Weekly Update: 083

by mohingamatters

Hi folks, here is a summary of two weeks’ highlights. Myanmar continues to face humanitarian challenges amidst growing scrutiny of the regime leader’s leadership. The armed resistance remains resilient, with a notable incident targeting a military-affiliated crony businessman in downtown Yangon this week. Due to the regime’s ruthless handling of the detained urban guerilla members, Yangon has seen much less resistance-related action in the recent months. And this incident suggests that missions are being more carefully planned and executed. We wish for the safety and continued heorism of the urban guerilla rangers. For more details, check out our full highlights below: 

Internal Politics

  • Nearly 500 children were killed by the regime since the coup

The NUG’s Ministry of Human Rights released that 491 children were killed by the regime’s attacks during the press conference held on October 4. NUG’s Minister for Human Rights U Aung Myo Min said that the deaths of those under 18 were caused by aerial attacks, artillery shelling, and raiding villages by the military’s forces. About 119 schools nationwide were also destroyed by the military’s attacks. U Aung Myo Min said that the regime’s atrocities resulting in children’s deaths amount to war crimes. Naw Suzanna Hla Hla Soe, the NUG’s Minister for Women and Youth Affairs, added that children who remain alive in conflict areas now live in fear due to potential aerial attacks by the regime. As recent as September 27, an artillery shell fell on a school in Wuntho Township, Sagaing Region, injuring 21 children and a teacher. 

  • More than 130,000 CDM teachers remain striking, NUG says

More than 130,000 teachers continue their Civil Disobedience Movement according to the NUG’s Education Minister Dr Zaw Wai Soe. He said during the press conference on October 5, honoring the striking teachers on World’s Teachers Day. Initially, more than 200,000 teachers were on strike, and Dr Zaw Wai Soe added that CDM teachers are one of the reasons the military council is unable to run the country. Currently, the NUG’s Ministry of Education has opened more than 70 online schools and more than 5,000 schools on the ground with CDM teachers. Interim President Duwa Lashi La added that the military regime has been deliberately attacking schools by conducting airstrikes and torching, as well as, arresting and torturing teachers. 

  • DASSK’s special appeals rejected

The regime’s Union Supreme Court issued on October 6 that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s special appeals for six corruption cases were denied. These cases included four cases that are related to Daw Khin Kyi Foundation and two cases related to businessman U Maung Waik. On August 29, special appeals for five cases were also rejected by the Supreme Court. Her legal counsel requested to meet with her and President U Win Myint in order to discuss special appeals since January 2023 but the Supreme Court did not respond to the request for counsel. The 78-year-old civilian leader was initially charged with 19 cases and faced 33 years of jail time, but due to the special pardon on August 1, five cases were pardoned and jail time was reduced to 27 years. 

  • Coup leader’s desperate attempt to engage with ethnic groups for NCA

Ethnic leaders said that coup leader Min Aung Hlaing has been engaging with ethnic armed groups to hold the 8th anniversary of the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). Salai Htet Ni from Chin National Front (CNF) said that the junta chief tried to organize the event to show the international community that the NCA still exists while his forces have been killing civilians. He pointed out that the NCA was voided when the military staged the coup because the NCA was based on the 2008 Constitution. Similarly, Pado Saw Taw Tee of the Karen National Union (KNU) echoed that the NCA was voided on the day the military staged the coup. However, on September 30, junta chief Min Aung Hlaing held a meeting in Naypyidaw with KNU’s former chair Saw Mutu Say Poe who signed the NCA in 2015. KNU spokespersons said that the former chair’s meeting did not represent the ethnic armed group. 

  • 10 captains from the regime took civilian-related roles 

Ten captains from the military have been transferred to three civilian-related ministries with officers, and assistant manager roles. The transfer was announced on September 29. Captain Aung Ko Latt and Captain Aung Htet from the Ministry of Defence now took officer positions at the Ministry of Social Welfare. Captain Kyaw Thiha Tun, Captain Kyaw Zin Tun, and Captain Htet Wai Aung from the Office of the Military Appointment General (Army) are transferred to the Ministry of Transport and Communication as officer and assistant manager positions. Five other captains took officer positions at the Department of Trade and Consumers Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce. CDM Captain Kaung Thu Win said that the military wanted more civilian-related data and information, and thus, these transfers took place. 

