Weekly Update: 091

by mohingamatters

Hi folks, the regime’s massacres continued despite facing defeats on multiple war fronts. This week, it was confirmed that 11 villagers had been burned to death by regime soldiers in Kyapaing Village, Monywa Township, Sagaing Region. Its airstrikes and artilleries also continued to result in civilian casualties. Amid the chaos and tragedies, Min Aung Hlaing still vowed to hold an election.  Read our highlights below:

Internal Politics 

  • Junta to host the election despite the intensifying conflict 

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing said that the election will be held nationwide despite the ongoing conflict with resistance forces. He said it on December 8 at the Graduation Ceremony of Gadat Batch 65 in Pyin Oo Lwin. Although the exact date of the election was not mentioned, he said that basic procedures have commenced, and encouraged the public to cooperate in order to achieve the “common goal”. Since the day he staged the coup in February 2021, the military dissolved the parliament, civilian government, and declared a state of emergency. He continued to extend the state of emergency for almost three years now. The coup leader initially said that an election would take place in 2023. U Maung Maung Swe, spokesperson of the National Unity Government (NUG)’s Ministry of Defense, said that the junta chief plans to use the election as an exit strategy for him as the country is deteriorating in every aspect, and the active clashes have been escalating. 

  • The regime to pardon more than 10,000 former soldiers who are doing time in prisons

Starting December 7, the military recalled more than 10,000 former soldiers from prisons in 24 hours. Due to the severe defeat that Myanmar military has been facing, and consequently, in need of new recruits, the regime plans to pardon the imprisoned soldiers and reappoint them in the force. According to Myanmar Now’s report, the regime will deploy these former soldiers in the frontline. Various ranks of soldiers such as privates, lance corporal, corporal, sergeant, master sergeant level will be pardoned and deployed in the frontline while officer levels will continue to serve their times. Multiple news outlets reported that former soldiers and police were released from several prisons across the country and taken to the military. The prisons included Obo Prison and Htone Bo Police Detention Station in Mandalay Region, Pyay Prison, Paung Te Prison, Taungoo Prison in Bago Region, Kalay Prison in Sagaing Region, and Sittwe Prison in Rakhine State. Similarly on December 4, the military also issued a statement which said that defectors will be allowed to resume their posts if they return. A former military officer who remains anonymous told Myanmar Now that the regime had already ordered a former officer who was doing time in Loikaw Prison to join the fight when Karenni resistance forces tried to seize the prison in mid-November. He said that the former military officer was more advanced and experienced than prison wardens, and this order became a hot topic among the military community. 

  • Fuel shortage in cities worsens 

Shortage of foreign currency led to insufficient fuel imports all over the country. Residents of Yangon, Mandalay, and Naypyitaw told Myanmar Now that several gas stations have run out of fuel as the fuel sales were limited. Long queues of cars were observed in front of a few stations that still sell gasoline and petroleum. In Yangon, the fuel shortage started in early December, and car owners were seen queuing in long lines. A Yangon resident said that long queues were observed everywhere, the routine blackout happens twice a day, and generators cannot be run due to the fuel shortage. Residents from Naypyitaw and Mandalay also echoed similar experiences. The shortage also resulted in a black market where one liter of gasoline was sold two to three times more expensive than its original price. Due to the shortage of foreign currency, fuel wholesale was changed at Thilawa Port in Yangon. A retailer said the fuel shortage has been a frequent problem since the coup, and companies were able to share their stock. He said that this time around, once the remaining fuels are finished, nothing is left to sell.

  • Chinland Council Summit approved the Chinland Constitution

The first Chinland Council Summit was held from December 4 to 7 at Victoria Base at the India-Myanmar border. On December 7 at the end of the summit, Chinland Council announced that it approved the Chinland Constitution. The summit was attended by 235 participants including representatives from Chin National Front (CNF), Chin State Hluttaw members, and local representatives. After the summit, Chinland Hluttaw, Government, and Supreme Court will be formed in 60 days. Dr. Ning Tam Mang, spokesperson of the Working Committee of the Summit, said that this is not intended for separation, but rather to participate in the building of a federal nation. However, disagreement between different Chin groups was observed as Chin National Council (CNC-Mindat/CDF-Mindat), Chin National Organization (CNO/CNDF), and Zomi Federal Union (ZFU/PDF Zoland) issued statements on December 5, announcing their absence at the Summit. This leads to criticisms of the result of the summit since it needs to reflect the diverse Chin groups. 

