Weekly Update 76

by mohingamatters

Hi folks, in the beginning of the week, the regime announced that the state counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the president U Win Myint were pardoned. However, the news turned out to be misleading and it was not more than a usual ploy to trick the international community. Bottom line, the state counsellor remains behind the bar, so is the president alongside tens of thousands of Myanmar resistance fighters. The fight continues and the victory will come from the armed resistance, not any of the regime’s pardons. Read all about it in our highlights:

Internal Politics

• The coup leader extend another six months of emergency rule

On July 31, the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing held the Defense and Security Council meeting to extend the emergency rule for another six months. The NLD’s Vice President Henry Van Thio was in attendance at the meeting, and the regime-controlled news announced that he supported the military council’s decision to extend the emergency period. Juna chief Min Aung Hlaing has been organizing the Defence and Security Council meeting every six months to extend his rule in accordance with the 2008 Constitution. However, the said constitution only allowed the emergency rule for two years, and the military is required to organize an election at the end. Criticisms rose since Min Aung Hlaing’s rule exceeded the two-year period. But the coup leader keeps extending the rule every six months by reasoning that there is no stability and peace in the country and the regime cannot organize an election in this state. 

• DASSK and U Win Myint received reduced prison sentences

On August 1, the military regime announced that it pardoned certain sentences and reduced the prison sentences that the detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint have received. The news confused several hopeful supporters across the globe, but the regime only reduced a small chunk of the total jail time for each of them. Among 19 cases that DASSK faced, five cases were pardoned by this announcement so 15 cases remained. Out of 33 years imprisonment, she is now left with 27 years after deducting six years. Similarly for U Win Myint, among eight cases, two cases were dropped in this announcement so he is left with six cases. In terms of jail time, he originally received 12 years, and after deducting four years, he is now left with eight years. This move by the regime is widely seen as a hollow gesture, and only aimed to please the international actors. 

• The regime reshuffled its cabinet members, including some key actors

This week also witnessed the repositioning of the military council’s ministers. On August 2, Minister of Home Affairs General Soe Htut is removed from his position, and will now become the Minister 1 of the Office of the Union Government. His position as the head of the Ministry of Home Affairs is now given to General Yar Pyae, who is one of the key players in the regime’s peace negotiation team. Minister of Defense General Mya Tun Oo is also removed from his position and transferred to the Ministry of Transportation and Communication as a deputy minister. Minister of Foreign Affairs U Than Swe, who took this position six months ago, has now become the deputy prime minister. U Ko Ko Hlaing, Minister of International Corporation who heads the regime’s delegate to ICJ for the Gambia v Myanmar case, has now become Minister 2 of the Office of the Union Government. Dr. Thet Thet Khine who was heading the Ministry of Social Welfare is now going to head the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. Attorney General U Tun Tun Oo and Auditor General U Tin Oo were also forced to retire from their positions on the same day. Other cabinet members including Religious and Cultural Affairs Minister U Ko Ko, Electricity Minister U Thaung Han, Energy Minister U Myo Myint Oo, Labour Minister Dr Pwint San, Chairperson of Anti-Corruption Commission Dr Htay Aung, and National Human Rights Commission Chair U Hla Myint were also removed from their positions. 

• The regime committed 144 massacres, killing 1595 civilians

The NUG said that the military regime committed at least 144 massacres, resulting in the death of 1595 civilians since the coup in February 2021. The Ministry of Human Rights reported on July 31 that the regime’s mass killings has increased as it attempted to contain the growing number of dissidents after the coup. According to the NUG’s data, the military regime committed 11 massacres of five or more people in 2021, 85 massacres in 2022, and 48 massacres from January to July of 2023. Sagaing Region suffers the highest death toll with 90 massacres and a total of 920 civilian deaths. The most severe massacre to date was the airstrike on Pazigyi village which killed 157 civilians including 42 children in April this year. 

