Hi folks, here is the summary of another weekly highlights. Talk of the town this week is the regime’s introduction of the new 20,000 kyats banknote which will be in use starting July 31. Myanmar Kyats has significantly depreciated since the beginning of the coup and this news adds more concerns over inflation. At the same time, the regime’s forces committed yet another massacre in Sonechaung Village, YInmabin Township, Sagaing Region as they killed 14 people including three children. Read all about it in our highlights below:
- The military regime to issue a new 20,000 kyats banknote
On July 23, the regime-controlled media outlets announced that the military will issue a new 20,000 kyats banknotes in commemoration of the completion of the construction of the Buddha image and the first birthday of the white elephant discovered during the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing’s regime. The new banknote depicts the illustration of the said white elephant in green color, and will be available on July 31 initially in Naypyidaw, Yangon, and Mandalay. After the coup, the military council faces budget requirements due to international sanctions, the departure of foreign investments, the cessation of international development projects, etc. At the same time, the military budget continues to increase as conflicts spread all over the country. With the printing of new banknotes to resolve the budget requirement, the public raises concerns about inflation and an increase in the cost of living.
- Follow up on the MOGE raid
We reported two weeks ago that the military forces raided the office of Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise on July 6 after having exposed its attempt to withdraw millions of dollars from overseas banks with a secret bank account. Up to 20 staff members including Deputy Director of Oil and Gas Project U Aung Soe Min, Finance Department’s Deputy Director Daw Nu Nu Yi, and Planning Department’s Deputy Director U Kyaw Kyaw Aung. On July 14, the first batch of staff members were released which included deputy directors and civil servants. The remaining staff members were released on July 18. The raid and interrogation were carried out as the regime suspected an informer from the inside. A source close to one of the staff members who was detained told Myanmar Now that the interrogation did not find out the informer. The number of detained staff members and the detailed situation have not been disclosed, and the military council has not released any news on this matter. Another source also told Myanmar Now that the MOGE incident has ripple effects among other civil servants in Naypyidaw, where former military officers are vigilant of the civilian staff members from the same department.
- The possible mass killing of political prisoners from Daik-U Prison
Prisons have become a new location where the regime’s forces conduct mass killings of political dissidents. On July 12, Myanmar Now reported that prison management has been taking some political prisoners outside Daik-U prison and four of them have been killed, confirmed by their families. Among the seven detainees who were taken away, the families of the four detainees were contacted by the military regime in early July that their family members were dead. While the prison documents said the death took place in late June, the families were only informed at least 10 days after the date of death. While in some cases, the cause of death was a car accident when the prison management moved the detainees to a different location, in other cases, the detainees were shot dead because they attempted to escape from the car. Similar to the Daik-U Prison incidents, two young men who were detained for allegedly killing military supporter/singer Li Li Naing Kyaw were also killed somewhere in Yangon as they attempted to escape. These similar scenarios raise suspicions and concerns if the military took these detainees to a certain location and killed them. Sources close to these prisons said that this kind of mass killing could have taken place as early as May 2023, and AAPP has recorded that 37 detainees from Daik-U Prison have been taken away to transfer to different prisons and their whereabouts are unknown to this day.
- One year since the execution of Ko Jimmy, Zayar Thaw and two others
It has been a year since we received the devastating news about the execution of Ko Jimmy, Ko Phyo Zayar Thaw, Ko Hla Myo Aung, and Ko Aung Thura Zaw. The military regime announced in its newspapers that the four who had received life sentences were executed inside the Insein Prison on July 23, 2022. No further detail of the deceased has been released today, let alone dead bodies. This was the first known case of the execution of detainees inside the prison, and sources close to prisons raise concerns that the regime has been arbitrarily killing detainees as indicated in the story above. On July 23, families and friends of the deceased, the NUG, and other pro-democracy forces remember the four men and promise not to keep their sacrifice in vain.
- Regime’s new police chief allegedly responsible for the Hpruso Massacre
Lt General Ni Lin Aung, who is allegedly in charge of orchestrating the Hpruson Massacre in December 2021, has been appointed as the new Chief of the Police Force on July 21. The new police chief was previously appointed as the Commander of Eastern Command, Triangle Area Command, and led military operations in Karenni (Kayah) State. Because of his leadership in Hpruso Massacre, the European Union imposed sanctions on him in 2022. Lt General Ni Lin Aung will replace General Zin Min Htet who took the Chief of Police position in merely a year ago, and he will also take the deputy minister for the Ministry of Home Affairs under the military council. This marks the fourth chief of police appointment during the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing’s reign.