International Affairs 

  • The military to host Mekong Ministerial Summit 

The regime’s Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation plans to host the annual Greater Mekong Subregion Ministerial Summit on December 15 in Naypyitaw. The summit will include ministers from six countries in the Mekong region, and invitations have been sent to Finance ministers from China and Thailand. The regime-appointed minister Dr Kan Zaw will lead the summit which will be held at the Grand Amara Hotel in Naypyidaw. Director of Mekong Institute Suriyan Vichtlekarm and General Secretary of Thailand’s National and Social Development Council Danucha Pichayanan were invited. A representative from Asia Development Bank will attend via online according to a leaked document from the military regime. It is yet to be known whether ministers from the Mekong Region: Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam will attend.

  • Indonesia suspects trafficking for frequent arrival of Rohingya refugees

On December 8, Indonesian President Joko Widodo raised suspicion on the involvement of human traffickers since more than 1000 Rohingya refugees arrived at Aceh Province in November. This marked the highest number of Rohingya refugees’ arrival since 2015. He said that the Indonesian government will take strict actions against human traffickers at the press conference. Rohingya refugees have been traveling from Bangladesh in the sea to seek refuge in Malaysia and Indonesia. They travel more than 1100 miles in the sea via boats. The latest boat arrived on December 6, carrying 139 Rohingya including women and children. Recently, about 100 local residents of Aceh Province staged a protest against the arrival of Rohingya refugees. They demanded to relocate them and threatened to push them back into the sea. AFP news reported that the Indonesian government has arrested three locals who arranged for 30 Rohingya refugees to depart from the camp in Aceh Province. 

Business Matters

  • Dollar shortage prompted Central Bank to implement market-based rate

The State Administration Council (SAC) in Myanmar is currently grappling with a shortage of US dollars, prompting the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) to halt fixed-price sales to importers, aligning instead with market rates. This shift, announced on December 5, means that Authorized Dealer (AD)-licensed banks are no longer provided with fixed exchange rates by the CBM. This scarcity of dollars, persisting for three years, poses challenges for oil producers and importers who now must navigate the volatile market for their procurements. Consequently, the value of the US dollar has become increasingly unstable and inflated, raising concerns about potential market disruptions.

  • UK and co imposed sanctions on three individuals, including BGF leader Saw Chit Thu

The UK and its allies marked the 75th anniversary of the International Declaration of Human Rights by imposing sanctions on several individuals and entities, including Colonel Saw Chit Thu from the Karen State Border Guard Force (BGF), Saw Min Min Oo of Chi Lin Myaing Company, and She Zhijiang, a Myanmar Ya Htike Company shareholder. These sanctions were a response to their alleged involvement in human trafficking and online fraud. Specifically, the Burma Campaign UK, which has advocated for sanctions against the BGF leader since 2000, connected Colonel Saw Chit Thu to various human rights violations. Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK, hailed these sanctions as a victory for Karen civil society organizations.

  • Junta seized USD 20 million from Shwedagon Pagoda, reissued MMK at outdated set rate

The military council led by Min Aung Hlaing has reportedly confiscated over 20 million US dollars obtained from donations and entrance fees at the Shwedagon Pagoda, converting the funds into Myanmar Kyats at an exchange rate of 2,100 Kyats per dollar. The money, derived from the pagoda’s donations and entrance fees from foreign tourists, had been previously deposited in state-owned banks, including through the purchase of Treasury bonds. Following the coup, these banks fell under the control of the military council, and the board of trustees for the Shwedagon Pagoda was reconstituted under their authority.

Humanitarian Affairs

  • Half a million people displaced after Operation 1027: UNOCHA 

On December 8, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) published the ninth Flash Update on the Intensification of Clashes in Myanmar. The UN agency highlighted that two-thirds of the country face active conflicts between the Myanmar military and various resistance forces and ethnic armed groups. It also estimated that more than 578,000 people have been displaced after Operation 1027 had commenced in late October. This also added to the two million people who have already been displaced prior to this operation. According to the UN field reports, almost 363 civilians including men, women, and children, have been reportedly killed, 461 have been injured in the fighting and related insecurity. The report said that widespread displacement of people creates urgent humanitarian needs. The UN identified that displaced people are in need of food, safe shelter, non-food items and hygiene kits, basic health services and protection support. It also highlighted that disruptions to telecommunication services restrict engagement with affected communities and the assessment of their needs.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Assets

  • Military informer couple shot dead in Myingyan tsp, Mandalay Region

On December 5, a group of armed men carried out the killing of two military informers in Myingyan Township, Mandalay. U Than Zaw, aged 4, and his wife Daw Nyo Nyo San, aged 50 were abducted from their home in Zalatkone Village around 4 am. They were subsequently shot in the head and chest on the street, resulting in their immediate death. The couple’s primary job was farming but were known for coordinating with the military forces. As of now, no resistance force has issued an official statement claiming responsibility for the attack.

