Weekly Update: 087

by mohingamatters

Folks, we hope you enjoy the latest issue of our magazine which was published last week. This week, we are covering events that unfolded in the past two weeks. Operation 1027 has expanded to various parts of the country and accelerated, and as a response, the regime held an emergency meeting to discuss the operation. Meanwhile, the pro-democracy public showed solidarity with the resistance fighters by organizing the Aung Thabyay Movement. Another top military general received imprisonment for corruption charges. Read all about it in our weekly update.

Internal Politics

  • The regime held an emergency security meeting to discuss Operation 1027

The regime held a National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) meeting on November 8 to discuss Operation 1027. Usually, the military regime holds NDSC meetings only to extend the state of emergency, and this emergency meeting marked the first time it convened to discuss other security matters. Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing said that the military “successfully regained control of the situation” meanwhile news reports said otherwise. He justified the defeats that his troops saw by claiming that the regime’s troops had to combat with restraint due to the location being very close to the Chinese border. Nevertheless, he vowed to respond as necessary. Vice President Myint Swe, on the other hand, said that the country would shatter if the military government failed to manage these clashes”. 

  • Resistance forces organized the Aung Thabyay Movement on 11 November

This week, pro-democracy forces organized the “Aung Thabyay” Movement on November 11 which was also known as the 1111 Movement. In Myanmar tradition, Thabyay flowers, eugenia leaves in English, are a symbol of auspiciousness. Traditionally, war heroes are welcomed with eugenia branches upon their return from war. With clashes breaking out in various parts of the country as well as for Operation 1027, resistance leaders organized the Aung Thabyay Movement to bring good omen for the resistance fighters. From online to offline, the pro-democracy public shared photos of Thabyay flowers: some wore them in their hair, some offered them on shrines, and some arranged in vases to manifest the victory. 

  • Lt. Gen Soe Htut received five years of imprisonment from the regime

Former Minister of Home Affairs Lt. General Soe Htut received five years of imprisonment from a military tribunal with corruption charges. The news was announced on the regime-controlled television on November 10. This was a follow-up move from the junta after the imprisonment of Lt. Gen Moe Myint Tun in October. In August, Soe Htut was transferred from the Ministry of Home Affairs to the Ministry of Union Government Office in August 2023, and about a month later, he was forced to retire from the position. In the regime’s announcement, he was said to have received bribes for the issuance of passports, and have abused his power and misused staff’s welfare fund. Soe Htut used to be one of the trusted aides of junta chief Min Aung Hlaing, and he was the person who oversaw the execution of democracy activists and leaders Ko Jimmy, U Phyo Zeyar Thaw, and two civilians. While in power, he also managed the police force, interrogation centers, and prisons where the torture of several detained democracy activists took place.

  • Mandalay CM and others yet to be allowed for family visit

While the regime regranted permission for family visits in Obo, Mandalay Chief Minister Dr Zaw Myint Maung and other officials were yet to be allowed family visits. The 72-year-old Dr Zaw Myint Maung who is also vice chair of the National League for Democracy suffers from leukemia and currently, he has been transferred to the prison hospital for about four months to receive medical treatment. Specialist doctors visited the prison hospital once a month to provide the required treatment. However, his family has not received permission to visit him as the prison management said that additional permission from higher-ups is still required. In addition to Dr Zaw Myint Maung, Obo Prison currently houses one of the NLD patrons U Win Htein, Mandalay Mayor U Ye Lwin, Mandalay’s Minister of Construction and Electricity U Zar Ni Aung, MCDC committee member U Kyaw Zeya, and other NLD members. The regime announced that family visits will be allowed in Obo Prison starting November 5, but those on death row are not allowed for family visits.

