Weekly Update: 084

by mohingamatters

Folks, the week started with a massacre by the regime in Kachin State, dropping bombs on a place where displaced people took refuge and killing civilians and children. Several parts of lower and central Myanmar are currently facing floods due to severe rain in the past two weeks. Read all about it in our weekly update for the week.

Internal Politics

  • The regime’s airstrikes on Kachin IDPs 

Around midnight on October 9, the Myanmar military carried out an aerial attack on Mong Lai Hket Village, two miles from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA)’s headquarters in Laiza. In an initial news report, KIA’s spokesperson Colonel Naw Bu said that Mong Lai Hket Village sheltered about 500 displaced people, and the attack killed 29 civilians including children. He said that 56 were injured and 44 were taking medical treatment. The bombs fell in the middle of the village, resulting in more civilian casualties. Colonel Naw Bu added that the area had no military outposts or clashes. This marked another mass killing of civilians after the Anang Pa incident last year. On October 13, Amnesty International said that this killing of civilians amounted to a war crime.

  • NCA 8th Anniversary: ABSDF, CNF, KNU & NUG reject

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing organized the 8th anniversary of the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) today in Naypyidaw. While the invitation was extended to all ethnic armed groups, major armed groups rejected it and expressed that no peace dialogue would take place unless the military council ended the violence. On October 12, the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), Chin National Front (CNF), and Karen National Union (KNU) issued a statement in which the groups rejected the 8th anniversary of NCA and the military’s new form of governance. The joint statement also included the five shared political goals and demands including the goal to eradicate the military from Myanmar’s political landscape. On October 14, the National Unity Government (NUG)’s Interim President Duwa Lashi La gave a speech in which he claimed that the NCA was voided on the day the military staged the coup and multiple EAOs explicitly expressed this as well. He also said that organizing an extravaganza on the NCA 8th Anniversary was rather a dishonorable act while the military’s troops are killing civilians as recently as the Mong Lai Hket bombing. 

  • 11 Kokang businessmen arrested by China; two Wa officials issued for arrest warrant

On October 1, 11 Kokang businessmen including U Maung Maung who was in junta chief Min Aung Hlaing’s top 100 cronies were arrested by Chinese authorities in Lincheng Country, Yunan Province. The businessmen were arrested while they were in Lincheng for a trade show. Although there has been no official statement from Chinese authorities, Myanmar Now reported that they were detained as a part of the Chinese government’s efforts to crack down on cyber-scam operations that have been growing in border areas since the coup. On October 12, the Chinese government also issued arrest warrants for a minister and a mayor of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) from the Wa Self-administered Zone for their alleged involvement in telecom fraud gangs at the border areas. The Chinese government focused on cracking down on these fraud gangs since they targeted trafficking Chinese nationals and imposed forced labor on them. Myanmar Now reported that some families of the detained Kokang businessmen approached the military council to intervene in their arrests. A week later on October 7, the military council and Kokang militia group cooperated and handed over 380 suspects of the fraud gang to the Chinese authorities. 

  • Two military generals received life sentences for corruption charges

Following the arrest of Lieutenant General Moe Myint Tun and other generals in September, a regime-controlled court sentenced Lt Genl Moe Myint Tun and his assistant former Brigadier General Yan Naung Soe to life sentences, i.e. equivalent to 20 years of jail time. The military council’s statement stated that Moe Myint Tun was convicted for not taking action against individuals who inflated the price of palm oil, deviating from the government’s set reference price. The Central Bank of Myanmar sold US dollars to import palm oil at the specified rate, as per the statement. The statement also said that he accepted bribes from companies, misused his rank and power, unlawfully held foreign currencies, and engaged in civilian businesses, breaching military discipline directives. As for Yan Naung Soe, the regime’s statement said that he utilized his position and influence to convert foreign currency to Myanmar kyats for entrepreneurs, received both foreign currency and Myanmar kyats from them, facilitated connections between entrepreneurs and Lt-Gen Moe Myint Tun, unlawfully retained foreign currencies, and engaged in civilian businesses, contravening military discipline directives.

