Weekly Update: 094

by mohingamatters

Folks, we publish the last weekly update of 2023 on the last day of 2023. While we wrap up another year under the regime, we see a glimpse of the end of Min Aung Hlaing’s reign of terror. The world tends to slow down this time around but Myanmar’s resistance fighters across the country are hard at work. The persistent flames of resistance only meant that the worsening oppression against civilians by the military regime continued. Our lives have forever changed since the day Min Aung Hlaing staged the coup in 2021, but the people’s commitment to a brighter future has never been stronger. With this sentiment, we wish our people and our readers a resilient new year ahead. Read our last update below:

Internal Politics

  • MNDAA warns civilians to leave Laukkai Town as it can potentially become a battlefield

On December 30, Kokang’s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), one of the members of Three Brotherhood Alliance, issued an announcement, warning of the intensifying clashes in Laukkai since the regime’s forces refused to surrender and continued to fight. The MNDAA’s announcement urged civilians to flee from the town as it can become a battlefield soon. It also encouraged foreigners to leave the town from official channels or if they wish to continue staying, they shall inform the MNDAA officials. Similarly, the Chinese Embassy in Yangon also warned its citizens to leave Laukkai as soon as possible. MNDAA and its alliance forces have already surrounded Laukkai and seized some parts of the town. The regime’s spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun also said in the news that the MNDAA forces have entered Laukkai Town and the regime’s forces are no longer in the town but only stay in military bases now.

  • Regime to further tighten taxation for Myanmar migrant workers 

The regime’s Ministry of Planning and Finance issued a new directive on December 22 which required any migrant worker to pay income tax when they collect certificate of identity (CI) at respective Myanmar embassies or consulate offices. A tax expert told Myanmar Now that this directive is designed to collect tax from any Myanmar worker whether they come with legal or illegal means to host countries. The expert who remains anonymous said that it means that regulations are tightened and it is almost as if a form of robbery. Currently, millions of Myanmar workers have entered Thailand in any means and been working menial jobs. Together with pink cards issued by Thai authorities, these Myanmar workers are required to hold the green certificate of identity (CI) issued by the Myanmar embassy to prove their citizenship. This month, Myanmar embassy in Thailand announced that mobile offices will be opened in five provinces in Thailand where Myanmar workers reside to issue CIs. Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM) said that the new tax regulation is an exploitation for Myanmar workers who are working minimum wage jobs in Thailand. 

  • People’s Party registered to enter the upcoming election organized by the junta

On December 29, the regime authorized the registration of the People’s Party as a political party. Earlier this year, the regime required all political parties that wished to partake in the upcoming election to re-register their statuses. This process was intended to eliminate the National League for Democracy (NLD) from the running since most of its leaders and members are declared as “terrorists” and “criminals” by the junta. In March 2023, People’s Party, led by 88 Generation student leader U Ko Ko Gyi, announced its application for the new registration to enter in the junta-organized election. Deputy chair of People’s Party U Kyaw Lin told RFA Burmese that since the party registration has been authorized, People’s Party will focus on opening party offices nationwide. Currently, 47 political parties have been registered with the regime-assembled Union Election Commission to take part in the election. 

  • Junta revoked publishing license of Mekong News Agency

On December 30, the military council announced that the publishing license has been revoked from the Mekong News Agency starting December 24. In its announcement, the regime said that the Mekong News Agency has been violating the national security, peace and stability of the State and the public. Editor-in-chief of the Mekong News Agency Ko Nyan Lin Htet told RFA News that the revocation of publishing license further showcases that oppression against news media remains intact in junta’s agenda. Mekong News Agency was founded in 2029 in Shan State and established its works as a regional news agency. Ko Nyan Lin Htet has also been issued an arrest warrant with sedition act, Penal Code 505-A. 

International Affairs 

  • Thai authorities requested the junta to crack down on online fraudsters at the border

On December 28, junta-run news outlets announced that Thailand and Myanmar have discussed the plan to crack down on online frauds looming large in Myawaddy, a border town near Thailand. Lieutenant General Jakkapong Janpengpen of Thailand met with the junta chief Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyitaw to discuss their military cooperation. This discussion took place after the recent crackdown of online fraudsters in the China-Myanmar border area with Operation 1027 where the regime’s forces encountered a terrible defeat. Border Guard Force in Karen State, led by Colonel Saw Chit Thu, allegedly gets involved in these frauds and gambling businesses. Colonel Saw Chit Thu was initially part of Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) but left the ethnic armed group to take the BGF position created by the military. 