  • The regime’s troops extorted money in Bago and Karen, KNU reports

On November 11, KNU reported that the military’s Infantry Battalion 75 extorted money from five villages in the Than Seik village tract in Shwe Kyin Township, Bago Region. The money extortion was led by Major Myo Win Tun of the IB-75 from Than Seik Base on November 8, and each household was ordered to give MMK 50,000. Since a total of 901 houses are located in five villages, the regime’s troops took more than MMK 45,050,000. In addition, landowners were also asked to provide money depending on the size of their land plots. A similar extortion took place in 24 villages in Hpa-an Township on November 3 and took about MMK 19,400,000 from the villagers according to the KNU.

International Affairs

  • Chinese security official met junta chief

China’s Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong visited Naypyidaw on October 30 to discuss the security situation in the border areas. The regime-controlled media reported that the visiting Chinese official also held a meeting with junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and Minister for Home Affairs Lt. General Yar Pyae. The visit took place after the launch of Operation 1027 by the Three Brotherhood Alliance (MNDAA, TNLA, and AA). In addition to the discussion on current clashes along the border, the two parties also discussed the problem of online scamsters which the Chinese government is determined to crack down on. 

  • Italian advocacy groups flagged the Italian steel company’s ties with the Myanmar junta

Rome-based advocacy group Italia-Birmania Insieme demanded Italian steel giant Danieli Co. Ltd, to reveal its relationship with the Myanmar junta. At the Lower House of the Italian Parliament, the advocacy group presented that Danieli renewed its company registration after the coup in 2021 and its involvement in recommissioning of the No. 1 Steel Mill in Mandalay’s Myingyan Township. A photo of Danieli staff members handing over a fruit basket to the coup leader was also presented. The right groups questioned if the country prioritized the company’s interest or the international effort to cut ties with the Myanmar military regime. According to the Myanmar Now report, the steel giant has been associated with the Myanmar market since 1979 under the leadership of General Ne Win, but it does not disclose Myanmar as one of its project areas on the website. Amnesty International Italy’s spokesperson Riccardo Noury said that Danieli “lacks transparency and accountability”. 

  • UNOCHA to use US$ 1 million on emergency humanitarian assistance in Northern Shan State, almost 50,000 displaced 

The latest flash update from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported that almost 50,000 people in northern Shan were forcibly displaced as of November 9, as the clashes continued to spread since October 26, 2023. On the same day, UNOCHA’s head of Myanmar Mr. Sajjad Mohammad, met with the junta-controlled Foreign Minister U Than Swe in Naypyidaw, and it was reported on November 10 that UNOCHA will be using US$ 1 million to provide emergency humanitarian assistance in Northern Shan State. Residents of northern Shan State reportedly are displaced in religious compounds with families, and others have fled to the border with China, with many more attempting to cross. UNOCHA said that all parties involved in the conflict should stop the fighting to allow unimpeded humanitarian access.

Business Matters

  • US sanctioned MOGE

On October 31, the United States officially declared financial sanctions on Myanmar’s Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), a primary revenue source for the military council. The US and Canada jointly imposed sanctions, paralleled by economic restrictions from the UK, preventing any American citizens from engaging in financial transactions related to MOGE. This action targets the military council’s lethal weapons purchases, additionally sanctioning five individuals and three companies linked to the council. These sanctions extend to companies such as Sky Royal Hero Company Limited and Suntac Technologies Company Limited, along with General Maung Maung Aye, Charlie Than, Kan Zaw, Swe Swe Aung, and Zaw Min. These sanctions will take effect on December 15. An advocate for the Blood Money Campaign emphasized that these new sanctions will significantly impact the regime by disrupting all payments to MOGE and impeding their access to financial services.

  • Human rights actors welcome the new sanctions imposed on the military council

Human rights groups and activists welcomed the joint imposition of new sanctions by the US and Canada on MOGE, individuals, and entities supporting the military regime. Justice for Myanmar’s spokesperson Daw Yadanar Maung applauded the move, emphasizing its importance in targeting the regime’s financing and restricting access to weapons and jet fuel. The UN special representative Thomas Andrews urges increased international efforts, noting that the UK and Canada haven’t addressed the oil and gas industry in the sanctions.