  • More than 1300 netizens detained for criticizing the regime: Data for Myanmar reports

Data for Myanmar group reported on October 8 that a total of 1316 have been detained for criticizing the regime on social media. The data was collected between February 2022 to September 2023. Social media has become a crucial communication channel for Myanmar people to mobilize their resistance. Especially in early 2022, netizens widely mobilized to participate in the Silent Strike on February 1, 2022, to remember the first year under the coup. Noticing the mobilization, the regime threatened to arrest social media users who showed mere support to the resistance. Since then arrests of netizens accelerated. The detainees include anyone who criticizes the military or supports the anti-coup movement including political activists, celebrities, and civilians. Data for Myanmar’s report also noted that military supporters also tipped the regime to carry out the arrest of these individuals. According to the data, Yangon Region observed the highest arrest of netizens with 323 individuals, followed by Mandalay with 284 people. Civilians from Bago, Magway, and Ayeyarwaddy regions were also arrested. 

  • Myanmar ranked second most repressive country for Internet freedom

Freedom House’s annual “Freedom on the Net” report on October 4 said Myanmar is the world’s second most repressive environment for internet freedom as global freedom continued to decline for the 13th consecutive year. The report stated that China was found to have the worst conditions for internet freedom for nine years in a row, but Myanmar “came close to surpassing it.”

International Affairs

  • Cambodia Former Prime Minister Hun Sen plans a trip to Naypyidaw

Cambodia-based Khmer Times published on October 12 that the country’s former PM Hun Sen planned a trip to Naypyidaw with Nippon Foundation Chairperson. The news, based on a statement from Hun Sen’s Cambodia People’s Party, reported that the former PM managed to achieve some successes with Myanmar during his time as the ASEAN chairman, and therefore, he wished to broker peace for Myanmar together with the Japanese partner. Former PM Hun Sen visited Myanmar twice after the coup with plans to facilitate peace dialogues, and these trips were widely seen not fruitful. His third trip was also canceled due to the growing criticisms. 

  • Russia and the regime signed MOU for nuclear infrastructure enhancement

On October 11, Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation, announced that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the regime’s Ministry of Science and Technology “in the field of nuclear infrastructure assessment and enhancement”. The MoU was signed by Dr Myo Thein Kyaw, regime-appointed Minister for Science and Technology, and Rosatom’s Director General Alexey Likhachev. With this MoU, the two sides aim to assess Myanmar’s current needs for the development of the nuclear infrastructure and prepare for the implementation of a small nuclear power plant construction in Myanmar. Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing also met with Alexey Likhachev in July 2022 and signed a MoU to train and develop expertise in the nuclear energy sector according to Rosatom. 

  • More than 200 Myanmar citizens in Manipur Prison remain detained

RFA Burmese reported that more than 200 Myanmar citizens are being detained in Manipur State of India, sharing borders with Chin State and Sagaing Region of Myanmar, for violating the immigration act. U Htan Sein, who has been helping Myanmar displaced people, said that there are 55 Myanmar citizens in Imphal Prison and 150 in Lam Kaa Prison, including babies, children under 18 and women. He added that all of the detainees are newly displaced people after the coup. Among them, 80 detainees have completed their jail time (5 months) and provided fines but the authorities have not released them. According to Myanmar refugees in Manipur, two female Myanmar citizens died in March 2021 while being detained in Lam Kaa Prison and one male Myanmar citizen died in February 2023 in Imphal Prison. Ko Sai Lay who was released from Imphal Prison told RFA Burmese that the condition inside the prison was very poor and he also experienced racial discrimination. Salai Dokha, founder of India for Myanmar, said that, in his opinion, while Mizoram State has been providing shelters to Myanmar refugees, Manipur State refusing to release these refugees shows that Manipur State Government is using Myanmar refugees for political exploitation. 

Business Matters

  • Myanmar’s economy will be handled by Deputy C-in-C Soe Win

Deputy Commander-in-Chief General Soe Win will now oversee the country’s economy due to high-ranking military corruption concerns. After top military leaders were imprisoned for corruption, General Mya Tun Oo briefly led, but doubts about his trustworthiness led to Deputy C-in-C Soe Win’s appointment as the Central Committee chairman. Soe Win addressed corruption concerns at a recent meeting, emphasizing the need for vigilance against bribery. General Mya Tun Oo is being monitored, with Lieutenant Ni Lin Aung reporting to Soe Win. Soe Win is taking control of the Central Committee on Myanmar Special Economic Zone and the country’s economy in the current situation due to military corruption allegations.

