Folks, this week, the news of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi resurfaced in which she has been reportedly moved from Naypyidaw Prison and placed under house arrest somewhere in Naypyidaw. News reports said that she also met with the speaker of lower house T Khun Myat, and likely met with the visiting Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN, but the junta has yet to verify this news. The Burmese national who attempted to harm Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun was found guilty. Following the regime’s announcement of new MMK 20,000 banknotes, significant economic consequences have begun just in one week. Another sad news this week is the deaths of young student leaders in Budalin Township, Sagaing Region. All aged between 18 and 19, the young leaders were tortured and murdered by the regime’s soldiers during a surprise raid. Read all about it in this week’s update.
- DASSK reportedly move from Naypyidaw Prison to a house
Sources from Naypyidaw told BBC Burmese that, on July 24, the detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from Naypyidaw Prison to a house in Naypyidaw where a deputy minister-level official lives. The military council does not disclose any information regarding Daw Aung San Suu Kyi because information related to her is classified as top secret. The BBC’s source also confirmed that when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi met with Thailand’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai on July 9, the meeting took place at a special location outside Naypyidaw Prison arranged by the regime. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team was also unaware of the move and sent her a care package to Naypyidaw Prison on July 24.
- DASSK met with T Khun Myat and likely met the Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN
French news agency AFP reported that the detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi met the Speaker of Pyithu Hluttaw T Khun Myat, and would possibly meet the visiting Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Dean Xijuan. The Chinese Ambassador’s trip to Myanmar and his meeting with the military generals were published in regime-controlled newspapers, but no information was disclosed on the (potential) meeting with the detained leader. The speaker of the lower house T Khun Myat has also been largely out of public appearance and has only been seen attending the Defense and Security Council meeting to extend the emergency rule every six months.
- NUG Declares 20,000 Kyat Banknote Illegal
The National Unity Government (NUG) has declared the new 20,000 Myanmar Kyat banknote, set for release by the military council on July 31 as illegal. The regime-controlled Central Bank introduced this new banknote on July 23. According to the NUG’s statement, this move by the junta is aimed at further extending their control and funding their activities through illegal means. The NUG views the introduction of this new banknote as an unlawful act that could lead to inflation and adversely affect the public’s savings and livelihoods. The parallel government also emphasizes that such irrational actions by the military regime increase the risk of conflict and further burden the already struggling population, including households, businesses, investors, and the general public.
- The Northern Command chief forced to retire
In mid-July, it has been reported that Northan Command Chief Major-General Ko Ko Maung and other military officials were detained by the military for having found a shipment of gunpowder. On July 22, VOA Burmese reported that Major-General Ko Ko Maung was forced to retire from his position, especially at a time when fighting intensified in Kachin State. An investigation was opened against General Ko Ko Maung and six other military officials for the corruption case related to business deals with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). Local news outlet Kachinwaves also reported that Lieutenant-Colonel Hla Moe, the commander of the Light Infantry Battalion 389 in Kanpaiti Township, and two LIB 321 officers were also arrested.
- Conviction of Phyo Hein Htut for plotting to assassinate U Kyaw Moe Tun
US Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York announced on July 24 that Phyo Hein Htut, who attempted to assassinate Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun, was found guilty after an eight-day trial before US District Judge Nelson S. Roman, and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 14, 2024. The 29-year-old Burmese national who lives in New York conspired to injure or kill Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the UN around August 2021. He interned at U Kyaw Moe Tun’s office initially, and then connected with an arms dealer in Thailand and provided insider information to harm the Ambassador in an attempt to make him step down from his position at the UN. Phyo Hein Htut was now convicted of “conspiracy to assault a foreign official, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison” according to the statement from the Attorney’s Office.
- Economic Consequences of 20,000 Kyat Banknote in Myanmar
The introduction of the new 20,000 Myanmar Kyat banknotes by the military regime has triggered significant economic consequences within the country. Domestically, the value of the Myanmar kyat has sharply declined, resulting in inflation and increased prices of foreign currencies, including gold. The junta leader, however, asserted that the currency circulation is normal and banks have sufficient deposits during a meeting of the Economic Affairs Committee on July 26. In reality, public confidence in the banking system has diminished since the coup, leading people to prefer cash transactions over keeping money in banks. This decline in savings deposits has prompted banks to offer higher interest rates to attract deposits, but the response from the public has been tepid. Many individuals, including businessmen, now avoid depositing significant sums in banks. Foreign exchange rates have surged since the announcement of the new banknotes. The baht, dollar, and gold prices have all skyrocketed, providing clear evidence of the devaluation of the Burmese kyat. Despite the regime’s denial of the banknotes causing inflation, the worsening economic situation is evident on the ground. As a result of the 20,000 kyat issuance, financial instability has taken hold of the country, leading to soaring prices of real estate, cars, fuel, basic food items, consumer goods, and medicines.
