Folks, today marks two years since the Myanmar military committed mass killing in Karenni (Kayah) State which is known as the Christmas Eve Massacre which shocked the world. To this day, perpetrators are yet to be held accountable. Meanwhile, more displacement are happening across the country due to the on-going conflicts as 20,000 people in Myaut-U have become the latest victims of the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State. Read our highlights below:
- Muse Town on the brink of siege by the Three Brotherhood Alliance
Tension rose in Muse Town, an integral location for border trade in Northern Shan State as the Three Brotherhood Alliance took control of nearby 105 Miles Trade Zone on December 15. Rumour has also been spreading that the Alliance would seize Muse since several online gambling hubs that the Chinese government targets are located in the border town. Some residents of Muse plan to flee if any clashes take place in the town. Currently, the Three Brotherhood Alliance has taken control of the majority of border gates in the China-Myanmar border. Locals appeal to the Alliance to reopen these border gates otherwise local residents would face hardship because border trade is an essential part of their livelihood.
- KNDF warned the regime another wave of clashes
On December 22, Mawi, deputy commander-in-chief of Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF), released a video message on social media, warning the regime’s soldiers to surrender. In the video message, he said that the regime’s soldiers have two options: 1) to surrender and switch to the people’s side; or 2) to engage another wave of clashes which will annihilate them. KNDF Chairperson Khun Bee Htoo told Myanmar Now that the Karenni forces have taken control of at least ten military bases in Loikaw Township, including the state police station. The forces attempted to seize Loikaw Prison on December 16 and 17 but did not succeed. However, Karenni Army (KA)’s Colonel Phone Naing said that his forces managed to control the majority of the town area. Karenni forces launched Operation 1111 on November 11 this year to take control of Loikaw Town.
- Two years since the Christmas Eve Massacre in Hpruso
December 24 marked two years since the Myanmar military conducted mass killing of at least 45 civilians including three children near Moso Village in Hpruso Township. Karenni State’s Interim Executive Council (IEC) released a statement today, stressing that perpetrators of this crime continue to enjoy impunity. Ma Zue Padonmar, Secretary 1 of IEC, said that although it has been a challenge to identify individual perpetrators such as those who committed and commanded the crime, the IEC is determined to bring justice for the victims. On December 24, 2021, members of the regime’s Light Infantry Division (LID) 66 and Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 108 torched six cars, one truck and six motorbikes and killed 45 civilians among them three under 18-year-olds, two staff members of Save the Children according to Karenni State Police’s confirmation.
- About 1500 Myanmar citizens detained in Manipur State, local advocacy group demanded their release
India for Myanmar, an advocacy group, sent an appeal letter on December 22 to the Chief Minister of Manipur State, to release Myanmar citizens who received jail time under the Foreigner Act of the Indian Government. India for Myanmar estimated that about 1500 Myanmar citizens have been detained in Manipur State and 22 of them are under 18s. All of them have served their time, and 86 of them are due to be released on December 15, but they remain detained. India for Myanmar said that this violates their rights to freedom and justice. The group also requested the chief minister to provide support for their political asylum in New Delhi and Mizoram. In the past week, Manipur Chief Minister said that about 6,000 Myanmar refugees came to his state, and expected more to come.
- At least five more Rohingya boats to arrive in Aceh Province, Indonesia
On December 21, an Indonesian air force officer said that five boats carrying Rohingya refugees entered Indonesia’s territorial waters but the number of refugees was not disclosed. Since November, more than 1500 Rohingya refugees have entered Indonesia’s Aceh Province via boats, and the Air Force has tightened its surveillance in its territorial waters. Aceh locals had also staged a protest against the arrival of Rohingya refugees in this month, and Indonesia President Joko Widodo raised a concern on the human traffickers. While Indonesia promised to provide temporary support to the newly arrived Rohingyas in Aceh Province, it also requested the international community to share the burden.
- Myanmar Wanbao and Myanmar Yang Tse Form Proxy Firm, AC POLARIS TRADING, to Navigate U.S. Sanctions
Myanmar Wanbao and Myanmar Yang Tse Company have reportedly formed AC POLARIS TRADING as a proxy entity to navigate around the US economic sanctions hindering their copper production operations in Sagaing Region. Facing operational challenges due to the sanctions, the establishment of AC POLARIS TRADING allows them to continue business activities, focusing on export/ import operations. Notification for license allocation was reported on December 15. Both Myanmar Wanbao and Myanmar Yang Tse Company, operating under military control, are Chinese state-owned entities collaborating with the Myanmar Business Corporation.
