Hi folks, it seems like there’s quite a mix of developments on the battlegrounds in Shan-north. There’s an informal cease-fire in Laukkai, but simultaneously, the Three Brotherhood Alliance has gained control of the Muse 105-mile area, creating uncertainty about the direction of events. Operation 1027 has notably escalated the armed resistance, and it seems the determination among our people remains strong to carry this forward, irrespective of the course the Operation takes. External influences triggering either a revolution or a cease-fire (looking at you, China), may not sustain in the long run.
On another note, the regime’s imposition of taxes on Myanmar workers abroad, affecting passport renewals, adds a new layer of challenges. It’s intriguing to observe the response of those crucial to funding the resistance, as the people inside the country have shown resilience to similar demands in the past with much worse repercussions. Read our highlights below:
- The regime to use newly purchased Russian aircrafts in clashes
Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing announced on December 15 that Russia made SU-30 aircrafts will be used in the conflict. He said it during the 76th Anniversary of the Formation of the AirForce in Naypyitaw. The regime purchased 6 of SU-30 type aircrafts from Russia in 2022, and the first batch which continued two aircrafts arrived in Myanmar in September this year. In SU-30 type with two engines, two pilots can fly and it can withstand any weather. This aircraft can attack both aerial and on-ground targets, and can also provide flying training as well. During this ceremony, the coup leader also said that the military council has been using all the attack helicopters and fighter jets to respond to the active conflicts in Northern Shan State.
- Alleged peace dialogue between the Three Brotherhood Alliance and the regime brokered by China
On December 14, Myanmar Now reported that a peace dialogue took place between December 7 and 8 at a hotel in Kunming, Yunnan Province. Lt General Min Naing from the regime side attended while MNDAA’s external affairs personnel U Phone Win Naing, TNLA’s General Secretary Brigadier General Tar Phone Kyaw, and AA’s Deputy Commander in Chief Dr. Nyo Tun Aung represented the Brotherhood Alliances according to the leaked documents received by Myanmar Now. Lt General Min Naing serves as secretary of the regime’s National Reconciliation and Peace Implementation team who takes charge in the peace process after Lt General Yar Pyae took the Home Affairs Minister position. According to the draft agreement from said dialogue, the regime was to leave Laukkai Town and to transfer the regime’s trusted followers who are wanted by China. In return, the regime requested the Three Brotherhood Alliance not to disrupt the China-Myanmar trade zone and the trade route. Although the military council and China had released news about this dialogue on December 11, the ethnic armed groups remained silent. However, on December 13, the Three Brotherhood Alliance released a statement ensuring that the original goal of Operation 1027 remains intact, and the military started targeting civilians and civilian’ properties.
- A police commander convicted as the follow-up case of Lt. Gen Soe Htut
As a follow up of the imprisoned former Lt General Soe Htut’s corruption case, Police Commander Kyaw Thiha has been convicted with several corruption charges at a police tribunal and received three years of imprisonment. He was arrested on November 11, one day after Lt General Soe Htut was convicted. Police Commander Kyaw Thiha has now been transferred to Ramethin Prison near Naypyitaw. His charges included receiving bribes from business owners, abusing the departmental budget and donations, and receiving bribes to issue passports. Some of these charges overlapped with Lt General Soe Htut’s charges. Police Commander Kyaw Thiha was initially serving in the Myanmar military as a lieutenant colonel when he was transferred to the Myanmar Police Force in 2019.
- Political prisoners being mistreated in Monywa Prison
On December 15, distressing reports emerged from the General Strike Committee in Sagaing Region, detailing severe mistreatment of political prisoners at Monywa prison, both mentally and physically. Specifically, Zaw Myint Oo and Tin Aung San Win, two newly appointed officers, were reportedly responsible for physically assaulting detainees and creating obstacles for guest visits. In September, political prisoners had initiated a hunger strike to demand fundamental rights such as receiving parcels and meeting visitors, which authorities eventually conceded to. However, the recent appointments of the aforementioned officers reversed the progress and intensified the already challenging circumstances. Allegedly, the mistreatment began when political prisoners declined to greet the ward with “Mingalarbar” (Hello in Myanmar) upon his entrance. In response, the people of Monywa are urging the prison authorities to apologize for the mistreatment and have called upon the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to intervene in the situation.
