Weekly Update: 095

by mohingamatters

Folks, one week into the new year, things are moving fast. The regime’s forces surrendered left, right, and center this week. And Laukkai was eventually seized by the MNDAA. However, the price of these wins is never minute as the military launched aerial attacks on villages, injuring and killing civilians and children. The aerial attacks on the NUG-controlled Kawlin and Khampat were beyond brutal, resulting in dozens of civilian deaths, showcasing the regime’s disregard for innocent lives within areas held by the resistance. Having faced terrible defeats, the junta chief resumed the talks on his sham election. He also granted mass amnesty on Independence Day, but only a limited number of political prisoners were included. Regardless, it seems that 2024 might be the year we see the end of the regime. Read this week’s update below:

Internal Politics

  • Mass pardon on Independence Day: limited number of political prisoners

To mark the Independence Day on January 4, the regime pardoned about 9652 prisoners including some political prisoners from prisoners across the country. A total of 114 Foreigner inmates were also released and deported to their respective countries. In this round of release, Mandalay Mayor Dr. Ye Lwin, and Mandalay municipal committee member U Kyaw Zeya were included. Myanmar Pressphoto Agency’s photojournalist Ko Kaung Set Lin was also released from Insein Prison. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), about 90,000 inmates have been released with 12 separate amnesties under the control of the military regime from February 1, 2021 to January 4, 2024. However, about 5,800 individuals among them are prisoners of conscience, and only about 6-7%. The military council had arrested a total of 25,730 individuals since it grabbed power, and 19,930 individuals remain behind bars to this day. Among them, only 8457 are convicted. 

  • Laukkai Regional Command surrendered

On January 4, six brigadier generals and thousands of troops from Laukkai Regional Operations Command Center surrendered as Kokang’s MNDAA forces entered the base. A total of 228 officers, 1895 soldiers and other ranks, and 1601 individuals who are family members of these troops are part of the surrender. Leading generals from Laukkai Regional Operations Command Center and MNDAA generals had a prior negotiation before the surrender was announced, according to Myanmar Now, and one of the negotiated points was that those who surrendered and their families would be transported to Lashio. On January 6, BBC Burmese reported that six leading generals from Laukkai who surrendered were back in the Northeastern Command in Lashio. On January 5, the Three Brotherhood Alliance has announced that Kokang is now free from the military council, that the group finally has control of their land after 14 years, and that the fall of the Myanmar military is near. However, the regime’s spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun told Popular News that the surrender in Laukkai was agreed to protect the military families and to prevent artillery shells from falling into China’s side. 

  • Wa’s UWSA joined Operation 1027

On January 5, United Wa State Army (UWSA), the most powerful ethnic armed group, joined Operation 1027 with the Three Brotherhood Alliance for the first time in their military operations, and seized Hopang, a town in the China-Myanmar border. Hopang is the capital of Wa self-administered region created under the 2008 Constitution and under the control of the military council. Kokang’s MNDAA troops took the army bases and police compounds in Hopang early morning, and later UWSA troops joined to control the town. Police station, General Administration office, and Infantry Battalion (154) from Hopang Town surrendered and joined the MNDAA around 5am. In the beginning of Operation 1027, UWSA previously stated that it would remain neutral. Military experts have speculated that UWSA has modern weaponry and about 30,000 permanent troops in its force. 

  • Coup leader resumed talks on election after terrible defeats

On January 6, coup leader Min Aung Hlaing held a meeting with leaders from political parties in Naypyitaw to discuss the upcoming election. During the meeting, he said that it is the ultimate goal of the State Administration Council to transfer power to a political party that wins a free and fair election. Party leaders from 39 political parties that have been registered to partake in the election attended the meeting that lasted more than three hours. Junta chief also said that while the military regime is implementing necessary preparations for the election, armed resistance by the pro-democracy groups have become obstacles in the process. He still vows to bring peace so that the election can be held. 

International Affairs

  • China’s deputy FM visited junta chief in Naypyitaw

On January 5, Sun Weidong, China’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, visited Naypyitaw and held a meeting with Coup Leader Min Aung Hlaing to discuss the stability in border areas. The Chinese official came after the news had broken about heavy artillery from Laukkai clashes falling into China’s side and injuring Chinese citizens. However, the official news from the military regime stated that the Chinese delegation arrived in Myanmar to discuss the matters of their investments in Kyauk Phyu Special Economic Zone with Minister U Aung Naing Oo. China’s Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong also joined a meeting led by the regime’s Minister of Home Affairs. In early January, China has explicitly condemned the artillery shelling into its border due to the clashes in the border area, and warned that it will take necessary measures to protect its people. 