  • Permitting goods from Muse and Chin Shwe Haw to be exchanged and exported from other trading posts

Although the military council said that goods that have received export license approval from the Muse and Chin Shwe Haw trading posts to others, difficulties for traders, including security remain intact. The military council is trying to revive the China-Myanmar trade, which has been suspended due to the fighting in the northern Shan State. The Muse 105-mile trade zone has been halted due to fighting. The Trade Department of the military council said that it is difficult to import. In order to ensure trade activities are timely, the regime’s Department of Commerce announced on November 9 that goods that have received export license approval to be exported from the border. Currently, there is fighting everywhere on the Lashio-Muse Union Road, and many trucks are stuck. A merchant said that there are security restrictions in the areas occupied by the resistance forces, and there are many difficulties in exporting from other trading stations. There are five trading posts on the Myanmar-China border, and most of the trading is done at the Muse 105 Mile Station on the Muse-Mandalay Union Road in northern Shan State.

Humanitarian Affairs 

  • Thousands of people, including children and pregnant women fleeing Laukkai stranded at Town Gate

People fleeing Laukkai, a business hub on the China-Myanmar border where major clashes between the resistance forces and junta troops are happening, are reported on November 10 to be stranded in the sugar cane field on the side of the road right outside of Laukkai town gate. Fleeing people, including children and pregnant women, are workers and families who were living in Laukkai and hoping to return home due to the clashes. The clashes have blocked the roads surrounding Laukkai, and they are unable to go back into Laukkai or to go home.

  • About 30,000 Sagaing residents displaced in Htigyaing Township due to escalating clashes

The clashes between resistance forces and junta troops in Sagaing Region’s Htigyaing have caused almost 30,000 residents from ten villages, RFA Burmese reported on November 12. The fighting began on November 8 and continued until November 12 near Htigyaing town, the residents said. In retaliation, the junta has also reportedly launched aerial strikes on Htigyaing town and surrounding areas five times in the past couple of days.

  • Over 60 political prisoners rescued in Sagaing’s Kawlin, NUG says

The National Unity Government’s Ministry of Interior and Immigration announced on November 10 that 63 political prisoners detained at the Myoma Police Station in Kawlin have been rescued. The local People’s Defense Force captured Kawlin town on November 6 and came upon 98 detainees who were kept at the station. The NUG said the non-political prisoners among the 98 would be dealt with in accordance with the law.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Properties

  • Many regime locations targeted in Yangon

On the evening of November 11, explosions and gunfire reverberated in various areas of Yangon. Subsequently, reports confirmed simultaneous blasts at the Insein Myoma Police Station and Gate 2 of Insein Prison around 7 pm. The coordinated mission was attributed to the Hunter Unit of Yangon-based urban guerrilla force KMD-18. Earlier the same evening, the People’s Defense Force (PDF) executed an attack on the Municipal Office of North Oakklapa Township, a site previously reported for corruption by civilians. The office was remotely blasted, resulting in two soldiers sustaining injuries. Additionally, unverified incidents of explosions and gunfire were reported in Thaketa Township.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Over 20 people arrested and sent for military training in Ngaputaw tsp, Ayeyarwaddy Region

On November 5, the regime’s army arrested 12 men aged between 25 to 30 in Ngayokekaungtaung Village, Ngaputaw Township, Ayeyarwaddy Region. The cited reason was for going out during curfew hours. They were later sent to take military training in Pathein Southwest Military Headquarters. Similarly, eight men, all aged about 30 from Poelaungkaban Village also faced the same fate, being arrested and sent to training for violating curfew regulations. The regime has been accelerating efforts to recruit for its weakening army in Ngaputaw Township, forcing 50 youths to train in September and October.

