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Border Guard Force rebrands as Karen National Army; Brotherhood Alliance condemns martial law in its territory

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Border Guard Force rebrands as Karen National Army

Karen State residents living in areas under the control of the Border Guard Force (BGF) said that it has rebranded as the Karen National Army and is trying to recruit locals. Signboards have been posted in BGF territory promoting the name change.

Saw Tin Win, a senior BGF commander, told the Karen Information Center (KIC) that the decision to change the name and stop receiving support from the military was made during a BGF leaders meeting in February.  

Regime officials have met several times with Saw Chit Thu, the BGF leader, according to residents. The Karen BGF was established in 2010 after it split from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and sided with the military. It has thirteen battalions that operate in Karen State along Burma’s border with Thailand. 

Brotherhood Alliance condemns martial law in its territory

The Brotherhood Alliance stated on Wednesday that martial law in Mantong, Namtu, and Namhsan townships – under Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) control – could jeopardize the agreement brokered by China on Sunday.

“We are really concerned about the implementation of the Haigeng Agreement, which was made between the military council and our alliance of three groups,” stated the Brotherhood Alliance.

Its two members, the TNLA and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), signed a ceasefire with the regime on Jan. 11. Its third member, the Arakan Army (AA), continues fighting in Arakan State. Martial law was enacted in the three Shan State townships on Monday.

Calls for UN Security Council to act on military conscription law

At least 398 civil society organizations (CSOs) issued a joint letter on March 1 calling on the U.N. Security Council to take immediate action to ensure “peace and stability” in Burma and the region after the military activated its conscription law on Feb. 10.

“In particular, we call on Japan, as the President of the UNSC in March 2024, to convene an emergency meeting to put forward a binding resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to impose targeted economic sanctions and a comprehensive arms embargo against the junta,” stated the letter. Read more here.

The “Three Years after the Coup” seminar in Bangkok on Sunday featured UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews and democracy activist Khin Ohmar. (Credit: Khin Ohmar)

Thailand hosts seminar on impact of Burma’s 2021 military coup

Thailand’s Parliament House in Bangkok hosted a seminar called “Three Years after the Coup, Towards a Democratic Myanmar and its Impact on Security Along the Thai Border” March 2-3. Members from the National Unity Government (NUG), Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs), and U.N. Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews attended.

“In spite of the possible differences in opinion or approach between the different bodies in Thailand, I think they all see that this is a time that they really must seriously address the crisis in Myanmar,” said Khin Ohmar, a human rights and democracy activist from Burma.

The regime’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a letter objecting to the seminar’s “negative impacts” on bilateral relations. Thailand’s Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-nukara canceled his speech at the event. Move Forward Party member Rangsiman Rome is the chairperson of Thailand’s Parliamentary Committee on National Security, Border Affairs, National Strategy, and National Reform, which hosted the seminar. 

“A successful constructive engagement that paves the way for a lasting political solution and a democratic future for Myanmar, will not only benefit the people of that nation but will also reaffirm Thailand’s commitment to regional stability and its dedication to collaborative action,” said Rome in his opening speech. 

News by Region

ARAKAN—The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) stated that 148,500 people in Arakan State, and in Chinland’s Paletwa Township, have become displaced since last November. It added that airstrikes and shelling have intensified as the AA draws closer to Sittwe, the state’s capital.

At least 21 civilians were killed and 30 others injured by a stray artillery shell that landed in a market in Sittwe on Feb. 29. The AA and military traded accusations over the attack. UNOCHA added that there are more than 2.7 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) nationwide. 

SHAN—Nam Pao village residents in Lashio Township have said that the TNLA has used forced labor and has confiscated motorcycles since it deployed troops in the area in December.

“They demanded that villagers supply water for their bathing needs and have required us to haul at least 20 buckets of water each day. The task of carrying water up and down the mountain is extremely difficult,” an unnamed Nam Pao villager told DVB. 

YANGON—At least 197 workers from the Full Way Myanmar Clothing garment factory in Hlaingthaya Township have not received compensation following its closure in January. “We demand payment for our gratuity. We have earned it through our work,” a worker told DVB. They called on the Workplace Coordination Committee to help deal with the factory owners. 

The Yangon Eastern District Court sentenced student leader Su Yee Lin to an additional ten years in prison under the Counter-Terrorism Law on Feb. 29. This brings Su Yee Lin’s sentence to a total of 15 years. Her aunt and another relative who appeared at the court on Feb. 28 were detained and questioned by troops. 

“She has asthma and is also suffering from a stomach disease since her arrest,” said an unnamed source close to the family. Su Yee Lin is the chair of East Yangon University Students’ Union. She was arrested while she was on her way to join an anti-coup protest in Thingangyun Township on Dec. 19. She was sentenced to five years in prison under incitement charges and for allegedly forging a National Identification Card. 

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