Weekly Update: 073

by mohingamatters

Hi folks, here is the summary of weekly highlights from our team. We saw another colorful episode under the Min Aung Hlaing’s failed coup as he hinted at the extension of emergency rule for six more months while the rumors around Daw Aung San Suu Kyi disapproving the armed resistance grew. Read all about it in our highlights below: 

Internal Politics

  • The junta chief hinted at the extension of emergency rule 

During a meeting held on July 13, coup leader Min Aung Hlaing said that security should be tightened in Sagaing Region, Chin, and Kayah (Karenni) states due to the resistance stronghold. He said that since these regions are not stable, the military council needs to tighten security and restore stability, which can be translated as the extension of emergency rule. While he reiterated the multiparty election to be held, he said that with no stability in the country, emergency rules cannot be revoked.

  • Army officials and businessman arrested for having found gunpowder in Kachin State

The regime detained six military officials including the commander of Northern Command Major General Ko Ko Maung and one gem businessman for interrogation. A source told RFA Burmese that a  truck carrying gunpowder was caught in Kanbaiti, and the transport was approved by General Ko Ko Maung, thus, the arrest took place to carry out an investigation. In addition to Major General Ko Ko Maung, deputy commander of Northern Command Brigadier General Aung Myo Oo, Kachin State Minister for Security and Border Affairs Colonel Aung Kyi Lin, Hpakant Army Officer, two other army officials, and a gem businessman. Six army officials have been detained on July 14 in Naypyidaw, and the businessman was detained on July 15 near Myitkyina Airport. 

  • New KNU Chair said the Myanmar military lacks the desire to build a federal nation

New Karen National Union (KNU) Chairman Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win said that the Myanmar military lacks the desire to form a federal democratic nation and staged the coup, and thus, there is no way forward to hold dialogues. He said this in his speech for the 76th Anniversary of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). He emphasized that ethnic armed organizations including the KNU participated in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and tried to find a solution for the peace process and to build a federal democratic nation. However, the Myanmar military ignored the wish of ethnic groups and the public by staging the coup, which resulted in unable to find ways for dialogues. The speech also encouraged the Karen people to continue their demand for autonomy and equality.

International Affairs

  • Thai Foreign Minister met with DASSK in Naypyidaw

Japan’s Kyodo News reported on July 12 that the detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed to meet with Thailand’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai in Naypyidaw, making him the first foreign diplomat to have met with the Lady since February 2021. The news report stated that the meeting took place on July 9, and the information was shared by Minister Don Pramudwinai himself at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. He was quoted in Kyodo News that his meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was good, she was in good health and encouraged dialogue. While some netizens raised questions about the truthfulness and accuracy of the Thai minister, others shrugged and expressed that the current revolution is beyond Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s influence. The NUG’s Deputy Foreign Minister also questioned why the meeting took place secretly before the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting, and why it was Thai FM instead of Indonesia’s which is the current chair of the regional bloc. While it was stated that the meeting took place on July 9, the regime-controlled media also held the information and only reported it in its newspapers on July 14. Since the Myanmar regime and the Thai government hold close ties, concerns were raised if the foreign minister is helping with the regime’s propaganda.

  • ASEAN urged Thailand to work together with the chair country

Following the Thai FM’s meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, ASEAN issued a statement encouraging Thailand to work together with the chair for Myanmar to implement the five-point consensus. While the statement did not mention the name of the Thai foreign minister or Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, it vaguely hinted that some member countries held a positive view of “Thailand’s recent action in regards to Myanmar”. The 10-member bloc also made a decision to review the progress on the implementation of the five-point consensus in the first week of September.

  • U Kyaw Moe Tun urged the UN to protect Myanmar women in conflict areas

U Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s representative to the UN, urged the security council to take serious action against the Myanmar military that has been committing sexual violence. He said this at the Security Council’s open debate on conflict-related sexual violence on July 14. U Kyaw Moe Tun also requested the UN Security Council to impose further resolutions to hold the Myanmar military accountable. He discussed that the number of sexual violence committed by the military has been increasing and the regime used sexual violence as a tactic. He urged the Security Council to help protect Myanmar women by taking action against the Myanmar military.

