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Bangladesh hands over Border Guard Police to Burma; Thai Embassy in Yangon limits visa applicants

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Bangladesh hands over Border Guard Police to Burma

Bangladesh returned 330 Border Guard Police and military personnel from Burma, who had fled across the border from attacks by the Arakan Army (AA) in northern Arakan State earlier this month, the Daily Star reported

A Burma Navy ship transported the Border Guard Police and military personnel from Cox’s Bazar, near the Burma border, back to the country under the supervision of Bangladeshi and regime authorities on Thursday.

Bangladesh security forces have intensified surveillance along its border since November in response to the renewed fighting between the AA and the Burma Army. A Rohingya man and a Bangladeshi woman were killed in southeastern Bangladesh by a mortar shell fired from Burma on Feb. 5.

Regime leader tells diplomats to study conscription law

Min Aung Hlaing told regime diplomats in Naypyidaw on Feb. 14 that they must study the People’s Military Service Law and the Reserve Forces Act “thoroughly” to be able to clarify the details of the laws to their host countries.   

He wants them to make the international community aware of what he calls the “actual situation” in Burma. The regime enforced mandatory conscription on Feb. 10 which was enacted in 2010 under a previous regime but had not been enforced up until now. The law requires men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 to serve up to two years in the military. 

The regime established the “Formation of the Central Body for Summoning People’s Military Servants” on Tuesday to handle the recruitment of conscripts. Spokesperson Zaw Min Tun said there are 6.3 million eligible men and 7.7 million eligible women to serve in the military. 

People queue to apply for visas at the Royal Thai Embassy in Yangon on Feb. 14. (Credit: Royal Active Travels)

Thai Embassy in Yangon limits number of visa applicants

The Royal Thai Embassy in Yangon announced that it is limiting the number of visa applications to 400 a day starting on Feb. 15 in response to a surge of applications. Long queues have formed outside the Thai embassy since Wednesday. 

Visa applicants are being given a single queue number that cannot be transferred to anyone else. “The embassy is not actually closed, but people are being turned away due to the overwhelming number of applicants.” Phoenix Wings Travels And Tours, a Yangon-based travel agency that provides visa services, posted online. 

The Thai embassy’s directive comes as many people in Burma seek to flee the country due to the regime’s announcement that it will enforce military conscription. Zaw Min Tun added that recruitment of new conscripts will begin in mid-April after Thingyan.

News by Region

KARENNI—More than 40 Burma Army personnel were killed and 20 family members were arrested when resistance forces seized control of Shadaw town on Monday. The Karenni Army (KA), Karenni National Defense Force (KNDF) and Karenni National People’s Liberation Front (KNPLF) captured all military outposts after one month of fighting. 

“Our forces have cleared the area,” said Phone Naing, the KA adjutant general. Retaliatory airstrikes have been carried out on Shadaw for weeks. Resistance forces claimed that three women and three children were killed on Feb. 5. The towns of Mese, Mawchi, and Ywarthit are also under KA, KNDF and KNPLF control.  

SAGAING—Budalin Township residents said that four People’s Defense Force (PDF) members were killed by the Burma Army in Nyaung Pyi Kan village on Feb. 14. “They were killed while providing security for the villagers,” said a Budalin resident. The Burma Army conducted military offensives in two villages and burned down civilians homes Feb. 12-13. 

MAGWAY—Hanthawaddy village residents recovered the body of a monk on Feb. 13. The monk was reportedly killed by a pro-regime militia from Gangaw on Monday. He was detained on Feb. 9 while giving a sermon, where he allegedly urged  militia members to defect to the People’s Defense Force (PDF). 

“The monk’s preaching addressed the increasingly difficult livelihood conditions, including the skyrocketing prices of basic goods, and encouraged people to join the PDF.” 

SHAN—Two people were killed and eight others were injured by airstrikes on a village in Hsihseng Township on Feb. 14. “There was no fighting in the area. It was shocking,” a Hsihseng resident told DVB. The Pa-O National Liberation Army (PNLA) has been fighting the Burma Army for control of Hsihseng since January. 

Residents of the capital Taunggyi have been notified to submit their household lists for compulsory military service on Feb. 14. Households with men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 are ordered to be included on the list. “The authorities are asking residents to submit their household information ward by ward,” said a Taunggyi resident. 

DVB Short Docs will be screened at Cinema Zita in Stockholm on Feb. 22. For more information, contact the Swedish Burma Committee. Follow DVB English News Podcast.

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