Folks, this week marked one year since the Letyetkone Massacre where the military deliberately launched bombs at a school, and because of the impunity granted, the regime keeps on using airstrikes as a tactic to attack the civilians. With clashes taking place in many parts of the country, the people continue to suffer from instability. This week also witnessed the regime forcing local shops and markets to resell military products that are boycotted by the public. Read all about it in our weekly update.
- One year since Letyetkone Massacre
September 16 marked one year since the Myanmar military launched an aerial attack on Letyetkone Village, Depayin Township in the Sagaing Region. The attack killed 13 civilians including six children, but to this day, the regime benefits from impunity and keeps launching airstrikes on civilians. This year, residents of Letyetkone Village demanded the international community hold the military accountable for its crimes. One villager who requested anonymity told Myanmar Now that the military has been killing civilians and destroying homes. Still, he could not fathom why the international justice system could not take action against them despite the loss he and his fellow civilians suffered. On September 14, residents held memorial services for victims of the Letyetkone attack and held a protest to demand justice.
- NLD said the regime is responsible for DASSK’s health
On September 14, the National League for Democracy (NLD) issued a statement warning that the regime is responsible for the health condition of the detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The central working committee issued this statement after DASSK’s son Kim Aris talked to international media about his concerns for the lady. He told Reuters News that his mother is struggling to eat and is not allowed to consult with doctors from outside. In May, NLD reported that 16 lawmakers who represent its party have died either in junta’s detention or while fleeing from the arrest. Remarkably, one of NLD’s prominent leaders and DASSK’s close aide U Nyan Win passed away in 2021 while under the regime’s detention due to COVID-19. Considering the regime’s example of negligent treatment of its detainees, the statement raised concern for the lady’s admirers.
- ALP battalion commander was assassinated, marked 7th ALP personnel to get killed
On September 15, one of the military personnel from the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) was assassinated with gunshots at close range. The ALP was formed more than 50 years ago but in recent years, the armed group was divided into three. The person who was assassinated was from the group led by Daw Saw Mra Yarzar Lin, and their stance was inclined towards the military. While ALP refused to release the details of the deceased personnel, local news reported that he was a battalion commander. Top leaders from the ALP led by Daw Saw Mra Yarzar Lin have often been attacked and assassinated in recent months, and this battalion commander marked the 7th personnel from the ALP who got killed. Since the ALP is not on good terms with the Arakan Army (AA), the ALP accused AA of being responsible for these murders but AA denied this accusation.
- KNU Hpa-an District Chair urged to follow the NCA
It is not news that cracks and divisions have been observed within the Karen National Union (KNU), the oldest armed organization in Myanmar’s history. On September 15, Pado Saw Aung Maung Aye, chairperson of the KNU Brigade 7 Hpa-an District, issued a statement that stated that in order to achieve peace and stability in the country, and to find solutions for the political turmoil, the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) should be followed. This statement came at a time when the military regime was planning to celebrate the 8th anniversary of the signing of the NCA in October in Naypyidaw. This statement is the opposite of the narratives of the KNU’s central committee members. Since the coup, the KNU central committee members have been persistently and publicly said that the NCA is voided on the day the military staged the coup. The NCA was signed in October 2015 before the end of the Thein Sein Administration, and 10 ethnic armed groups signed during that time. Among them, the Chin National Front (CNF), All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), and KNU have been clashing against the military regime after the coup.
- The regime pressured shops and supermarkets to sell boycotted military products
Since the beginning of the coup, one of the ways Myanmar people do to cripple the military regime is by boycotting products produced by the military conglomerate. While Myanmar Beer is many’s favorite, civilians boycotted the beer and other products by the military which severely affected the regime’s income. On October 5, the regime issued a directive to inspect supermarkets and stores if they discriminate against certain products, and to inspect if they have an association with “terrorist organizations”. On the following day, supermarkets, shops, and restaurants in Yangon, Mandalay, and Naypyidaw were visited by the administrations, and some owners were invited to administrative offices to resell military products such as Myanmar beer and Black Shield beer. In the following week, the military products hit the shelves again in City Mart supermarkets in Yangon.
- The regime imposed mandatory registration for NGOs and INGOs
On September 14, the regime-appointed Minister of Home Affairs Lt General Yar Pyae said that local and international non-government organizations must comply with the mandatory registration, and are required to submit support letters from respective government offices. This was said during the Conference on Registration of INGOs and NGOs in Naypyidaw. He said that the registration process is needed since the international community has been supporting illegal activities through the INGOs and NGOs. The junta chief also echoed a similar sentiment during a cabinet meeting on August 30 in Naypyidaw to tighten the control over the NGOs. According to the Association Registration Law enacted on 28 October 2022, if the associations and organizations fail to register, they will receive 3 years of imprisonment or MMK 1,000,000 as fines.
