Daily Briefing: Monday, July 25, 2022

Daily Briefing: Monday, July 25, 2022

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Burma, international community outraged after state media heralds executions of Ko Jimmy and Zeya Thaw. Burmese military press today reported that prison authorities had overseen the execution of two of the country’s most esteemed democracy activists, Ko Jimmy and Phyo Zeya Thaw. The barbaric move has brought intense international condemnation and is likely to take tensions within Burma to an even deadlier new phase. Read more

Flailing CBM appoints soldiers to key managerial positons. Six lieutenant colonels were appointed to oversee the junta-backed Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) in June as Burma’s economy has gone into freefall, according to an announcement from CBM. They were transferred from the military’s headquarters and were made deputy directors of CBM starting from June 6. On June 10, two deputy directors at the bank were promoted to directors. CBM gave the directive on July 13 to halt the payments of overseas loans and canceled the exemptions of restrictions on foreign currency accounts for foreign companies. It also instructed that USD held in bank accounts of businesses with up to 35 percent foreign ownership be converted to Burmese kyat. As a result of the order, the price of US$1 soared to K2,300. The Burmese economy has been thrown into chaos due to the junta’s orders on currency and foreign trade. However, economists warned that only ordinary Burmese will suffer the consequences of the economy’s collapse. | BURMESE

ASEAN envoy talks of Min Aung Hlaing’s Suu Kyi meet “promise”. Cambodian Foreign Minister and ASEAN Special Envoy Prak Sokhonn claimed that junta leader Min Aung Hlaing promised him that he will have the chance to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi in the future, Phnom Penh post reports. The military denied Prak’s previous requests to meet with the ousted state counselor. “There are some legal procedures that we must respect, but I received a promise from [Min Aung Hlaing] himself that I will likely meet with [Suu Kyi] in the future,” he said. The special envoy made the comments at a video conference on July 21. The remarks come as Prak told Channel News Asia that he is planning a third trip to Burma. He also reportedly plans to try to use Suu Kyi’s adherence to non-violence to end violence in the country if he gets a chance to meet with her. Prak hopes to make his third trip to Burma in September, but he may also visit the beleaguered country in October. “The most important things we will ask, or discuss with her, is about her view on the future of Myanmar. How she sees the way out of the crisis, how her political influence could have weight on the political process, the political dialogue that could lead to peace and reconciliation,” the ASEAN special envoy said. Prak’s attempts to bring peace to Burma has seen little progress as the junta has flouted ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus.

Economic progress of past ten years undone by coup: World Bank. The World Bank’s Myanmar Economic Monitor (MEM) said in a press release that economic reforms and gains achieved during the period of NLD rule have been reversed. MEM’s findings found that Burma’s economy contracted 18 percent last year and is projected to only grow 3 percent in the fiscal year ending in Sep. 2022. The country’s GDP is estimated to still be around 13 percent lower than it was in 2019 and that poverty has doubled since March 2020. The World Bank said that 40 percent of the population of Burma now lives below the poverty line after nearly a decade of economic progress. It also said that the Burmese people will continue to face challenges as incomes shrink, food insecurity rises, and poverty soars as the country’s civil war rages. The war in Ukraine, power outages, the rise of costs of importing goods, and spreading conflict contributed to Burma’s economic woes. MEM also reported that the junta’s order for forced foreign currency conversions, trade license requirements have challenged businesses and companies to feel uncertainty over the military regime’s rapidly changing policies.

However, the World Bank said that some economic sectors have stabilized since the coup to bring small, but positive economic growth. The manufacturing sector and manufactured exports are said to have recovered in particular. Several construction projects also reportedly resumed after being paused last year. However, MEM claimed that rising inflation has inhibited economic growth. It also reported that CPI inflation in Burma increased to 17.3 percent in March. Rising oil prices globally and running of generators have also caused domestic fuel prices to rise. The World Bank said that the economic outlook of Burma looks weak in 2022 and beyond as the prices for food, fuel, and other imports are likely to stay elevated. Burma is also facing a shortage of USD which is integral to pay for imported products. MEM also stated that the country’s rapidly spreading civil war will also bring new economic challenges.

