Folks, this week, we commemorated the 35th Anniversary of the 8888 Uprising. Several protesters across the country as well as the diaspora communities across the globe remembered our decades-long struggle for democracy. Leaders from prominent ethnic armed organizations publicly said this week that the end of the Myanmar military is near as the armed resistance of the pro-democracy forces intensified in many parts of the country. Kyat depreciation remains one of the many hardships that Myanmar people suffer after the regime’s announcement of new 20,000 kyats banknotes. The armed resistance remains strong while the regime also accelerates efforts to regain its stations in ethnic regions. Read all about it in this week’s update.
- Veteran EAO leaders said the pro-resistance forces hold the upper hand
On August 10, Myanmar Now released a news article, featuring insights from long-standing ethnic armed leaders of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), with over 60 years of history, and the Karen National Union (KNU), established over 70 years ago, regarding the present state of affairs in Myanmar. General N’ Ban La of the KIO said in his speech for the Kachin Martyrs’ Day that the defeat of the military regime is near on a daily basis, and the people will succeed in the near future if they work hard. He said that the resistance against the military regime has increased all over the country, and the military is in a tight spot both politically and militarily. On the same day, the leaders of KNU also held an online press conference where they echoed a similar sentiment. General Saw Tar Ma Lah Thaw said that the military’s ability to move from one base to another is decreasing and that they need to rely on fighter jets and helicopters to transport food and protect their bases.
- Capsized Rohingya Boat Near Sittwe Leaves 17 Dead, Dozens Missing
A motorboat carrying 55 Rohingya capsized near Sittwe’s Point Beach on August 7; 17 dead bodies have been discovered and more than 30 travelers are missing as of August 11. The motorboat, carrying 12 females and 43 males, left Rathedaung Township on August 6, en route to Malaysia for job opportunities since the livelihood was difficult in Rakhine State. On August 7, the eight survivors and two dead bodies were first discovered near Point Beach in Sittwe, and the Sittwe-based Shwe Yaung Myitta Foundation delivered the dead bodies from the beach to the hospital. The eight survivors were taken by the police forces, and locals raised concerns that they could face legal charges by the police.
- KNU to establish Kawthoolei State
On August 10, KNU’s new leadership held a press conference to report its achievements in the first 100 days and its future plans. The KNU leaders said that since the military staged the coup on February 1, 2021, the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) has been voided, and the ethnic armed group shared its future plan for the Kawthoolei State. General Secretary Pado Saw Ta Do Muu said that after the removal of the military regime, there will be possible power vacuums, and the new KNU leadership will strive to articulate a self-determining, democratic federal unit. The term Kawthoolei, translated as “a land without evil”, was officially used from 1964 to 1974. After the Independence from the British Empire, Thanlwin District and related areas where Karen people lived were called Karen State according to the 1947 Constitution. Pado Saw Ta Do Muu continued that the state or unit that KNU aspired to achieve will be based on justice, equality, the right to create one’s own destiny, and the emergence of a federal democratic system. He added that the KNU’s attempt to establish the Kawthoolei State was not intended to expand the existing borders, but rather to approach the federal democratic system through a new constitution. As such, he also reassured that the KNU will continue to fight alongside the people.
- The military regime planting landmines targeting civilians: NUG says
On August 12, the National Unity Government (NUG) announced that the military has been planting landmines targetting civilians. The report said that, on August 10, the military soldiers planted landmines on a road that villagers commonly use in Chaung Oo Township, Sagaing Region, and the People’s Defense Force member removed them to prevent harm from civilians. U Maung Maung Swe, deputy secretary of the NUG’s Ministry of Defense said that with its combat capabilities decreasing, and the territories getting more limited, the Myanmar military is targetting civilians more frequently. He said that this landmine approach has been observed in Magway, Sagaing, and southern parts of the country. The military council is using M 14 landmines, which can cause a small explosion up to about ten inches from the place where it is stepped on. It is a type of mine that is produced with the intention of incapacitating the person who stepped on the mine. The NUG’s Ministry of Defense has issued a warning to the public to be aware of the danger of landmines.
