Weekly Update: 106

by mohingamatters

Folks, the regime began its first military training this week in Yangon. Photos of young men were distributed on its propaganda outlets while forcefully recruiting more young people across the country. The NUG launched a public service platform to facilitate youths who wish to escape forced conscription. This week also witnessed the resumption of clashes between the regime and MNDAA Shan north. Read all about it in this week’s update.

Internal Politics

  • The regime began the first military training in Yangon

On March 29, the military regime commenced its first military training session at the No. 1 Tatmadaw Advanced Training School in Taikkyi Township, Yangon Region. Images from the opening ceremony have circulated widely online, depicting hundreds of young participants. Supporters of the army hailed these youths as they joined marching bands, receiving flowers and food as gestures of welcome, as portrayed in the online propaganda of the coup army. Conversely, residents of Yangon have reported instances where individuals who were listed for military service were monitored and followed to their residences. Locals expressed concerns over what they perceived as a coercive recruitment strategy by the military. Despite the regime’s initial announcement that military training would commence after the Thingyan festival, reports emerged of young men being detained following purported “health screenings,” with some held in the Bayint Naung interrogation center.

  • The NUG launched public service initiative to counter the regime’s forced conscription

The National Unity Government (NUG) issued a statement on March 30, announcing the initiation of a public service endeavor aimed at assisting individuals impacted by the military council’s enforced conscription. In this capacity, a Telegram channel was launched, enabling people to seek guidance and support. U Nay Phone Latt, spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office of the NUG, stated that those seeking refuge in liberated areas will be linked with ethnic groups. He said that within six hours of the channel’s launch, 2,000 individuals had joined. Operating hours for the service will be from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM daily through the NUG’s Public Affairs Telegram channel. U Nay Phone Latt affirmed that the NUG will offer counsel to those who reach out and will establish connections with relevant ministries to provide assistance effectively.

  • KNU criticized the dispatch of the first aid shipment from Thailand

The Karen National Union (KNU) has condemned the manner in which humanitarian aid, dispatched by the Thai government to assist displaced people, was distributed through the Myanmar Red Cross Society, deeming it insensitive to the plight of the people. Issued on March 27, a day following the initial shipment, the KNU’s statement highlighted that the crisis in Myanmar is a consequence of the military’s deliberate targeting of civilians. Furthermore, the KNU asserted that the military sought to exploit the aid for political gain, noting the close affiliation between the Myanmar Red Cross and the military council. The statement emphasized that the military’s airstrikes compelled 20,000 IDPs in Nabu Township, Hpa-an District, to flee due to heavy weapons fire and arson. It was noted that although humanitarian assistance was intended for these conflict-affected civilians, the presence of military aircraft during the aid delivery on March 26 induced fear, causing the civilians to scatter.

  • Clashes resumed between the regime and MNDAA near Lashio

Residents reported that the MNDAA and the military, who had a temporary ceasefire earlier this year with China’s mediation, resumed clashes on March 26 near Lashio, Shan State. The ceasefire, established under the Haigan agreement on January 11 in Yunnan Province, was breached two and a half months later. According to locals, the skirmish erupted at 10:30 a.m. and lasted approximately 45 minutes, occurring between Peng Kai Village and Lon Moon Village, approximately 10 miles southeast of Lashio. A villager disclosed that soldiers from the Infantry Battalion 55, stationed in the town’s No. 5 Ward, were patrolling the active area of the MNDAA. Following the skirmish, around noon, the army in Kone Nyong Village fired heavy artillery three times towards the battle site. Since the middle of last year, both the MNDAA and Brigade 611, composed of young resistance rangers from across the country, have been active in the region. Presently, details regarding casualties and the situation of both parties involved in the recent battle remain undisclosed.

International Affairs

  • Activists called on ASEAN to exclude the regime in its upcoming meeting

The upcoming ASEAN Finance and Central Bank Chairmen’s Meeting in Laos has sparked calls to defend Myanmar’s democracy. Advocates urge the exclusion of the military group from the gathering, allowing the National Unity Government (NUG) to participate instead. The Blood Money Campaign and Global Myanmar Spring Revolution sent an open letter addressing to finance ministers and central bank governors of ASEAN countries. The key requests from the letter are: 1) to exclude the illegitimate military group and their appointees, who currently occupy Myanmar’s government institutions, from the meetings; 2) to prohibit representatives of the ruling group from future ASEAN finance and central bank gatherings; and 3) to facilitate the attendance of the democratically elected leaders from the NUG as representatives of the Myanmar people. The letter also warned that the foreign governments’ engagement with the military representatives could create great harm to the people of Myanmar as the regime continues to attack innocent civilians.