Business Matters

  • Licenses of 10 foreign currency trading companies suspended by SAC

On July 13, state-owned newspapers controlled by the State Administration Council (SAC) reported the revocation of business licenses for 10 foreign currency exchange companies. The companies, including Kannan Trading, Net Change, Thiri Aung Si Trading, Riverwood Group, Global Myanmar Services, D-Gold Trading, Aurum Image, Hi Welcome Travel & Tours, Sweeties Pearls, and Chase Travels & Tours, reportedly failed to comply with issued orders and instructions although the statement did not specify the exact reasons behind the license revocations. In late June, the Central Bank took action against 51 individuals and one company involved in money laundering without proper licenses as well. Economic sanctions imposed by the United States on two state-owned banks further impacted the local exchange rate. 

  • The price of palm oil increased more than double the reference rate set by SAC

According to palm oil traders, the price of palm oil in the local market is more than double the reference price set by Myanmar’s Consumer Affairs Department, under the control of the State Administration Council. The SAC has set a reference price of MMK 4,140 for palm oil this week, but in the actual market, it ranges between MMK 8,500 and 9,000. A palm oil seller from Mawlamyine expressed frustration, stating that prices are arbitrarily defined and marketed, leading to inflated prices. The rising cost of palm oil is causing difficulties for both lower-income and middle-class individuals, as job opportunities decrease and family incomes shrink. Myanmar’s palm oil consumption exceeds 1,000,000 tons, with approximately 700,000 tons being imported from Indonesia and Malaysia.

  • Military and related communities top Thai condo buyers 

Since the military coup in Myanmar, the country’s political instability and economic decline have impacted the financial market. As a result, individuals with excess funds are investing in properties in neighboring countries like Thailand and Singapore, as well as in countries like Australia, according to foreign real estate brokers. Thai news media reports that in the first four months of 2023, Myanmar nationals topped the list of foreign buyers of condominiums in Thailand. Burmese individuals are investing around 6.5 million Thai baht per apartment, based on information from a well-known Thai real estate agency. Among the buyers, the military community constitutes the largest group, followed by businessmen. Ordinary individuals rank third in terms of condo purchases. The number of condo units purchased by Myanmar citizens in Thailand has been gradually increasing over the years, with 188 units purchased in 2022.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Bomb blasted near police station, several arrested in Latpadan tsp, Bago Region

On July 13, a bomb exploded in Latpandan Town, Bago Region and seven people were arrested by the regime’s forces in the aftermath. The blast occured around 8.45 pm in front of the township police office located on Kangyi Street, Bilintan Ward. Two hours later, soldiers raided a printing shop on No.2 Street, Myoma Ward, detaining the shop owner Daw Nyo Nyo and her family members such as Ko Kyaw Thiha, Ko Phyo Thiha, Ko Myo Thiha, Ko San Min and Ko Phyo Ko Ko. On the same night, Ko Thet Min Htike, who had been jailed previously for protesting and was detained in Myoma Ward as well. Latpadan PDF claimed responsibility for the attack and said the detainees had nothing to do with this explosion.

  • USDP member shot dead in Kyautse tsp, Mandalay Region

On the morning of July 15, a member of Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the military’s proxy political party, was reportedly shot dead in Kyautse Township, Mandalay Region. U Myo Aung, who was working for the regime as the electricity bill collector, was gunned down by two men on a motorbike on his way back from the office. The 47-year-old man suffered five bullet wounds and died on the spot. It was unknown who was responsible for the attack. Similarly, on July 13, a ward administrator/USDP member U Aye Ko (aged 73) was shot and severely injured in a teashop in Chanayetharzan Township, Mandalay Region.

  • Regime’s airstrike prevention unit attacked with rocket in Mattaya tsp, Mandalay Region

On July 15, MDY-PDF conducted a counteroffensive at the regime’s airforce in Mattaya Township, Mandalay Region. The rangers fired a free-flight rocket at the Ingyinmyaing airstrike prevention station at the early morning around 3 am. At the same time, a police outpost of the same unit was also raided and attacked. Casualties were yet to be verified.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Detained MICS-TUsf general secretary missing despite due for release

Ko Thet Hnin Aung, the general secretary of Myanmar Industries Craft & Services – Trade Union Federation (MICS-TUsf) has been missing although his release was due a few weeks ago, according to the family. Thaton Prison authorities, where he was serving time in Karen State, told the family that Ko Thet Hnin Aung was released on June 26 and a few days later, the same people said that he was moved to another detention facility. Nonetheless, he has not been in touch with the family and is uncontactable. Ko Thet Hnin Aung was arrested by the regime in Myawaddy Town, Karen State in June 2021 and jailled for two years in violcation of Penal Code 17A,  membership or association to an unlawful association. 