The junta’s policies are also likely to impede Burma’s economic potential. The press release said the regime’s trade and foreign currency restrictions have undone past economic reforms to liberalize trade. MEM said that the military’s promotion of economic self-sufficiency has made Burma’s economy more closed in contrast to recent efforts to open it. The junta’s policy changes will put Burma’s resources under greater control of the regime and will only benefit some, according to the World Bank. Burma’s economic outlook in the short and medium term will likely continue to look grim, the press release said.

ICJ decision heralded by Rohingya. Rohingya welcomed the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision to proceed with the Rohingya Genocide trial and have demanded a judgment be issued in the near future. “Rohingya in Maungdaw are very happy with the ICJ’s decision, but we are worried that refugees may face various issues if the case is drawn out. That is why the ICJ needs to quickly make a decision,” a Rohingya from Maungdaw told DVB. Rohingya have also urged the international community to apply pressure to the Bangladeshi government to repatriate the refugees back to Burma as Bangladesh authorities have only planned to send them to Bhasan Char Island. “Refugees need to be resettled in their original homes. I think they would come back if they were given equal citizenship and freedom of travel,” a Rohingya in Buthidaung township said. The international court rejected all preliminary objections submitted by Burma in the case and the ICJ decided to proceed with the case. Experts have said that the case may take years before a verdict is issued. | BURMESE

Deposed Mandalay head hit with further charges. Former Mandalay Chief Minister Dr Zaw Myint Maung was handed another three years in prison for charges under Sec. 130(a) the Election Law in Aung Myay Tharsan township on July 20, BBC Burmese reported. The charges were in relation to three members of the Regional Election Committee in Aung Myay Tharsan township regarding the 2020 general elections. This is Zaw Myint Maung’s second conviction and he was previously charged and sentenced to one year in prison under Sec. 171(f) of the Penal Code for allegedly violating the Election Law in Amarapura township. In addition to other convictions, the former Mandalay PM was sentenced to a total of nearly 30 years of imprisonment.

News by Region

AYEYARWADDY —The military has recruited and paid residents in Pathein to join their patrols, according to local sources. The military paid them K15,000 (US$8) for joining the patrols and K8,000 (US$4.30) for guarding gates and roundabouts from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The junta has reportedly been hiring civilians on a daily basis. “They said they will give K15,000 if we sit with them in their vehicles. They gave us guns but no bullets,” a civilian told DVB. Informants are said to be in charge of searching for new recruits. | BURMESE

AYEYARWADDY —Five civilians were arrested for an explosion at an EPC office in Kyangin township on the night of July 13. The office was attacked with remote controlled IEDs and soldiers arrested a man near the office that night, according to local sources. “They arrested people who were near the explosion and the detained were not allowed to say anything. They put one in a vehicle and the next morning they arrested two young men who passed through a checkpoint. Some people from a village were also arrested,” the source said. It is unknown where the arrested are being detained or what they were charged with. Their family members are also not allowed to have contact with them. | BURMESE

BAGO —30 Rohingya were arrested by security forces at Bubet Bridge Gate, Oke Shit Pin, Pan Daung township in Pyay district for undocumented travel, The Arakan Express News reported. 18 Rohingya women and 12

Rohingya men are from northern Maungdaw district, Rakhine State and were planning to go to Malaysia. They were being transported on a cargo truck by human traffickers when they were arrested at the bridge gate. They are now being detained at Oke Shit Pin Police Station.