  • Dr Aye Maung and Daw Sandar Min lobbied for junta in Japan

Former NLD parliamentarian Daw Sandar Min and former Arakan National Party chair and current Arakan Front Party chair Dr Aye Maung lobbied for the junta’s election in Japan in mid-September according to Myanmar Now. On September 19, they held a meeting with Japanese parliamentarians and requested their support for the regime’s election which will be held in either 2024 or 2025. The pair also said that the NUG and People’s Defense Force (PDF) are responsible for Myanmar’s current political turmoil, and also shared military propaganda pamphlets. Dr Aye Maung refused to provide detailed information about his trip to Japan and only said that he went to request humanitarian aid for post-Cyclone Mocha resettlement. 

International Affairs

  • Myanmar worker died at Bangkok mall shooting 

On October 3, a gunman opened fire at Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok, killing one Chinese woman and one Myanmar woman. The deceased Myanmar woman was identified as Ma Moe Myint, 31, from Thaton, Mon State who had been working in Bangkok for about a decade. Myanmar ambassador to Thailand, Thai authorities, and attorneys discussed on compensation: both the Thai government and her employer will provide compensation to her family, including monthly support equivalent to Ma Moe Myint’s monthly remit for her family. The 14-year-old alleged person has been charged with homicide, and other charges while two arms brokers who sold the gun to him were also arrested. 

  • Insufficient support from UN but only growing violence: SAC-M reports

On October 3, the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M) said that the United Nations could not provide sufficient support while the Myanmar public requested help, and only the regime’s violence accelerated two and a half years after the coup. SAC-M, formed by Ms Yang Hee Lee, former UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar, and others, also pointed out that the humanitarian crisis is getting worse in Myanmar. They called out on UN member states, Security Council, Member States, and Human Rights Councils failed to stop the regime’s violence and to protect the civilians. 

  • BIMSTEC postponed as Thai authorities divided over its invitation to Myanmar junta

Thailand, host of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), postponed the meeting due to the division among the Thai government for inviting junta chief Min Aung Hlaing. Thai parliamentarian Kannavee Suebsang from Fair Party told Myanmar Now that the new Thai government is against inviting the junta chief to Thailand for official duty. He said that MPs are ready to object if the BIMSTEC meeting will take place as planned. The BIMSTEC is scheduled to be held on November 30 and the Thai government invited Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lenka in addition to Myanmar. Leaders from the Myanmar military are banned from attending ASEAN meetings due to the ongoing human rights violations, airstrikes, and deaths of civilians. Usually, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Cambodia are vocal about the military council but Thailand remains silent. This is the first time Thailand made a significant move regarding Myanmar leaders. 

Business Matters

  • World Bank Report: Myanmar’s economic challenges – anticipated only 2% GDP growth in 2024

The World Bank’s report on the economic situation in East Asia and the Pacific, including Myanmar, indicates a challenging outlook for the country. Myanmar’s GDP growth rate is anticipated to be only 2% in 2024, as stated in the report released on October 1. The growth rate for October 2023 is predicted to be 3%, which is already at the bottom of the growth rate chart. This projection represents a significant decrease from the 10% higher growth rate in 2019 before the military assumed power. Myanmar’s GDP in 2022 is reported as 59.63 billion US dollars, constituting 0.03% of the world economy. The World Bank estimates that by 2024, Myanmar’s GDP will reach 63.77 billion US dollars. 

  • Construction industry market in Myanmar on decline

In 2023, Myanmar’s construction industry market has decreased by 3.7 percent, according to the Research And Markets survey report released on October 5. The document describes that Myanmar’s construction industry has decreased by 3.7 percent in 2023 in real terms, which takes into account inflation and rising commodity prices. This is due to the declining electricity shortage, depreciation of local Kyat currency, western economic sanctions, supply chain disruption, the deteriorating political situation, the continuous departure of domestic and international businesses, and the decrease in confidence of investors and buyers. Many local construction companies have relocated to neighboring countries, particularly Thailand.

  • Myanmar’s foreign trade decreased by more than 800 million dollars

In the initial half of the current fiscal year, Myanmar’s foreign trade declined by over $800 million compared to the previous year, totaling $15,437.013 million. Maritime trade dropped to almost $11 billion, while border trade increased to over $4.580 billion. Despite a nearly $1 billion decrease in exports, imports rose by $56 million, resulting in a trade deficit of $835.825 million. All sectors, including agricultural products, experienced decreased exports due to restrictive trade and monetary policies imposed by the Military Council, hindering international competitiveness. Challenges include regional instability, transportation difficulties, and power outages affecting production and exports. Myanmar’s foreign trade was $19.603 billion in the first six months of the 2019-2020 fiscal year before the military coup, and over $16 billion in the first six months of the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