Business Matters 

  • Junta signed Kyaukphyu SEZ deal with China

On December 26, the military council announced the signing of follow up contracts with Chinese-owned CITIC Group Company for annex Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone. This announcement was made after the regime’s terrible defeat at the China-Myanmar border clashes. U Aung Naing Oo, chairperson of the central working committee for special economic zones, told Myanmar Now that no amendment was made to the contract but added a few more points. He also said that the project will be implemented as soon as possible, but no detail about the content of the additional points of the contract was disclosed.

  • NUG’s Spring Development Bank opened first physical branch

On December 27, Spring Development Bank announced that it opened the first ever physical branch in Kaw Lin Town of Sagaing Region. The bank has been providing digital services since its foundation including digital payments, currency exchange, savings, and investments. The bank serves as an alternative banking system to safeguard the people’s wealth and assets while disrupting the funds flowing into the military council, and to support the fundraising for the ongoing Spring Revolution. Since Sagaing Region has become a resistance stronghold with public administration teams, the Spring Development Bank managed to open its first physical branch. Pro-democracy supporters welcomed the news and showed overwhelming support for the announcement. 

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Assets 

  • Police woman shot and injured in Mandalay

On the evening of December 29, a policewoman was critically injured after being shot in the neck at the intersection of 29th and 80th streets in Chanayethazan Township. Identified as May Thinzar Win Pyae, known as Jack Ma, the 30-year-old sub-inspector from Aungmyaythazan Township was allegedly involved in coordinating with the regime’s soldiers and traffic police to extort money from civilians using ridiculed traffic regulations. Additionally, she was reported to have shown support for the military on social media. As of now, no group or individual has claimed responsibility for the incident.

  • Regime staff shot and injured in Kyaikhto tsp, Mon State

At approximately 2:40 pm on December 30, a shooting incident occurred in Mayanchaung Village, Kyaikhto Township, Mon State. It was reported that U Than Lwin, a 58-year-old customs officer appointed by the regime, and his wife Daw Myint Myint Khine, aged 40, were shot in their home. U Than Lwin sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the body, while Daw Myint Myint Khine suffered a head injury. Both were admitted to Kyaikhto Hospital following the incident. The mission was carried out by two rangers from the Kyaikhto Resistance Force (KRF).

  • Night club targeted in Tamwe tsp, Yangon

At approximately 1:30 am on December 31, an explosion occurred near a well-known nightclub in Tamwe Township, Yangon. Dark Shadow, a Yangon-based Urban Guerrilla Force, has claimed responsibility for the incident. The group stated that the Maze Club was frequented by individuals affiliated with the military, engaging in celebrations and drug-related activities. The explosion, triggered by a remote control, resulted in no reported casualties. Dark Shadow emphasized their commitment to the ongoing resistance movement, stating they would persist in targeting military-associated locations throughout 2024 despite adversities.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Two detainees died due to lack of medical treatment in Insein and Pathein prisons

Two political prisoners passed away as a result of the authorities’ mismanagement in Insein and Pathein prisons in December. Ma Cherry Win, aged 23, who was serving time for the violation of the Antiterrorism Act in Insein Prison suffered a high temperature of up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit on December 18 and 19 but she was refused medical treatment outside the prison immediately. Ma Cherry Win passed away on her arrival of a hospital on December 21. Similarly in Ayeyarwaddy Region, another political prisoner Ko San Lin San, aged 30, perished in Pathein Prison on December 30 after the authorities refused his request to get medical treatment for his head disease. Ko San Lin San was a member of the Black Dragon Force Pyapon, who was given a capital punishment. Myanmar Political Prisoners Network reported that 17 political prisoners died under detention due to lack of medical attention in the facilities in 2023.

  • Over 20 people arrested in Mandalay for anti-regime movements

In December, over 20 individuals were apprehended by the regime’s forces in Mandalay over suspicions of involvement in anti-regime activities. Among those arrested was Ma Pan Htwar, the Mandalay branch manager of the NUG’s Spring Development Bank, alongside her mother, aunt, and sister. Additionally, on December 23, the regime sealed off the Myo Myanmar motorbike repair shop in Pyigyitakon Township after failing to locate its owner. Five young men were detained in Maharaungmyay Township the same day, and the following day, a monk was arrested for attempting to donate clothes to the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA). The latest incident took place on December 26, soldiers were observed assaulting and arresting a youth at the corner of 26th and 107th streets.

  • Young teacher killed by regime’s airstrike in Namtu tsp, Shan State

On December 29, the regime’s forces carried out an airstrike on Namtu Township which is under the control of TNLA, leading to the tragic death of a young teacher. Three aerial bombs were dropped around 4.15 pm, causing an explosion at the village monastery where Ma Lway May Ei Phyo, a young teacher from the Ta’ang Education Center (TNEC), was residing. The teacher tragically lost her life on the spot, and the monastery sustained severe damage. Furthermore, the airstrike targeted Namtu Bridge, resulting in injuries to four civilians present at the site.

