Weekly Update: 110

by mohingamatters

Hi folks, the dynamics of the armed resistance are constantly evolving, but there is noticeable progress week by week. The Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Arakan Army (AA), and Chin forces persist in capturing stations and towns, while the regime’s forces reinforce their presence in Karen State. It is encouraging to hear from the NUG that some liberated areas are under its control. However, local reports suggest that the NUG also faces challenges in implementing administrative discipline at the ground level. Read the highlights below:

Internal Politics

  • Junta suspends overseas work permit for men 

The Permanent Secretary of the regime’s Ministry of Labor confirmed to Myanmar Now that the ban on the right of men to work abroad has been effective on May 1. Employment agencies said the restriction would be applicable to PJ type passport holders. He did not say what the reason for the restriction was, but Myanmar Now understands that the restriction is due to the conscription law, through which the military is preparing to recruit en masse. “To any country from May 1. it means only those who post a Demand (job invitation). Not valid for those who have already been approved. It depends on the situation. That’s all I can say,” said U Nyunt Win, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labor under the Military Council. Myanmar Now asked whether such a restriction was due to the conscription law, but Permanent Secretary U Nyunt Win said that it was done according to the needs of the situation. The Military Council has not yet issued an official written instruction regarding this restriction, but on April 30, the Minister of Labor of the Military Council U Myint Naung and the Employment Agency Association were informed during a meeting in Yangon, an agency entrepreneur, who did not want to be named for security reasons, told Myanmar Now. Because of the conscription law, there is an alarming number of young people leaving for foreign countries through both legal and illegal channels. He said the ban could increase illegal departures.

  • NUG has liberated areas, says defense minister

On the third anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Defense Forces (PDF), the National Unity Government’s (NUG) Defense Minister, U Yee Mon, declared, “The NUG has liberated areas under our control, where we have dismantled the regime’s administration and implemented our own governance. It is evident that these areas are expanding and strengthening, all thanks to the dedication of the PDF soldiers.” Additionally, he noted that up to two-thirds of the junta’s principal attacking force had been neutralized through the armed resistance efforts.

  • Prominent activist Dr. Tay Zar San criticized NUG for weak administration on ground

Prominent protest leader Dr. Tay Zar San has voiced criticism against the NUG, highlighting its failure to address the weak administrative structures on the ground, particularly in the Magway and Sagaing Regions. Alongside the PDF, the NUG has established people’s administrative forces in liberated areas, leading to reported friction between the NUG’s administrative forces and the local populace in certain areas. Protests have erupted in Gantgaw Township, Magway Region, and Sarlinggyi Township, Sagaing Region, urging the NUG to reform its administrative teams. Dr. Tay Zar San warns that if the NUG does not change the deficiencies in the system, public disillusionment with the armed resistance may lead to disengagement from the cause.

  • SSPP/SSA leadership divided over fighting the regime

On May 3, marking the 60th anniversary of the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), its vice chairman declared the party’s readiness to engage in armed conflict against the regime, citing the absence of a viable solution through dialogue. He stressed that despite 77 years of dialogue efforts, peace and equality for ethnic minorities remained elusive. Consequently, the SSPP/SSA resolved to join the armed resistance. However, the following day, an SSPP/SSA colonel stated that no decision had been made to initiate military operations, leaving the party’s stance unclear. The SSPP/SSA had previously signed a ceasefire agreement with the regime in 2012 but became involved in battles from 2015 to 2017 in response to the regime’s offensive actions.

International Affairs

  • UID number required to enter China through Muse 

Starting on May 1, Myanmar nationals are mandated to possess a Unique Identity Number (UID) to pass the Myanmar-China border via Muse. However, obtaining this UID has become costlier, with fees on the rise. The application process, which can span several months, requires individuals to pay agents up to 600,000 MMK (approximately 170 USD) to fasten the process. An estimated 1,000 Myanmar workers continue to cross the border daily.

  • India to crack down on human trafficking along its border with Myanmar

To suppress the drug trade in Kapali Sea, the Indian Embassy in Myanmar announced on May 2 that the Indian ships Saryu and LCU58 docked at Yangon port in Myanmar to fight human trafficking and prevent illegal fishing. Indian Ambassador to Myanmar Abhay Thakur and the Myanmar regime’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister U Than Swe met in Nay Pyi Taw in the last week of April. During the meeting, they discussed law and order and stability along the India-Myanmar border, according to military council-controlled newspapers. Meanwhile, the first batch of at least 38 Myanmar refugees who fled to India after the 2021 military coup was repatriated from Manipur state on May 2, according to a Reuters report. Repatriation of refugees has been stalled for weeks due to clashes between the Arakan Army (AA) and the coup army, Reuters wrote. Illegal immigrants from Myanmar are deported regardless of their status. The Chief Minister of Manipur also said that illegal arrivals are still being identified. After the military coup, India is preparing to build a fence along the border to prevent people fleeing from Myanmar to India. Similarly, India has canceled the visa-free entry and exit program between the two countries.