- The regime penalizes 16 non-selling gas stations
The Myanmar regime takes action against 16 gas stations in Yangon and Mandalay hoarding oil without selling it, violating pricing laws. The regime fined and temporarily closed the stations, accusing some of exceeding set prices. Seizures of 70,000 gallons of illegally stored fuel and related equipment were reported in Naypyitaw, Yangon, and Mandalay. Business owners argue the crackdown aims to conceal the Council’s fuel import restrictions. Due to the dollar shortage, cities faced severe fuel shortages, leading to queues. SAC now permits 65% of exporters’ income to be sold at the foreign exchange rate to address the crisis.
- Fuel shortage causes temporary halts for factories in industrial zones
Due to fuel shortage, industrial zones in Yangon face temporary halts, impacting thousands of factories and workers. The Military Council’s decision to end fuel quotas for industrial operators led to delays in fuel imports. As a result, factories, struggling to access fuel and electricity, have temporarily closed, affecting business operations and workers’ livelihoods. Some factories pay higher prices in the black market due to fuel shortages. The recent relaxation of export revenue by the military is not fully effective, exacerbating challenges for businesses, particularly in the garment industry, a key driver of job creation in Myanmar.
Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Assets
- Ward administrator and followers shot dead in Kyaukse tsp, Mandalay Region
On December 22, a team of eight regime men stationed in Latpan Village, Kyaukse Township, Mandalay Region, came under attack. In under 30 minutes, the assault resulted in the deaths of three individuals. Among them were the village ward administrator U Myo Myint Aung, aged 42, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USD) member U Ko Aung, aged 42, and U San Oo, aged 56, a non-CDM teacher. All three were reportedly affiliated with the military-backed Pyu Saw Htee group and were killed at the scene.
- Walking rally led by regime’s regional minister targeted in Monywa, Sagaing Region
On the morning of December 23, an explosion disrupted a “community walk” organized by Sagaing Regional Minister Myat Kyaw in Monywa City. The blast occurred near Kantharyar Lake as the walk commenced, resulting in casualties, though specific details were yet to be confirmed. The heavily-guarded area hosted regime supporters and non-CDM staff. While the minister’s vehicle was the primary target, radar jamming and deception enabled its escape. Nonetheless, the minister’s wife required hospitalization after fainting. The walk was halted post-explosion, leading to road blockades and a thorough investigation by soldiers, including interrogations of security personnel. The Golden Eagle Force – Monywa and UG coordinated the mission, aided by insiders known as Watermelons.
- Military informers and ward administrators killed in Bago Region
Four individuals affiliated with the regime—comprising military informants and a ward administrator—were targeted and killed in Oakpho Township, Bago Region. Between December 19 and 20, three ward administrators/military informants from Moenyo, Minhla, and Paungde towns in Bago (west) were fatally shot. The latest victim, Ko Than Zaw Oo, aged 50, from Tanngarkone Village, was killed in a sword attack. He was purportedly involved in coordinating with the regime’s forces, identifying PDF stations, providing information to soldiers, and facilitating arrests of innocent civilians.
Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence
- Regime’s airstrike resulted in two casualties in Paungbyin tsp, Sagaing Region
Two separate airstrikes conducted by the regime resulted in civilian casualties in villages along the east side of Chindwin River, Paungbyin Township, Sagaing Region. The first airstrike occurred on December 16 in Anoutkhamine Village, north of Paungbyin, claiming the life of 3-year-old Ma Yin Moe Htet San and injuring her sister. Another aerial attack occurred on December 21 in Htawma and Thayaung villages, approximately 10 miles from the previous target area, resulting in the death of 32-year-old Ko Kyaw Soe and injuries to 10 villagers. Thirteen aerial bombs were dropped on Thayaung Village that day, destroying homes, livestock, and additional civilian casualties. Paungbyin, situated near Shwe Pyi Aye Town under resistance control, is believed to be targeted by the regime to prevent any offensive by the resistance forces.
- Detained civilian found dead with head wound in Kantbalu tsp, Sagaing Region
In the early hours of December 19, approximately 100 regime troops launched an incursion into Thapyaytha Village in Kantbalu Township, Zeekone District, Sagaing Region. During this operation, they abducted Ko Myo Thet Aung, also known as Tayotegyi. Later that evening around 5 pm, Ko Myo Thet Aung’s lifeless body was discovered in a neighboring village, displaying signs of severe physical abuse and a gunshot wound to the head fired at close range. According to fellow villagers, Ko Myo Thet Aung was not affiliated with the PDF but was engaged in farming. He leaves behind a one-year-old daughter, a three-year-old son, and his wife.
