Weekly 099

by mohingamatters

Hi folks, it looks like Min Aung Hlaing is going all out for one last shot before he bites the dust. His conscription law has dominiated the conversations this week. The law mandates all male citizens aged between 18 and 35, and all female citizens aged between 18 and 27 to serve in the military for a minimum of two years. Historically, the successive regimes have never been able to implement any “good law” immediately and effectively in Myanmar. However, when it comes to enforcing oppressive measures against the public, they usually get it right. Obviously, the junta will carry out all possible means to bolster its failing army either through manpower or bribes. This presents yet another significant challenge people must collectively overcome. 

Meanwhile, positive developments have emerged from Rakhine State where the Arakan Army (AA) captured the ancient city of Mrauk-U, further diminishing the regime’s control to just three townships. Read our highlights below:

Internal Politics

  • The regime’s enactment of mandatory conscription law

On February 10, the regime enacted a conscription law mandating immediate military service for young men and women, requiring a minimum commitment of two years. The new law affects all male citizens aged between 18 and 35, and all female citizens aged between 18 and 27. Additionally, it applies to male citizens with expertise up to the age of 45 and female citizens with expertise up to the age of 35. The law stipulates that: (a) Every citizen who has reached the age of military service may be summoned for military duty for a duration not exceeding 24 months; (b) Among citizens who have reached military service age, those selected to serve as military-industrial experts may be called to serve for a period not exceeding 36 months; and (c) experts eligible for military service may be called up for a maximum duration of 36 months. Furthermore, the law specifies that in the event of a national emergency, the government reserves the right to extend the militia service period for up to five (5) years. Many believe that due to the shortage of new soldiers to recruit, the regime enacted this law for mandatory military service.

  • More than 80 incidents of mass killing after the coup, NLD reports

The National League for Democracy (NLD) disclosed on February 8th that over a three-year span since the coup, there were 4,095 fatalities and 83 incidents of mass killings involving five or more individuals. Among the victims, 72 were minor and 991 were civilians. Additionally, arson attacks affected 1,489 homes, with over 60,000 houses destroyed. The NLD highlighted that aerial shootings and over 4,000 deaths due to arrests and torture contributed to the grim statistics. According to NLD’s documentation of human rights violations, 1,290 party members, including 71 parliamentarians, were targeted, with 101 fatalities occurring during arrests. The party called for the release of its leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and all political detainees, urging United Nations bodies and global entities to intervene and hold the military council accountable under international law for its atrocities.

  • TNLA mandates mandatory military service

The Ta’ang National Army (TNLA), having captured seven towns in northern Shan State, formally declared on February 4 that all Ta’ang nationals are required to serve in the military. As per the regulation, every Ta’ang/Palaung male aged 16 to 35 must enlist, and in families with two or more brothers, one male per household must join the TNLA ranks. Regarding women, if there are more than three siblings, one must enlist, except if a family member holds a position on the central committee of a civilian organization, in which case they are exempt from military duty. Non-Ta’ang ethnic individuals may join the military if they embrace the political and military objectives of the TNLA. While some viewed this draft law positively, others criticized it for not adequately considering families facing hardships.

  • NUG and IEC called for no-fly zone

The National Unity Government (NUG) and the Karenni Interim Administrative Council (IEC) have jointly appealed to the international community to establish a no-fly zone. U Aung Myo Min, Minister of Human Rights for the NUG, outlined the four-point request: (1) the establishment of a no-fly zone to prevent aircraft from flying over civilian-populated areas, schools, and religious buildings; (2) the cessation of jet fuel sales to the international military; (3) assistance in pursuing legal action in international courts for war crimes; and (4) provision of technical support for flight signal systems and air traffic information to ensure public safety. Over the past three years, the NUG government has been preparing for air defense by digging bomb shelters, but they require assistance in handling potential aerial attacks. To safeguard against deliberate air strikes on schools and Karenni refugee camps by the military council, Ko Banyar, Secretary 2 of the Karenni IEC, emphasized the need for assistance in constructing bomb shelters and installing wind warning devices in schools.

