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China begins talks with military and Brotherhood Alliance; Burma now world’s largest opium producer


China begins talks with military and Brotherhood Alliance

Regime spokesperson Zaw Min Tun stated that China brokered talks between the military and the Brotherhood Alliance on Dec. 11. He added that two parties will meet again at the end of December. 

“[The military] is in a much weaker position than just a few weeks ago. And it’s really in the midst of an existential crisis where it’s on a daily basis seeing more and more territory lost, more and more troops lost, and really has no clear pathway towards reversing this state of affairs,” said Jason Tower, the country director for the Burma program at the U.S. Institute for Peace (USIP).

The Brotherhood Alliance members the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army (AA), launched Operation 1027 in northern Shan State on Oct. 27. It has spread nationwide as resistance forces have now seized over 200 military outposts and 20 towns from the military.

Burma now world’s largest opium producer

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) stated that Burma has surpassed Afghanistan as the world’s largest producer of opium. Areas under poppy cultivation in Burma rose to 47,100 hectares in 2023. This is an 18 percent increase from last year. 

The UNODC estimated the potential dry opium production in Burma to be 1,080 metric tons in 2023, the highest number it has recorded since 2001. Shan State accounts for 88 percent of the cultivation area. Farmers there have reported a surge in poppy production since the 2021 military coup. 

Hundreds of Indonesians protest in Pidie, Aceh Province outside of a facility providing temporary shelter for Rohingya refugees on Dec. 8 (Credit: Reuters)

UN ‘alarmed’ by anti-Rohingya sentiment in Indonesia 

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) states that over 300 Rohingya arrived in Aceh over the weekend. This adds to the 1,400 Rohingya staying in temporary shelters after landing in Indonesia this year, 1,200 of which have arrived since November.

“I am afraid that we will be forced to leave Aceh because I left all my family there [in Bangladesh] and I don’t know where else to go,” said Hazara Hatun, 30, who arrived last month with her three children. 

Indonesian media reported that 135 new Rohingya arrivals have been relocated to the provincial governor’s office due to a protest. “There are still many poor people here. Why should we take care of thousands of Rohingya who cause many problems?” said Ella Saptia, a 27-year-old Aceh resident. 

News by Region

ARAKAN—Maungdaw residents said that shells fired by a Burma Navy ship displaced more than 5,000 people from Ale Than Kyaw beach in Maungdaw Township since Dec. 11. 

AYEYARWADY—A source close to the police said that some of the 118 people arrested in connection with the destruction of Mytel telecom towers since January have been charged under the Telecommunications Law. “Many of them have not been charged but are still detained,” said a relative of one of the detainees. 

CHIN—Paletwa residents claimed that three civilians were killed and at least 13 were injured by retaliatory airstrikes after the AA seized two military bases in Paletwa Township. The AA stated on Dec. 11 that it had captured the Hnonebu tactical base in Paletwa Township after 27 days of fighting. 

The AA claimed a tactical operations commander with the Burma Army was killed along with an unknown number of soldiers. It seized control of the Taronai base on Dec. 4. Hnonebu and Taronai bases are located near the borders of Bangladesh and India. 

KARENNI—Thirty-two police officers and six members of the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) were reported killed during an attack to seize control of the Karenni State Police Headquarters in Loikaw on Dec. 9. “We were unable to even have a proper funeral for them,” said the family member of a killed police officer. 

SAGAING—Thirty-five children and four officials detained during a Burma Army raid in Khampat were rescued on Dec. 11, reported the Myanmar Pressphoto Agency. The People’s Defense Force (PDF) under the National Unity Government (NUG) seized control of Khampat on Nov. 7 but the Burma Army is attempting to retake the town. 

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