  • Over 70 Myanmar nationals arrested by Thai police for illegal immigration

On May 2, the Thai police detained 74 Myanmar immigrant workers for illegal entry into the Tak district. These individuals had crossed the border through Myawaddy with the intention of seeking employment in Phuket. Approximately 20 of them were women. According to reports, they had paid agents between 25,000 THB to 30,000 THB (approximately 800 USD) for their passage. They are currently being held at the respective police station and will face charges under Thai immigration laws.

  • Frontier Myanmar won Human Rights Press Award

On May 3, World Press Freedom Day, Human Rights Watch and its collaborators unveiled the recipients of the 2024 Human Rights Press Awards, recognizing exceptional reporting on human rights matters throughout the world. This year, a new category, “newsrooms in exile,” was introduced. Among the winners in this category was Frontier Myanmar, acknowledged for its comprehensive coverage shedding light on how Myanmar’s military, influenced by Buddhist nationalism, has targeted the Bayingyi, a Roman Catholic minority.

Business Matters

  • Regime planned to restart Myawaddy border trade within a month

Since the recapture of Myawaddy, a Thai-Myanmar border town in Karen State, by the regime through its ally, the Border Guard Force (BGF), plans have been unveiled to initiate the reinstatement of border trade. Although the junta’s forces have yet to establish complete control over the entire town, progress is reportedly underway, as stated by the regime’s economic minister in Karen State. Following the town’s recapture, the regime’s forces have reopened Thai-Myanmar Bridge No. 1 for pedestrian traffic on April 27 and Bridge No. 2 for trucks engaged in border trade on April 30.

  • Hydro power project suspended due to clash near Thandwe, Rakhine State

The first hydro power plant project in Rakhine State has been suspended due to escalating clashes between the regime’s forces and the Arakan Army (AA). Located on the Thahtay River, 12 miles northeast of Thandwe City, the project commenced in 2008 and was intended to provide power to approximately one million people. Despite the military coup, the project had been progressing steadily, reaching three-fourths completion, with an expected completion date set for 2025-2026. However, ongoing battles between the two counterparts in the vicinity have forced the project to come to a halt.

  • PDF seized regime’s oil field in Magway Region

At the end of April, a coalition of resistance forces successfully seized control of a state-owned major oil field situated between Pauk and Myaing townships in Magway Region. Known as the Latpando oil field, it is now under the control of the People’s Defense Forces (PDF). This oil field has the capacity to produce up to 400 Barrels of Oil per Day (Boed). Since the coup, due to the ongoing armed resistance activities in the area, production has been halted, with the majority of the staff joining the civil disobedience movement (CDM).

Humanitarian Affairs

  • Nearly 5,000 civilians have been killed by regime since the coup

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) disclosed that since the coup, the junta has been responsible for the deaths of 4,957 civilians. Additionally, another 1,750 individuals are reported to have been killed by the regime’s soldiers, although their deaths have yet to be verified. In April alone, 121 people lost their lives at the hands of the junta’s forces, including 16 children under the age of 18 and 15 elderly individuals. Notably, 42 of these fatalities occurred as a result of airstrikes. Sagaing Region, a stronghold for the armed resistance, continues to bear the brunt of the violence, with 38 individuals losing their lives there.

  • About 4,000 houses set on fire by regime in April

Data for Myanmar released a statement revealing that the regime’s forces and their collaborators set ablaze a total of 3,960 houses across the country in April alone. Of these, 1,500 were in Butheedaung Town, Rakhine State, 1,220 in Mandalay Region, 997 in Sagaing Region, and 229 in Magway Region. Since the coup took place, nearly 90,000 households (88,373 to be precise) have been set alight by the regime’s forces.

  • Myanmar ranks 171 on press freedom index

Myanmar continues to pose significant dangers for journalists, with a high risk of torture, imprisonment, and murder, as highlighted by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). On World Press Freedom Day, RSF’s press freedom index ranked Myanmar 171 out of 180 countries. The country stands as the world’s second-worst jailer of journalists, trailing only China. Since the 2021 coup, the regime has conducted raids on media offices, revoked publication licenses, and detained journalists.

Attacks on the Junta’s Lackeys & Assets

  • Detention officer killed in Bilin tsp, Mon State

On April 29, U Sin Aung, also known as U Win Aung, the regime’s deputy director of a detention facility in Kyaikhto Town, was fatally shot at his home in Yatkanthe Village, Bilin Township, Mon State. The Kyaikhto Resistance Force (KRF) claimed responsibility for the attack. U Sin Aung was a former military officer, before the transfer to the detention facility. He was accused of oppressing inmates and conducting investigations on PDF. A pistol was seized from his house following the incident.