International Affairs

• JFM called Singapore Government to do more to help Myanmar

On August 1, the rights group Justice for Myanmar (JFM) initiated a campaign urging the Singapore Government to block the military regime’s financial activities. The campaign said that armed dealers and traffickers moved hundreds of millions of dollars through Singapore banks while they procure weapons to the Myanmar military. JFM said that with these weapons procured from abroad, the regime has been killing innocent civilians including children. The rights group called on the Singapore Government to ban the junta’s armed dealers and cronies from its country and do more to help the Myanmar people.

• More than 100 Myanmar workers detained in Malaysia

108 Myanmar workers were arrested in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on August 5 by Malaysian authorities. The arrest was conducted to detain illegal migrant workers who cannot show official work permits. A total of 425 illegal migrants were detained on the same raid, and other nationalities such as Bangladeshi, Filipinos, Indonesians, Cambodians, Nepalis, and Pakistanis were also included. The detained workers are now detained at Bukit Prison and they will be taken action with the Malaysian Immigration Act.

Business Matters

• Departure of famous brands have little impact to workers, Labour Union says

Despite world-renowned clothing brands such as Jako and Zara leaving Myanmar and ceasing orders from garment factories, labor activists and workers state that there has been no significant impact on the workers. The constant rotation of brands in and out of Myanmar’s garment industry perpetuates an unstable and uncertain work environment for the labor force. With labor activists facing intimidation and arrests by the military council, achieving meaningful change and better working conditions remains an uphill battle. However, the departure of famous brands did not sadden local activists, as lesser-known brands stepped in due to the availability of cheap labor, according to the Labour Union.

• SAC formed Union Commodity Price Stabilization Committee in an attempt to stabilize the economy

In response to the public’s livelihood concerns and the economic instability caused by the military coup, State Administration Council (SAC) established the Union Commodity Price Stabilization Committee on July 27. Led by Minister of Economy and Commerce U Aung Naing Oo and consisting of 19 members, the committee aims to stabilize commodity prices, particularly basic food items like rice, cooking oil, and kitchen products. To achieve price stability, the committee will assess domestic demand and production capacity for each basic food product, ensuring balance and coordination among regions to avoid unnecessary controls during transportation. The ongoing political and economic upheaval has led to a decrease in people’s incomes and limited job opportunities, resulting in threefold increases in food prices compared to pre-coup levels. Moreover, the value of the kyat has depreciated significantly, and the issuance of new 20,000 kyat banknotes has contributed to the rising dollar price. The committee’s efforts come as a measure to address the current challenges faced by the public due to the prevailing economic crisis in the country.

• Aung Bar Lay Lottery remained unpopular

In July, the Military Council’s Aung Bar Lay Lottery Award Department issued and sold 12-number lottery tickets, but sales amounted to only 5,300 million kyats, as reported by the department. In an attempt to revive interest in the lottery, the military council launched the Aung Bar Lay online and printed lottery on August 1. However, lottery industry insiders have noted that the military council’s released sales figures were only half of the total, indicating many unsold tickets. Since the coup, people have boycotted the Aungba Lottery to prevent the army from benefiting from tax revenue, resulting in a collapse of the lottery market. Despite efforts to rejuvenate the lottery, it continues to face significant challenges and reduced interest.

• Junta placed military officers in prominent roles at Economic Bank amid sanctions

According to the junta’s gazette and letters from the bank, the military has promoted at least 20 of its officers to high-ranking posts at Myanma Economic Bank (MEB) this year, and they were put in charge of monitoring branches in at least five regions and two states last month. According to Zin Yaw, a former junta military captain who joined the civil disobedience movement, more military officers have been promoted to prominent positions at the bank.