- UK retailer John Lewis and Partners ceases sourcing gemstones from Myanmar
According to the rights group Burma Campaign UK, UK retailer John Lewis and Partners will stop sourcing gemstones from Myanmar. “John Lewis has done the right thing by deciding to stop sourcing from Burma,” the rights group’s head, Mark Farmaner, said in a statement.
Burma Campaign UK has written to John Lewis and roughly 40 other retailers, requesting that any diamonds sourced from Myanmar not be used to pay the dictatorship. It received a response from John Lewis Partnership (JLP), the employee-owned corporation that operates John Lewis and Partners department stores, stating that their suppliers derive a very small amount of their jewels from Myanmar, but that they are urgently looking for other gem sources. JLP is the UK’s largest and most successful cooperative.
- Junta leader’s vague responses to economic demands raise concerns
According to Khit Thit News, the junta leader Min Aung Hlaing held a meeting with businessmen from the Federation of Union of Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) in Yangon on July 2. However, he failed to address their economic concerns with clarity. Since the coup, Min Aung Hlaing has lacked a specific economic strategy, engaging in vague discussions that have not yielded productive results. During a recorded meeting with entrepreneurs, he remained unresponsive and did not provide clear solutions. UMFCCI Chairman Aye Win stressed the importance of prioritizing foreign exchange management to handle economic fluctuations and boost exports for foreign income. He also called for a significant industrial policy to support manufacturing, improve the ease of doing business to attract investments and facilitate access to technology and finance for private enterprises. Despite the challenges presented by the businessmen, the coup leader only mentioned that relevant ministries would discuss the issues without offering concrete solutions. His apparent lack of interest in foreign exchange rates and industrial policies, and his rejection of pleas for support in industries and full retention of foreign income, have raised concerns about the country’s economic recovery.
- Online retailers face deactivation as junta imposes registration requirements
In response to an order from the junta’s Ministry of Commerce last week, online shops in Myanmar are considering deactivating their Facebook pages and ceasing operations. The order requires online sellers to register within six months from July 21. According to the directive, online businesses have been designated as an important service under the goods and services law, making registration mandatory. Unregistered vendors could face prosecution under the same law, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of 500,000 kyats (equivalent to US$238 at market prices). The demand for e-commerce in Myanmar has surged since Covid, with individuals and celebrities alike selling various items online, including food, clothing, home appliances, diamonds, and real estate. Some online retailers speculate that the cash-strapped junta is seeking additional tax revenue to support its attacks on civilians and armed resistance forces.
- Continuing protests
Protests across the country are still going strong, including in Myaing, Wet Let, Bu Ta Lin, Yinmarbin, Monywa, Kyan Khin, and Laung Lone regions.
Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties
- The regime’s policewoman and clerk detained by PDF in Chaung-U tsp, Sagaing Region
On July 21 and 22, the PDF members reportedly arrested a policewoman and a staff in Chaung-U Township, Sagaing Region. The policewoman was detained in her own house located in Myopaw Ward, Chaung-U Town on July 21 and the office clerk was captured the next day in her street as well. It’s unknown how and why they were detained. The regime warned its staff in Chaung-U Township to be wary of similar acts.
- Explosion took place near police station in Mingalardone tsp, Yangon
Around 7:10 pm on July 27, a blast occurred Mingalardone Township and Kayaypin Street in Yangon. According to the local witnesses, a few policemen were injured in the incident. There was no major explosion in Yangon in July until this incident.
- SAC’s social welfare office blasted in Sagaing tsp, Sagaing Region
On the afternoon of July 28, an explosion occurred in the regime’s social welfare office building in Zaykone Ward, Sagaing Town, Sagaing Region. The blast killed one staff and injured another severely. People’s Dictatorship Revolutionary Force (PDRF) claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was the revenge for 16 rangers who were killed in the clashes in June.
- The regime’s north-west military HQ targeted in Monywa, Sagaing Region
On July 28, the junta’s military headquarters of north-west, located in Monywa Town, Sagaing Region was targeted with free-flight rockets. The afternoon attack was directed at the staff housing in the HQ compound and resulted in a few casualties but the exact number is yet to be verified. Local based Aung San Force (ASF) and another PDF coordinated the mission. ASF requested the public to avoid going near the regime’s stations and urged them to support the armed resistance as much as possible.
Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence
- 100 villagers kept hostage by the regime’s forces in Thabeikkyin tsp, Mandalay Region
The regime’s forces have reportedly abducted and kept 100 villagers as hostages in Salzinkone Village, Thabeikkyin Township, Mandalay Region. The incident took place on July 26 when the soldiers arrived to camp at the village monastery. Because they were worried about the ambush from PDF, the regime’s men decided to keep the dozens of villagers including children, women and elderlies as human shields.