  • TNLA and AA leaders attended Kokang victory ceremony

TNLA announced that its chairperson Lieutenant General Tah Ai Pon and AA Commander-in-Chief Major General Tun Myat Naing attended the victory ceremony to eradicate the presence of the military in the entire Kokang region. The ceremony was held on February 9 and was jointly held with the Chinese New Year, and PSLF/TNLA Chairman Lt. Gen. Tah Ai Pon attended the ceremony. He said, “With the return home of Kokang revolution leaders, our PSLF/TNLA has been able to realize the political aspirations of the Ta’ang people, even if it is not entirely, but the majority of the Ta’ang public’s dreams have been realized.” He also continued that during the liberation struggle of Kokang region, the PSLF/TNLA force being able to fight alongside the Brotherhood Alliance is a proof of the unity of the alliance and the unceasing zeal to achieve the national political goal. He said that they should continue to fight with faith and understanding between the allies.

International Affairs

  • The regime repatriates thousands of foreigners who committed crimes in China-Myanmar border

The military council announced through state-owned newspapers on February 9 that more than fifty thousand (50,691) foreigners, including most of the Chinese nationals who came and lived illegally from the border areas, were returned to their respective countries. This number amounts to the transfers taking place between 5 October 2023 to 8 February 2024. The news story reported that 48,803 Chinese nationals; 1071 Vietnamese citizens 537 Thai citizens 133 Malaysians A total of 50,691 people were transferred, including 20 Koreans and 18 Laotians. The Kokang force MNDAA also said that an operation has been underway to arrest criminals who commit  the online fraud business in the Kokang area, trading weapons and ammunition, and drug deals. On January 30, the military council handed over 10 people, including the former chairman of the Kokang self-administered region, Pae Sotcham, who was arrested by China in connection with online money laundering gangs. He is also a former member of parliament representing the regime’s proxy party USDP.

  • UNICEF condemns aerial attacks on schools in Karenni State

After aerial attacks struck two schools in Karenni State on February 5th, UNICEF released a statement denouncing the regime’s actions. The attack resulted in the deaths of four children, two teachers, and injuries to approximately 10 children. Occurring during school hours with over 100 children present, the assault was condemned by UNICEF as an egregious act against schools, which should be safe havens for children to learn. The organization reiterated that such attacks are severe violations of children’s rights and may breach international humanitarian law.

  • ASEAN presented Myanmar at the UN Security Council

On February 5t, the UN Security Council convened to discuss current ASEAN chair Laos’ proposal for addressing the Myanmar crisis. Alounkeo Kittikhoun, ASEAN Special Representative for Myanmar, outlined the Lao plan, while Assistant Secretary-General Khiari briefed the council on the United Nations’ efforts. Prior to the meeting, representatives from Ecuador, France, Japan, Malta, South Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, the United States, and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement demanding the immediate release of President U Win Myint, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and other detainees. They also called for an end to violence against the people of Myanmar. The statement affirmed the commitment of these nine countries to stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar, advocating for an inclusive and democratic future. Furthermore, it condemned the military council’s airstrikes and other acts of violence that violate human rights.

Business Matters

  • NUGPay hits 1 trillion mark, signaling shift from military-controlled financial systems

The Ministry of Planning, Finance, and Investment under the NUG announced a significant milestone on February 3rd: the total value of transactions using NUGPay has surpassed 1 trillion. This achievement represents a crucial step towards establishing a public currency system operated by the people, in defiance of military oppression. The NUG’s initiative aims to reduce reliance on financial structures controlled by the military council, fostering the development of an independent and secure financial ecosystem to dismantle the grip of military dictatorship. Launched in June 2022, the Digital Myanmar Kyat (DMMK) and NUGPay mobile wallet program spearheaded by the Ministry of Planning, Finance, and Investment have gained traction. The minister expressed gratitude to the supporters of NUGPay and the resilient users who have embraced the platform despite encountering various challenges since its inception.