KAREN —An outpost of the military backed Border Guard Force (BGF), located two miles away from Myawaddy, was attacked and seized by an unknown armed group at around 4 p.m. on Friday, according to sources of the armed group. Around 40 gunmen attacked the Tone Tada (aka Pwint Lin Aye Myaing) camp. One BGF personnel was killed, two were arrested, and four managed to escape. The exact casualties from the attack are unknown. The resistance force seized four guns during the raid. BGF reinforcements arrived shortly after the assault and fired heavy artillery with the aid of the military until 8 p.m. on Friday. | BURMESE

KARENNI —The Federal Nursing University, which was founded by CDM nurses, will open in Karenni State and will enroll 100 students for the 2022-2023 academic year, according to the Kantarawaddy Times. The Karenni Nurses Association (KNA) reported IDPs between the ages of 17 and 35 will receive priority enrollment. “With assistance from professional nurses, we’re developing a curriculum for the nursing programme and have six nurses who’ve volunteered to teach classes,” a representative of KNA said. She stated that prospective students must take an exam between July 25 and Aug. 15 to be considered for enrollment. The nursing course is being jointly organized by the NUG, KNA, and Karenni State Consultative Council and students can obtain a bachelor’s in nursing after completing the four-year program.  The announcement comes as many in Burma are not enrolled at universities due to boycotts of the junta’s education system and spreading armed conflict across the country.

MANDALAY—Two real estate agents were shot by two unidentified gunmen while they were at a tea shop in Pyigyidagun township in the city of Mandalay on July 24. One of the agents, Min Aung, was gravely injured in his chest and the other, Khin Maung Tint, was wounded in his leg and hands, according to police sources. The motives and group behind the attack remain unknown. | BURMESE

MANDALAY—A robbery took place at the Mawthit gold shop on 125th Road, Pyigyidagun township in the afternoon of July 14. Residents told DVB that two unknown gunmen came to the gold shop on a motorcycle and threatened to shoot employees before they looted the shop. “I heard that an employee of the shop was also shot in her leg,” a resident said. Besides the wounded employee, no casualties were initially reported. According to sources close to the police, the robbers stole K2,000 lakh (US$108,000) worth of gold. A Mawthit shop between 62nd and 63rd streets was also robbed on Oct. 17 of last year. Robberies and other crimes have been increasingly reported across Burma since the coup as rule of law has broken down. | BURMESE

MON —Over 4,000 residents from Kyaikhto township were forced to flee due to the military’s shelling, the KNU Brigade 1 in Thaton District announced. The Burma Army fired 50 rounds of artillery inside Win Kan and Zee Pyaung village tracts in Kyaikhto township from July 10 to 12. In addition, troops deployed inside a monastery near Theinzayat fired seven shells into the tracts on July 19, forcing thousands of residents to flee. The military intentionally targeted civilians at night time, a spokesperson of Thaton District PDF told DVB. According to the KNU Brigade 1, the IDPs are currently in need of food, medicine, and shelter. | BURMESE

MON —The military sealed off three houses in Thanbyuzayat township, including an NLD, according to sources close to the family of one of the homes seized. The houses of Min Aung, an NLD executive, and the activists Ye Lin Tun and Paing Soe, in Kyonkadat village, Thanbyuzayat township were sealed by security forces on July 21. The military claimed the houses were sealed off because the three were connected with a “terrorist group.” According to a local source, photos of Min Aung along with text claiming he was a “terrorist” were hung at the entrances of Thanbyuzayat. The family Min Aung was forced to flee from the home. The three individuals were charged under both Sec. 505(a) and the Anti-Terrorism Law. The military seized at least 10 houses of NLD members and activists in Mon State since the coup. activists were seized by the military after over a year of coup in Mon state. | BURMESE

RAKHINE —The Arakan Army (AA) announced that it released a township administrator and a driver who were arrested in Ponnagyun township at noon last Friday. Ponnagyun administrator Hla Shwe and his driver were arrested on the afternoon of July 17 by AA and released after a week. “I heard that their family got in contact with them. But I do not know how the military will respond,” a friend of the arrested told DVB. According to the AA, they were detained for questioning and released as they were not connected with “military issues.” Hla Shwe has served as the administrator for Ponnagyun under the junta since July 1. He was born in Buthidaung township and served as a deputy administrator for the township for many years. | BURMESE