- Thailand to facilitate in Myanmar’s affairs, says new Thai FM
Panpree Phathithanukorn, Thailand’s new deputy prime minister and foreign minister, said that the neighboring country will take advice from alternating ASEAN chairmanship and will also consider an alternative approach from the ASEAN to help resolve Myanmar’s problem if necessary. This was said on September 15 according to an online Thai newspaper Pracha Thai. He also said that since Myanmar’s turmoil is an internal affair, it should be resolved with the local justice system and ASEAN regulations. While he said that ASEAN’s role should not be neglected for it has been ensuring that Myanmar follows the five-point consensus, he also stated that Thailand will also facilitate between Myanmar and ASEAN.
- ASEAN Air Chief Conference in Naypyidaw, only 5 countries attended
From 12 to 15 September, ASEAN Air Chief Conference was held in Naypyidaw and hosted by the military regime. The 20th conference was attended by airforce chiefs from five out of ten countries in ASEAN, namely, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. Representatives from Indonesia and Malaysia did not attend the conference while the Philippines and Singapore sent recorded messages instead of in-person attendance. Prior to the conference, the civilian-elected National Unity Government (NUG), and other pro-democracy activists requested ASEAN countries not to attend the event hosted by the military regime that has been using aerial attacks on innocent civilians. The event was led by Admiral Tun Aung, the regime’s air chief who has been imposed sanctions from the US and UK. While the regime leaders are banned from major ASEAN meetings, they are still allowed to attend other related conferences. In early August, the regime also hosted an anti-terrorism conference with ASEAN member states, Russia, China, and India, and only Singapore was absent from the meeting.
- UNICEF to implement USD 3 million projects with the military council
Leaked documents showed that UNICEF signed MOUs with the regime’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief, and Resettlement on August 17 and 18 to implement two projects worth USD 3.24 million. The first project is designed to support children, persons with disabilities, and pregnant women from Hlaing Tharyar and Shwepyithar townships in Yangon Region, and other selected areas. The project is worth USD 1.1 million. The second project is to support the Ministry of Cooperatives and Rural Development, formed after the coup, in clean water and distribution of water purification tablets. The project is worth USD 2.1 million. In the statement issued by the UNICEF office in Myanmar, third-party organizations and response mechanisms will be used to ensure accountability for the projects. When Myanmar Now questioned UNICEF Myanmar which third-party organizations will be used, UNICEF did not answer directly but gave a vague answer that stated that the organization has been engaging with respective stakeholders to provide humanitarian aid for children and families that are in immediate need of support.
- UNFPA not participating in the regime’s 2024 census
In 2014, the Thein Sein administration conducted a population census as a part of the democratic reform process, and as an international partner, the UNFPA provided technical and other support in the process. Another population census is due in 2024 since it is designed to be conducted every 10 years. The census has become a new tactic to extend the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing’ reign as he declared that the collection of census data will commence in October 2023. The UNFPA Myanmar’s representative held meetings with the regime-appointed Minister for Immigration and Population two times: one on 14 July and another on 31 August of this year. A spokesperson from UNFPA’s Asia Pacific Office said that the UNFPA does not provide support to the military regime for the 2024 census due to the challenges and the UN’s guidelines. In the regime’s meeting on August 22, Lt. Gen Soe Win who is in charge of the census project said that it will be implemented in the state budget since there is no external contribution.
- The Yangon Stations Upgrade project suspended
According to Myanmar Railways, the Yangon Stations Upgrade project has been suspended due to the departure of the company that was allowed to work on the project. This project was implemented during the NLD administration, and the Japanese company, Sumitomo Corporation, had the right to work then. “The project has been suspended because the company that won the tender has also left,” an official from Myanmar Railways told Popular News. In February 2018, the Singapore company Oxley Holdings won the priority tender for the Yangon Stations Upgrade project, but the Japanese company Sumitomo Corporation continued the project due to the company’s bankruptcy. The total area of the project is about 63.5 acres, with a floor area of 1.19 million square meters. The project to upgrade Yangon Station is located in the south of General Aung San Road, To the north, Bo Min Roang Road, Hotels in the area between Sule Pagoda Road in the west and Thein Phyu Road in the east. It is estimated that 100,000 jobs will be created from this project, which will cost about 3 billion US dollars, but now, the project is suspended after the military coup has deteriorated the economic situation in Myanmar.