Humanitarian Affairs

  • The junta troops terrorized over 20,000 Sagaing Region residents to flee homes

More than 20,000 residents from Depayin, Ye-U, Kalay and Salingyi townships, Sagaing Region, have fled homes amid junta troops’ fresh attacks between September 25 and October 1, according to reports by RFA Burmese and The Irrawaddy. The Depayin Refugee Support Group told The Irrawaddy that over 150 junta soldiers based in Ye-U raided the border area with Depayin on September 25, causing thousands of civilians from more than ten villages to flee. On September 26’s afternoon, a military helicopter from Northwestern Regional Military Command gunned down the vicinity of villages in eastern Depayin, causing more waves of displacement. The attacks continued on September 30 when 100-strong junta troops advanced into western Depayin and caused havoc. About 10,000 residents from 14 villages in Depayin, around 10,000 from 10 villages of Salingyi and about 1,000 from three villages of Kalay were reported to have fled between September 30 and October 1, RFA Burmese reported. A Depayin local told RFA Burmese that one resident of Lat Tee village was found decapitated after the military soldiers passed by and two civilians were captured as human shields. The whereabouts of the two civilians are still unknown at the time of reporting.

  • Over 86,000 homes and buildings torched since February 2021

The Institute for Strategy and Policy – Myanmar (ISP-Myanmar) published a report on September 29, detailing that a total of 86,134 buildings, including religious structures and homes, were torched and destroyed between February 2021 and August 2023. Sagaing Region held the highest record of buildings burned down and destroyed after the coup, with 62,294 structures. Magway Region and Kachin State reported 13,034 and 2,219 buildings torched and destroyed, respectively. ISP-Myanmar report said that at least 110 townships across Myanmar are affected by these arson attacks.

  • The junta began pilot census in 20 townships

Min Aung Hlaing-led junta announced on October 1 that it had begun a pilot census in 20 townships across the country. The statement said that the junta would conduct a census from Oct 1 to 15 in selected townships in Nay Pyi Taw, Karen State, Bago, and Mandalay regions without specifying which areas are involved. Critics who spoke to The Irrawaddy said this census is a step-up monitoring of opponents of its coup, including CDMers who have not returned back to work.

  • Thousands fleeing in Bago, Sagaing, and Kayah due to the junta troops

Between October 4 and 7, thousands of residents from Bago Region’s Yedashe Township, Sagaing Region’s Ye-U and Pale townships, and Kayah State’s Hpruso Township are on the run after various indiscriminate attacks by the junta troops.

●  On October 4 and 6, junta troops launched aerial attacks on the villages on the east of Hpruso Township in Kayah State, resulting in 10,000 residents fleeing their homes, according to Karenni Human Rights Group.

●  In Bago Region, junta troops also launched aerial attacks in two villages, causing around 1,000 residents to flee. The attack lasted 20 minutes, and some houses were reportedly destroyed, but no one was hurt, according to a resident who spoke to RFA Burmese.

●  On October 7, over 15,000 residents from 16 villages Ye-U and Pale townships, had to flee their residences after the junta troops’ column advanced into the townships.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Crony businessman targeted by UG in Yangon

Nyan Lwin Aung, a close associate and arms trader of the regime, was attacked in downtown Yangon on October 2. While having dinner at a food stall located on the corner of Anawrahta Road and 17th Street, a gunman opened fire on him around 10 pm. Initial reports indicated Nyan Lwin Aung had died shortly after the incident; however, credible sources now report that he is still being treated in an emergency room. The Yangon-based Urban Owls guerrilla force has claimed responsibility for the attack. Nyan Lwin Aung, 36 years old, was known to be cooperating with the regime’s Ministry of Defense. His latest action involved attempting to install facial recognition CCTV for the junta. He had even participated in foreign trips with the coup leader and was photographed in Russia testing various military equipment. Urban Owls has issued a warning to young businessmen who have been exploiting the difficult situation in Myanmar, collaborating with the regime to become new cronies in the making.

  • Five USDP members shot dead in Mandalay Region

A local resistance force has confirmed that five members of the regime’s proxy political party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), were shot and killed in Myingyan and Nahtoegyi townships in the Mandalay Region. On October 2, U Shwe Kyee, aged 50, U Maung Tin, aged 67, U Tin Shwe, aged 58, and Ko Kyaw Myo Aung, aged 34, all from Sue Yit Kone Village on Nahtoegyi-Mahlaing highway road, were shot dead. The following day, U Naing Oo, aged 50 from Pattar Village, seven miles west of Myingyan Town, and a ward administrator in the village, was shot three times to death. The responsible party for the attacks remains unknown. Regime lobbyists have framed these deaths as killings of innocent civilians by the resistance forces. However, local sources assert that these individuals were known for collaborating with the soldiers and exploiting civilians. As a result, their deaths were a consequence of such actions rather than merely being members of the USDP.