- EU imposed further sanctions on six individuals and one state-owned entity
On July 20, European Union announced that it has imposed economic sanctions on two military council members, three ministers appointed by the regime, the quartermaster general, and one state-owned entity. Namely, Minister of Immigration and Population U Myint Kyaing, Minister of Labour Dr. Pwint San, Minster of Health and Sports Dr. Thet Khine Win, State Administration Council members U Aung Kyaw Min and Po Yal Aung Thein, and Quartermaster General Lt General Kyaw Swar Lin have made to the list of EU sanctions on this round. As for the state-owned entity, No. 2 Mining Enterprise (ME 2) has become the latest enterprise to receive EU sanctions for it has been controlled by and generates revenue for the military. This marks the seventh round of sanctions imposed by the EU, and up to 99 individuals and 19 entities have been on this list.
- The regime to regulate online shopping and restrict political contents
On July 21, the regime-controlled Ministry of Commerce announced that all online shops must register their businesses and if they fail to register within six months, actions will be taken. The penalty includes jail time from six months to three years and MMK 500,000 as fines. In order to register their businesses, online shops are required to provide the owners’ personal information, supporting letters from respective ward administrative offices, product names, and certifications. The successful shops will be granted a registration that lasts two-year. A restriction has been imposed that online shops must not incite, encourage or rally for any political groups, and must not harm the peace and stability of the public.
- The NUG’s Spring Development Bank launched
The National Unity Government (NUG) said that the online bank Spring Development Bank will commence a trial run on July 22. The Spring Development Bank is Myanmar’s first-ever financial institution solely operating with crypto and blockchain technology. U Tin Tun Naing, the NUG’s Minister for Planning, Finance, and Investment, said that on the first day of the trial run, 1,000 bank accounts have been created. The purpose of the online bank using cryptocurrency is an effort to disrupt the flow of foreign currency to the regime-controlled banks inside the country.
- NUG Takes Dispute with PTTEP to Singapore Tribunal
U Tin Tun Naing, the NUG’s Minister for Planning, Finance, and Investment, said that NUG is continuing to take the Thai PTTEP company, which is working in the oil and energy business in cooperation with the junta, to the Singapore court. On July 20, he clarified that the NUG is not suing PTTEP, but instead, they are filing a dispute at the Anuyata Tribunal in Singapore. The process is still ongoing, and the application form has not yet been submitted to the court. They are following the necessary procedures to initiate the dispute with the court as originally planned, and if the application is accepted, they will inform the public and the media accordingly. The NUG government sent an official demand letter to PTTEP regarding the Yadana project on March 20, 2023, as PTTEP is engaged in joint business with the State Administration Council. The NUG had warned that if there is no response within 30 days, they would file a complaint with the Arbitration Tribunal in Singapore and take legal action. However, PTTEP did not respond to the request.
- NUG to protect Myanmar’s foreign funds
The NUG in partnership with financial institutions like the World Bank, is working to ensure that the foreign reserves held in foreign banks cannot be accessed by the military regime. According to U Tin Tun Naing, these funds rightfully belong to the public and should not be utilized by the junta controlling the Central Bank. He said that negotiations are currently in progress to secure control over $1.3 billion held by the United States, which would be of utmost importance for the revolution. The establishment of the Spring Development Bank will manage international funds once they become available. Moreover, measures are being taken to protect $4.2 billion belonging to Myanmar in three Singaporean banks, preventing the military regime from using these resources. Additionally, he said that the NUG will not recognize the legitimacy of treasury bonds sold by the military council within the country and will take action against individuals and banks involved in such transactions.
- Surge in Employment Agencies Sending Myanmar Workers Abroad Raises Concerns
According to the regime’s Ministry of Labor, the number of employment agencies providing labor abroad has increased by more than 150 since the 2021 military takeover. It reported that as of July 14, 455 agencies had secured licenses to send workers abroad, a huge rise from the approximately 300 organizations operating prior to the coup. “It is concerning that some agencies may deceive workers despite having official licenses,” remarked an anonymous business owner. According to labor records, approximately three million Burmese laborers are currently engaged abroad.