- The new E-commerce guide enforces provision, experts evaluated
On September 5, the regime’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce published a comprehensive E-commerce Guide aimed at service providers engaged in online sales of goods and services. This directive follows a mandate issued in July, requiring online service providers to register their business licenses. The E-commerce Guide is designed to protect consumers from online counterfeits and scams. While it may lead to a reduction in imports due to increased scrutiny, potential tax complications have been raised by legal experts. According to a legal expert, the release of the E-commerce Guidelines will benefit consumers who were previously exposed to unregulated products without FDA approval. These guidelines also ensure proper taxation of imported goods and mitigate grievances among consumers. Moreover, entrepreneurs will now be responsible for taxes, sparing consumers from bearing the entire burden. The registration of service providers for online sales has long been in the works, even during the previous NLD government. The guidelines specify that E-commerce operators must provide accurate contact information on their websites or social media platforms and offer a dispute resolution mechanism.
- The regime’s crackdown on dollar traders continued, arrests including military generals and cronies
A military source in Nay Pyi Taw confirmed that the military council cracked down on the people who caused the rise of the dollar exchange rate in the market which included the arrest of military generals and cronies. According to the list obtained by Khit Thit News, among those being inspected by the military are Lieutenant General Moe Myint Tun; General Yan Naung Soe, Maung Sein, Maung Zaw Lwin, Maung Maung, Thein Win Zaw, and some directors of Myawaddy Bank which is being operated under the military. While the military council was investigating businessmen, it was learned that some businessmen trusted by Min Aung Hlaing’s son, Aung Pyae Sone, were included in the list, but no action was taken by the military. Currently, Dr. Win Myint, the owner of Myat Myittar Mon Fuel Oil, has also resigned from the Fuel Oil Manufacturers Association.”Businessmen are running away. Some of them can’t run, so they have to sit at home and wait for their turns. Famous crony businessmen have been banned from leaving the country, as well as their children,” said a Yangon UMFCCI source.
Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties
- Immigration office attacked in Aung Lan tsp, Magway Region
On the early morning of September 13, the regime’s immigration office compound suffered a detonation of landmine attack in Aung Lan Township, Magway Region. The explosion took place around 3 am in the morning and primarily targeted at the regime’s soldiers’ security tent in the compound. A guard was said to be killed by the blast while the front side of the office building was destroyed. Following the incident, the soldiers came out of the area, following the rangers and taking shots at them but no one was harmed.
- Police officer shot dead in Shwepyitha tsp, Yangon
A police officer was shot and killed in Shwepyitha Township, Yangon on September 13. The man in question, Aung Thet Htwe was deployed in Loikaw, Karenni State and he was on his vacation, visiting his parents’ house after sitting a promotion exam in Naypyitaw. The shooting took place at a teashop on Tapinshwehtee Road, Kanbawza Park, Shwepyitha Township where the officer took four bullets and died on the way to hospital.
- Military-owned Myawaddy Bank targeted in Mandalay
On September 16, the regime’s military-owned Myawaddy bank was blasted with a bomb in Mandalay, injuring two policemen on security duty. Located on the corner of 81st and 26th streets in Chanayetharzan Township, Myawaddy Bank is one of the junta’s largest financial assets. The explosion took place around 2pm on the bank-holiday. Mandalay-based guerilla force “No More Dictatorship People Defense Force – NMD” claimed responsibility for the attack and said one policeman died and two more were injured in the incident, contradicting the regime’s lobbyists who claimed there was no casualty. NMD also said that they planned the attack on the holiday to ensure that the public was not harmed.
- PDF conducted drone attack on Naypyitaw’s Air Force base
On the afternoon of September 15, a local defense force carried out an aerial offensive with a drone targeting the Aylar Air Force base in Naypyidaw area. Two bombs were dropped from the remote-controlled drone where fighter aircraft were located. At the time of the scene, at least two helicopters and a few soldiers were seen on the ground. There was no release of news on the casualty and damage yet.
Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence
- Three killed following village administrator death in Myingyan tsp, Mandalay Region
On September 10, the village administrator U Win Hlaing was shot dead in Gyotepin Village, three miles south of Myingyan Town, Mandalay Region. Following his death, the regime’s soldiers stormed into the village, terrorizing the area. On midnight of September 12, a military truck came to the village and three blasts were heard. On the next morning, three dead bodies were found in a plantation field. As the villagers were worried about the possible plantation of bombs, they were not able to collect and identify the bodies.
- Four youths given death sentence in Bogale tsp, Ayeyarwaddy Region
On September 12, the district court sentenced four young men to capital punishment in Pyapon Township, Ayeyarwaddy Region. The four convicts, Ko Pyae Soe Phyo, Ko Min Thu Aung, Ko Zaw Win Tun and Ko Naing Win Tun were from Bogale Township, all of them were arrested and charged in relation to the killing of a military supporter in Bogale last year’s April. The local sources said that these four were not in any way associated with the case, they were framed by the regime’s men for their active political background.