  • Village administrator shot dead in Moekaung tsp, Kachin State

On October 5, at around 7 pm, Hla Tun, a village administrator from Yayshin Village, Moekaung Township, Kachin State, was shot dead in front of his house. Unknown gunmen fired three shots at him, and he succumbed to his injuries on the way to the hospital. The responsible party for the attack remains unknown. Hla Tun’s house is in close proximity to where regime soldiers are stationed, according to local sources.

  • Regime’s sergeant shot in Aungmyethazan tsp, Mandalay

A regime sergeant was shot twice in front of a ward administrative office where he was assigned on security duty in Aungmyethazan Township, Mandalay, on October 7, around 1 pm. A gunman on a motorbike opened fire on the sergeant, who was returning from grocery shopping. He fell and lost consciousness at the scene before being taken to a hospital. Regime soldiers arrived promptly, blocking roads and inspecting motorbikes. They were also observed requesting CCTV footage from the neighborhood.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • CDM couple arrested in Sagaing Town, Sagaing Region

On the morning of September 30, regime soldiers arrested U Aung San Win and his wife, Daw Myo Su Thet, both aged 35, in their home in Sein Kone Ward, Sagaing Town, Sagaing Region. The detained couple are engineers from the Ministry of Construction and active participants in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). Reports suggest that the junta’s forces raided their house, taking them into custody after discovering politically sensitive information on their computers. During the incident, Daw Myo Su Thet’s cousin attempted to warn her about the arrest by making phone calls. The soldiers extended their operation to her house, resulting in her arrest as well. Currently, all three are being held at the Myoma Police Station in Sagaing Town, and the charges they might face remain unknown.

  • The regime’s artillery killed one woman and injured three in Mone tsp, Bago Region

The Karen National Union (KNU) released news that the regime’s forces had randomly fired artillery, resulting in casualties in its territory in Mone Township, Nyaunglaypin District, Bago Region. On October 4, 50-year-old Daw Myint San from Bamar Ngatoekhin Village died of the heavy weaponry fire. Similarly on October 2, 46-year-old U Zaw Min and 9-year-old Naw Nweni Htwe were injured by the same attacks from the regime’s Light Infantry Unit 307. KNU has also said that people in its territory have been living in terror due to the junta’s constant firing of heavy weaponry.

  • The regime’s forces looted rice supply in Ye-U tsp, Sagaing Region

On the morning of October 6, junta soldiers allegedly committed a robbery of rice bags in Phein Kar Village, Ye-U Township, Sagaing Region. The soldiers conducted an offensive in the north of Ye-U Town, involving artillery fire and raiding Phein Kar Village. They spent a night in the village, where they reportedly looted rice bags from the Super Five Rice Mill and transported them to Ye-U Town. Additionally, the regime’s two-day offensive in the west and north parts of Ye-U has resulted in the displacement of approximately 10,000 people from multiple villages.

  • The junta’s army terrorized village, killed grandmother and grandson in Kalay tsp, Sagaing Region

On October 6, about 100 regime’s troops launched a raid on Setkant Village in the south of Kalay Township, forcing the residents to flee from their houses. The soldiers set fire to the houses all day, destroying up to 100 households. In the meantime, Daw Nuu Nhite Nam, aged 67 and her grandson, Salai Van Bwe Lian, aged 14 returned to the village from where they were hiding to gather some food. Unfortunately, they encountered the troops who shot them dead and then set their bodies and motorbike ablaze. Local sources said that the regime’s army suffered casualties during its offensive thanks to interception from the resistance forces and this terror attack may have been a retaliation act against the community.  

  • The regime’s soldiers killed young man on his way to play football in Kalay Town, Sagaing Region

At around 2:30 pm on October 6, regime soldiers opened fire on a motorbike in Tarhan Ward, Kalay Town, Sagaing Region, resulting in the death of a young man. The victim, 17-year-old Lian Muan Sing, was on his way to participate in the Under 17 football tournament with his friends. The group of four passed through the regime’s inspection gate on a single motorbike, where the soldiers decided to open fire. Lian Muan Sing suffered a fatal bullet wound in the back and died on the spot.