- Thailand proposed to take the lead for Myanmar’s peace dialogues
Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said that the neighboring country should take initiative to engage with the military council to organize peace dialogues to end the conflict in Myanmar. He said that while Thailand will follow the ASEAN five-point consensus, Thailand shares the border more than 2000 kilometers, and thus, he assumed that other ASEAN countries would not object to his proposal for Thailand to take the lead. This was said in his interview with Nikkei Asia Review on December 12 in Bangkok. He said that Thailand is unable to provide efficient support to refugees who have fled from Myanmar, and shelter, food and healthcare services remain a prime concern for these displaced people. He also showed dissatisfaction on the dialogues he had with the military council to control the growing border-crossing narcotic problem between the two countries.
- Regime announced visa free for Russian citizens
On December 8, the regime’s Ministry of Hotel and Tourism announced that Russian citizens who hold ordinary passports are allowed to visit Myanmar without visa and they can stay up to one month. Russian citizens who hold special tourist visas will be waived for visa and allowed to stay one to three months. In addition, visitors who hold Chinese and Indian citizenships will be allowed to obtain on-arrival visas and are allowed to stay up to one month. The regime-appointed Minister for Hotel and Tourism Dr Thet Thet Khine said in August that visitors from Russia, China and India will be invited to the ASEAN region for tourism development. Currently, the regime has granted one month visa-free stay for Singapore and Vietnam passport holders, two weeks visa-free stay for Cambodia, the Philippines, Brunei, Laos, Indonesia and Thai passport holders.
- EU sanctioned military leaders and arms companies
The European Union took action on December 11, imposing sanctions on four high-ranking figures within the military and two arms brokerage companies. Among the individuals targeted are Lieutenant General Nyo Saw, Wunna Maung Lwin, Dr. Hmu Thang, and Major General Hla Moe. These sanctions extend to companies supporting the regime financially and engaging in military weaponry transactions, namely, Star Sapphire Group of Companies and Royal Shune Lei Company Limited. The EU sanctions involve asset freezes, financial support prohibitions, and travel bans for the designated entities. Moreover, the EU intends to tighten sanctions, including a restriction on the export of weapons and equipment, along with communication tools utilized for public suppression.
- Imposition of overseas tax measures by regime
The regime has directed Myanmar Embassies to implement a 2% income tax for Myanmar citizens, effective December 12. Passport renewals now require tax payment, with varying monthly rates linked to residence permit types. Exemptions are granted for students with valid passes and those providing household lists. This taxation extends to Overseas Workers’ Identification Card (OWIC) holders in Singapore and Thailand, aligning with stricter regulations for expatriate workers. This levy impacts over 160,000 Burmese expatriates, identified by OWIC, as part of the Military Council’s announced tax on salary income on November 11.
- Conflict in Rakhine State hindered access to banking and money transfers
In Rakhine, money transfer operations, including banking, have become more difficult
Residents in Rakhine State in Myamar are struggling to access money due to blocked roads and limited banking services amid conflict between Arakan Army (AA) and the military council. Withdrawal fees have surged from 1% to over 5-10%, exacerbating financial challenges. Banks offer limited weekly withdrawals, often in small amounts, with irregular operating hours. The cash shortage, persisting for over a month, compounds existing difficulties in obtaining essential supplies like medicine, food, and fuel, particularly affecting those in remote rural areas.
- OCHA’s humanitarian update: 82,000 new IDPs within one week
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released its tenth round of flash update on December 15, reporting the latest situation of humanitarian crisis due to the clashes in Myanmar. This week’s update stated that more than 660,000 people have been displaced after Operation 1027 in late October. Compared to the last data published on December 8, about 82,000 new people experienced displacement. Food, safe shelter, non-food items and hygiene kits, basic health services and protection support remain the prime concern for the IDPs across the country.
Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Assets
- Multiple explosions reported across Yangon
The last week saw a series of nearly 20 reported blasts across Yangon in less than 24 hours, spanning 12 townships from 6 pm on December 15 to 8 am the following day. These explosions mostly targeted the regime’s assets, but some took place in neutral locations as well. Among the incidents, one blast near Tamwe Market around 7 pm on December 15 caused injuries to a youth, leading to the arrest of several young men in the vicinity by regime forces on suspicion of triggering the explosion. Another blast occurred at a hotel construction site in Alone Township around 8:30 pm the same night, resulting in severe injuries to a staff member who later succumbed to their wounds while en route to the hospital. On the subsequent day at 8 am, another explosion took place in front of Pro 1 Global Home Center in East Dagon Township, claiming one life and injuring another individual. Additionally, less severe incidents were recorded between 8 pm and 12 midnight on December 15, marked by multiple loud explosions in Kyimyindaing, Sanchaung, Tamwe, Botahtaung, North Dagon, Dagon Myothit Seikkan, Shwepyithar, and Dala townships.
