Daily Briefing: Monday, August 29, 2022

Daily Briefing: Monday, August 29, 2022

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Former British ambassador and her husband charged under Immigration Law. The junta said it arrested and charged Vicky Bowman – the former British ambassador to Burma – and her husband, artist Htein Lin under Sec. 13(1)/ 13(5) of Immigration Law and the couple may face up to five years in prison. It issued a statement on Thursday in response to media questioning about the reason for the arrests of the couple who were arrested at their home in Sanchaung Township in Yangon on Wednesday. According to the statement, the couple failed to report to an administration office about their move to Kalaw, Shan State as their residency was registered to their house in Yangon. The regime’s immigration office registered her stay in Yangon on March 9, 2022. However, the couple moved to Htein Lin’s house in Kalaw on Oct. 21, 2021 and lived there until Aug. 9. It said she was charged under Immigration Law as she failed to report her new place of residency.

For Htein Lin, the junta claimed he encouraged and assisted his wife despite knowing she was breaking the law, and was also charged under Sec. 13(5). The duration of Bowman’s visa is from Oct.21, 2021 to Oct.22, 2022, the junta said. The couple was initially detained in Insein Prison but Bowman is now being held in Sanchaung Police Station and Htein Lin in Kyimyindaing Police Station.

The Central Bank accuses the media of spreading panic. The junta’s Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) issued an announcement on Aug. 27 accusing “illegal online media” of causing panic by reporting on foreign currency shortages and the rising prices of fuel and other commodities. It has also urged the public not to trust “incitement” from “illegal media.” The announcement said that CBM has been working with local banks and major fuel companies to bring down the price of fuel and make foreign currency easier to obtain. The announcement claimed the devaluation of the Burmese kyat is due to the US Federal Reserve raising interest rates, causing the value of USD to rise. CBM also warned that it will take action against “illegal businesses selling or buying foreign currency online” and urged people not to use these services. Despite the junta repeatedly claiming it is attempting to stabilize foreign exchange rates, the price of basic goods continues to rise in Burma. As of Aug. 28, the price of US$1 is more than K3,000 in local markets, while CBM’s exchange rate is K2,100.

Burmese workers die in a road accident in Thailand. Four undocumented migrants from Burma were killed and nine others injured in a car acident on Highway 323 in Thailand’s Sangkhla Buri District, near the Thai-Burma border, early Sunday morning, Bangkok Post reported. Despite the risk of being caught and death due to similar accidents, the number of undoumented workers from Burma seeking jobs in Thailand and Malaysia – especially youths – has dramatically increased after the coup.

News by Region

AYEYARWADY —The military arrested at least 15 locals, mostly young men, following the killing of two women including a General Administration Department staff member. The administration staff Hnin Wai Khaing was accused of being a military informant and was shot dead with her friend Noe Noe Wai on Aug. 23 in Pyapon. The local defense force Black Dragon Force Pyapon claimed to have carried out the attack. It also warned those involved in the arrest of “locals unrelated to the killings” will suffer fates similar to the two assassinated women.

MANDALAY —A pro-military group hosted a prayer ceremony in Mandalay on Saturday morning for two civilians who were killed during a botched operation by urban guerrillas. The group gathered at the corner of 30 and 57 streets, then walked along 30 street for two minutes. Locals told Mizzima that none of the people in the group are from Mandalay except some who led the ceremony. “They walked fast and then left quickly. All of them were strangers we had never seen before. They then went back to their vehicles,” a local source said. A couple was wrongfully shot dead by a local resistance force at the corner of 30 and 57 streets on Aug. 23. Tiger Force Mandalay mistakenly killed the couple allegedly due to bad intelligence and their intended target is still on the run. The force issued an apology the next day and promised to take responsibility for the killings.