  • 1,300 people have been arrested for posting about Spring Revolution on social media

Data for Myanmar, an independent watchdog, released a statement revealing that since February 2022, the regime has arrested 1,316 individuals for posting content supportive of the Spring Revolution. The majority of these individuals are Facebook users, with the rest being account holders on TikTok and Telegram. Approximately half of the detainees are from the Yangon and Mandalay regions. In January 2022, the regime announced that those expressing dissent on social media would face charges under counterterrorism and sedition acts. Data for Myanmar has not verified the number of individuals who have been formally charged or imprisoned as a result of these arrests.

Armed Resistance

  • CDF accelerated efforts to overtake Kanpetlet tsp, Chin State

The Chinland Defense Force (CDF) has intensified ground strikes with the objective of gaining control over Kanpetlet Town in the southern Chin State. On September 27, the CDF initiated an offensive against the regime’s forces in the town, successfully holding CDF flags at the entrance gate of Kanpetlet, a display that continues to this day. The regime’s influence is limited to the urban area in Kanpetlet Town, where approximately 200 troops are stationed in just five locations, including the general administrative department office, education office, and police station. During the offensive, CDF attacked two of these locations on September 27 but faced challenges in seizing them due to the lack of artillery support. To address this, CDF is currently conducting a funding campaign to procure necessary weapons. Dr. Sa Sa, the Minister for International Cooperation, stated in a video for the campaign that 75% of the Chin State is now under the control of the resistance forces.

  • Five regime men including two officers died during battle in Inndaw tsp, Sagaing Region

At approximately 8 am on October 4, a confrontation erupted between the regime’s forces and the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) near Thaung Gyi Village in Inndaw Township, Sagaing Region. About 100 regime troops launched an offensive in Inndaw Township, advancing from Banmauk, only to be intercepted by ABSDF rangers positioned between Myathidar and Thaung Gyi villages. In the clash, five soldiers from the junta were killed, including two officers. The regime forces reportedly buried three bodies on the road while retrieving the bodies of the officers. ABSDF also suffered four minor injuries. Following the confrontation, residents of Manhtone, Thaung Gyi, and Min Kone villages fled their homes.

  • The regime’s soldier-turned-PDF ranger killed during compromised mission in Budalin Town, Sagaing Region

In the evening of October 4, local resistance forces initiated an offensive on a regime inspection gate in Budalin Town, Sagaing Region. However, the regime soldiers had received prior information about the impending attack by the rangers, enabling them to be prepared. As a result, they opened fire first on the rangers, leading to the death of one and the injury of another. The deceased ranger was Ko Zaw Zaw Aung, aged 32, who had defected from the regime’s military and joined the people’s side in February 2023. Ko Zaw Zaw Aung had played a prominent role, leading various battles for the resistance forces and training many young individuals. Unfortunately, the rangers were unable to retrieve his body.

  • The regime planned to form/expand militias in Yangon and Ayeyarwaddy regions

The regime’s military, police force, and general administrative department are reportedly collaborating to gather information on residents, with the intention of forming and expanding militias in Yangon and Ayeyawaddy regions. According to a ward administrator from Seikkyi Kanaungto Township in Yangon, they were instructed to provide the names of at least three individuals who could be recruited into the militia. This directive was reportedly issued to at least 13 townships in Yangon and 7 townships in Ayeyarwaddy. A former captain in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) noted that the regime’s army has significantly decreased, leading to the forceful recruitment of more individuals into the militia.

  • The regime’s convoy detonated with landmine, one truck destroyed in Khin-U tsp, Sagaing Region

On October 5, local resistance forces initiated three detonation attacks on a convoy of seven vehicles belonging to the regime in Khin-U Township, Sagaing Region. The convoy, transporting food supplies and weapons, was en route to military stations in the western part of Khin-U when it encountered the resistance forces’ interception around 10:30 am. As a result, one truck sustained damage and was observed being chained and pulled away. The extent of casualties is currently unknown. In response to this reinforcement, residents along the Ye-U–Khin-U highway have relocated to safer areas.

  • Thousands displaced by the regime’s airstrike in Yedashe tsp, Bago Region

On the afternoon of October 6, the regime’s army conducted an airstrike on Nagyat and Latpanphyu villages in Yedashe Township, Bago Region. The 20-minute-long aerial attack resulted in damage to eight houses, fortunately with no reported casualties. Situated to the east of the Sittaung River, both villages have been strongholds of resistance against military rule. Approximately 1,000 residents from these villages are currently displaced, fearing additional aerial strikes.

Sources: Myanmar Now, RFA Burmese, Irrawaddy, Mizzima News, Khit Thit Media, DVB

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