- Five USDP members targeted and killed in Mandalay Region
The incidents on December 13 in Taungtha and Nganzun townships of Mandalay Region were marked by three separate attacks resulting in the deaths of five Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) members. At approximately 4 pm, a family of three, U Ba Htike, his wife Daw San Aye, and their son Mg Min Min Tun, all USDP members, were assaulted in their home by four armed assailants in Nanmyint Village, Taungtha Township. The mother and son succumbed to their injuries. An hour later, U Han Tun, another USDP member, was fatally shot on his farm located between Phayarhla and Phattaw villages. Subsequently, around 6 pm, Ko Aung Myat Cho and his wife Daw Khay Thwe Moe were killed while returning from their farm in Thagyankone Village, Nganzun Township. Notably, Nganzun and Taungtha townships predominantly consist of USDP and Pyu Sw Htee members, some of whom are supplied with arms by the military.
- Ward administrator shot dead in Thelkone tsp, Bago Region
On December 16, the Paungde People’s Defense Force (PPDF) reportedly conducted an operation resulting in the killing of the village administrator in Thelkone Township, Bago Region (West). U Kyaw Win, aged 60 and serving as the junta-appointed chief of Darthwaykyaut Village, was fatally shot twice in the chest within his residence. U Kyaw Win was involved in various activities, including recruitment for the Pyu Saw Htee group, levying taxes on local business owners, and sharing intelligence about the resistance forces with regime soldiers.
Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence
- Two reporters from Dawei Watch arrested by the junta
On December 11, Ko Aung San Oo and Ko Myo Myint Oo who worked as journalists for Tanintharyi-based Dawei Watch news outlets at their homes respectively. During the arrest, the regime’s forces also confiscated company-owned laptops, the two journalists’ mobile phones as well as mobile phones of their family members. Editor-in-Chief Ko Kyaw San Min demanded the immediate release of the two reporters as the news agency does not violate any rules or journalists’ ethics. Three reporters from Dawei Watch was also arrested in early 2022 but they were released in a few days. According to “Detained Journalists Information Myanmar”, a total of 169 journalists were arrested since the coup and 54 of them remain detained to this day.
- Nine civilians incl. former NLD village chair abducted in Pyapon tsp, Ayeyarwaddy Region
On December 11, reports emerged of the regime’s soldiers apprehending nine civilians in Chaungtwin Village, Pyapon Township, Ayeyarwaddy Region. Among those detained was U Than Lwin, the former Chair of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the village. Approximately 40 troops reportedly raided his residence that afternoon, arresting U Than Lwin, his two sons, and two other individuals present at the time. Subsequently, three more locals and one from Kyauklatt were also taken into custody. Local sources indicate that U Than Lwin’s family has primarily focused on their farming business and hasn’t been involved in politics. However, conflicting reports suggest that their detention might be linked to previous arrests of resistance rangers. Presently, all nine individuals are reportedly undergoing interrogation at Light Infantry Unit 98’s compound located in Pyapon.
- Regime bombed the NUG court, six including judge were killed
Around noon on December 12, the regime’s air force launched an airstrike on the National Union Government (NUG) court situated in Mintaingpin Village, Pale Township, Sagaing Region. The airstrike resulted in the tragic deaths of six individuals, including the judge, and left three others severely wounded. During the attack, four aerial bombs were dropped on the township court, with two directly hitting the building and causing the immediate deaths of all six individuals. Among the victims were Judge U Paw Pyae Aung, aged 27, his wife Daw Thae Thae, aged 22, and two members of the People’s Defense Force (PDF) aged 26 and 22. Notably, the judge, formerly a regime policeman from Pale Township, had joined the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) in August 2021. The NUG had been utilizing the township court for legal proceedings over the past eight months, relocating courts for safety reasons in the past. The attack suggests the presence of military elements on the ground, given the absence of active battles in the vicinity during the airstrike.
- Regime launched artillery at schools in Mai Ja Yang, Kachin State
On the morning of December 15, the regime’s forces launched artillery shelling toward civilian residential areas in Mai Ja Yang Town, which is under the control of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). Approximately five artillery rounds were fired, prompting students from schools and a college to evacuate their respective compounds in the midst of ongoing examinations. Reports indicate that two high school students and one local resident sustained injuries, though not critical. Mai Ja Yang hosts a university, a college, a high school, and a primary school, all operated under the KIA, and due to the regime’s offensive, all educational activities have been suspended. The attack on Mai Ja Yang is viewed as retaliation by the regime following the KIA’s seizure of two military stations in Winemaw and Myitkyina townships the previous day.