- Regime’s artillery killed two women, injured a child in Kyauttaga tsp, Bago Region
On the evening of December 19, the regime initiated an artillery attack on villages within Kyauktaga Township, Bago Region, causing tragic civilian casualties. One of the artillery strikes hit Thahtaykone Village, resulting in the immediate death of 65-year-old Daw Nyo. Her daughter and 3-year-old grandson sustained injuries in the attack. The daughter passed away in the hospital, while her grandchild remained in critical condition. The regime’s representatives attempted to falsely attribute the artillery attack to the PDF.
- Six detainees missing contact after arrests in Ye-Phyu tsp, Tanintharyi Region
On both December 18 and 21, the regime’s forces apprehended five women and one man in Ye-phyu Township, Tanintharyi Region. Daw Thae Su Moe from Maggin Ward, Daw Than Than Soe from Hlekone Ward, and U Thar Gyi along with his wife, Daw Tin Wai, from Michaungaeine Ward were forcibly taken on the evening of December 18. Subsequently, Daw Maw Maw Sein and her sister, Daw Naw Naw Shein, were also seized from their residence in Hlaekone Ward on December 21. All six individuals were reportedly transported to an interrogation center situated in Mawyawaddy Navy Force Headquarters within the Ohmpinkwin Village tract. As of the latest update, their families have been unable to establish contact with the detained individuals.
- Regime’s artillery killed three civilians in Myaut-U tsp, Rakhine State
On December 24, the regime’s Infantry Unit 540 launched artillery strikes targeting a civilian ward in Myauk-U Township, Rakhine State, causing significant casualties. Sinchaseik Ward was subjected to two separate attacks amidst escalating conflict in the township. The initial artillery assault in the early morning resulted in five severe injuries. Tragically, Ko Lin Zaw Tun, one of the injured, succumbed to his wounds at the hospital. A subsequent attack at 3 pm claimed the lives of three more civilians: Ko San Maung, aged 36, Ma Hla Hla Than, aged 24, and another individual. Three additional individuals, including a 6-year-old girl named Ma Khine Saw Wai, sustained injuries in this attack.
- Regime’s troops ambushed during offensive on Mandalay UG station in Mattaya tsp, Mandalay Region
“On December 20, the regime’s troops launched an offensive to raid the Urban Guerilla (UG) station situated on the western side of Mattaya Township in Mandalay Region. Approximately 70 regime soldiers arrived at the station via a ship along the Ayeyawaddy River. However, prior information allowed the rangers to retreat in advance. Subsequently, the rangers initiated a surprise attack on the regime soldiers. This resulted in the demise of around 16 regime soldiers and left 8 others injured before they were compelled to retreat. Notably, among the casualties was Thura Aung, a deputy police officer. The counteroffensive was coordinated by a coalition of five resistance forces.”
- TNLA seized Mantong tsp, Shan-north
On December 24, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) declared the successful capture of all regime stations in Mantong Town, Shan-north. Their offensive began on December 19, resulting in the TNLA securing three military stations, a strategic hill, a police station, and government offices after a four-day battle. Throughout this conflict, the regime conducted 265 airstrikes and 1038 bombings, leading to one civilian injury and the destruction of 15 houses. This victory in Mantong represents the fourth town under TNLA’s control, following Monglon, Namhsan, and Namhkam.
- Clash broke out in Loikaw Prison, Karenni (Kayah) State
On December 16, the local resistance forces initiated an assault on the regime troops stationed at Loikaw Prison. Approximately 80 troops were deployed within the prison compound, and the Karenni resistance managed to secure control over half of the location. Casualties were reported on both sides, with approximately 40 soldiers killed in the clash. In retaliation, regime soldiers targeted Loikaw Baho Market, setting it ablaze with three explosive bombs. Subsequently, civilian residences were also set on fire. Presently, the situation regarding control of Loikaw Prison remains unclear on the ground.
- 20,000 people displaced by battle in Myauk-U tsp, Rakhine State
Amid reports of an imminent battle, nearly half of Myauk-U’s residents in Rakhine State have fled to safety. Starting from December 21, approximately 20,000 individuals from Myothit, Kanhla, Shwetaung, and Merchant wards have evacuated their homes to seek temporary refuge amidst escalating tensions between the regime’s forces and the Arakan Army (AA). Recent updates indicate that conflicts have erupted in the area, leading to civilian casualties.
Sources: Myanmar Now, RFA Burmese, Khit Thit Media, Mizzima News, Myaelatt Athan