Business Matters

  • Border control shift impacted Myanmar’s trade and economy

The regime’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce noted a significant drop in border exports, losing hundreds of millions in value after the revolutionary forces took control of key border gates. From April to December 2023, exports amounted to $4.1 billion, down from $4.5 billion in 2022. Border trade with China, India, Thailand, and Bangladesh saw a $433 million decrease in imports and exports. Natural resource exports to these countries, including agriculture and livestock, notably decreased. While the disruption of trade routes with China and Thailand has impacted the regime’s revenue and it has also caused a concern for the general public as prices surge due to reduced imports and increased transportation costs.

  • The regime to collect a registration fee of 30,000 to 70,000 kyats from online businesses

The military council plans to introduce the registration fee ranging from 30,000 to 70,000 Myanmar Kyats (MMK) based on the business type for all online businesses. The regime-controlled Ministry of Commerce disclosed the fee structure on December 28. Registration fees are set at 70,000 MMK for companies, 50,000 kyats for SMEs, and 30,000 kyats for individuals. Registration begins on January 1, 2024, with a two-year registration period. The regime aims to enhance trust between buyers and sellers and legally address disputes, warning of investigations against unregistered online businesses.

  • More than 1,500 hotel workers in Ayeyarwaddy are still unemployed

Over 1,500 workers in Ayeyarwaddy remain unemployed as hotels and tourism businesses struggle to fully resume operations post-military coup and amid ongoing COVID-19 challenges. Only 60% of current hotel businesses can restart due to lingering political crises, leaving more than 2,000 jobless. With 36 licensed hotels at Ngwe Saung Beach and 39 at Chaung Thar and Shwe Taungyan Beach, employees face hardships as operations have not fully resumed. Stringent regulations, reduced visitors, and strict checks contribute to losses in the region’s tourism industry.

  • Rakhine residents rejected Kyauk Phyu Deep-Sea Port Project as they see no benefits for them

Locals and Rakhine politicians reject the military council’s assertion that a new deal for the Kyauk Phyu deep-sea port with China will bring job opportunities to local people. Despite the ongoing conflict in Rakhine State, a follow-up contract was signed between the State Administration Council (SAC) and China on December 26. Rakhine residents expressed doubts about the promised employment and socio-economic development, citing past unfulfilled promises from previous port projects. General Mya Tun Oo, deputy prime minister of the SAC, claims the project will benefit Kyauk Phyu and Rakhine, but Rakhine politicians argue for local benefits rather than centralized operation. Currently, the blockade imposed by military council troops in Kyaukphyu since November has led to food shortages.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Assets

  • Ward administrator shot dead in Taungtha tsp, Mandalay Region

Around 2 pm on January 4, in Taungtha Township, Myingyan District, Mandalay Region, a junta-appointed hundred-household administrator met a fatal fate in his village. U San Lwin, aged 64, and his wife Daw Mar Mar Aye, aged 48, were returning home to Chaungnarr Village when they were targeted at the village entrance. U San Lwin sustained two serious wounds and succumbed on the spot, while his wife was unharmed. U San Lwin was known to be a staunch supporter of the regime. The responsible party for the incident remains unknown.

  • Military informer targeted and killed in Kyaikhto tsp, Mon State

On January 4, another military informer met his demise during an anti-regime operation in Mupalin Village, Kyaikhto Township, Mon State. U Nyi Nyi Lwin, aged 40, was targeted by unknown gunmen while in a betel nut shop within Mupalin Market. He sustained multiple gunshot wounds and passed away while being transported to the hospital. U Nyi Nyi Lwin was known to be a Dalan/military informer operating in the area. Tragically, Ma Hnin Yee Htwe, aged 30, who was present at the scene, also suffered a fatal gunshot wound and died instantly. It’s unknown who was responsible for the incident.