- Four villagers killed, five thousands displaced in Sagaing tsp, Sagaing Region
On September 14, the regime’s army raided villages in Sagaing Township, Sagaing Region, causing mayhem in the area. At least five thousand people left their homes to seek safety. Four men named Ko Zaw Min, Ko Thein Zaw, Ko Tay Zar Oo and Ko Kyaw Tun Naing, all aged between 30 and 40, were arrested as they headed to their village to feed cows. Their dead bodies were found on the north of the village later. The displaced population have not yet returned to their homes as of reporting.
- Four injured by the regime’s artillery in Kyaikhto tsp, Mon State
Within September 14 and September 15, the regime’s military fired heavy weaponry toward villages, wounding civilians in Theinzayat Town, Kyaikhto Township, Mon State. At least four people were reportedly injured. U Win Hlaing, aged 45 was severely wounded, Daw Than Than Aye, aged 40, Ma Nhyat Si Ma, aged 16 and Ma Htay Htay Maw, aged 34 also suffered injuries. Many speculated this was the retaliation from the regime’s forces for the PDF’s offensive on a police station the previous day.
- The regime’s airstrike killed two including a monk in Inndaw tsp, Sagaing Region
On the evening of September 15 around 8 pm, the regime’s fighter jet conducted an aerial attack on a monastery in Khayannsetkone Village, Inndaw Township, Sagaing Region. The abbot, aged 77 and his servant were killed on the spot. There is no active battle nearby and the motive behind the airstrike on the monastery remains a mystery. Besides, the regime’s soldiers also fired artillery toward the village shortly afterwards, destroying a house and a motorbike.
- Pyu Saw Htee’s indiscriminate shooting killed 3 and injured 8 in Gantgaw tsp, Magway Region
On the evening of September 16, the military-sponsored Pyu Saw Htee thugs fired artillery into a village in Gantgaw Township, Magway Region and caused casualties. Three villagers were killed and eight were injured in Myintharr Village as the unprovoked shooting fell on three civilians’ houses. The Pyu Saw Htee members were said to be firing from Myautkhayan Village.
- The junta’s forces conducted airstrikes on Yinmabin and Pale tsp, Sagaing Region
Between September 9 and September 11, the regime’s air force conducted an aerial attack on Yinmabin and Pale townships in Sagaing Region. On September 9, the airstrikes targeted the old PDF stations on the south of Pale Township. Many speculated the regime’s soldiers received false information that PDF were still located there. On September 11, the Burma National Revolutionary Army (BNRA) led by Bo Nagar conducted a guerilla attack on the regime’s troops between Nwe Shout and Kyunbo villages, igniting a 30-minute battle. The junta’s forces lost 6 men and suffered ten injuries. BNRA met with an aerial attack on its way back but managed to escape without any casualties.
- KIA & PDF ambushed the regime’s army in Mohnyin tsp, Kachin State
On September 12, about 70 regime troops were attacked with a landmine detonation by the coalition of Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and PDF near Shwe Latt Pan Village in Mohnyin Township, Kachin State. The troops were heading from Nant Moon to Indawgyi when the ambush took place. Another guerilla attack occurred on the morning of September 14 near Lonetone Village. As a result, the regime’s army took six gold mine workers as human shields. Indaw PDF said at least 10 regime soldiers were killed during those attacks.
- 15,000 displaced as tension rose in Yay tsp, Mon State
Karen National Union (KNU) says the regime’s army has been increasing troops in the KNU’s territory 6 in Yay Township, Mon State and it has fueled tension between two counterparts. Since September 14, clashes have broken out due to the Kyaikhto-based military unit 44’s offensive where a KNLA ranger was killed by an airstrike. As a result, 15,000 civilians have been displaced and they have encountered multiple crises thanks to heavy rain and flooding on top of the armed conflict.
- KNU seized the regime’s station in Kyarinseikkyi tsp, Karen State
KNU has confirmed that KNLA forces have seized the SAC’s strategic station on the border of Thai-Myanmar in Kyarinseikkyi Township, Karen State. Yaytanshout Station was manned by 24 soldiers, 14 of them were killed in the early morning attack, 10 abandoned the station while the rest were missing. KNLA forces began the mission at 6am in the morning and successfully managed to take control of the station around 11.30am. KNLA also suffered one casualty and two injuries.
- Nine SAC soldiers killed during a clash in Myaung tsp, Sagaing Region
On September 15, the regime’s army clashed with the local resistance forces in Htone Kyaing Township, Myaung Township in Sagaing Region. The troops were said to be heading to join its forces in another village and were intercepted on the way. The skirmish lasted two hours and both sides retreated due to casualties. At least nine regime soldiers were said to be killed.
Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit Media, Mizzima News, RFA Burmese, DVB