  • Six civilians murdered by the regime soldiers in Myingyan tsp, Mandalay Region

On November 7, the regime’s soldiers carried out a violent raid on Pyarr Village in the northeast of Myingyan Town in Mandalay Region, resulting in terror, murders, and arson. Among the victims were a 3-year-old girl, 40-year-old Ko Ye Win, 30-year-old Ko Jit Too, 20-year-old Ko Pyae Phyo, 16-year-old Ko Htet Myat, and Ko Myo Min Thant. Some of the victims were reportedly tortured to death. The soldiers also set houses on fire during the brutal attack. Myingyan Township, situated in the heart of Myanmar on the east bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River, is known for its resistance presence, making it a frequent target for the regime’s army.

  • Over ten women arrested in Mandalay over posting pictures of flowers online

On November 11, several people went online and posted pictures of wearing Thapyay flowers in tribute to Operation 1027 in Shan-north. Thapyay flower represents victory and wearing it implies that the end of the dictatorship is soon thanks to the Operation. The regime’s men took issues with that as usual and detained at least ten women in Aungmyaythazan and Chanayethazan townships in Mandalay for joining the protest.

Armed Resistance

  • Counteroffensive launched, major towns seized across the country

Simultaneously with Operation 1027 in Shan-north, the resistance forces initiated a nationwide counteroffensive against the regime’s military. In Sagaing Region, Kawlin Town, situated on the border of the Sagaing and Kachin states, was successfully occupied by the resistance forces on November 6, where the National Union Government (NUG) flag is now prominently displayed. Subsequently, on the following day, the NUG announced the capture of Khampat Town on the Kalay-Tamuu highway road. This marks the control of at least eight major towns by anti-regime forces, including six from Shan-north, such as Chinshwehaw, Hpawnghseng, Kyukote, Theinni, Namhkam, Mong Ko, under Operation 1027. Additionally, in the southern region, a coalition led by the Karen National Union (KNU) conducted a successful counteroffensive at Kanaelay military station in the Wawlay area of Kyarinseikkyi Township, Karen State.

  • Operation 1107 in Karenni State

In solidarity with Operation 1027 in Shan-north, a coalition of Karenni-based resistance forces launched Operation 1107 on November 7, 2023. Comprising the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF), Karenni National People’s Liberation Front (KNPLF), Karenni Army (KA), and PDF, the campaign successfully raided and took control of a military station in Pan Dein Village, Malse Township, along the Thai-Myanmar border on the first day. This operation became the first major military operation since the capture of Malse Town by the resistance forces in June. Furthermore, on November 12, a junta K-8 fighter jet crashed in Hpruso Township, Karenni State. During the evening incident, two pilots reportedly parachuted to safety. The cause of the crash, whether due to external factors or internal issues, remains unknown.

  • Clash intensified in Hteegyaint, Sagaing Region

Local resistance forces have intensified efforts to capture Hteegyaint Town in the Sagaing Region. A coordinated counteroffensive by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Arakan Army (AA), and PDF has been underway since November 8. On November 10, the regime responded with airstrikes on the wards and villages in the Hteegyaint area, believed to be the stronghold of the resistance forces. Four fighter jets and one military chopper were deployed, unleashing an attack on the area. Tragically, five civilians lost their lives during the aerial assault, and two rangers also perished. According to local sources, while the police station, Mya Taung junction on the east bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River, and Hteegyaint Bridge remain under junta control, the rest of the town has been occupied by the resistance forces.

  • 10 rangers died during Kalaywa Battle, Sagaing Region

On the evening of November 9, a confrontation unfolded between local resistance forces and the regime army in Kalaywa Township, Sagaing Region. Approximately 70 regime troops, departing from Kalay Town, encountered resistance rangers near Sin Eine Ma Village, leading to a clash. Both sides suffered casualties, with the resistance forces losing over ten individuals. Reports from military channels on Telegram claimed that at least 28 resistance rangers lost their lives in the battle. Aung Chan Thar Village, situated close to the conflict zone, is known for its pro-military stance, with many villagers being members of the Pyu Saw Htee thug group.

Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit, Irrawaddy, RFA Burmese, Shwe Phee Myay, UNOCHA

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