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Aid reaches Karen National Union territory; Rohingya form committee to establish consultative council

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Aid reaches Karen National Union territory

The Karen National Union (KNU) announced on Wednesday that humanitarian assistance delivered from Thailand on Monday reached its territory in Hpa-An district of Karen State. It added that the aid was distributed to 20,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) that had fled attacks by the military. 

A handover ceremony was held by the Thai Red Cross in Mae Sot, Thailand before the shipment was sent to its counterpart the Myanmar Red Cross in Myawaddy Township, Burma on March 25. The KNU stated that the Karen Border Guard Force (BGF) transported aid from Myawaddy to KNU territory along with officials from the Royal Thai Army.

The KNU criticized the participation of the military regime in Naypyidaw, via its proxy the Myanmar Red Cross. It called for consultation between all stakeholders before further humanitarian aid deliveries are shipped into Burma.

Calls for Thailand to provide asylum to those evading conscription

Human rights activist Khin Ohmar, the founder of Progressive Voice, spoke to DVB about calls for Thailand to provide protection for people seeking asylum from military conscription.

“The people from Myanmar, especially those young people fleeing their country, are not [coming] because they want to seek a job in Thailand. They come into Thailand because they are [fleeing] from military persecution and violence,” said Ohmar.

The military conscription law was activated on Feb. 10. It stipulates men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 must serve a minimum of two years in the military. Specialists like doctors aged up to 45 must serve at least three years. Those who refuse conscription could face up to two years in prison. 

Rohingya form committee to establish consultative council

Rohingya human rights activists and politicians announced the formation of a convening committee to establish the Rohingya Consultative Council on Tuesday. The committee is composed of eight organizations and 25 people that seek to promote the political interests of the Rohingya in Burma.

“For the first time, the Rohingya have a body that was established by them, and for them [built] from the ground up rather than being imposed from above. This is the result of eleven months of organizing, with stakeholders in Burma, in Bangladesh, and across the world,” Jaivet Ealom, a committee spokesperson, told DVB.

He added that the Rohingya Consultative Council is expected to be formed two months after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The committee was set up independently and has not yet established ties with other resistance groups in Burma. 

News by Region

Rohingya held demonstrations against the Arakan Army in Sittwe from March 21-23. (Credit: CJ)

ARAKAN—Rohingya community leaders said that the Burma Army forced them to hold protests against the Arakan Army (AA) at Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Sittwe from March 21-23 and in Buthidaung Township March 19-20. 

A Sittwe resident said that the Burma Army summoned Rohingya leaders and threatened to arrest them and burn down their homes if they refused the order. Another resident said that protesters were offered dried noodles. 

The AA announced that it captured the 552 Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) in Buthidaung Township on Monday. It first launched its attack on the base Feb. 24. The military carried out retaliatory attacks and airstrikes on AA positions. 

More than 90 Burma Army troops reportedly surrendered to the AA after it captured a base and a large cache of weapons in Maungdaw Township on Monday. Nine towns in Arakan State and Paletwa Township in southern Chinland have been seized by the AA since fighting resumed with the military on Nov. 13.

AYEYARWADY—Pathein Prison has imposed restrictions on the amount of food families of political prisoners can send to their relatives in prison since March 20. “The order limits the delivery of dry noodles to only five packages at a time. I feel very uncomfortable because of these restrictions,” a political prisoner’s family member told DVB. 

Those who deliver parcels to the prison have been instructed to come alone, bring their National Registration Card (NRC), and additional documents from their local police station. Prisoners are required to select only one person per family to be allowed to visit on a regular basis. 

BAGO—A leader of a pro-military Pyusawhtee militia was killed in Minhla Township on Monday. Myo Myint Aung, the former chair of the People’s Pioneer Party (PPP), was found dead with gunshot wounds at his workplace. 

“There were 10 gunshots. He was sent to hospital but died on the way,” a Minhla Township resident told DVB. The militia leader allegedly helped with military conscription. Prior to his work with the PPP, Myo Myint Aung was a member of the military-proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). 

KACHIN—An administrator in Nammun, Mohnyin Township, was killed on Tuesday. “He was shot on the way to the market. It was at close-range and he died instantly,” a Nammun resident told DVB. At least 36 administration officials have been killed and 11 others have been injured for allegedly recruiting military conscripts, according to DVB data. 

Min Aung Hlaing said his military regime is only holding power ‘temporarily’ at its Armed Forces Day event and parade in Naypyidaw on Wednesday, March 27. (Credit: Reuters)

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