  • Chinese garment factories from Yangon relocate to Ruili, China

Some Chinese garment factories in Yangon are relocating from Myanmar due to challenges in obtaining raw materials and fabrics, exacerbated by the country’s political instability and issues faced by Chinese entrepreneurs in raising wages. They are now shifting operations to Ruili City, Yunnan Province, China according to a Burmese worker in Ruili. The source also told VOA that many Myanmar nationals who crossed the border are employed in these factories. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the military coup has also led to protests among workers in Chinese garment factories in Yangon, as they face shortages of raw materials and struggle to resume sewing operations. Consequently, some factories have closed down entirely, while others are operating at reduced capacity with fewer workers. 

Humanitarian Affairs

  • More than 3500 residents fleeing from the clash in Bago

A clash erupted in Zayat Gyi town, Htan Ta Pin township, in the eastern part of the Bago Region on February 7th, pitting the KNLA and PDF against the regime’s Infantry Battalion 73. The skirmish resulted in the displacement of approximately 3,500 residents, as reported by aid workers in the area. According to a relief worker interviewed by RFA, displaced individuals have sought refuge on the outskirts of Zayat Gyi and are being transported to Taungoo, located an hour’s drive away. Around 3,500 people were reportedly evacuated using 30 buses. Temporary shelters have been set up in monasteries in Taungoo to accommodate the displaced residents, providing them with shelter and meals. Ambulances were observed transporting injured civilians for medical attention.

  • 2000 residents fled homes due to clashes in Tanintharyi 

Residents from Thayat Chaung, Tanintharyi Region, have reported that over 2,000 civilians from five villages have been forced to evacuate their homes due to ongoing fighting between the regime’s troops and local defense forces since February 4. A local resident, speaking anonymously for security reasons, informed RFA that skirmishes also occurred in Kin Shae village on February 7. According to locals, regime soldiers arrived in Kin Shae village via two vehicles on February 4th and engaged in combat with local defense forces after conducting house-to-house checks based on a guest list. As of February 7th, residents have observed approximately twenty military council soldiers remaining in Kin Shae village, while one vehicle has departed.

  • The regime’s aerial attacks forced temporary closure of schools in Karenni State

The Interim Executive Council (IEC) of Karenni State informed VOA that approximately 150 schools in the region have been temporarily shut down following aerial bombardments on Daw Si Ei village and Loi Nang Fa schools in the western part of Demoso township. IEC’s Secretary 2 Ko Banyar explained, “Currently, these schools are temporarily closed. This coincides with the upcoming examination period, with some schools already conducting exams. Depending on the political and security situation in our region, we may reopen in a few days. It is common practice to adjust opening and closing based on safety concerns.” More than 400 schools, operated by Spring Revolution organizations, serve children in conflict areas to ensure continued access to education. The estimated number of teachers is around 400, catering to approximately 40,000 students, as reported by Ko Banyar. Demoso township hosts the largest number of schools, with at least 150 now temporarily closed due to fears of further air raids. This closure was initiated following regime attacks on two schools on February 5th, resulting in the tragic deaths of schoolchildren.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Assets

  • Seven soldiers killed during drone attack in Shwebo tsp, Sagaing Region

An official from the Flying Dragon Force reported that seven regime soldiers were killed in a drone attack targeting the Zephyu Kone village camp and the Shwedar school base station in Shwebo Township, Sagaing Region. On February 8, at approximately 1:30 pm, revolutionary forces dropped four bombs via drone on a military camp jointly occupied by soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee members in the village of Zi Phyu Kone. Similarly, between 6:00 pm and 8:30 pm, in Shwebo Town, they launched an assault on soldiers stationed at the Shwedar school, deploying five bombs from a drone. The attack resulted in the deaths of seven soldiers, with five others sustaining serious injuries. This drone strike was carried out in retaliation for the burning and killing of two revolutionaries in Gantgaw by soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee.

