged 62) were killed.

  • GAD officer on CDM killed in interrogation in Shan State 

In March 2022, U Htay Lin Aung, the deputy officer of the General Administrative Department (GAD) in CDM from Naungcho Township, Shan State was arrested at the Toll gate in Kyautme Town. He passed away after being exposed to intense interrogation just six days after his arrest. However, his family only learnt of his death in the first week of July 2022. U Htay Lin Aung, who had joined the CDM since February 2021, was tortured for not disclosing information about fellow CDMers and hence beaten to death. His wife and children still do not know how and where his body was buried.

  • The regime’s artillery injured six people including two children in Bilin tsp, Mon State

In the afternoon of July 7, the regime’s forces shelled heavy weaponry at the Shweyaungpya Village in Bilin Township, Mon State, resulting in the six injuries including two children, according to the statement from the KNU. The shots were fired from the junta’s artillery unit 314 in Thaton Township and at least three houses were destroyed in addition to the injuries. The victims were Daw Tin Aye (aged 57), Naw Mular Phay (aged 56), Saw Ku (aged 25), Naw Mi Htoo (aged 18), Naw Thingyan Phaw (aged 9) and Saw Sin Min Oo (aged 8). Earlier that day, the resistance forces conducted a drone attack in the regime’s artillery unit and this targeting of the civilians was considered as a response from the junta’s forces.

Armed Resistance

  • Five rangers killed during battle in Sagaing tsp, Sagaing Region

On July 2, a skirmish broke out near Taline Village, Northeast of Sagaing Township, Sagaing Region. The regime’s soldiers took on the township defense forces on security duty in the village, resulting in five casualties. Ko Myautgyi, Ko Aung Khine, Ko Yar Yar, U Myint Kyaw and Ko Nay Kha were killed and the local resistance forces had to retreat from the village due to the superior manpower from the regime. As soon as the rangers left, the regime’s army set the village on fire, burning down at least 100 households.

  • Casualties reported during battles in Kyautgyi tsp, Bago Region

On July 2 and July 3, at least four clashes took place between the regime’s army and the local resistance forces in Kyautgyi Township, Bago Region. On July 2, a battle broke out near Natthankwin Town, 10 miles southwest of Kyautgyi, resulting in two casuatlies from the PDF. Three more encounters occured the next day, twice near the Oakfyat Road, six miles northwest of Mone Town and one in front of a school in Kanyinkya Village. In the three clashes, 12 soldiers from the regime were said to be killed and nine more were injured. 

  • Clash intensified near KIA headquarters in Laizar, Kachin State

Starting July 3, fights broke out between the regime’s forces and the Kachin Indepdendency Army (KIA) near Namsamyam Village, 12 miles away from the KIA headquarters. Although there was a ceasefire agreement between two parties due to the presence of IDP camps nearby, conflicts resumed due to the regime who wanted to camp near village. At 5am on that day, the regime’s soldiers entered the village and the clashes began. On the following day, the regime sent more reinforment from Banmaw and Banmaw-Myitkyina Road was also blocked. The regime’s lobbyists said that the junta plans to take over Laizar Town, the headquarters of the KIA.

  • PDF attacked two military stations in Ye-U, Sagaing Region

On July 5, the PDF conducted a counteroffensive in Ye-U Town, Sagaing Region, targeting two military stations with drone attacks. The military camp inside the traditional hospital and the inspection checkpoint at the west exit of the town were targeted. At least three soldiers were reportedly killed in both incidents. The regime’s soldiers followed and fired toward the drones but no damage was found. The regime’s strategic moves are often centered around Ye-U as about 500 troops have been deployed in town since 2021. 

  • Pyu Saw Htee station targeted in Shwebo tsp, Sagaing Region

On the early morning of July 5, the local defense forces and the PDF coordinated an attack on the Pyu Saw Htee station located on the western bank of Muu River in Kadohseik Village, Shwebo Township, Sagaing Region. About 30 Pyu Saw Htee members were in the station and seven of them were killed in the clash. Two rangers were also injured. The rangers retreated after an hour as they were concerned about the potential airstrikes.

Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit, DVB, Irrawaddy, Mizzima News

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