“It is true that the junta-appointed officers to the Myanmar Economic Bank, but this is not the first time this has happened.” “In the months following the coup, the junta began appointing military officers to the MEB,” he said. Following the introduction of sanctions by the US on two state-owned banks, Myanma Foreign Trade Bank and Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank, military officers were transferred from MEB headquarters to its branches. Following the imposition of sanctions in late June, the regime attempted to open secret bank accounts at the MEB for the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise and Myanma Timber Enterprise in order to circumvent international sanctions on international transactions.

• Myanmar rice federation to offer discounted rice 

Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) announces the sale of Pawsan and Emahta rice at low costs at wholesale facilities in Ygn. According to the MRF, starting August 7, the MRF would sell one bag of Pawsan and Emahta rice to each NRC card holder at the rice wholesale centers in Yangon.


• Activists in London Protests to Mark 35th Anniversary of 8888 Uprising 

On the 35th anniversary of the 8888 Uprising, several activists protested in front of the British Parliament and the Prime Minister’s residence in London on August 5th. Hundreds of people attended and protested in the rain for the immediate release of the arrested leaders and political figures. They call for the immediate establishment of federal democracy as well as action against the repressive regime. After the protests, they continued to hold a fundraiser in Green Park.

• Continuing Protests 

Protests across the country are still going strong, including in Yangon, Tant Se’, Yinmarbin, Laung Lone, Myaing, Phar Kant, and Kani regions.  

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

• Eight killed during attack on ward administrator house in Mahlaing tsp, Mandalay Region

On the evening of July 29, three local resistance forces coordinated a raid on the ward administrator’s house from Thetkekyin Village, Mahlaing Township, Mandalay Region. During the incident, three family members of the administrator were shot and killed, two civilians who were selling fish near the house also died of gunwounds. Three regime soldiers deployed in the nearby school were also killed. However, the administator U Than Tun and his wife escaped. 

• Ward administrator shot dead in Natmauk tsp, Magway Region

Around 9.30 pm on August 3, a ward administrator from Natmauk Township, Magway Region was targeted by local resistance forces. The Dantthalonpin village administrator U Daung Tin was shot three times to death on his way from the wet market. PDF-Natmauk and Ah Nyar Myay Special Commando Defense Force (ASCDF) coordinated the attack. U Daung Tin was notorious for conspring with the regime’s forces. His latest crime was tipping off two PDF rangers’ lcoation that resulted in the arrests on July 27. PDF-Natmauk said they conducted an investigation and found him guilty of several violations hence the mission was carried out.

• Pyu Saw Htee member passed away in Daik-U tsp, Bago Region

On August 4, Pyu Saw Htee member San Win reportedly passed away after ten days of being hospitalized in Daik-U Township, Bago Region. San Win was gunned down by PDF rangers on the evening of July 26 and admitted to the Bago hospital with wounds. He was responsible for several arrests of youths in the region and personally involved with torturing the detainees. He even initiated social media pages to broadcast propaganda for the regime and defame the resistance. Sources on ground said that people were relieved to hear the news of his passing.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

• The regime killed 21 women in July

Burmese Women’s Union released statement that the regime’s army had killed 21 women in July alone. Eleven out of them were killed by the artillery, six by indiscirminate shooting, three by airstrikes and one was burnt to death. Additionally, 19 women were detained by the regime’s forces in the same month. Many of them were accused of lobbying for the resistance by writing on social media. The detainees are from Yangon, Mandalay, Shan, Magway, Bago, Sagaing, Tanintharyi and Mon.  

• Several arrersts took place following explosion in Mandalay

On the morning of August 1, the urban guerilla force fired a handmade artillery into the Mandalay Palace where the regime’s forces were based. Following the explosion, several civilians have been detained in Mandalay. On the same day, the soldiers rammed into a 20-year-old man with their vehicle between 31st and 32nd streets on 75th road, beating him up and arresting. Another youth was arrested later on 64th road. Later in the evening, a delivery man was detained by plain-clothed soldiers. Four more people; three men and one woman, were abducted on August 1. Local sources said that families were unable to contact those detainees since their arrests.