Protests & Fundraising
- Young Activists Hold Flash-Mob Protest in Yangon on Martyr’s Day
On Martyr’s Day, young activists staged a flash-mob protest in central Yangon, commemorating General Aung San’s killing in 1947 and those killed since the 2021 coup.
- Continuing Protests
Protests across the country are still going strong, including in Yangon, Laung Lone, Myaing, Yinmarbin, Yay-Sa-Kyo, Tant Se, Pauk, May Myo, and Kani regions.
Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties
- Regime’s ward administrators targeted in Dagon Myothit tsp, Yangon
On the morning of July 21 around 8am, the junta-appointed ward administrator U Kyaw Lwin was reportedly shot to death in Dagon Myothit Township (east), Yangon. The incident took place at a teashop, on the corner of U Myu and Aung Thabyay streets in the East Dagon Industrial Zone. The man suffered vital wounds on the forehead and chest and died on the spot. U Kyaw Lwin took the position of ward administrator after the coup and kept thugs as his bodyguards. Last year, a bomb was found in his house but did not explode. On the previous day of his death, another junta’s man was shot dead in Dagon Myothit Township (north). U Kyaw San Win, a Pyu Saw Htee member/Dalan was shot and killed near the corner of Yazadayit and Khayay streets.
- Agriculture officer shot dead in Launglon tsp, Tanintharyi Region
On the evening of July 21 around 8.30 pm, Launglon PDF conducted a mission, taking out the regime’s deputer officer for the agriculture department in Launglon Township, Tanintharyi Region. U Thein Oo died on the spot after being shot roadside. He was notorious for extorting and blackmailing civilians at the inspection check points in the region. Launglon PDF said that U Thein Oo (aged 54) had been warned multiple times before the mission was carried out.
- Police and friend suffered death in Paung tsp, Mon State
On the evening of July 22, Phyo Zaw Aung, a surveillance police officer from Zinkyaik Police Station and his civilian friend Sithu Win were shot by unknown gunmen in a restaurant near a gas station in Zinkyaik Town, Paung Township, Mon State. Both suffered vital wounds in the head and chest and died at the scene. Local resistance forces did not release any statement regarding this incident.
Arbitrary Arrests, Killing and Violence
- 13 people including CDM staff arrested in relation to explosion in Laship tsp, Shan State
Following the explosion in Zwe Htet gold shop on 15 July, the regime’s forces arrested at least 13 people in Laship Town, three of them were CDM staff. Daw Nan Mya Sein, 50-year-old CDM teacher was arrested in her home by 15 regime’s men in plain-clothes. The teacher was reportedly beaten up in the arrest and aftermath. Another CDM education officer Daw Nang Aye Shwe (aged 50), CDM railway worker Ko Jame (aged 30) and a photopgrapher Ko Htet Myat Moe were also detained. Additionaly, the regime’s sodliers abducted seven more men from the ward near the explosion which saw one death and 14 injuries.
- NUG federal school founder from Mandalay sentenced to 20 years in prison
On July 17, the regime’s tribunal inside Mandalay Obo Prison sentenced Daw Ei Shwe Sin Myint, the founder of online school under NUG to 20 years in prison. Daw Ei Shwe Sin was arrested in late March in 2022 along with 15 teachers from her school and charged with several terrorism acts. The arrests took place after less than two month of school operation and many believed the regime’s men disguised as parents for the investgiation. No information is discloed yet regarding the teachers’ trials.
- Four including a child killed by regime’s artillery in Khin-U tsp, Sagaing Region
Due to the constant firing of the artillery by the regime at the villages, four cilvians including a child were killed within two days in Khin-U Township, in the central Sagaing Region. On the afternoon of July 19 around 2 pm, the artillery fire fell in Thetpay Village, killing an elementary student and injuring three more. Among them a 47-year-old man died while being hospitalized. Four more heavy weaponry were fired the next day, two of them were targeted at Muuthar Village, killing a man and a woman and injuring three other villagers severely. The regime soldiers have been stationing in Ye-U Township and shelling artliiery at the villages since July 16.