  • Deputy police chief killed during vehicle inspection in Nammun tsp, Kachin State

The Indawgyi-PDF group reported an ambush on police officers traveling in Nammun Township, Kachin State resulting in the death of a deputy police chief on February 8. The incident occurred as the Indawgyi-PDF team inspected trucks near Intha Village. When police in a Nissan AD Van approached, they opened fire without stopping. In response, the PDF returned fire, resulting in the death of the deputy chief. The police vehicle fell off the road, and the remaining officers fled. One officer sustained severe injuries and was hospitalized. The police on board were said to be from toll gates inside the town, carrying out frequent extortion from passing trucks.

  • Drone attacks targeted regime forces in Kyaikto tsp, Mon State

The Kyaikto Revolutionary Forces reported that on February 11, at 10:40 am and 11:00 am respectively, drones targeted the regime’s army stationed at the new gate of Sittaung Bridge and the police gate at the intersection of Muppalin Road in Kyaikto Township, Mon State. The revolutionary forces launched a total of three drone attacks, striking the Sittaung New Bridge Gate twice and the police station at the Muppalin Road intersection once. The casualties are still under investigation, but the revolutionary forces were able to retreat without harm. The KNU/KNLA IAF (Iron Adventure Force), Kawa PDF Drone Team, Intakaw PDF Drone Team, and Yangon Northern District PDF Drone Team collaborated in executing the attack, with support from the Kyaikto Revolutionary Forces (KRF) and Kyaikto PDF.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Political prisoner died due to medical neglect in Obo Prison, Mandalay

The Political Prisoners Network of Myanmar (PPNM) reported the loss of a political prisoner, Ma Yin Moe, at Obo Prison, Mandalay. The 35-year-old lost her life on February 4 due to inadequate medical care, particularly for kidney disease, as she was denied timely dialysis treatment and proper medical attention. Ma Yin Moe was arrested in March 2021 for participating in demonstrations against the military coup in Mandalay. She was sentenced to six years in prison under Section 505(a).

  • Airstrike on school in Karenni claimed lives of four children

On February 5, the regime’s forces conducted an airstrike in Karenni (Kayah) State, resulting in the death of four schoolchildren and injuries to at least 10 others in the western part of Demoso Township. The Karenni National Defense Force (KNDF) confirmed the incident, stating that the bombing targeted Dohsiei Village School in Myat Le Village Tract around noon. According to a spokesperson for the KNDF, the bombs directly hit the school premises, claiming the lives of children aged between 11 and 13 who were attending classes. The area targeted by the bombs was not a battlefield but a refuge for people fleeing the conflict. The KNDF reported that the military council’s ground forces launched heavy weapon attacks after conducting eight flyovers with two planes. Despite ongoing hostilities, several parts of the city remain under the control of Karenni rebel forces, who initiated “Operation 11.11” on November 11, 2023, in an attempt to seize the capital, Loikow.

  • Video proof of two PDF rangers being burned alive by regime soldiers surfaced online

An incident, capturing two individuals being burned alive on video, surfaced on social media on February 6. The victims, identified as Ko Phoe Tay, a 23-year-old first-year student at Distance University, and Ko Thar Htaung, a 22-year-old tenth-grade student, were members of the Yaw Defense Force (YDF) in Ganggo District, Magway. According to a statement released by the YDF on February 6, the incident occurred on November 7 of the previous year during clashes with the regime’s forces in North Khin Yan Village, Gantgaw Township, Magway Region. The junta soldiers burned the victims alive under a tree in front of the local hospital in the village in front of the villagers. The delay in disclosing this atrocity was attributed to internet restrictions imposed by the regime in the affected area. Although many incidents where people were burned alive by the soliders previously, this is the first time it was captured on video.

  • Regime arrested woman from Mnadalay for sharing tragic news online

On February 8, a woman from Mandalay was detained by the regime for sharing on Facebook the tragic news of two PDF youths burned alive in North Khin Yan village, as reported by military-supported Telegram pages. The regime council’s propaganda Telegram channels persistently advocate for the arrest and punishment of individuals who redistribute this news on social media platforms. Following that, photographs of Ma Yoon Sandi Maung from Mandalay, handcuffed and arrested, circulated on February 8. She had shared the news on her Facebook page, expressing a wish for a peaceful country in their next lives.