  • Seven IDPs tortured and killed in Nattalin tsp, Bago Region

On December 25, local resistance forces found seven dead bodies in three locations near Kwaygyi Village, Nattalin Township, Bago Region (West). They were identified as the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Kwaygyi Village who were arrested by the regime’s forces four days earlier. The remaining bodies suggested that the victims were extremely tortured before their deaths and some were even missing body parts. The victims were Ko Than Min Aung, aged 24, Ko Myo Zaw, aged 26, Ko Mhone Gyi, aged 30, Ko Aye Thaung, aged 38, Ko Myo Gyi, aged 41, U Tun Thaung, aged 58 and U Aung Min, aged 60. About 130 regime troops have been conducting an offensive in Nattalin Township since December 20 and the above victims were arrested as they ran into them.

  • Six civilians shot dead in Mattaya tsp, Mandalay Region

Around 10 pm on December 30, the regime’s soldiers shot and killed six civilians in Shanmyaung Village, Mattaya Township, Mandalay Region. The soldiers were said to be traveling from Mattaya Town to Shanmyaung Village as they stopped by to kill innocent people. The victims included the mother of the stone powder plant in the village and five factory workers. The bodies were dumped roadside on Mandalay-Mogoke highway. It is unknown why they were targeted. In the early morning, the soldiers once again picked up the bodies and were taken to an unidentified location.

Armed Resistance

  • Eight including children killed by battle in Kyaukkyi tsp, Bago Region

Between December 26 and 27, intense clashes erupted in Natthankwin Town and its surrounding areas within Kyaukkyi Township, Bago Region, as resistance forces intensified their campaign to seize control of the town. Tragically, the clashes resulted in the deaths of eight individuals, including four children. Reports from local sources indicate that these victims were killed by artillery fire from the regime’s forces as they sought to escape the conflict. The NUG has confirmed that Natthankwin Town is now under the control of the resistance forces.

  • Regime bombed PDF station in Katha tsp, Sagaing Region

On December 26, the regime’s forces launched an offensive in Katha Township, targeting locations where the PDFs were stationed in Moe Tarr Lay Village. The assault resulted in the tragic death of one PDF ranger and caused severe injuries to multiple civilians, including a child and three women. Additionally, the barrage led to the destruction of seven houses and a vehicle. Notably, the area had been deserted by the regime’s forces in 2021 and was being used for administrative activities by the NUG, suggesting a possible breach in information that led to the ambush.

  • Clashes continued in Kawkareik, Karen State

Clashes persist between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)-led resistance forces and the regime’s army in Kawkareik Town, Karen State. Since December 1, the KNLA-led forces have launched a counteroffensive in Kawkareik Township to sever the regime’s border trade route. Presently, multiple parts of the town are under KNLA control, while the regime’s forces remain confined to their military compounds. Ongoing skirmishes persist as both sides vie for control or to reclaim more territory. On December 26, houses in the Tada-U ward were set ablaze due to the conflict, resulting in reported civilian casualties.

  • AA took control of police station in Mrauk-U, Rakhine State

Reports from local sources revealed that the Arakan Army (AA) successfully gained control of Myaungbwe Police State in Mrauk-U Town, Rakhine State, during the early hours of December 30. The station, situated in Myaungbwe Village, approximately 11 miles south of Mrauk-U, was manned by 70 regime personnel, comprising both soldiers and police. The AA’s takeover came after a 2-day conflict, during which the regime’s infantry units provided artillery support. Civilian casualties were reported during the battle. Regime artillery strikes on December 28 resulted in the injury of a 12-year-old Rohingya boy and four men in Paungtote Village. Additionally, five individuals, including a child, sustained injuries from artillery fire in Kaingtaw Village. Tragically, the regime’s airstrike on the same village claimed the lives of two young Rohingya men and injured six others.

  • Only ROC remains under control of the regime in Laukkai, Shan-north

In Laukkai Township, all regime stations have fallen except for the Regional Operations Command (ROC), as confirmed by the Three Brotherhood Alliances (MNDAA, TNLA, AA). The ROC stands as the sole remaining significant military stronghold in the entire Kokang area. The Alliances remain committed to meeting their military objectives while prioritizing the public’s desire to dismantle the military dictatorship. Additionally, they cautioned against the regime’s typical tactics, including attempts to sow division and discord within the resistance.

Sources: Myanmar Now, RFA Burmese, Mizzima News, Khit Thit Media, The Irrawaddy

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