- Man arrested and killed after colliding with soldier’s motorbike in Kyaikhto tsp, Mon State
Mg Chit Lay, a 25-year-old motorbike taxi driver was killed within 24 hours of arrest after being in an accident with a soldier in Thanphyuzayar Town, Kyaikhto Township, Mon State. Around 11.30 am on July 18, Mg Chit Lay’s got into the motorbike accident with the soldier from the regime artillery unit 310. The soldier had minor injuries and called on fellow soldiers despite Mg Chit Lay insisted on paying for the medicine. He was taken to the artillery compound along with his motorbike and groceries. On the following day, his family was informed to collect his dead body which had several wounds of torture.
- Regime’s forces killed 14 including 3 child in a massacre in Yinmabin tsp, Sagaing Region
On July 21, the regime’s forces commited another massacre by killing 14 people including three children in Sonechaung Village, Yinmabin Township, Sagaing Region. Around 2 am on that morning, about 80 regime troops raided the village, located 15 miles north of YInmaban Town from four directions. Three PDF rangers were killed in the raid while 11 villagers arrested and kept as human shields. All of them were killed before the soldiers left the village after the raid. Among the victims, there were two 15-year-olds, one 17-year-old and the rest were aged around 40. All of them bore torture signs and bullet wounds hence they were thought to be tortured before being shot to death. The soldiers dumped the dead bodies randomly in the village, the remaining family had to collect them in the next day afternoon and cremated them.
- Regime reinforcment required aerial help during ambush in Shwebo tsp, Sagaing Region
About 50 troops that were sent as reinforcement to the batlle near Hanlin Township, Wetlet Township were cornered and attacked between Wetlet and Shwebo townships on July 17. On the early morning, five local resistance forces coordinated the counteroffensive, which took place between Nyaungkan and Takan villages and lasted about 10 minutes. In addition to the ground attack, PDF also used drones. Two officers from the regime were killed. As they had no excape route, a military chopper was sent as aeral help, firing from the sky for 45 minutes. There was no casualty but 10 houses from Nyaungkan and Takan villages were destroyed.
- KIA seized regime station in Kutkai tsp, Shan State (north)
On July 18, KIA battalion unit 9 conducted a counteroffensive at the regime station located 8 miles east of Nantphatkar Village, Kutkai Township, Shan State (north). The station had been manned by about 100 soldiers for three months and an-hour long siege by the KIA saw them leaving the camp. KIA destroyed the station but did not plan to hold it according to its spokesperson. An artillery fired by the regime during the battle fell in Nantphatkar Village, killing a teenager and injuring three civlians including a nine-year-old.
- SAC army seized CDF station in Thantlang tsp, Chin State
On July 20, about 150 regime troops leaving from Hakha Town conducted an offensive along Theemit plain area and sezied a station of Chin Defense Force (CDF). The station is located two miles from Thantlang Town, and the regime used ground and aerial operations to occupy it. Four CDF members were injured while defending the station. CDF rangers said that more reinforcement from the regime are already on the way and may reach Thantlang in a week hence they can’t plan to retake the station anytime soon.
- KNU seized regime station in Myawadaddy, Karen State
Karen National Union (KNU) said that its forces seized the regime’s military camp, located on Latkhet hills in Myawaddy Town, Karen State on the morning of July 21. In the process, KNU confiscated multiple weapons and artillery rounds, the exact quantity is still being verified. KNU forces relocated after seizing the weapons due to the potential airstrike. The regime’s army has camped in Latkhet hills, which is strategic location for the security of Myawaddy Town, together with Border Guard Forces (BGF) and local resistance forces under the command of KNU have been attacking it since the beginning of July.
- Pyu Saw Htee station ambushed, nine soldiers killed in Shwebo tsp, Sagaing Region
On the early morning around 3 am on July 23, the local resistance forces coordinated a counteroffensive at the Pyu Saw Htee Station in Nyaungpinhla Village, Shwebo Township, Sagaing Region. The battle lasted around 20 minutes in whcih nine regime soldiers out of 30 were killed and many weapons including three guns were confiscated. Rangers managed to retreat without any losses after the clash.
Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit Media, RFA Burmese, The DVB, The Irrawaddy