RAKHINE —The police chief of Sanay, Kyauk Phyu township, was arrested by Arakan Army 9 (AA) troops on July 24 at around 8.00 a.m. A resident told the DVB that the chief Kyaw Zin Win was arrested at the town’s market while shopping in the morning. Military arrived after the incident and took up positions throughout the city and questioned locals, causing residents to panic and close markets and shops, the source added. “I have not heard of any arrests [of locals by the military] yet,” he said. AA has not yet commented on the incident. On July 23, AA released Hla Shwe, the administrator of Ponnagyun township and Maung Kyaw Naing, who were arrested on July 17. AA has accused the Burma Army of sending reinforcements to townships in northern Rakhine, leading to clashes to break out in the western state. The Rakhine EAO has arrested military personnel and the Burma Army has detained locals in retaliation. | BURMESE

RAKHINE —The Sittwe District Court sentenced two men from Aydin village in Ponnagyun township to three years in prison under the Anti-Terrorsim Law for alleged connections to the Arakan Army on July 20, according to a lawyer involved in the case. The two villagers, 27-year-old Nay Lin Htay and 33-year-old Maung Saw Aye, were convicted. “They were handed three years of imprisonment under Sec. 53(a) although they were also charged under Sec. 50(j). They were arrested in March 2020 and have to serve another six months in prison,” he told DVB. They were arrested at a Kyauktan checkpoint in Sittwe township while they were driving a motorcycle from Sittwe to Aydin village on March 5, 2020. A captain from the No. 908 Engineer Battalion charged the two on March 8, 2020. | BURMESE

RAKHINE —Around 50 villages are facing food shortages due to the military blocking off access roads to northern Maungdaw township, according to local sources. “We can go from Maungdaw to Kyain Chaung. They blocked the Kyain Chaung 24 Inspection Gate that was the gateway to the north. No vehicles or motorcycles are allowed,” a villager of Kyain Chaung told DVB. The blocking started after the Arakan Army conducted a landmine attack on a military vehicle near Myawaddy village, northern Maungdaw township on July 18. “As we cannot go to Maungdaw, we are unable to get food and rice and there is no fuel for motorcycles,” another villager said. The villages in the north of Maungdaw township have been surviving off the aid of the ICRC and WFP since the villages were affected by the military’s genocidal campaign in 2017. The military banned UN organizations, NGOs, and INGOs from traveling to the northern part of Maungdaw following a Rakhine State Security and Border Affairs meeting held in Sittwe on July 15. AA warned residents that clashes may intensify due to the military’s operations in Maungdaw township. Displaced residents sheltering in Pyilonchan Tha monastery were forced to flee as junta forces occupied the building on the morning of July 19. More than 50 military personnel with Division 22 badges were deployed at the refugee camp on July 19, built bunkers and ordered the refugees to move from the camp. Locals in Rathedaung have expressed concerns due to the military’s presence inside the town. | BURMESE

RAKHINE —The Kyaukphyu District Court sentenced eight men from Alechaung village in Ramree township and one man from Kyaukphyu to three years in prison under the Anti-Terrorism Law for alleged connections with AA, according to a lawyer involved in the case. A victim’s family told DVB that the sentences were “unjust.” The nine men arrested in July 2020 were charged by a captain of the 34th Infantry Battalion in Kyaukphyu on August 3, 2020, under Sec. 50(a)(i) and Sec. 52(a) of the Anti-Terrorism Law. | BURMESE

SAGAING —Four police officers in a tea shop in Salingyi township were shot dead by local defense forces at around 7 a.m. on Friday, according to local sources. Eight unidentified men in a vehicle opened fire at them when they were sitting in a tea shop near Salingyi Myoma Municipal market. “PDFs seized three guns from the officers, but we do not know which group was responsible,” a local source told DVB. In addition, army personnel deployed at a fire station were attacked in the township on the same day, but the casualties from the attack are unknown. Two of the slain police officers are said to have recently transferred to the township. The sound of gunfire was also heard inside Salingyi Police Station at around 7.30 a.m. the same day, according to locals. Security forces blocked off roads inside the town and checked passersby following the incident. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the killings. Footage of the shootings quickly circulated online and showed young men firing gunshots inside the tea shop while bystanders fled. None of the civilians in the shop were injured according to local news outlets. PDFs maintain a strong presence in Salingyi township. | BURMESE