  • One killed and one arrested for refusing to stop motorbike in Sagaing tsp, Sagaing Region

On July 10, two young men were targeted by the regime’s forces in Saging Town, Sagaing Region for failing to comply with their inspection. The victims were cousins Ko Aung Khine Soe (aged 23) and Ko Wai Yan (aged 20) who continued driving their motorbike past the inspection gate. The soldiers followed them into the ice factory they worked, and beat them up. Ko Aung Khine Soe was shot and killed on the spot and his cousin was abducted. The regime’s soldiers also took away the CCTVs from the factory.

  • Husband and wife killed by the regime’s artillery in Kalay Town, Sagaing Region

Around 9 pm on July 13, the regime’s forces shelled artillery toward villages near Kalay Town, Sagaing Regime, causing mayhem for the civlians. One of the fires fell directly on a house in Seesan Village, killing Ko Larla (aged 25) and his wife Ma Larpathlu on teh spot. Their 3-year-old son was also injured as well as two other civilians from Satkant Village. A local who was volunteering at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps said that since the regime loses control of the region, its soldiers consider villages as rebels and terrorize them at every chance they get. 

  • 16 gold-mine workers detained by the regime’s soldiers in Kyaikhto tsp, Mon State

On the evening around 4.30 pm on July 13, about 50 regime troops stormed into a gold-mine, arresting 10 mine-workers and 3 drivers in Ingabo Village, Kyaikhto Township, Mon State. Subsequently, they also detained the manager and two staff from Panthiri Agriculture Company, that is located near the gold-mine. Before the raid and the arrests, the soldiers opened fire at the work site and even shelled artillery. Workers’ housing in the site was burned down as well. The mine is owned by U Aung Aung from Yangon and he was not present at the time of the incident. It’s unknown why the regime targeted this business, although it’s common that the soldiers arrest business people in Mon State. 

  • Explosions injured several civilians in Myoma Market, Shwebo Town, Sagaing Region

On the morning of July 16 around 7 am, two bombs blasted in Myoma Market in Shwebo Town, Sagaing Region. At least eight civlians were wounded by the explosions that took place right after each other, one inside the market and the other just outside. Among the victims were three women, three men, one child and one monk. Locals said that the regime’s Infantry Unit 42 is deployed in the palace just behind the market and it is responsible for this attack. The military lobbyist also argued that the bombs were dropped by the PDF’s drones. 

Armed Resistance

  • UG leader abducted in Mandalay 

The regime’s media released the news on July 12 that the Mandalay-based Natsoe Urban Guerilla (UG) leader was detained on July 8. The man in question, Ko Nyein Chan Aung, was abducted at a clinic on 30th Sreet, between 77th and 78th roads along with a female companion as he waited to get treatment for his wounds. It’s unknown where the woman who was with him was also a UG member. The regime said that it would continue to find the other 18 members from Natsoe force. Five UG members from Mandalay were also abducted last month, two of them were killed in interrogation. 

  • The junta chief ordered to intensify offensive in Sagaing, Chin and Karenni

The regime leader Min Aung Hlaing reportedly instructed top military officials to double down the offensive in resistance-strong regions such as Sagaing, Chin and Karenni states on July 13. The military-controled state media also broadcasted the meeting where the junta chief said “the worst terrorism acts took place in those regions” and “more actions needed for the public’s safety”. As of now, the regime’s forces have encountered heavy defeats in the above-mentioned areas, two border guard forces, previously under their control swiched sides in the Karenni State while the armed resistance was particularly strong in both Sagaing and Chin where even frequent aerial strikes were unable to keep the regime stations intact.  

  • Clashes continued near KIA headquarters in Kachin State

It’s been a few weeks since the regime’s forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) have started clashing near Namsanyan Village, 12 miles from the KIA headquarters. Three skirmishes, again, took place on July 12 and 13 as the regime continued to send reinforcement to the area. The junta’s 100-troop convoy from Myitkyina was ambushed by KIA before they arrived at the village on July 12. More reinforcement via land and water from Banmaw also met with intervention near Dotphoneyan Town.

  • Five regime soldiers killed during battle in Kyarinseikgyi tsp, Karen State

On July 14, a clash took place between the regime’s army and the local resistance forces in Kyarinseikkyi Township, Karen State. It broke out between Palain and Kalal villages where the regime’s forces had been conducting an offensive. The troops met with guerilla attack from the allied Lion Battalion Commando and KNU/KNLA No.16 column. Five regime soldiers were reportedly killed and six more were injured. The soldiers later retaliated by capturing a bus, shooting dead two men on board. Moreover, they also shelled heavy artillery at the civlians’ housings.   

Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit Media, DVB, RFA Burmese, Mizzima News

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