  • MGMA announced that more than 250 garment factories have been suspended from membership

The Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) announced on October 9 that the membership of 254 garment factories was suspended due to their failure to pay their annual membership fees. The MGMA sent notices to those factories three times, but no response was received so the membership of those who did not pay the fee has been suspended. “Many factories closed due to the lack of export orders during these two years. The market is not as big as before. I think it may decrease further,” a lawyer who provides labor assistance spoke to DVB. The MGMA had 819 members, of which 254 members failed to pay their annual dues for 2022. The statement stated that if the members who were currently suspended wish to rejoin the Association, they must register as new members only after repaying the remaining debts to the association.

  • Oil traders frustrated with the regime’s new rationing policy

Edible oil traders in Mandalay expressed dissatisfaction with the military council’s management and the rationing of edible oil. Following the issuance of new 20,000 Kyats currency notes by the regime, the prices of goods rose significantly, leading to a halt in sales at the Zay Cho market last month. In response, the military group planned to regulate prices, with members of the Oil Industry Association required to sell edible oil at a discounted rate, causing long queues among buyers, mostly from lower-income groups. Each household is allowed to purchase either fifty ticals or one viss of oil. However, some individuals have resold the oil at market prices higher than the set price by the military council, causing further frustration among traders. A Mandalay-based oil businessman remarked, “Members are compelled to sell, but they are also deeply disappointed. Non-compliance could lead to consequences.”

Humanitarian Affairs

  • Junta pushes to close IDP camps to make way for China’s Belt and Road, Kachin Women Association Thailand’s new research says

The Kachin Women Association Thailand (KWAT) published a report on October 9 which claimed that the junta is putting pressure on the IDP camps in Kachin State and northern Shan State to close down in an attempt to make space for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)-related development projects. In contrast, China’s State Council Information Office released a white paper the next day, saying that China is ready to work with other countries to “build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.” The report from KWAT, “Bloodstained Gateways,” explored the links between the junta’s increasing attacks, such as aerial bombardment, shelling, arbitrary arrests, and human shields, against civilians in Kachin and northern Shan states and its attempt to secure transport routes for China’s expansion of the BRI.

  • Floods affect residents across Central Myanmar 

Incessant rain across Myanmar in the past two weeks, combined with the dams releasing water unannounced, have been causing various levels of floods across Central Myanmar in Bago Region, Yangon Region’s Hlegu Township, Mandalay Region’s Madaya Township, and Shan State’s Kalaw town.

●      In Bago Region, the heavy rain that started on October 7 and the three dams releasing water unannounced to control the spillover from the heavy rain caused a week-long of severe floods. One of the residents told DVB Burmese that the junta claiming that they were the ones doing relief and rescue amid clashing with the PDF was nonsense since the floods became worse after the junta decided to release water from the dams in the region. The person added that the primary helpers are the local relief and rescue groups and aid groups. According to the Bago Region Rice Association, at least 50,000 acres of rice fields and farmlands were damaged in the floods. DVB Burmese said this is the recorded floods that Bago City suffered in about 60 years, and about 80 percent suffered from the floods. RFA Burmese reported on October 13 that water has gone down in some of the areas in Bago City, but still can see roads being covered with water in some parts.

●      DVB Burmese reported on October 12 that 10,000 residents of Hlegu Township, Yangon Region, were suffering from floods due to water levels rising in creeks and the release of water from the dams. Nine flood evacuation camps are reported to have taken in about 2,000 residents, and residents in two-story houses are helping most of the flood-affected villagers. By October 13, the water was said to have gone down slightly, according to another report by DVB Burmese, but about 7,400 residents still need help.

●      In Mandalay Region’s Madaya Township, the sudden release of water from the main dam without any prior announcement flooded ten villages downstream, and more than 30,000 had to flee and evacuate overnight on October 12.

●      Shan State’s Kalaw town is also reported to suffer from a slight flood due to incessant rain and mountain water flooding the Kalaw Creek, DVB Burmese said on October 13. Almost 100 homes in Ward No. 2 & 4 in Kalaw town faced an inflow of water due to heavy rain on October 10. 