- Regime torched 50 houses in Myaing tsp, Magway Region
On December 15, the regime’s soldiers reportedly ignited a fire in Tharsi Village following a confrontation with local resistance forces. The clash occurred in the morning between Thasi and Twinma villages, resulting in the defeat of 50 regime troops. Subsequently, the soldiers, along with Pyu Saw Htee members, entered the village and set ablaze 55 houses. Approximately 1,000 residents were displaced as a consequence. The fire resulted in the loss of two cooking oil mills, 13 goats, and a significant amount of peanuts. This isn’t the first time Thasi Village has suffered such a fate, as a similar incident occurred in June of the previous year when 20 houses were destroyed by regime soldiers.
- Regime arrested over 430 civilians in Rakhine State since Operation 1027
On December 15, the Three Brotherhood Alliance (comprising MNDAA, TNLA, and AA) revealed that over 430 civilians have been apprehended by the regime in Rakhine State since the initiation of Operation 1027. These individuals were detained on suspicion of having ties with the Arakan Army (AA). Among those arrested, a significant number include politicians, activists, writers, and members of the press from Sittwe, Mrauk-U, Pauktaw, and Ponnakyun townships. These areas have witnessed escalated military tensions between the regime and the AA, prompting increased arrests. While recent clashes have reignited concerns, the regime’s detention of civilians in Rakhine State has unfortunately become a recurrent occurrence.
- Clash suspended in Laukkai after cease-fire talk
Following purported cease-fire discussions between the Three Brotherhood Alliance and the regime, local sources suggest a decrease in skirmishes within the Laukkai area. The most recent significant battle occurred in Laymyatnar Zaytikone on December 5, and from December 7 onwards, there has been a notable reduction in clashes. However, access to roads and communication remains severed in the town, leading to a significant rise in grocery prices.
- TNLA fully captured Namseng, Shan-north
Despite the informal cease-fire agreement in Laukkai, Operation 1027 has persisted in the rest of Shan-north. The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) recently declared its complete control over Namseng Town in Shan-north, following an offensive on regime stations that commenced on December 10. The TNLA successfully secured control of the town within five days. In response, the regime conducted airstrikes aimed at maintaining their position, inadvertently causing damage to civilian areas. Among the collateral damage was a junta-owned tea factory based in Namseng.
- Muse 105-mile trading area controlled by Three Brotherhood Alliance
After intense confrontations, the Three Brotherhood Alliance (comprising MNDAA, TNLA, AA) succeeded in seizing control of the regime station situated six miles east of Muse, marking their complete dominance over the pivotal 105 trading zone as of the morning of December 15. Each member faction’s flag now flies in the area. Despite this development, the regime’s forces persist in conducting airstrikes, sustaining an atmosphere of instability. Concerns loom among Muse residents, apprehensive that the conflict might soon spill into the town itself.
- AA seized 140 regime stations in 45 days, clash intensified in Paletwa tsp, Chin State
The Arakan Army (AA) has announced the capture of 140 junta posts within a span of 45 days since the initiation of Operation 1027. Its most recent operation unfolded in Chin State, specifically in Sami Town, Paletwa Township, Chin State (South). Commencing on December 14, the AA engaged in an offensive against the regime’s forces. The conflict escalated as the junta’s troops retaliated with artillery rounds and airstrikes, resulting in the displacement of 30,000 population of Sami.
- Dozens of regime soldiers died during Khampat battle, Sagaing Region
On December 16, the National Union Government (NUG) revealed that approximately 30 regime soldiers lost their lives in the Khampat battle spanning from December 10 to 16. Khampat Town, under the control of local resistance forces, has been witnessing heightened efforts from the regime to reclaim it. Despite deploying hundreds of troops on missions, the latest attempt resulted in a forced retreat following significant defeat. Alongside the casualties, with 18 injuries reported, several sets of firepower were seized during the clashes. Tragically, two rangers lost their lives, and three others sustained injuries. The Khampat battle upheaved the lives of 5,000 displaced individuals.
- Clash continued, civilian casualties reported in Kawkareik tsp, Karen State
A 15-day conflict erupted between the resistance forces under the leadership of the Karen National Union (KNU) and the regime troops in Kawkareik Town, Karen State, as the former sought to gain control of the town. Starting on December 1, the skirmish resulted in approximately 20 civilian casualties due to the impact of the battle, with many succumbing to artillery strikes. This clash caused a major traffic blockage on the Myawaddy-Kawkareik road, leaving around 200 trucks stranded. While the resistance forces had issued a warning on November 27 advising civilians to seek safety, the toll on civilian lives persists.
Sources: Myanmar Now, Mizzima News, RFA Burmese, Khit Thit Media, Myaelatt Athan