- Singapore opted out of the counter-terrorism exercise organized by Russia and Myanmar
As a component of ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), Myanmar and Russia took the lead in organizing the Table Top Exercise on Counter-Terrorism on August 2 to 4 in Naypyidaw. Singapore requested to attend only online but the request was denied by the organizing teams. Thus, Singapore chose not to attend the meeting entirely. The Naypyidaw meeting was a precursor for the Ground Military Exercise which will be held in September in Russia. After excluding from the Table Top Exercise, Singapore is yet to disclose whether it would also exclude from the Group Military Exercise. Last year, when Russia and Myanmar organized similar meetings on counter-terrorism, China, India, and ASEAN countries, were in attendance. However, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and the United States boycotted the meetings. A US Department of Defense spokesman said last June that Russia and Myanmar are using the co-chairmanship to curb their terrorist activities and gain the support of member states.
- US Senator Calls for Extension of Special Envoy for Myanmar in ASEAN
US Senator Tammy Duckworth urged ASEAN to extend the position of Special Envoy for Myanmar despite a change in the chairmanship. Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Ms Retno Marsudi currently serves as the Special Envoy for Myanmar with her office in Jakarta. Due to the rotating nature of ASEAN leadership, Indonesia will transfer its chairmanship to Laos next year, and consequently, Laos’ foreign minister will become the next special envoy for Myanmar. On August 10, Senator Tammy Duckworth urged ASEAN to keep the Special Envoy’s Office.
- The Myanmar military’s war crimes became more frequent and brazen: IIMM reports
On August 8, the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) released its annual report in which it stated that the Myanmar military regime has been committing war crimes and crimes against humanity more frequently after the 2021 coup. The report said that the UN-mandated investigative team has collected evidence by conducting interviews with witnesses and victims. The report also stated that the Myanmar regime committed sexual and gender-based crimes during its 2017 clearance operation against the Rohingya community in Rakhine State.
- ILO Survey: 41% Increase in Job Losses Since Myanmar Coup
The International Labor Organization (ILO) announced on August 11 that the number of workers who have been fired since the military coup in Myanmar has risen to 41 percent according to a new survey. The ILO conducted a survey on unemployment and income security in Myanmar. The survey found that after February 1, 2021, the number of job terminations increased to 23.5 percent, and job resignations also increased to 22 percent. Only 29.5 percent of laid-off workers received severance pay, with women and young people between the ages of 15 and 24 receiving less than men and veteran workers, the survey said. Donglin Li, ILO’s communication officer, said that workers in Myanmar are facing difficult conditions. He said there is an urgent need to respect the rights of workers in Myanmar and improve protections for them.
- Singapore’s UOB Bank Halts Myanmar-Related Financial Activities
Singapore’s UOB Bank has ceased its financial and banking operations associated with Myanmar businesses, effectively severing ties between the junta group and the global financial network. This action has been taken in response to pressure from the United States, aiming to restrict trade with Myanmar due to Western sanctions. UOB, a prominent Singaporean bank, has suspended all financial activities, including transactions involving Myanmar, as outlined in a recent confidential communication sent to Myanmar banks. Myanmar nationals are now subject to limitations on their use of Mastercard and Visa cards, allowing only fund transfers within UOB accounts and international deposits. Additionally, UOB will prevent Myanmar banks from establishing Nostro accounts at its Hong Kong branch. The bank’s decision, effective from September 1st, stems from its connection to the arms trade and international calls for action against the Myanmar military. Notably, other major Singaporean banks such as OCBC and DBS are also considering similar measures.
- Australian Government rebukes mining company over human rights neglect
The Australian government discovered that mining company Mallee Resources Limited failed to assess the human rights implications of its ownership of the Bawdwin mine in Namtu Township, northern Shan State, and has upheld a complaint filed by rights groups. Mallee Resources failed to assess the impacts of its joint venture with Win Myint Mo Industries Co Ltd (WMM), which has links to cronies previously sanctioned by the US for alleged drug trafficking and funneling cash to the Myanmar military, according to the Australian National Contact Point for Responsible Business Conduct, which is managed by Australia’s Department of the Treasury. Mallee, formerly known as Myanmar Metals Limited, said in August 2021 that it would sell its whole ownership in the Bawdwin mine in Myanmar’s northeast, citing the “situation in Myanmar” as undermining market confidence. According to the Australian assessment, Mallee should have done additional due diligence to analyze “the gravity of human rights abuses that could have been caused, contributed to, or directly linked to the Bawdwin mine” because of the history of abuse and warfare in Shan State over natural resources.