  • Three soldiers died during attack on junta’s assets in Shwebo, Sagaing Region

A local resistance force reportedly carried out ambushes on the regime’s positions in Shwebo Town, located in the Sagaing Region, on December 8. At approximately 9:15 pm, the rangers launched an attack on the soldiers stationed at the Road Transportation Administration Department (RTAD) office building compound, resulting in a 15-minute exchange of gunfire. Two soldiers were observed sustaining injuries and falling to the ground, while many others were wounded. The rangers successfully withdrew without significant casualties. Again at 1.15 am, another attack occurred at the Myanma Economic Bank (MEB), where security forces came under gunfire. During the 10-minute clash, three soldiers were reported dead, and five more were injured. These missions were carried out by a coalition involving at least four local resistance forces.

  • Various explosions took place in Yangon

On December 9, residents across various townships in Yangon experienced loud explosions and gunfire in their respective areas. One incident occurred at the Shwehtuttin Event Place on East Horseracing Street in Tamwe Township, where a music concert was underway. A homemade bomb was thrown into the compound as a warning against attending such gatherings. Dark Shadow, an Urban Guerilla Force based in Yangon, claimed responsibility, alleging that the regime’s affluent associates were involved in drug trafficking and disguising these activities as peaceful events. The incident resulted in a minor injury to a security guard. Additionally, more explosions and gunshots were reported in North Okkalapa, Mayangone, and Thaketa townships.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • 11 villagers burned to death in Monywa Tsp, Sagaing Region

The update regarding the tragic incident in Kyapaing Village, Monywa Township, Sagaing Region on December 2 reveals that among the 18 charred bodies discovered, at least 11 individuals were confirmed to have died from the fire. These victims were deliberately locked inside a house and set ablaze by members of the regime. Ten of the victims have been identified, including individuals such as Ko Soe Moe Thu, aged 29, U San Shwe aged, 43, Ko Chan Nyein, aged 29, Pameeya, aged 37, U San Win, aged 53, Nga Doe, aged 38, Ko Hlaing Win, aged 38, Mg Tun TUn, aged 20, Ko Hlaing Thura, aged 23, U Tun Khin, aged 43.  

  • Five including a 6-year-old killed by regime airstrike in Namhkham tsp, Shan-north

On December 6, the regime’s forces carried out an airstrike on Ho Nar Village in Namhkham Township, Shan-north, resulting in the tragic deaths of five civilians, including a five-year-old child. The aerial attack occurred around 11:30 pm, claiming the lives of a 56-year-old husband, a 46-year-old wife, a 50-year-old mother, a five-year-old child, and a 35-year-old teacher. Additionally, four more civilians, including two six-year-old children, sustained injuries and were hospitalized. The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) stated that such airstrikes on civilians occurred without any active battle nearby, condemning the regime’s actions.

  • Two youths said to be killed for protesting in Tamwe tsp, Yangon

Later reports indicated that individuals disguised as regime soldiers, dressed in plain clothes, had fired upon youths who were planning a demonstration. Near the Tamwe Police Station, approximately five young men ignited a vehicle tire in protest against the junta. Subsequently, seven armed individuals, disguised as civilians, pursued and opened fire on the group. Two individuals were reportedly shot and killed, while the others were abducted. Witnesses remarked that the victims appeared to be no older than 18 years old.

  • Over 20 people abducted and forced to take military training in Kawthoung tsp, Tanintharyi Region

The morning of December 9 witnessed the abduction of over 20 individuals by the regime’s soldiers in Khamaukkyi Town, Kawthoung Township, Tanintharyi Region. These arrests occurred at roadside inspection gates following the scrutiny of their mobile devices. The detainees were accused of supporting PDFs, with purported evidence discovered on their phones. It has been confirmed that able-bodied men among these detainees were forced to undergo military training within a camp in the town. The regime’s forces have intensified efforts to apprehend civilians expressing dissent. For instance, on December 8, Ma Aye Aye Mar, a 28-year-old mother of an 8-month-old, was arrested by 20 soldiers for her response to battle-related news on Facebook.