  • India plans US$4 billion border fence along India-Myanmar border

According to Reuters, the Indian government is set to allocate nearly four billion dollars for the construction of a border fence aimed to curb smuggling and illegal activities along the India-Myanmar border. An Indian government committee approved the project’s cost earlier this month, according to an anonymous source cited by Reuters. Neither Indian nor Myanmar authorities have yet to comment on this development. Earlier this year, India announced the cessation of longstanding freedom of movement along the 1,000-mile border, opting instead to construct parallel roads alongside the proposed fence. Additionally, senior Indian officials have agreed to establish roads connecting the border to army bases. Since Myanmar’s military coup, tens of thousands of people have sought refuge in India, with hundreds of military council troops also crossing the border for sanctuary.

  • Artillery fell into China border due to the fight between the regime and KIA

Local residents reported clashes along the Myanmar-China border between the regime and the Kachin Liberation Army (KIA), with two artillery shells striking Chinese territory on March 27. According to sources, the KIA initiated attacks on military council camps along the Loi Je-Bhamo road in Kachin State on the night of March 26, prompting retaliatory artillery fire that crossed into Chinese territory. Residents recounted that the artillery shells exploded near border post-46 in the old city of Jiang Hao, China, during the military council’s gunfire towards Maijayang, where the KIA Brigade (3rd) headquarters is situated. Fortunately, no casualties were reported from the incident. However, Chinese authorities closed the Maijayang-China border gate on March 27.

  • Russia and Myanmar to conduct 50 joint military operations

The Russian government’s RIA news agency reported on March 28 that the Russian and Myanmar armies are set to undertake more than 50 joint military operations in 2024, as disclosed by the Russian Ministry of Defense. These exercises encompass collaborative strategic planning, including operational and offensive training, as highlighted by Russian media. However, specific details of the plan remain undisclosed. Since late 2023, the Myanmar military, grappling with losses in ongoing civil conflicts, has faced international isolation. A former military official, speaking anonymously for security reasons, suggested that the heightened interaction between Russia and the military council aligns with the mutual interests of both nations. U Kyaw Zaw, spokesperson for the NUG, expressed skepticism, stating that these military exercises are unlikely to yield significant advancements for the military council.

  • US advisor met with three ethnic armed groups

Derek Chollet, US foreign affairs adviser, revealed on March 28 that he held discussions with leaders of the three ethnic armed alliances, collectively known as K3C. Chollet conveyed this update on a social networking site, X. The K3C alliance comprises the Karen National Union (KNU), Kachin Liberation Organization (KIO), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), and the Chin National Front (CNF). During the meeting, the international community deliberated on strategies to enhance aid provision for vulnerable populations and to foster a brighter future for the people of Myanmar. Notably, the K3C alliance and the National Unity Government (NUG) had previously announced a joint agreement on January 31 to end military dictatorship and establish a federal democratic union.

Business Matters

  • AA warms foreign investment to work with them

The Arakan Army (AA) issued a statement on March 25 in Burmese, English, and Chinese, warning foreign investment projects in Rakhine State to collaborate with them. The statement, reflecting AA’s territorial gains through attacks on military council camps, invites new international investors. AA pledges to safeguard the safety and lives of investors as it expands its control over the state. Of the 17 townships in Rakhine State, AA currently controls eight. Through its four-month-long Operation 1027, AA has seized control of additional townships including Paletwa Township in Chin State, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Minbya, Pauktaw, Myebon, Ponnagyun, Rathedaung in the northern part, and Ramre in the southern part, totaling nine townships.