• Two civilians killed, three injured by the regime’s artillery in Nyaunglaypin tsp, Karen State

Karen National Union (KNU) released news that two people including a student were killed by the regime’s artillery in Laldo and Muu townships in the KNU’s Brigade 3 terriory in Nyaunglaypin Township, Karen State. On the afternoon around 3.30 pm on August 2, the artillery fire shot by the regime’s infantry unit 599 from Muu Township fell on a house in Mway Twin Village, killing Daw Thida Aye (aged 37) on the spot. And her family members such as Mg Chit Phone Thwe (aged 6), Ma Zin Mar Win (aged 39) and U Tin Oo (aged 71) were severely injured. On August 3,  another fire shot by the regime’s infantry unit 274 from Laldo Township fell in Thamin Innkone Village, hitting the Grade-11 student Mg Paing Soe Thu in the head and killing him instantly. 

• Two killed by artillery fire from the regime’s navy ships in Katha tsp, Sagaing Region

Since the last week of July, the regime’s nine navy ships have sailed alongside the Irrawaddy River to the upper Myanmar from Mandalay. When they approached Katha Township on August 3, the ships started firing toward the villages as reinforcement to their ground operation. As such, one fire fell in Oo Saw Village, 15 miles south of Katha Town, killing the 10-year-old War So Moe oo on the spot. Another body resulted from the artillery was found in Kyauthtonegyi Village, and it has not been identifed yet.

Armed Resistance

• 33 skirmishes took place in Karenni State in July

The Karenni Nationality Defense Force (KNDA) released news that a total of 33 skirmishes broke out between local resistance forces and the regime’s army in the Karenni State in July alone. In those battles, 84 regime soldiers were killed, three more were captured alive. Two rangers from KNDF also died. In the same month, the regime conducted airstrikes up to 42 times, that resulted in four civlians’ deaths including a child and eight more were injured. In addition, seven civlians were also subject to the indiscrimiate killings by the soldiers. 

• 189 battles took place in KNU’s Brigade 5 territory in July

The Karen National Union (KNU) released statement that a total of 189 battles took place between the allied forces and the regime’s army in their brigade 5’s territory in Phapon District, Karen State in July. In those clashes, the regime and the Border Guard Force (BGF) lost 109 men and 82 more were injured while KNU also had one casualty and five injuries. 

• Three killed and ten injured during ambush on the regime’s police station in Myaung tsp, Sagaing Region

On the evening of August 3, the local resistance forces coordiated a guerilla attack on the regime’s Kyautyit Police Station in Myaung Township, Sagaing Region. Two-hour-long battle saw three deaths from the regime and 10 more were injured. There was no casualty from the resistance forces but they had to retreat due to the shortage of ammunition. 

• The regime used airstrike following the fall of the station in Winemaw tsp, Kachin State

On August 3, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) took control the regime’s military station in Maliyan Village, Winmaw Township, Kachin State. As a result, the regime conducted airstrike with two fighter jets on the village the following morning. The jets were observed firing from the sky at least three times each. No casualty has been reported so far from the airstrike. KIA said battles take place near Maliyan every day since the regime increased troops near the KIA’s headquarter. 

• Clash between local resistance forces killed young leader in Yesagyo tsp, Magway Region

On the morning of August 4, a battle broke out between the local resistance forces based in Yesagyo Township, Magway Region. A 30-minute long back and forth firing resulted in the death of the leader from MG6 guerilla force. On the previous night, M6 guerilla force reportedly raided the house of the leader from another resistance force in the region, abducting the wife and two children in his absence. Consequently, the local group took revenge by targeting MG6 base in the next morning, taking out the leader, who went by the name Mg Chan (aged 27). Local sources said that MG6 force had been ransoming, robbing and trading drugs in the area and reported multiple times to the NUG.

Source: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit, RFA Burmese, Irrawaddy, Mizzima News, Ayeyarwaddy Times, Eleven Myanmar

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