- Rising dollar exchange rates impact the construction sector
After the military coup, the dollar exchange rate continued to rise, causing instability in Myanmar’s economy. This has resulted in higher costs for imported goods and disruptions in construction projects, according to reports from business sources. The local construction industry, already affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, has undergone a significant transformation since the coup. The price of commercial iron, for instance, has surged from 80,000 kyats per ton to over 1.5 million kyats per ton. This steep increase in material costs, including iron and cement, has impeded the progress of construction projects. The prices of imported construction materials, such as iron products and aluminum, have increased by about 10% compared to the previous month. As a result, some construction companies are facing difficulties, leading to project delays and financial hardships.
- The plummeting Myanmar Kyats drive palm oil prices to unprecedented highs
The plummeting value of the Myanmar kyat has driven palm oil prices to an unprecedented high, exceeding 10,000 kyats per viss. Residents in Yangon reported that some palm oil shops ceasing sales due to this surge. The cost of this essential item for many citizens has jumped from 9,300 kyats to 14,000 kyats per viss on August 10, causing significant hardships. The depreciation of the Kyats value, exacerbated by the introduction of new 20,000 kyat banknotes by the military council, has also led to a sharp increase in the prices of imported goods, including palm oil. The Industrial Oil Import, Storage, and Distribution Supervisory Committee, established by the military council, has set a basic wholesale reference price for palm oil, but the foreign market prices exceed this by two to three times. As the council aims to ensure domestic self-sufficiency in the long term, it plans to encourage domestic oilseed cultivation and enhance oil production.
- Youth activists commemorate the 35th anniversary of the 8888 Uprising in Yangon
Members of the Democratic Party for a New Society and Youth for a New Society protested the regime in Yangon’s Sule overpass on Tuesday, hanging black T-shirts embossed with the Burmese digit ‘8’ to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the ’88 Uprising. Following their 8888 Umbrella Strike from last year, Yangon People’s Strike once again organized the “Red Umbrella Movement” on August 8 to commemorate the 8888 Uprising. This year, four brave protesters posed for photos in crowded areas of Yangon with red umbrellas with the number 8 printed on them. A text that reads, “The flames of revolution is still igniting” was also printed on the red umbrellas.
- 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
- Firefighters detained by PDF in Budalin, Sagaing Region
On the afternoon of August 7, the local resistance forces raided the fire station and arrested 21 people in Budalin Town, Sagaing Region. Among the detainees were eleven firefighters, eight family members of them, and other two staff. The raid took place in broad daylight in the middle of the town and the operation was successful without a single gunshot, according to a PDF member. He added that the fire station was targeted because the firefighters always failed to put out the fire caused by the regime soldiers while they coordinated with the soldiers for anti-resistance activities. A source on the ground said that the detainees have been taken to a PDF camp where they are kept well and will be put to trial.
- Multiple military facilities blasted in Papon, Karen State
At midnight of August 11, the local resistance forces targeted six regime locations in Papon Town, Karen State. Blasts occurred simultaneously in four ministry offices and two staff housings. The township court, accountant’s office, tax office, and immigration office were among them. No casualty was reported as the targeted building and compounds were empty. The KNU warned all regime employees to leave Brigade 5’s territory including Papon Town in January and August this year and all of them reportedly left the town by last month.
- Military lapdog shot dead in Latpandan, Bago Region
On August 12 around 9.45 am, a former policeman/current dalan was shot to death in a teashop in Latpandan Town, Bago Region. The fallen military informer, Bo Kyin Ko was a key member of the anti-resistance campaign in town. He was responsible for investigating PDF news and spreading fake news on behalf of the military. He offered MMK 500,000 for the information on the PDF. Over twenty people were arrested and sentenced to prison due to his information. Tharyarwaddy PDF under the command of the NUG’s Ministry of Defence took care of the mission.
- Surveillance police shot dead in Paung tsp, Mon State
On the evening of August 12, surveillance police from Zin Kyaik Station named Tun Naing Lin was ambushed on his way back from Thaton. He was shot three times to death near the bridge no.1/165 on Yangon-Mawlamyine road. He was not wearing a uniform at that time and it seemed like he had been monitored closely, according to a local source. It’s unknown who was responsible for the attack.
Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence
- Charitable Association chairwoman arrested in Mandalay
Daw Nwe Nwe Win, the chairwoman of Shwe Maha New charitable association who was recently released from prison was arrested again in Mandalay on August 9. The 45-year-old was detained on her way to donate blood on that day after being wrongly accused of participating in the 8888 campaign on the day prior in tribute to the 1988 uprising. The military lobbyist shared a blurred photo of a woman holding the protest slogan and said it was Daw Nwe Nwe Win. The arrested took place on the same day although friends and family argued it was a different person and Daw Nwe Nwe Win has not been involved with the resistance activities since her release in May 2023.