  • The regime’s Central Bank suspends licenses for foreign currency exchangers

The Central Bank, operating under the regime, declared on March 26 the suspension of licenses for six foreign currency businesses in Myanmar, with an additional four businesses suspended for six months. A routine inspection of foreign exchange operations was conducted by the Central Bank on March 11, leading to the enforcement of regulations due to non-compliance. Businesses affected by license suspensions include Best Yuan, Currency Hub Globeextra, My Gold Myanmar, Sym Chem, and Win Yadana Gems & Jewelry. Farmer Phoyarzar Automobile Services is among those suspended for six months, along with PAAMAA Source Strategy Consultant & Development and Wu Fu companies. On March 21, the Central Bank suspended licenses and operations for 15 licensed foreign exchange companies. Additionally, on March 15, actions were announced against 15 Facebook pages displaying exchange rates to ensure foreign exchange rate stability and prevent speculation.

  • USD and gold price hit record-high

Amid multiple crises in Myanmar, the exchange rate and gold prices have soared to unprecedented levels. In the local market, the exchange rate for one USD has surged to 3,900 MMK, while the price of one Kyat (tical) has exceeded 4.5 million MMK due to the global increase in gold prices.

Humanitarian Affairs

  • Rohingya boat capsized: 11 bodies found off Indonesian coast

Indonesian authorities announced on March 25 that they had recovered 11 bodies following the capsizing of a Rohingya boat carrying approximately 150 people off Indonesia’s westernmost coast last week. Muhammad Fathur Rachman, head of local search and rescue operations, informed the AFP news agency that the bodies were located at sea, 14 nautical miles (26 km) from the shore. Earlier on the same day, officials from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) had reported finding five bodies. Indonesian authorities had rescued 69 Rohingya on March 21, who had been adrift at sea in the weeks leading up to the boat’s sinking. Some were spotted clinging to the overturned boat’s hull in an attempt to survive, and six were rescued by Indonesian fishermen. The search for the missing Rohingya refugees was halted on March 29. The Rohingya face severe persecution in Myanmar and undertake perilous sea journeys each year in attempts to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.

  • Combined forces of army and navy attacked: 1 died, 300 houses burned

Residents of Mon State reported that a 40-year-old woman was killed and eight others injured in an attack on Dhammatha Village in Kyaikmaro Township. On March 27, around 4:00 p.m., two warships anchored at the Gyine River adjacent to Dhammathaya Village unleashed heavy gunfire into the village. Simultaneously, military aircraft bombed and razed over 300 houses, as per Mon State Federal Council (MSFC) member Mi Thuta Ja, speaking to Myanmar Now. The army blocked the road near Khanggu Village on the Mawlamyine-Hpa-an route to contain the blaze, exacerbating the situation as few firefighters were available due to villagers avoiding conflict zones. Concerns mount over the potential destruction of Mon traditional heritage religious buildings. Dhammatha Village, situated on Ramawati Road along the banks of the Gyine River near Mawlamyine-Hpa-an route, shares its path with Kawbein Village, where the army had seized the police station on March 24. Since then, resistance alliance forces have captured the Kawbein police station, prompting retaliation from the army, including daily bombardment by three warships along the Jai River to Kha Yon Gu Village on the Mawlamyine-Hpa-an route.

  • 3000 civilians displaced as regime’s forces arrived in Salingyi

Anyar Pyit Tine Htaung group told Khit Thit media that due to the arrival of military trucks, civilians from 10 villages in Salingyi Township of Sagaing Region have fled to safe places. The arrival of two military trucks took place on March 29 which resulted in the displacement of 3000 civilians. So far, no arrest of civilians have been reported, but the regime’s forces have entered and based in these villages and showed no sign of leaving soon.

  • 5000 civilians fled to avoid the regime’s attack in Sagaing

On the morning of March 28, a contingent of the military council’s army based at Pyin Htaung Village initiated gunfire before advancing into Kantbalu Township from Khin Oo Township. Local sources reported that approximately 5,000 residents from neighboring villages began fleeing the area. The 130-member military column proceeded from Khin Oo Township towards Kantbalu Township, with reports indicating its entry into Kar Boe Village, prompting residents along its route to evacuate. Residents revealed that since March 25, this column had been conducting patrols from village to village in Khin Oo Township, resulting in further displacement of residents. During its march on March 25, houses in Tesu Village of Khin Oo Township were set ablaze, and a member of the local defense force was killed, according to residents.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Assets

  • Regime’s armed Pyu Saw Htee leader killed in Minhla, Bago Region

On March 26, U Myo Myint Aung, a 44-year-old military loyalist and leader of the Pyu Saw Htee group, was fatally shot 12 times in his residence in Minhla, Bago Region. Known as the chairman of the PPP party and an ally of the regime in his township, he was reportedly armed with various weapons. Regularly sharing images on Facebook showcasing firearms and interactions with regime troops, he was a prominent figure in his community. Following the incident, his wife attempted to attack the assailants with scissors but was unharmed.