- Tik Tok celebrity abducted for mocking the regime leader in Mandalay
On July 26, a man was abducted by the regime’s soldiers in Mandalay. He was identified as Ko Zaw Win Maung, a Tik Tok celebrity who posted a mocking video of Min Aung Hlaing, the regime leader in early 2021. The video resurfaced as the military supporters shared on telegram, calling for his head. The arrest took place within 24 hours of the Telegram post. It’s speculated that Ko Zaw Win Maung was tipped off by his business competitors.
- Five villagers tortured and killed during raid in Katha tsp, Sagaing Region
On July 27, the regime’s infantry unit 121 raided Indayant Village in Katha Township, Sagaing Region. The soldiers arrested five villagers during the raid and all of them were found dead on July 29. The victims were Kachin O (aged 20), Ko Nge (aged 23), Ko Kalar (aged 25), Ko Aung Myo Kyaw (aged 35) and Ko Shat Pyay (aged 45). The dead bodies had heads smashed and fingers broken.
- The regime’s artillery killed one and injured four in Thaton tsp, Mon State
Kachin National Union (KNU) released news that the regime’s artillery fires had resulted in one death and four injuries in Thaton Township, Mon State. The shelling took place on July 27 after a battle took place between the regime’s forces and a coalition of resistance forces between 4 am to 8 am. 18-year-old Saw Ehkawshee from Htonebolay Village was killed and another one named Saw Sar Htoo was injured while three from Kawkyo Village were also wounded by the heavy artillery.
- ABFSU leaders murdered by soldiers in Budalin tsp, Sagaing Region
On the morning of July 28, the regime’s forces conducted a surprise raid on the office of All Burma Federation Students Union (ABSFU) and killed three young leaders in Nyaung-kan Village, Budalin Township, Sagaing Region. The victims were Ko Kyaw Win Thant (aged 18), the president of ABSFU, Ko Kyal Sin Nyein Chan (aged 19), the vice-president and Ko Thuta Nay (press officer). The bodies were found with hands tied, signs of stabbings and gun wounds. In addition, a PDF ranger and a villager were also killed.
- Fights intensified in Farsaung tsp, Karenni State
Since July 21, the regime’s forces have increased troops and fights have intensified in villages in Farsaung Township, Karenni State. On July 21, about 300 troops conducted an offensive in Kyauktpannyo and Wan Aung villages, igniting battles with the Kareeni resistance forces. On July 22, the regime’s forces reportedly attacked from the sky at least four times. Previously, there were only 200 soldiers in Farsaung and now it’s expanded to 300. While carrying out attacks in Farsaung, the junta’s forces have also blocked Moebye-Loikaw road, the gateway to the entire Kareeni State from the rest of the country.
- Four rangers killed during raid in Ayataw tsp, Sagaing Region
On July 26, the regime’s forces mounted an assualt on the PDF station in Yechin Village, three miles north of Ayaraw Township, Sagaing Region. Although the rangers received the information ahead and left the station in time, some decided to go back in the morning to defend. About 50 regime troops took on the vehcile that was carrying five PDF rangers. Four were killed and only one escaped. The regime’s soldiers set the PDF station on fire along with the dead bodies. About 200 Yechin villagers ran to safety in the aftermath.
- KNLA said to be in control of Kawkareik area in Karen State
Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) said that they are now controling Kawkareik area near Myawaddy Town in Karen State. Following the battle on July 21 in which the resistance forces took over the SAC’s Latkhettaung military station, KNLA and allies control the region. Since it’s a strategic position, the regime’s forces are set to be preparing for takeover again. As an impact, the security in Myawaddy has also been tightened significantly as well.
- Seven soldiers killed during attack on checkpoint in Kyaikhto tsp, Mon State
On the afternoon of July 28, the combined forces of KNLA, PDF, ABSDF and KRF conducted an ambush at the regime’s security checkpoint in Moppalin Village, Kyaikhto Township, Mon State. The resistance forces used rockets in the attack that lasted 15 mintues as the regime soldiers responded with heavy artillery. At least seven soldiers were said to be killed in the battle while two rangers also suffered minor injuries.
- TNLA and SAC forces clashed in Muse tsp, Shan State (north)
On July 29, about 100-strong regime’s troops mounted an offensive at the military station of Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) located in Mankan Village, Muse Township, Shan State (north). The attack led to a full blown clash which lasted from 10 am to 3:30 pm. The casualty is yet to be verified. On the day prior, the junta bombed the TNLA military station near Enine Village, Lashio Township, injuring five TNLA soldiers.
Sources: Khit Thit, Myanmar Now, Irrawaddy, DVB, BBC Burmese, AFP, Kachinwaves, VOA Burmese, Mizzima