  • Dozens of men targeted and arrested following conscription act in Sagaing Region

Reports have emerged of arbitrary arrests by regime troops targeting men traveling in Monywa Township and along the Monywa-Mandalay Road in Sagaing Region. The incident occurred on February 11 between 9:00 and 10:00 am, with over 20 soldiers from the regime stationed near Noondwin Village in Sagaing Township participating in the operation. Eyewitnesses recount the arrests, with more than 40 pedestrians forcibly removed from cars during the morning hours. Additionally, arrests were reported near Shwe Taung Oo in Monywa, with over 50 individuals apprehended. The incidents took place after the implementation of the People’s Conscription Act was announced on February 10.

Armed Resistance

  • AA sunk three navy ships of the regime in Rakhine State

The Northern Alliances announced that during the battle in Rakhine State, three warships of the regime were sunk by the Arakan Army (AA) in Kyauktaw Township. The exact location of the attack was not specified. According to the announcement, the AA targeted and sank three warships on February 7 and 8, as surrender offers were rejected by the junta forces. Another warship also sustained damage. Efforts to locate and engage fleeing troops from the sunken warships are also said to be underway. AA boasted of the incident as a historic victory for them at sea.

  • Only three townships remain under regime’s control in Rakhine State

On February 8, the Arakan Army (AA) announced the complete capture of the No. 31 Police Battalion in Mrauk-U City, the ancient capital of the Rakhine State. Following the capture of Regime Infantry Battalions (377), (378), and (540) in the north, the last remaining No. 31 Police Battalion fell to the AA, effectively shifting control in administration. With this latest achievement, the AA has expanded its presence in Mrauk-U, Min Pyar, Kyauktaw, Pauktaw, and while ongoing battles are reported in Yanbye, Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Yathay Taung, Kyaukpyu and Ponnagyun townships. Sittwe, Myebon, Ann and Tounggok towns are also preparing for imminent battles. Rakhine State comprises 17 townships, with only Gwa, Thandwe and Manaung still under full regime control. The AA maintains control over the remaining areas, continuing its offensive operations.

  • Karenni resistance forces captured regime station in Bawlakhe tsp

The Karenni People’s Liberation Army (KPLA) and the Karenni People’s Liberation Front (KNPLF) jointly announced the capture of an army camp in the Karenni area on February 8. They released images showcasing their successful takeover of the 12-mile hill station where the regime’s Infantry Battalion Unit 112 was stationed in Bawlakhe Township. The captured camp yielded various weapons and ammunition.

  • Zayatgyi battle left civilian casualties in Bago Region

A fierce battle between the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Burma People’s Liberation Army (BPLA) against the regime’s troops took place on the border of the Bago Region and Karen State on February 7. The clash occurred when KNU forces, alongside the BPLA, attacked regime stations in Zayatgyi town, located in Htantapin Township near Taungoo. The regime stated that the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and the PDF retreated in the face of the attack, which included airstrikes. The junta’s forces deliberately targeted the village where civilians resided and employed heavy weaponry during the assault. As a result of the battle, local residents in and around Zayatgyi town fled to nearby areas, with some individuals becoming trapped. Casualties, including women, were reported due to airstrikes and heavy artillery.

  • Intensifying conflict continued in Kawlin Town, Sagaing Region

The regime’s siege of Kawlin, under the control of the NUG and the PDF, has entered its eighth day. On February 10, between 7:00 am and 12:00 noon, the confrontation between the junta’s men and the revolutionary groups persisted, resulting in the destruction of homes due to heavy weapons fire and arson by the regime’s soldiers. At approximately 1:00 pm, a Mi-17 helicopter arrived in Wuntho Town, a neighboring area of Kawlin, with Pyu Saw Htee members and soldiers from the Kantbalu 6006 tank battalion as reinforcements. It was targeted by heavy weapons fire from the Kawlin defense forces, resulting in several deaths.

Sources: Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now, RFA Burmese, DVB, BBC Burmese, VOA Burmese

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