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Protest at UNHCR in Mae Sot and Bangkok; Another 21 Burma nationals arrested in Thailand

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Burmese in Thailand protest at UNHCR in Mae Sot and Bangkok

Burma nationals demanded rights for refugees in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Mae Sot on Feb. 13. A group called Maesot Myanmar Refugee Voice (MMRV) led the protest. One protester, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there have been incidents of Thai authorities extorting money from Burmese refugees, and she urged the UNHCR to protect them just as it has safeguarded Ukrainian refugees. The MMRV told DVB that refugees have not received any protection from the UNHCR, and many of them are still being held in Bangkok and Mae Sot immigration detention centers. A solidarity protest was reported in front of the UNHCR office in Bangkok. Burma nationals demonstrated in front of a prison and the chief district officer’s house in Mae Sot on Feb. 6 . The Thai-Burma border town, Mae Sot, has seen a considerable influx of Burmese fleeing political instability, war and violence since the coup.

Another 21 undocumented Burma nationals arrested in Thailand 

Twenty-one undocumented Burma nationals who entered Thailand by sea were arrested in southern Thailand’s Ranong province on Feb. 13, Thai media reported. They had to pay 18,000 baht ($531.72 USD) each to a broker to work at a construction site, according to the report.

People in Burma celebrate General Aung San’s birthday

Feb. 13 was the birthday of Bogyoke Aung San, who is assumed to be the “Father of the Nation” by many in Burma and was the father of Aung San Suu Kyi. To commemorate his birthday, people eat steamed peas (in Burmese, Pae Pyote) with Indian flat bread ( in Burmese Nan Pyar). He is believed to have frequently eaten this dish. To commemorate Aung San’s birthday, the Free Funeral Services Society of Yangon donated steamed peas and Indian flatbread to its volunteers while the resistance group Daw Na Column – which is based near Karen State – served steamed peas and Indian flatbreads to its members.

News by Region 

BAGO—Three locals were injured when a heavy shell fired by the Burma Army landed in a village of Nyaunglebin Township, in the territory of the Karen National Union’s (KNU) Brigade-3 on Feb. 11, according to locals. A civilian-owned rice warehouse is also reported to have been destroyed in the attack.  

KACHIN—Indawgyi Lake has been increasingly affected by illegal gold mining since the coup. The Ramsar Convention declared the lake Burma’s fifth Wetland of International Importance in 2018. Locals said that more than 100 acres around the lake have become shallow due to heavy mining. “Since the coup, illegal mining has significantly increased. Extensive gold mining has occurred near Minenaung and Mamonekine villages. As a result, mud has emerged and entered the lake, making it shallow,” a local told DVB.

At least two gem scavengers have been killed and others injured in a landslide at a jade pit in Hpakant’s Longhkin village on Feb. 12. “We currently have two bodies. Another four injured were sent to the hospital. We are now conducting search and rescue operations,” a volunteer who helped the victims told DVB. Locals estimated that at least 15 have been injured or killed. Four scavengers were killed in a similar incident on Jan. 30.

YANGON—A 100-household elder was shot by two unidentified gunmen on a motorbike on Feb. 12 in South Dagon Township, according to locals. “He was taken away in an ambulance. I am not sure if he died,” a local told DVB. Nine people, including one army major and three retired majors, were killed and another eight were wounded in shootings in Yangon Region in January.

An explosive was detonated at an administrative office in eastern Insein Township on Feb. 13, destroying some parts of the office building. “Four or five glass doors in the front of the office were broken,” a local told DVB. There were no casualties reported. On Feb. 12, there was a report of a homemade grenade being found in the township.  

TANINTHARYI—Seven family members, including children, were killed in their home on Feb. 11 in Ahlelkone village in Palaw Township, Tanintharyi Region. According to locals, the victims were family members of military-appointed administrator Myint Aung. The victims were identified as the administrator’s wife 61-year-old Kyin Nwet, the administrator’s daughter 42-year-old Than Than Maw, along with his grandchildren: 17-year-old Nay Htet Thein, 16-year-old Zayar Aung , 13-year-old Soe Min Paing, nine-year-old May Zin Phyu, and one-year-old Maung Thar Thar. Martial law was recently imposed in Palaw Township, which has seen clashes almost daily since the coup. “Such action is unacceptable. We’ll look into which group did it,” an information officer of Myeik People’s Defense Force (PDF) told DVB. On Jan. 15, eight male villagers were killed and dumped in Bokpyin Township, Tanintharyi Region.

PODCAST—Australian journalist Phil Thornton discusses his book: “Restless Souls: Rebels, Refugees, Medics and Misfits on the Thai-Burma Border.” DVB English is on-demand via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Tiktok, Substack, SoundCloud, or here: https://link.chtbl.com/dvbenglish 

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