RAKHINE —At least two locals were killed and five more were seriously injured by the military’s indiscriminate shelling in Kinseink village, Mrauk-U Township on the evening of Aug. 28. Intense fighting between the AA and Burma Army has reignited in Rakhine State. During the battle, a 70-year-old woman and a 4-year-old child from Kinseink village are reported to have been killed while they were fleeing after a heavy shell landed in the village. “At 4.30 p.m. on Aug. 28, heavy shells fell into the village and two people died on the spot. The remaining five are in critical condition,” a woman from a local aid group told DVB.

SAGAING —Five bodies of PDF members who were shot dead by the military were discovered near Chaungma A Nout village, Kanni Township on Friday morning, according to local sources. “It seems like they were killed yesterday. The bodies were set on fire in a vehicle. Officials have been notified and are already collecting the bodies,” a local source told DVB. Local defense forces said it is possible that the slain resistance fighters were shot by the Burma Army while they were sheltering from the rain in a house in the village. “Three were from Yinmabin PDF and the two were from Kyauklonegyi PDF. They were tortured before they were killed. Their weapons, money, phones and even shoes were taken by the military,” Bo Thurein, leader of Yinmabin PDF, told DVB. The troops that killed five PDF members conducted offensives on villages in the area on Aug. 27, and arrested three civilians, according to local sources. Fierce fighting broke out where the military conducted its operations from Aug.11 to 27. Likewise, junta forces killed civilians in Pale, Kanni and Yinmarbin townships and torched thousands of houses.

SHAN —Inspection gates in Wanting and Shweli-Wanting bridge, in Shan State, on the Burmese-China border, were temporarily closed after a person tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday evening, according to border traders. “A noodle shop in Wanting has been closed for a while because of a COVID-19 infection,” a trader in Shweli told DVB. The ward where the noodle shop is located is under lockdown and the bridge is also temporarily closed. Cargo trucks that already arrived in Wanting were allowed to travel from the gate. The gates will reopen after the situation stabilizes after mass testing is conducted. However, Kyin San Kyawt-Wanting border gate remains open. According to merchants, authorities of Wanting highway, Jiangqiao, and Heishanmen inspection gates have been informed that the gates will be temporarily closed after the infection was found on the evening of Aug.25. Officials also ordered locals not to go outside unnecessarily and follow COVID-19 guidelines and they will take action in accordance with the law if anyone fails to follow them. People that depend on border trade expressed concerns that the outbreak will worsen and trade between the two countries will be affected as it is a central trading spot on the China-Burma border. The two countries’ border gates were closed for two years due to COVID-19 and Kyin San Kyawt-Wanting gate was reopened at the end of 2021.

TANINTHARYI —NUG’s Tanintharyi Region Military Command issued an emergency warning on Friday to locals and travelers to refrain from unnecessary travel to avoid fighting as clashes may spread due to the military conducting a massive offensive on the town of Myitta, Dawei District. According to local sources, over 200 military personnel in military vehicles were deployed on the Dawei-Htikhi road at around 3.30 a.m. on Friday and conducted an offensive. The military also fired small and heavy weaponry when it entered the town, according to the warning. “The military convoy used jammers to cut off cell phone lines used for [remote controlled] bombs as well as communication in the area. Once the jammers were used, we couldn’t use cell phone bombs and had to rely on landmines,” a PDF member told DVB. In early July, clashes between the military and PDF escalated after the Burma Army conducted an offensive in the area, resulting in casualties on both sides. The military arrested villagers and stole valuables as well as set fire to homes, according to local defense forces.

YANGON —Twenty necklaces worth K10 million (US$4,700) each were taken in a robbery at TT Diamond Jewelry shop on Baho Road, Kamayut Township on Thursday, according to sources close to the gold shop. Two young men wearing red face masks entered the shop and threatened staff with a knife and a pistol, and took 20 platinum gold necklaces. A source close to the administration confirmed the robbery and that nearly K200 million (US$95,000) was stolen. “They didn’t shoot anyone, but they used a smoke bomb before they left the shop and planted something that looked like a bomb,” the source said. Security forces carried out an investigation along Baho Road following the robbery.