- Soldiers gunned down motorcycle and killed man at checkpoint in Kalay, Sagaing Region
The regime’s soldiers opened fire on two civilians at a checkpoint for allegedly refusing inspection in Kalay Town, Sagaing Region on August 10. The victims were construction workers on a lunch break and were said to be turning their motorcycle when they saw the inspection gate in Taung Phe Lar Ward. The troops shot them down and one of them, a 28-year-old from Mhontar Village was killed on the spot. Another one was injured in the hand.
- The regime’s airstrike on a monastery killed four including an infant in Sagaing tsp, Sagaing Region
On the early morning of August 11, the regime’s army reportedly conducted an airstrike on a monastery in Taline Village, Sagaing Township, Sagaing Region. The aerial attack from the fighter jet, which took place without an active battle close by, killed four people including a monk, an eight-month-old baby, and two women who had been residing in the monastery to escape from clashes. Following the assault, the junta’s infantry forces raided the village, committing more brutality. Ten people were abducted and a man was killed in the process. The troops continued the trip to Wetlet township afterward.
- The regime’s airstrike and artillery attack injured ten in Palam tsp, Chin State
On the morning of August 12, the regime conducted airstrike and artillery attack at two villages, injuring ten people in Palam Township, Chin State. The artillery fire shot by the infantry unit – 268 fell in Soontala Village where a man and two women were wounded. A fighter jet later dropped bombs on Ranhtalo Village and three men and four women were injured, according to the spokesperson from the Chin National Organization (CNO). A church and a few houses were also destroyed by the airstrike in Rangtalo. Both attacks came after the counteroffensive from the Chin resistance forces on the Infantry unit – 268 on the previous night.
- MG6 PDF dissolved, members put into trial in Yesagyo tsp, Magway Region
A coalition of local resistance forces under the control of the NUG disbanded the MG6 PDF after a shoot-out in Yesagyo Township, Magway Region. MG6 was responsible for the arrest of the family members of another PDF leader. A shoot-out followed the incident where the leader of MG6 was killed in the clash on August 4. On the same day, the association made up of 20 local resistance forces detained the rest of the eleven members and said all of them would be tried for alleged crimes.
- SAC conducted an airstrike after KIA seized a strategic station in Hpakant tsp, Kachin State
On August 7, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) reportedly took control of three military camps of the regime and its allies located near Kathine Hill and Nantmhaw Village six miles on the west of Hpakant Town. Among them, Kathine Taung station located on the hill was bombed four times on the following day as the regime’s army accelerated efforts to regain its position while KIA was conducting ground clearance operations. The regime is said to have lost many men and even family members on the day it lost control of that station. Another battle also broke out near Nantmhaw Village and hundreds of villagers are on the run.
- SAC forces raided NUG’s detention facility, and evacuated its troops in Khin-U tsp, Sagaing Region
On the morning of August 9, the regime’s troops raided the NUG’s detention center in Khin-U Township, Sagaing Region. The facility located in the south of Khin-U was broken into by 100 men made up of soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee members. They evacuated 20 convicts, most of them were SAC soldiers before burning down the cells and PDF camps around them. There was no casualty reported.
- 30 SAC soldiers died during a battle in Kyauktaga tsp, Bago Region
On the early morning of August 9, a major clash broke out between the regime’s troops and the coalition of resistance forces led by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) near Thamin Inn Kone Village in Kyauktaga Township, Bago Region. The battle started around 4 am and lasted seven hours in which about 30 SAC soldiers were killed. Two KNLA and one PDF ranger also died in the action. NUG released news that its forces seized about 21 multiple weapons from the junta’s army.
- SAC attacked TNLA and MNDAA stations from the sky in Lashio tsp, Shan State
On August 10, the regime’s air forces conducted an offensive on the Northern Alliance members in Lashio Township, Shan State (north). In the afternoon around 2 pm, an MI-35 chopper attacked the TNLA camp located near Nantlaung Village, 10 miles from Lashio. The airstrike lasted 20 minutes and it was followed by the ground operation that lasted four more hours. Multiple casualties were speculated from the regime’s side and as of reporting, reinforcements are said to be on the way to the battle area. On the same day, the regime’s forces conducted an airstrike and ground offensive on the MNDAA camp near Hopait Village, just outside the toll gate of Lashio.
Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit, Irrawaddy, DVB, Mizzima, RFA Burmese