The Weekend Briefing: November 27-28, 2021

The Weekend Briefing: November 27-28, 2021

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Around 20 civilians are reported to have been killed and many others missing after the military launched airstrikes against at least seven villages in Depayin township on the evening of Nov. 27. Air raids are said to have continued this morning. Local sources said that an MI35 helicopter repeatedly strafed civilian homes whilst four others airdropped troops to perform ground operations. Depayin PDF (DPDF) has urged local people to stay in designated shelters and only travel by road as a number of minefields have been set up. The military had been reinforcing its presence in the township after the DPDF announced, on Nov. 19,  that 70% of the township was under its control. In an interview with the BBC, junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun had admitted that the military had yet to take full control of areas within the Sagaing region. At least 3,000 civilians from Depayin’s villages are reported to have fled their homes. On Nov. 23, five members of the same family, including a pregnant woman, were brutally assassinated in  the township’s Tharyaraye village. In 2003, at least 70 people said to have been associated with the NLD were massacred by a military-backed militia in Depayin town.

Fire broke out in Thantlang’s Lungtial ward on Saturday evening. The Chin News Jounral last night reported that almost 100 residential buildings and the St. Nicholas Catholic Church have since burned down. The cause of the fire and the exact number home affected are still unknown, yet the city remains deserted and camped by Tatmadaw troops since September. A total of 30 houses, a commercial building, and a church worth more than K70 million were destroyed by another recent fire that broke out in Thantlang’s No. 2 ward on Nov. 24 Local reports from Thantlang suggest that last night fires once again spread to the town center, and are now affecting the central market. Over three hundred homes and four Christian churches have been razed in the deserted town of Thantlang since Oct., likely the most economically damaging attack on an urban area ever carried out by the Tatmadaw. 

Argentina’s judiciary has announced that it is to start proceedings in a case brought by the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) against the Burmese military over its campaign of genocide against Burma’s Rohingya population. Read DVB’s report.

State-run Myawaddy TV has broadcast a speech by Min Aung Hlaing in which he claimed: “Article 386 of the Constitution states that every citizen has the right to receive military training in accordance with the law and to serve in the military for national defense.” Yet another sign that the military is failing to recruit new servicemen, MAH said that “the People’s Military Service Law stipulates that every adult citizen must serve in the military for a limited period of time.” Despite the military adding Article 386 to the constitution in Nov. 2010, Burma has never before enforced universal conscription—with an almost universal hatred of the institution amongst the general population, it is questionable what the military would gain from enforcing the article, bolstering its ranks with what are now commonly known as “watermelons”—green (military) on the outside, red (democrats) at the core. As the dictator’s speech was made at a meeting of the War Veterans’ Association, it is likely that it was intended to support the military’s recent demands that retired servicemen and members of military families enlist.

It was announced that 77-year-old NLD spokesman, Monywa Aung Shin, died of a heart attack on Saturday morning. The politician and poet had been arrested on Feb. 1 with other NLD leaders and died 40 days after his release on October 18. The military had detained Aung Shin, who was recently the head of the NLD’s central information committee, at Mingaladon’s Yekyi Ai interrogation center, a fact that many believe exacerbated underlying health conditions leading to his death.

After two years of growth, the value of Burma’s agricultural exports fell over the first two months of the 2021-22 fiscal year. Despite a cataclysmic decline in other export sectors, agricultural exports had been sustained as demand for staples from neighboring countries remained buoyant. Over the 2019-2020 fiscal year, despite COVID-19 trade restrictions being introduced, export value exceeded US$3.73 billion, a 14% year-on-year increase. In the previous fiscal year of 2020-21, exports exceeded US$4.62 billion an increase of 24%. However, it appears that supply-side issues, severe inflation, and border closures have finally caught up with the sector: over the first two months of the 2021-2022 fiscal year, agricultural exports are said to have dropped by US$23 million y-o-y. 

“The Torch of Liberty” DVB © 2021

NEWS IN BRIEF

The US Embassy in Rangoon on Sunday advised its citizens to avoid the Myanmar Plaza shopping mall in light of “non-specific threats”. Myanmar Plaza’s security staff recently attacked peaceful protesters in the mall, which remains guarded under a heavy military presence.

Anti-military protests were held across the length and breadth of Burma on Sunday to mark the country’s National Day. National Day marks the 1920 beginnings of the student-led uprising against British colonial rule, a movement which eventually won Burma independence in 1948.

16 people, largely males in their 20s, have been arrested in Ayeyarwady’s Nyaungdon and Mon’s Thaton township. The junta has linked the arrests to earlier raids which led to the capture of NLD MP Phyo Zeyar Thaw, alleged by the military to be second-in-command of the NUG’s Yangon Regional Military Command.

State media claimed on November 27 that a total of 565 government offices have been damaged in attacks by resistance groups from 1 February to 20 November 2021. 

Two Burmese doctors that are participating in the country’s CDM movement—Dr Pyae Phyo Kyaw and Dr Shwe Yoe—have received the Social Justice Hero Award from the APCOM Foundation at an event held in Bangkok. The pair, who are boyfriends, had travelled to remote IDP camps across Burma to provide free healthcare services. APCOM is a non-profit organization representing individuals and community based organizations across 35 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

NEWS BY REGION

CHIN —Two soldiers were killed and one was injured when Matupi CDF attacked troops guarding the Matupi District Administration Office located on Matupi-Hakha Road on Friday morning, Matupi- CDF told DVB.

MAGWAY —Four soldiers were killed and many are said to have been injured after local resistance forces in Myingyan attacked five military vehicles travelling from Yesagyo to Ma-U village on Saturday.

MAGWAY —11 soldiers were said to have been  killed and several others were injured after local PDF groups launched attacks across Yesagyo township yesterday. On Wednesday, Four PDF fighters, including a leader of the Yesagyo N-YSO Guerilla, were killed during operations in the area.

SAGAING — 10 military troops were said to have been killed in a joint attack of  local PDFs in Myaung township yesterday. 

SAGAING —18 soldiers were wounded in the local PDF planted landmine attack on Mandalay-Shwebo road in Wetlet township yesterday, according to an official from the Wetlet Township People’s Defense Force.

YANGON —It has been reported that security forces guarding Pazundaung Police Station today shot at a passing taxi, killing the driver and causing serious harm to a female passenger. Images show that the taxi crashed into a tree following the attack.

YANGON – The military council sealed off the house of a protest leader in Twante township on the night of November 26. More than 30 soldiers and police arrived at the home of Ko Htet, erected a signboard, and cordoned off the area. The house had been raided by the military on March 17, and Ko Htet’s family has been on the run ever since.

YANGON —A series of explosions took place in Yankin and South Okkalapa townships on Saturday morning, Eleven Media reported. Three minor explosions occurred in Yankin’s Maggin, Thitsar and Yankin Roads at around 9 a.m., whilst another explosion took place near a traffic police hut located at the corner of Waizayandar and Yadana Road. Nobody is said to have been injured in the explosions.