  • Two regime lackeys shot dead in Kyonepyaw tsp, Ayeyarwaddy Region

On January 6, a regime’s hundred-household administrator and his follower were gunned down in Maguyoe Village, Kyonepyaw Township, Pathein District, Ayeyarwaddy Region. Than Min Aung (the administrator) and U Ngwe Thein were shot by Pathein PDF near the village, where the former passed away on the spot and the latter died with wounds in the hospital. Than Min Aung was notorious for his conspiration with the regime’s forces in oppressing and torturing people in the area. The village is said to be better off without him according to locals.

  • Administrative office targeted with bomb in Sanchaung tsp, Yangon

On January 6, a grenade attack took place in Sanchaung Township, Yangon around 11 am. The target was the township administrative office situated on Barkayar Road in Sanchaung. Swiftly, the regime’s forces arrived at the scene, blocking off the area for inspection. The resistance fighters, however, managed to evade capture. Details regarding casualties and damage remain unknown.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence 

  • Regime’s artillery fire killed six civilians in NUG-controlled Kawlin Town, Sagaing Region

The regime’s artillery struck Kawlin Town, which was under the control of the NUG, in Sagaing Region, resulting in civilian casualties. On January 2, forces stationed in Wuntho Town fired at least six artillery rounds, targeting Kawlin East Market, claiming the lives of six individuals and injuring two others. The killed victims were Daw Moe Moe Win, aged 55, Daw San San Win, aged 46, Daw Aye Hnin, aged 41, and two unidentified women, aged 17 and 40 respectively. This unprovoked assault occurred despite the absence of active conflict, showcasing the regime’s disregard for innocent lives within areas held by the resistance.

  • Regime’s airstrike killed one and injured eight in Kyauttaw tsp, Rakhine State

On January 3, the regime’s air force launched an airstrike on Alalkyun Village in Kyaunttaw Township, Rakhine State. Tragically, the attack claimed the life of one civilian and left nine others injured. Ongoing conflict between the Arakan Army (AA) and the regime’s forces since November has resulted in escalating tensions, marked by indiscriminate attacks by the junta targeting both AA troops and innocent civilians.

  • Regime’s artillery killed a child, injured six civilians in Kalay tsp, Sagaing Region

On January 3, a regime artillery strike tragically led to the death of a child and injured six others in Latpanchaung Village, Kalay Township, Sagaing Region. Targeting the north of Kalay Town, two shots landed in the village, causing severe injuries to seven individuals. The young victim, Joseph Malsawmhlua, aged nine, succumbed to injuries at the hospital while the others continued to receive medical treatment.

  • Mandalay Sangha Union member (monk) rearrested by junta

On January 3, U Ye Wa Ta, a monk and member of the Mandalay Sanga Union, was apprehended by the regime’s soldiers at Myinwunmingyi Monastery in Mahaaungmyay Township, Mandalay. The soldiers conducted a raid on the monastery using four trucks to locate him. Upon not finding the monk initially, they orchestrated a deceptive phone call to lure him to the monastery, where he was then detained on his way. U Ye Wa Ta, previously arrested in October 2021 for peaceful protest, was previously sentenced to three years in prison. He was released on May 3, 2023, during a state pardon. The reason behind his recent arrest remains unknown.

  • NLD’s MP arrested again on the day of release in Tharrawaddy tsp, Bago Region

On January 4, U Aung Myint, a Member of Parliament (MP) representing the NLD in Pyithuhluttaw, was released during the state’s pardon from Tharrawaddy Prison in the Bago Region. However, upon his release, police authorities arrived at the prison’s entrance and rearrested him for undisclosed reasons. U Aung Myint’s initial detention dates back to February 10, 2021, when he was sentenced under charges related to the violation of the natural disaster act and sedition act. Presently, he is being held at Tharrawaddy Prison.

  • Regime’s airstrike on school killed five and injured a dozen in Taze tsp, Sagaing Region

The tragedy on January 4 unfolded as the junta’s forces reportedly launched an aerial attack on the NUG-established school in Seinn Nan Village, located between Taze and Kyunhla townships in Sagaing Region. Two bombs exploded near the school, claiming the lives of five civilians, including a child and a teacher. The victims were Ma Moe Aye, aged 47, Daw Mi Phway, aged 53, Ma Zin Nwe Tun, aged 27, Ma Nai Nai Tun (a volunteer teacher, aged 23), and Mg Htet Myat Aung, aged 5. Additionally, twelve others sustained injuries, with three in critical condition. This deliberate assault occurred despite the absence of any active conflict in the vicinity. Notably, it was a public holiday, which likely averted even greater casualties. Tragically, five houses, including housing for teachers, were also demolished in the attack.