  • Regime’s helicopter crashed in Meikhtila, Mandalay Region

On the morning of March 26, a regime training helicopter reportedly experienced an engine fault and crashed near a cemetery in Meikhtila, Mandalay Region. While the pilot and trainee managed to escape, the helicopter itself was destroyed in the crash. This incident marks one of 12 aerial assets belonging to the regime, including both jets and helicopters, that have either crashed or been shot down by resistance forces over the course of three years.

  • Locations recruiting for conscription targeted in Yangon

On March 29, a series of five explosions were reported in Yangon, targeting areas associated with the regime’s enlistment of youths for mandatory military training. In Hlaingtharya township, the homes of the hundred households’ administrator Nyo Win and the regime’s acknowledged Pyu Saw Htee leader Zaw Oo were both blasted around 5 am. Both individuals were actively involved in recruiting for conscription. Later that evening, the ward administrative office in Insein township was bombed three times between 8 pm and 8.30 pm. These attacks resulted in casualties. The Anonymous Fighters Force-AA and Rangoon Urban Force-RUF claimed responsibility for the bombings and managed to retreat without encountering any difficulty.

  • Regime’s ward administrator shot dead in Mattaya tsp, Mandalay Region

On March 29, at approximately 10 am, three youths entered a teashop in Mattaya township, Mandalay Region, and opened fire on a man identified as U Pite Htwe, the regime’s ward administrator from ward 2 who was conducting forced recruitment. The 62-year-old was killed on the spot. Previously known for actively following the regime’s orders, he was taking a break and having tea when the incident occurred.

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Six including two PDF rangers brutally murdered by soldiers in Ye-U tsp, Sagaing Region

On March 21, around 150 regime troops launched an offensive in Taze and Ye-U townships in Sagaing Region. They were reportedly stationed in Chaungyoe Village until March 24. When they departed, four deceased individuals were discovered in the village. Among them, U Moe Win and Ko J Lone, both villagers, were gruesomely killed, with their bodies found dismembered. The identities of two other victims, presumed to be rangers, remain unknown. Additionally, the regime’s artillery struck Boyon Village, located five miles north of Ye-U, resulting in the deaths of two women: 80-year-old Daw Ohn Yin and her 40-year-old niece Daw Kyu.

  • Political prisoner killed by military in Dawei, Tanintharyi Region

On March 23, the family of detained political prisoner Ko Win Thiha received the news that he had passed away, and authorities had cremated his body. According to officials, Ko Win Thiha was directed to provide evidence outside the prison premises. Allegedly, he attempted to flee and was fatally shot in the process. Ko Win Thiha had been arrested on February 7, 2021, and faced charges under the Sedition Act 505A and Counterterrorism Acts. Additionally, another inmate who was taken out of the prison alongside Ko Win Thiha remains missing, with no further information available about their whereabouts.

  • Journalist sentenced to four years in prison in Monywa, Sagaing Region

On March 25, a tribunal convened by the junta within Monywa Prison sentenced journalist Ko Yan Naing Soe to four years in prison. The 37-year-old freelance journalist based in Monywa was rearrested on October 22, 2023, at Tharsi Inspection Gate in Monywa and charged under Penal Code 52A and the Counterterrorism Act. Ko Yan Naing Soe was living with and caring for his elderly mother at the time of his arrest. His case adds to the journalist arrests following the coup, with a total of 169 journalists detained by the regime and 54 still imprisoned.

  • Regime’s forces abducted volunteer workers in Okpho tsp, Bago Region

On the evening of March 28, reports emerged that the junta’s troops had abducted ten individuals in Othekone town, Okpho township, Bago Region. Among them, five belonged to the Pyone Pan Tayar social welfare group, namely Ko Shwe Sein, Ko Shaung Gyi, Ko Maung San, Ko Kyaw Moe, and Ko Tin Tun, along with U Win Sein. The reasons for their arrest remain unknown, but witnesses reported seeing regime personnel violently beating them before forcibly taking them away inside the Light Infantry Unit 6 compound. This incident follows a recent assault by local resistance forces on the military’s inspection gate in Okpho township, suggesting a possible retaliation by the regime.