  • Seven police during attack on inspection gate in Pakokku tsp, Magway Region

On the evening of May 2, local resistance forces launched an assault on the regime’s inspection gate in Pandaingchon Village, Pakokku Township, Magway Region. The police were in the midst of preparing for patrol duty when the attack occurred. Seven policemen were killed on the spot, and weapons were seized by the resistance forces. The gate, located close to the Pakokku Airport, was known for extorting money from travelers.

  • Regime station blasted in Mingalardon tsp, Yangon

On the evening of May 3, the PDF reportedly attacked the regime’s Mingalardon military station with a remote explosion in Yangon. The station located in front of Aungmingalar Expressgate was attacked with two explosive bombs, injuring a number of soldiers and damgaing a military truck. PDF warned the public to stay clear of the military targets. 

Arbitrary Arrests, Killings & Violence

  • Dispensary center bombed by regime in Kanpetlet tsp, Chin State

On the afternoon of April 28, the regime’s air force conducted a bombing on a dispensary center situated in Lundon Village, Kanpetlet Township, Chin State. Three individuals sustained injuries in the attack, tragically resulting in the death of a 68-year-old who succumbed to his injuries later that evening. On the same day, another attack targeted Wanmathu Hospital in Mindat Township, Chin State.

  • Conscription recruits isolated from outside world

According to a report by Myanmar Now, individuals who were forcibly recruited for the initial military batch have been isolated and prohibited from connecting with the outside world. Only those who can afford to bribe authorities are able to communicate with their families. The remaining recruits are compelled to stay confined inside the barracks, where they are subjected to propaganda television. Some families are unaware of their child’s training location. Reports indicate that at least 50 recruits from Yangon fled from training, with 10 of them captured and currently detained.

  • Private hospital suspended for employing CDMers in Mawlamyine, Mon State

Aye Thandar Private Hospital, located in Mawlamyine, Mon State, has been ordered by the regime to cease operations for a period of three months starting from May 1. The reason cited for this closure is the hospital’s employment of staff participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). This marks the first instance of a private hospital being banned in Mawlamyine. Similar cases have occurred in Yangon and Mandalay, but the suspension period in those instances was limited to two months.

  • Nine men abducted join conscription in Sagaing Region

On the morning of May 4, nine young men were reportedly abducted by the regime’s forces to join the second batch of mandatory military training in Sagaing Town, Sagaing Region. The victims, all around the age of 20, include five from Ayemyawaddy Ward and four from Ohntaw Street. They are currently being held captive inside Battalion Unit 33.

Armed Resistance

  • Chin forces captured Kyin Dway town, Chin State

On April 29, Chin resistance forces successfully seized control of Kyin Dway Town, situated in Kanpetlet Township, in the southern part of Chin State. Kyin Dway is positioned at the border of Chin, Magway, and Rakhine, and is home to approximately 200 households. The Arakan Army (AA), Chin resistance forces, and their allies launched the mission to capture the town in December 2023. With the capture of Kyin Dway, it becomes the fourth town in Chin State to come under the control of Chin forces, joining Lailenpi, Reh Khaw Dha, and Re Zua.

  • AA captured two stations in Maungdaw tsp, Rakhine State

On April 30, the Arakan Army (AA) reportedly seized control of two additional regime stations in Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State. Towertaung Station and Zatitaung Station were captured by the AA as some regime soldiers fled to safety. The AA continued their offensive against the two remaining stations, Kyeekan Pyin headquarters and Station 2, while the regime responded with aerial strikes. The ongoing clashes have led to a significant increase in basic grocery costs in Maungdaw Township, with prices rising up to five times their usual rate.

  • Regime’s Aung Zeya Operation closing in on Myawaddy, Karen State

In an effort to reclaim lost stations and towns in Karen State, the regime initiated the Aung Zeya Operation in April. The operation successfully recaptured Kawkareik Town in the last week of April and is now advancing towards Myawaddy. While Myawaddy was regained by the regime’s ally, the Border Guard Force (BGF), it remains under contested control. The objective of the Aung Zeya Operation could be to restore Myawaddy to a neutral state. However, resistance from the Cobra Column and other opposition forces has resulted in casualties on both sides, with the regime reportedly losing up to 100 soldiers and tanks in the process.

  • KIA seized two more towns in Kachin State

In the early morning of May 5, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) successfully seized control of the regime’s Battalion Unit 46, situated in Sumprabum Town, Kachin State. This capture effectively handed complete control of the town to the KIA in the northernmost region of Myanmar. The operation to take over Sumprabum commenced in early March, marking the second town to be captured within a week. The first town, Sinbo Town, fell under the control of KIA-led resistance forces on April 29. Capturing Sinbo, located 60 miles south of Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, took more than two months.

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

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