  • Regime’s artillery hit funeral ceremony, and killed four in Nyaunglaypin tsp, Bago Region

The night of January 5 saw the regime’s Nyaung Lay Pin-based Infantry Unit 20 launching three artillery shells toward villages bordering Nyaung Lay Pin and Shwe Kyin townships. Tragically, one shell struck a house holding a memorial service near Ye Pyu Kan Village, claiming the lives of four individuals and injuring 16 others. Among those killed were Ma San Po, aged 55, U Nyunt Tin, aged 62, Ko Hein, aged 16, and Ma Aye Mar, aged 35. The wounded comprise eight women, seven men, and one child, all currently receiving treatment at Nyaung Lay Pin Hospital.

  • At least ten civilians killed during regime’s airstrike in NUG-controlled Khampat Town, Sagaing Region

The regime carried out yet another distressing series of airstrikes akin to the ones in Kawlin, targeting civilians in Ka Nan Village, Khampat Town, a region under NUG control in Sagaing Region. On January 7, two separate aerial assaults occurred—one on the village school and another on a residential ward. These strikes resulted in the tragic deaths of at least ten civilians, leaving over twenty individuals injured. The victims, spanning ages from an elderly 90-year-old to an 8-year-old child, suffered severe disfigurement from the explosions, hindering immediate identification. The airstrikes also decimated 15 houses along with a school and a church in the area.

Armed Resistance 

  • KIA shot down regime’s helicopter in Winemaw tsp, Kachin State

On January 3, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) issued a statement declaring that their forces had successfully downed a military helicopter belonging to the junta in Winmaw Township, Kachin State. The Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter was targeted while en route to reinforce troops stationed near Narphawt Station, situated close to Laizar, which serves as the headquarters of KIA. The incident claimed the lives of six individuals aboard the aircraft, while a major named Zaw Myo Thant was captured alive by the KIA forces. This marks the second instance where the regime’s aerial asset was brought down, resulting in the detention of its pilot, following a similar incident in Karenni State back in November.

  • NUG’s forces occupied station near Pyi Oo Lwin, captured regime’s lieutenant colonel

The NUG recently issued a statement accompanied by a series of images showcasing their successful seizure of a military station in Naungcho Township, located in Shan-north. Situated in Thanbo Village, approximately 15 miles from Pyin Oo Lwin, the capture followed a nearly day-long battle, during which the regime conducted three airstrikes to support its troops. Casualties were reported on both sides. Notably, the junta’s lieutenant colonel Thet Aung was taken alive during the confrontation. The released images depict the colonel posed alongside various confiscated arsenals from the station. Colonel Thet Aung is the highest-ranking regime official to have been captured by forces affiliated with the NUG.

  • TNLA seized regime station after 3-day-clash in Momeik tsp, Shan State

On January 5, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), part of the Three Brotherhood Alliances, reportedly seized control of a regime station in Momeik Township, Shan State. The operation spanned three days, reaching the complete takeover of the camp, which was under the control of the regime’s Infantry Unit 223 and situated six miles east of Momeik.

  • Regime’s forces surrendered strategic hill to AA in Kyauktaw tsp, Rakhine State

The Three Brotherhood Alliances issued a statement announcing the surrender of every soldier stationed at the regime’s base to the Arakan Army (AA) in Kyauktaw Township, Rakhine State. The Taungshaytaung Strategic Hill, positioned 12 miles north of Kyauktaw Town, was under regime control until the evening of January 6, when the troops vacated their post. Despite this, local sources reported continued airstrikes on the station by the regime the following day. The statement further indicated that the AA intends to persist in their efforts to capture additional regime stations in the region.

  • Regime’s forces surrendered Kutkai Town to PSLF/TNLA in Shan-north

On January 7, reports indicated that the regime’s forces surrendered Kutkai Town in Shan-north to the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), part of the Three Brotherhood Alliances and the armed wing of the Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF). The mission initiated by TNLA and its alliances on December 31 resulted in the capture of the town after eight days. Presently, the regime’s army and their families are being relocated to Lashio, another area experiencing heightened conflict.

Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit Media, RFA Burmese, The Irrawaddy, The DVB, Myaelatt Athan

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