SAGAING —Junta forces destroyed 823 homes in Ayadaw township from May 2 to July 13, the Ayadaw Township People’s Administration claimed on July 23. Eight villages were reportedly targeted in the arson attacks, with 618 houses torched in Malatha village, 89 houses in Shwedongone village, 39 in Sinta village, 27 in Yeocho village. 23 in Hintha village, eight in Thandawgone village, 11 in Sek village, and eight houses in Ruoshigyi village. Livestock, vehicles, and agricultural equipment were also destroyed during the arson attacks and food and valuables were also reportedly looted by the military, according to the announcement. The people’s administration said that the military’s actions were “inhumane terrorist acts against civilians” and the incidents must be reported to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Moreover, the team said it has been working on documenting victims killed by junta forces in the township. Locals expressed that thousands of families have been rendered homeless due to the Burma Army’s assaults in the war-torn township, and IDPs are in need of food, medical supplies, and shelter. | BURMESE

SAGAING —The military set fire to small shelters for IDPs in Yinmabin township at around 1 p.m. yesterday, according to local sources. 12 shelters in Bambwe forest were torched by troops deployed at Bambwe Ywarma village (where many Pyusawhti militiamen live). Refugees, including from the shelters, and residents in the area were forced to flee following the Burma Army’s arson attacks. The displaced are currently without shelter and are trying to survive in the forest. The military abducted more than 70 refugees in Bambwe Ywarma village and used them as human shields in recent days. None of them have been released yet, according to local sources. | BURMESE

N. SHAN —Two children and a man from Nyaung Ni village were killed on a farm in Momeik after activating an unexploded artillery shell fired by the military on July 21. Two cows were also killed in the explosion. “We heard continuous shelling at noon yesterday. Two children, a man, and two cows on the farm were killed. The mother left her children in a hut to look around the farm. Both her children were killed shortly after she left them,” a local source in Momeik told DVB. The military has been firing artillery constantly in the area since July 20, killing a KIA officer and two other members of resistance forces, a source told DVB. A clash broke out after the military fired artillery on the afternoon of July 21. The civilians were killed after the military’s 88th Division and an artillery battalion based in Twin Nge shelled the area following the fighting. The identities of the victims are unknown. “PDFs already warned people not to go to the farm to work with tractors as they were afraid people would not hear the sound of military helicopters. However, nearly all people here are farmers and have no choice but to do farm work,” another local told DVB. Two military vehicles stopped near Lat Khoat Tan ward and checked passersby following the incident. In Momeik, clashes between SSPP and the military have occurred since July 1 and sounds of gunfire and artillery have been frequently heard, according to local sources. | BURMESE

TANINTHARYI —An unidentified armed group attacked and set fire to a truck carrying fuel for airplanes traveling from Myawaddy on Asia Road, near the entrance of Kawkareik at around 10 a.m. last Saturday, according to travelers. “All kinds of goods are transported from Myawaddy. Fuel is also carried via Asia Road. It is dangerous to carry fuel for airplanes with this road because people do not support the military and will resist and destroy anything they (military) try to do,” a traveler told DVB. KNLA Brigade 6 already issued a warning not to travel in Myawaddy township and forbid the use of Myawaddy’s Waley Myaing Road. | BURMESE 

TANINTHARYI —Security forces and pro-military militias gunned down two residents in Launglone township on accusations of supporting PDFs in the early hours of July 25, according to locals and the Launglone Township People’s Defense Force (LLPDF). One victim, identified as Daw Pua (53), was from Tabawsate village and was killed by five armed men. According to a resident, the armed men claimed they were members of Kite Force (Sonye) during the incident. “She was not supporting PDF and only participated in previous protests. It is possible the killing was done because of a personal vendetta,” the local told DVB. Similarly, the police and Pyusawhti militiamen shot dead Zaw Win in Maungmakan village early on July 25. The victim was shot dead in front of his family and two phones, a gold ring, and a car were stolen during the killing, according to the LPDF. Seven locals in the township have been reported to have been killed by the military and Pyusawhti in June. | BURMESE