  • Two political prisoners beaten up by soldiers, one died in Monywa, Sagaing Region

On March 29 in Monywa, Sagaing Region, Ko Mahn Zar Myay Pon and Ko Aung Kyaw Zin, detained youth protest leaders were beaten up by regime soldiers and Ko Aung Kyaw passed away with wounds. The incident began in the Monywa Police Station where they were detained on March 27. Two of them reportedly intervened during a beating by the police towards another inmate who was accused of smuggling illegal items on his way back from a trial. On the next day, the police decided to send both to the city hall where soldiers beat them up as a way of punishment. On March 29, Ko Aung Kyaw Zin passed away with wounds while Ko Mahn Zar Myay Pon was also in critical condition.   

Armed Resistance

  • KNLA-led resistance forces controlled Hpapun, Karen State

The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and the NUG’s forces coordinated an offensive, successfully seizing control of Hpapun Town in Karen State this week. According to a NUG official, this control is not temporary, as the resistance forces are determined to maintain their hold on the town. No regime troops or administration are currently present in Hpapun. However, on March 24, the junta’s forces launched a drone attack on Hpapun, resulting in the deaths of three civilians.

  • KIA seized six regime stations in two days, closing in on Lwalgal in Kachin State

As Min Aung Hlaing and his troops paraded for Armed Forces’ Day in Naypyitaw, reports emerged that the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) seized control of half a dozen stations in Kachin State. On March 27, the KIA successfully captured regime stations situated between Banmaw and Lwalgal. Among them is the historically significant Yawyon station, which had been under the control of successive military regimes for 39 years. This station served as a strategic outpost from which junta troops often launched artillery attacks towards KIA-controlled towns. The capture of these stations presents an opportunity for the KIA to further advance and potentially seize control of Lwalgal, a significant border town for trading.

  • Clashes intensified in Rakhine-Magway border areas

Since March 24, the regime’s forces have reportedly launched an offensive towards Ann township in Rakhine State, where the Arakan Army (AA) has intensified its efforts to gain control. This township shares a border with Magway Region. On the morning of March 26, a 30-minute encounter between the two forces occurred near Lone Village in Ann township. Approximately 15 regime troops were reported killed, with 15 more injured, while the AA suffered two injuries. In related news, additional skirmishes have also occurred in Nga Phae township in Magway Region, which connects with Ann.

  • AA seized major battalion unit in Buthidaung, Rakhine State

The Arakan Army (AA) released a statement confirming that it had successfully captured the regime’s Light Infantry Battalion Unit 553 on March 25. The offensive towards the station commenced on February 24, and it took over a month to seize control due to the regime’s defense efforts, which included both ground and air support.

  • Dozens of regime’s men on the run including a colonel found dead by AA in Ponnakyun tsp, Rakhine State

The Arakan Army (AA) released a series of graphic evidences documenting the deaths and injuries of regime troops in Ponnakyun Township, Rakhine State. These troops, numbering 50, had refused to surrender during the capture of Ponnakyin Town on March 4. Led by the strategist Colonel Myo Min Ko Ko, they had established camps in the fields near Yepaukchaung and Tan Swe villages while requesting artillery support. The regime’s artillery base in Sittwe and navy ships provided support but caused casualties among their own forces as the artillery fire fell dangerously close to their own camps, resulting in fatalities and injuries. Over 20 soldiers, including Colonel Myo Min Ko Ko, were killed, while the remaining troops suffered critical injuries and were captured alive.

  • Dawna operation to expand in Tanintharyi Region

The National Unity Government (NUG) has declared that the Dawna operation has expanded its target territory in the Tanintharyi Region. This operation, led by NUG-affiliated resistance forces in Ye Township, has successfully secured areas along the Ye-Dawei highway where they conduct road inspections. The operation’s scope has now broadened to include efforts to gain control over the entire Tanintharyi Region.

Sources: Myanmar Now, Khit Thit, RFA Burmese, Public Voice Television

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