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Criticism over plans to resume Myitsone dam project in Kachin; Calls for action to halt violence in Arakan

Criticism over plans to resume Myitsone dam project in Kachin

The military regime announced on May 17 that it had formed a committee to manage the “Irrawaddy Myitsone-Myintnya-Myintwan Hydropower Project.” It will manage hydropower projects within the Ayeyarwady River basin, including the Myitsone dam project – 37 km from Myitkyina. 

“This Myitsone project is just a military strategy against the Kachin Independence Army and People’s Defense Force. We need to continue to tell the people about that. Many people know that they should not accept this project,” said Nan Pu, an ethnic Kachin political activist. 

The Myitsone dam project was initiated in 2009 under a previous military regime, but was suspended under President Thein Sein’s administration in 2011 following protests. Residents were concerned that the China-backed dam would negatively impact the ecosystem. It is estimated that the dam would generate nearly 20,000 megawatts of electricity.

Calls for action to halt violence in Arakan

Australia, Canada, the E.U., South Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S., released a joint statement on May 24 citing all are “deeply concerned” by the escalating violence against civilians. The U.N. states that 18.6 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid and 2.9 million are now Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Burma.

“The military regime is systematically restricting access to life saving humanitarian assistance. We are concerned about growing water and food shortages and the widespread denial of access to healthcare, medicines, and vital humanitarian services. The continued blocking of roads and telecommunications in areas of conflict is hindering humanitarian delivery and access to information,” added the joint statement.

It also called on the military and the Arakan Army (AA) to ensure the protection of civilians in Arakan State and to comply with the provisional measures set out by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its 2019 genocide case against Burma to protect the Rohingya.

Malaysia group calls for protection of Rohingya 

The Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization in Malaysia called on the U.N., the E.U., the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and others to prevent “genocidal actions” against Rohingya in Buthidaung Township of Arakan State. It claimed that the military and the AA have killed Rohingya and injured thousands of others.

“The military and AA must be held accountable for the genocide without further delay. The ICJ and [International Criminal Court] process must be ongoing…in order to deliver justice to the victims of Rohingya genocide,” stated Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani, the president of MERHROM. 

The AA took control of Buthidaung on May 18. Over 7,500 homes and at least six mosques were destroyed by arson in Buthidaung, where an estimated 260,000 Rohingya live. The AA has called accusations that it has committed attacks against Rohingya as “baseless” and “one-sided.” 

News by Region

New conscripts were registered for military service at regime administration offices in Naypyidaw on May 26. (Credit: Regime media)

NAYPYIDAW—Around 300 military conscripts were sent to interrogation centers in Pobbathiri Township on Monday, according to anonymous sources close to the regime. “[Regime Minister of Defence] General Tin Aung San ordered it,” the source told DVB. At least 5,000 new conscripts have attended 15 military training schools since the regime activated its conscription law on Feb. 10. 

ARAKAN—The United League of Arakan (ULA/AA) Humanitarian and Development Coordination Office (HDCO) states that 179 civilians have been killed from Nov. 13 – when the AA launched its offensive against the military – to March 21. The HDCO claimed that there are nearly 360,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The U.N. stated that there are also 154,000 Rohingya IDPs in Arakan.

CHINLAND—A father and his 11-year-old son were killed during an airstrike on a village located in Tedim Township on May 26. “It occurred when everyone was asleep. A fighter jet dropped a 500-pound bomb,” a Chin resistance group spokesperson told DVB. Ten houses and a school were damaged. 

SHAN—Bus operators report that the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP), and the Burma Army all operate checkpoints on the Muse-Mandalay Road near the border of China. Each armed group has demanded payments from bus companies, arrested its passengers, and has confiscated their belongings.  

MON—Two civilians were killed and five others were injured when an artillery shell landed in a village located in Bilin Township on May 24. “One [of the two victims was hiding] in a bomb shelter. All the nearby villagers are scared,” a Bilin resident told DVB. Ten houses were damaged during the artillery attack.

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