YANGON —Bus commuters in Yangon faced difficulties taking buses due to the insufficient supply of compressed natural gas (CNG), which bus lines and private taxis are especially reliant on, on July 22 and July 23. As a result of gas shortages, the number of buses available during commuting hours has decreased, creating issues among the city’s daily commuters and causing crowds to form at bus stops across Yangon. Since Friday, residents have complained about the shortage of buses on social media. Charity groups used their vehicles to provide free transportation for locals at bus stops in some townships. A broken CNG pipeline was responsible for the shortage of gas, according to taxi and bus drivers. Junta authorities have not issued any announcements about the shortage and it is unclear how long they will persist for.

YANGON —The military raided a house in North Dagon township on the evening of July 24, killing two after gunfire was exchanged and arrested three others. It is currently unclear which group was targeted. “The sound of gunfire was very loud. I heard around 50 gunshots. I saw two dead,” a resident said. There are also reports of military casualties but DVB was unable to independently confirm this information yet. | BURMESE

YANGON —Regime authorities imposed gathering restrictions and a night curfew in four Yangon townships, including three downtown neighborhoods. The townships are Bahan, Lanmadaw, Botataung, and Thanlyin. Gatherings of five or more in public places, including roads and parks, have been banned in each township and a curfew has been issued between 12.00 a.m. and 4.00 a.m. The orders, which were issued on July 22, are said to be in force until further notice. | BURMESE

YANGON —The state-owned MRTV compound on Pyay Road, Kamaryut township was attacked with grenade launchers this morning, Khit Thit Media reported. The resistance group Yangon-E UG claimed responsibility for the attack. “We attacked with both an M79 and another grenade launcher. We fired the explosives at the MRTV office,” Paing Lay, a member of the resistance group, told the outlet. A resident also corroborated reports of the attack. However, MRTV denied that the attack took place on its Telegram channel and some other news sources said that no explosions were heard at the compound.

YANGON —An IED was activated at the electric offices of Kyauktada and Pabedan townships at the corner of 39 street and Merchant Road, at around 11.45 a.m. today, according to locals and resistance forces. “The area from Merchant Road until Bo Aung Kyaw Road is blocked off. Ambulances and military trucks are currently arriving,” a local told Khit Thit Media. The urban guerrilla Toxic Boy confirmed it attacked the two offices with hand grenades. “We attacked the two gates of the two electric offices on Merchant Road,” the group said. The military also searched 38, 39, and Seikkantha roads.

YANGON —The Yangon office of Thailand’s energy giant PTTEP, which cooperates with the military’s MOGE in running Burma’s gas and oil fields, was bombed today in Mayangone township, Khit Thit reported. The IED detonated at the parking lot on the first floor of the office on Sae Myaung Yeik Thar street at around 10.30 a.m. today. There were no reported injuries. However, security forces conducted an investigation by blocking off the building and did not allow vehicles to leave. PTTEP is now the principal operator of the Yadana gas field, which is one of the largest generators of foreign currency for the junta, following the French oil company Total’s exit from Burma.

YANGON —An administrator checking guest lists at an administration office in Kan Oo Kyaung Road in Bandula ward, Okekan township was shot by an unidentified man yesterday evening, according to local sources. The gunman entered the office claiming to make a register on a guest list and shot the administrator. “A man with a motorcycle arrived and entered the office for the guest list, so we let him in. Then he opened fire,” the source told DVB. The administrator was shot in his shoulder, ear, and hands and was sent to Taikkyi Hospital. The shooter escaped but the police are searching for him. Security forces later guarded the office and checked passersby. Some alleged military informants in Okekan township were shot dead by gunmen in previous months. | BURMESE