  • Over 25,000 residents on the run in Sagaing’s Pale and Kanbalu Townships, three missing

On October 14, over 15,000 residents from 11 villages in Sagaing Region’s Pale Township were reportedly displaced since the junta troops advanced into Pale Township on October 5. On the afternoon of October 13, the Pale People’s Administration team leader told RFA Burmese that the junta troops reportedly detained three civilians who didn’t flee during their raids in Kyar Si village. On the same day, the junta troops stationed in two villages in Kanbalu Township raided seven villages, causing over 10,000 residents to flee. 

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Pyu Saw Htee leader shot dead in Paungde tsp, Bago Region

On the midnight of October 7, Ko Phoe Khwa, the leader of Pyu Saw Htee group, was shot dead in Paungde Township, Bago Region. The incident occurred at his own house in Aung Thapyay Village, Kyauktaga Village Tract. Ko Phoe Khwa was known to have undergone military training under the regime and was reportedly spearheading Pyu Saw Htee campaigns which is ransacking villages along with the regime soldiers in the region. The Paungde PDF, responsible for the killing, asserted that they had issued multiple warnings to the individual before carrying out the final verdict.

  • Five men arrested in relation to the policeman death in Aungmyaythazan tsp, Mandalay

At approximately 10:30 pm on October 11, regime soldiers detained five individuals in connection to the killing of Police Sergeant Moe San Oo in Aungmyaythazan Township, Mandalay. The targeted incident took place around 6 pm on October 10 near No.4 Police Station, where the policeman was fatally shot from close range. Subsequently, on the following night, soldiers seized a mobile phone shop, detaining the owner and three staff members. Additionally, a young man from an apartment situated on 11th Street, between 79th and 80th streets, was also arrested. Local sources indicate that these arrests were made after the regime soldiers reviewed CCTV footage in the neighborhood.

  • Myanmar beer factory targeted in Mingalardone tsp, Yangon

On the night of October 12, a targeted attack occurred at the Myanmar beer factory, a pivotal asset under the control of the military regime in Mingalardone Township, Yangon. At approximately 7 pm, Urban Special Operation (USO) fired two 107mm rockets into the factory compound. While there is speculation regarding casualties and damages, specific details have not been revealed. Notably, the regime has actively promoted Myanmar beer, compelling businesses to resell the brand despite widespread public boycotts. This incident marks the third attack on the same factory, two having taken place within the past year.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • At least two people arrested for attempting to help flood victims

On October 9, regime soldiers apprehended individuals in Hlaingthaya Township, Yangon, who were en route to aid flood victims in Bago Region. Two confirmed victims, identified as Ko Saw Oo and Ko Zin Ko Win, were activists advocating for peace and human rights for minorities. The identities of the other detainees are yet to be established, and their whereabouts remain unknown to date. The Bago Region had experienced the most severe flooding in 60 years the previous week. Despite the civilian efforts to assist fellow residents during the crisis, the military regime once again disrupted the evacuation processes.

  • Teenager killed and eight injured by the regime’s artillery in Nyaunglaypin District, Bago Region

On October 10, the regime’s army indiscriminately launched artillery in Nyaunglaypin District, Bago Region, causing harm to innocent civilians. One of the projectiles struck Kyawhla Village in Mone Township, resulting in the tragic death of 14-year-old Ma Yuyati Naing. Another artillery round hit Thanatkwin Village, causing injuries to an elderly monk and four other individuals. Additionally, in Nandameik, more civilians suffered wounds due to further artillery attacks. In Ywarkantlant Village, Kyaukkyi Township, three more people, including a 2-year-old child, sustained major injuries as a result of the continued artillery onslaught.

  • Two civilians tortured and killed in Mawlite tsp, Sagaing Region

On the evening of October 12, in Mawlite Township, Sagaing Region, two civilians, Ko Aung Zaw Win and Ko Kalar, both goldmine workers from Nyaungwun Village, fell victim to torture and murder at the hands of regime soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee members. Without apparent cause, the victims were abducted and subsequently killed on the same day. The perpetrators disposed of their bodies in the Chindwin River; however, only Ko Aung Zaw Win’s body was successfully retrieved so far.