  • Regime soldiers murdered rice mill owner and stole his properties in Ngazun tsp, Mandalay Region

On the morning of December 9, roughly 100 regime troops arrived at a house in Thankone Village, Ngazun Township, Mandalay, using five military trucks in their pursuit of a rice mill owner named U Zaw Min. When U Zaw Min attempted to flee, he was intercepted by gunfire and tragically killed. The soldiers proceeded to ransack the house, seizing rice supplies, vehicles, cash, and other belongings. While U Zaw Min was accused of supporting the PDF, the soldiers claimed they were there for questioning. However, the severity of the punishment, as usual, ended up, far greater than the alleged crime.

  • Regime artillery killed two children in Minbya tsp, Rakhine State

On December 10, artillery fire from the junta’s forces struck a civilian ward, causing casualties in Minbya Township, Rakhine State. The incident occurred around 3:30 pm in the Mayamargyi Taingyinyhar Ward, where children were playing. Tragically, an 11-year-old girl named Ma Sabei lost her life instantly, and six children sustained severe injuries. Unfortunately, one of the injured boys passed away while being transported to the hospital. The artillery fire appeared indiscriminate and lacked any apparent justification or reason.

Armed Resistance

  • Regime set out campaign to retain Khampat in Sagaing Region

Since the first week of November, the regime’s forces have escalated their attempts to regain control of Khampat Town in Sagaing Region, which was previously seized by resistance forces. An estimated 200 troops have advanced towards the town from three different directions. On December 5, the junta’s troops launched a raid on a security gate situated outside the town. During this operation, they abducted seven rangers who were on duty, subjecting them to torture. Four of the rangers were killed in this attack. Two managed to escape despite sustaining injuries, and one was taken as a human shield or guide. Among the deceased victims, two were from CDF Tonzang, one from Rawn Chin, and one from the PDF ranger group.

  • Nine PDF rangers killed by regime airstrikes in Myaing tsp, Magway Region

On December 7, the regime’s forces carried out an airstrike targeting a house in Myaing Township, Magway Region. The house served as a refuge for members of the PDF, with nine rangers residing there. All nine individuals were killed as a result of the airstrike using two aerial bombs. Among those killed, four were affiliated with the Yesagyo PDF, while the remaining five were associated with the Myaing PDF. Notably, these same rangers had previously engaged the regime’s Linkataw Police Station on December 4, and the airstrike occurred three days following this confrontation.

  • TNLA seized two more regime stations in Shan-north

On December 7, within the scope of Operation 1027, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) declared the capture of two additional junta stations during skirmishes in Kyaukme and Mantong townships. Coordinating with the PDF, TNLA successfully overtook Lalgyi Station in Kyaukme Township and Komone Station in Mantong Township, securing artillery and military equipment. They also took three police officers and two soldiers as captives. The Lalgyi battle witnessed 12 airstrikes initiated by the regime’s forces. Since October, Operation 1027 has seen the takeover of nearly 300 regime stations in Shan-north.

  • Resistance forces closing in on Mone Town, Bago Region

On December 7, a spokesperson from the National Union Government (NUG)’s military quarter no.2 reported the seizure of another regime station in Mone Town, Kyaukkyi Township, Bago Region. The Kawtpyin Station, situated five miles east of Mone, was manned by 30 troops. Succumbing to the offensive from the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and PDF, the regime’s forces vacated their post. Subsequently, KNLA and PDF took control, securing weapons before setting the station ablaze. Mone Town remains under partial control of the local resistance forces, prompting the regime to conduct daily airstrikes in an attempt to regain full control.

  • AA and PDF clashing against regime forces in Hteelin tsp, Magway Region

Arakan Army (AA) and PDF have launched a four-day assault on the regime’s heavily fortified police station in Hteelin Township, Gantgaw District, Magway Region. The station, strategically positioned between Kalay-Gantgaw-Pakokku highway road, is manned by 70 soldiers and police in Yemyatni Village. Despite the resistance forces gaining an advantage, they’ve yet to seize the station due to continuous regime airstrikes. Junta reinforcements sent were intercepted on the ground.

  • 12 out of 18 regime stations seized by KNDF in Loikaw, Karenni State

The local resistance forces in Loikaw, Karenni State, have made significant strides, seizing 12 out of 18 regime stations in an accelerated campaign to claim control of the city. Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) reported that around two-thirds of the city is now under the control of the resistance, with efforts ongoing to secure the remaining stations, including the Regional Operations Commands (ROC). However, the junta has responded aggressively, conducting airstrikes across the city, notably destroying the Thirimingalar Market in the early hours of December 10. Despite this, the Allies successfully took over the Office of the State Police, marking another significant shift in control.

Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit Media, RFA Burmese, Mizzima News, Myaelatt Athan

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