  • CDM teacher arrested for online dissent regarding Mong Lai Hket massacre in Amarapura tsp, Mandalay Region

On the evening of October 12, regime soldiers reportedly detained Daw Moe Moe Thu, a teacher affiliated with the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), in Amarapura Township, Mandalay. The arrest was due to her Facebook comment condemning the regime’s massacre in Mong Lai Hket Village, Laizar Township, Kachin State, where 29 civilians, primarily women and children, fell victim to the regime’s aerial bombings. Daw Moe Moe Thu, who had been part of the CDM since early 2021, supported herself by selling hotpot curry. The regime’s operatives, posing as customers, placed an online order for her food before carrying out the arrest in her house. Similarly, Ko Tun Naing from Mattaya Township and Ma May Nge from Sintku Township faced arrests for making online remarks about the same tragic event.

  • One killed and three injured during the regime’s artillery attack on school in Kawkareik tsp, Karen State

The regime’s reckless use of heavy artillery claimed the life of yet another innocent person in Kawkareik Township, Karen State. At around noon on October 13, the artillery fire struck in front of the No.3 Secondary School, resulting in the tragic death of Ma Moe Aye, a Grade-5 student, and causing injuries to primary students Ma Su Yin Aye, Ma Ku Ku Phaw, and Ma Wai Wai Hnin. Two of the injured students are in critical condition, and their stability remains uncertain. The day before the attack, local resistance forces had launched artillery at the regime’s Light Infantry Unit 97, leading to speculation that the assault on the school was a retaliatory action by the soldiers.

Armed Resistance

  • Two PDF stations seized by the regime in Yesagyo tsp, Magway Region

Since October 10, approximately 300 regime troops have initiated an offensive in the Yelaekyun Area of Yesagyo Township, Magway Region, leading to clashes with local resistance forces. On October 14, the troops successfully seized control of two PDF stations situated in Yelaekyun. While no casualties were reported, the regime forces reportedly captured various types of weaponry during the operation.

  • Casualties reported during attack on police station in Wetlet tsp, Sagaing Region

On October 10, local resistance forces launched an offensive at the village police station in Hlataw Village, Wetlet Township, Sagaing Region. Situated 13 miles north of Wetlet Town, this station has been a frequent target. In the ensuing clash, eight regime personnel, comprising both soldiers and policemen, lost their lives. On the people’s side, three casualties occurred. Among them, 20-year-old ranger Ko Kalar sacrificed himself, providing cover for his fellow rangers during the retreat. Additionally, two individuals sustained injuries from grenade explosions during the incident.

  • Clash intensified in Mogok tsp, Mandalay Region

On October 12, a skirmish erupted between the regime’s army and local resistance forces in Mogok Township, Mandalay Region. The conflict began around noon when the junta’s forces initiated an offensive near Nyaungkone Village, situated to the east of Mogok, where the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the PDF were stationed. The confrontation continued until 6 pm, during which two PDF rangers were reported to have sustained injuries. The exact number of casualties on the regime’s side remains unknown. Notably, the TNLA and PDF have been collaborating on counteroffensives in the Mandalay and Shan-North regions. In a previous engagement on October 9 in Naungcho Township, six casualties were reported from the junta’s forces.

  • Five SAC soldiers injured during attack on military hq in Ye tsp, Mon State

On October 13, a coalition of local resistance forces initiated an offensive against the regime’s military headquarters located in Ye Township, Mon State. The rangers launched three artillery strikes on the compound, where approximately 100 troops were stationed. The precise targeting resulted in at least five soldiers suffering critical injuries. In response, the soldiers retaliated by firing both artillery and gunshots indiscriminately into the surrounding neighborhood. Fortunately, no casualties were reported in the residential area despite the random gunfire and artillery exchanges.

  • The regime’s commander died during battle in Moemauk tsp, Kachin State

On October 13, a confrontation erupted between the junta’s forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Aung Gyar Village, Moemauk Township, Kachin State. The regime reportedly suffered significant losses, including Deputy Colonel Thet Aung Aung, who served as the commander of the Light Infantry Unit 103. KIA sources indicate that the regime responded to the situation by conducting an airstrike and reinforcing their troops due to the high number of casualties. The KIA reported capturing some of the regime’s food and weapon supplies during the conflict. The skirmish has persisted into subsequent days, hindering the retrieval of soldier bodies.

Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit News, Mizzima, RFA Burmese

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