Daily Briefing: Monday, September 5, 2022

Daily Briefing: Monday, September 5, 2022

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Vicky Bowman and Htein Lin sentenced to one year in prison. Former British ambassador Vicky Bowman and her husband Htein Lin received one year in prison each for violating the Immigration Law, those close to the family told BBC Burmese. The junta’s press team confirmed that Bowman was sentenced to one year in prison for violating Sec. 13(1) of the Immigration Law. Meanwhile, Burmese citizen Htein Lin was also sentenced to one year in prison under Sec. 13(5) of the Immigration Law and Sec. 5 of the Registration of Foreigners Act. Junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun said that the conviction against Bowman is not connected to her work with the Myanmar Center for Responsible Business (MCRB), an organization that promotes ethical business practices in Burma.

Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint receive three more years in prison. The junta’s special court in Naypyidaw sentenced ousted leaders Win Myint, Aung San Suu Kyi and Min Thu to three years each in prison for electoral fraud on Sept. 2, according to sources. The court convicted the three of violating Sec. 130(a) of the Penal Code. They were accused of exerting influence over the Union Election Commission in the lead-up to the 2020 general elections. “Each of them was sentenced to three years imprisonment with hard labor,” the source said. Suu Kyi has been sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison so far. She is still awaiting more charges. 

NUG declares Aung San Suu Kyi’s home a heritage site. NUG declared that Aung San Suu Kyi’s family home, located on Yangon’s University Avenue Road in Bahan Township, should be protected as a cultural heritage site, and cannot be sold. The NUG’s Acting President Duwa Lashi La said the residence was designated as a “National Cultural Heritage” site – meaning no individual can have ownership of the land or home. The parallel government strictly prohibited its sale, citing the Counter-Terrorism Law, Cultural Heritage Protection Law (2019) and The Transfer of Immovable Property Restriction Act (1987). Two weeks ago, a junta court granted Aung San Oo – Suu Kyi’s brother – ownership of the property. The home was where Suu Kyi spent nearly two decades under house arrest.

Resistance groups form police forces in Sagaing townships. The NUG announced that it has formed People’s Police Forces in Kalay, Tamu and Watlet townships of Sagaing Region. On Sept. 1, the NUG’s Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration made the announcement in accordance with Sec. 14(b) of the People’s Police Force Law of 2022. Last month marked the one year anniversary of the establishment of the NUG’s Special Operation Force, which consists of 44 special commandos and snipers. Its members were sent to the Southern Military Command Region, which covers Yangon and Ayeyarwaddy regions and Mon State.

Min Aung Hlaing makes another trip to Russia. Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing will visit Russia to attend the 7th Eastern Economic Forum 2022 on Monday, state media announced Sep. 4. The forum is scheduled to receive attendees from China, India, Japan, Kazakhstan and other countries, Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper reported. The junta leader, who carried out the coup in Burma and installed himself as Prime Minister, has made two previous visits to Russia since the 2021 coup. The first was in June 2021 and the second was last July.

Regime plans to sell gold coins in the near future. The junta announced plans on Sept. 1 to sell gold coins as gold prices in Burma skyrocket, according to state media. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation stated it will sell 4 grams, 8.164 grams and 16.3 grams (one tical) worth of gold coins. However, the announcement did not specify when the coins would be available for purchase and the price of them. Yangon Gold Entrepreneurs Association (YGEA) said it started selling gold coins on Sept. 2, according to The Irrawaddy. The price of gold reached a record of over K3.6 million per tical. The junta’s Central Bank announced that it would inject US$200 million into markets to ease surging inflation. The bank previously sold three kinds of gold coins in 1991.

Regime bans a Karenni news outlet. The junta has banned the Kantarawaddy Times, a Karenni-based news outlet. State media reported Sept. 3 that its publication license had been revoked Aug. 29, stating it’s “not complying with the law.” The Kantarawaddy Times declared its publication license had expired in February 2020 and had not been renewed. Following the 2021 coup, the junta has banned at least 10 media organizations such as Myanmar Now, DVB, Khit Thit, Mizzima, 7 days News, Tachileik News Agency, Myitkyina News Journal, The 74 Media and Delta News Agency. The Irrawaddy has been charged under Sec. 505(a) of the Penal Code. Most banned media have continued to publish news despite threats from the junta.

Regime donates rice to beleaguered Sri Lanka. State media announced that the junta donated 10,000 tons of rice to Sri Lanka on Sep. 2. Twenty-thousand bags of rice were handed over at Asia World Port Terminal in Yangon by Aung Naing Oo, the junta’s minister of Economy and Commerce, who went on to state how he hopes to strengthen the relationship between the two Buddhist nations. Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Burma thanked junta chief, Min Aung Hlaing, for the donation as Sri Lanka is facing an economic crisis. Meanwhile, people of Burma are facing a crisis in rising commodity prices, economic instability, and food shortages for over one million internally displaced by conflict.

Burmese job seekers arrested in Thailand. Sixteen undocumented Burmese job seekers were arrested in Thailand by an undercover deputy township chief in Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son Province, according to Siamrath Thai news. On Sep. 1, The Pang Mapha Township Police Chief told reporters that 16 Burmese job seekers, two Thai smugglers, and a guide, were arrested. According to reports, an undercover officer infiltrated the group gathered in a forest, located in Pang Mapha District, on Aug. 30. The 16 Burmese job seekers were traveling from Shan’s Pinlon town to Chiang Mai, Thailand. They paid from 20,000 to 25,000 Thai baht per person for the crossing. Thai authorities are cracking down on illegal border crossings.

News by Region

AYEYARWADDY—State media reported Sept. 3 that 19 members of the Black Dragon Force Pyapon-BDFP and Maubin PDF were arrested on Aug. 29 and 31 in Pyapon and Yangon. The report went on to state that the alleged PDF members were captured along with weapons and ammunition. The junta accuses the 19 of assassinating six military informants, carrying out six bombing attacks on administrative offices and Mytel telecom towers. A source close to the 19 arrested told DVB that they were not PDF fighters, but mainly local youth. “They are not PDFs. There were some guerrilla forces involved. And most locals from Pyapon were arrested, accusing them of being PDFs,” he said.

RAKHINE—A young man was killed by police in front of the No. 36 Police Battalion near Sittwe University on Sept. 4, according to local sources. The victim is reported to be a 20-year-old Muslim man. The motive is not yet known. It is said that the victim’s body was taken by a police car to the mortuary at Sittwe Hospital. In Rakhine State, fighting between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army has intensified. Forces have set up security checkpoints.

MANDALAY—Aung Naing Thu, a member of Mandalay Education Degree College Students’ Union, was sentenced to three years in Obo prison on Sep. 1 by a junta court. He was charged under Sec. 505(a) following a rally in Mandalay on May 12. Aung Naing Thu is a pro-democracy activist who has been held in solitary confinement since last August because of his alleged role in a prison strike, according to the All Burma Federation of Student Unions. The ABFSU went on to state that Aung Naing Thu was transported to court in a wheelchair on Sep. 1 due to injuries sustained by prison officials.

A junta court also handed prison sentences to four members of the Mandalay Revolution Strike (MRS) on Aug.31. Kyaw Thiha Soe was arrested on Aug. 16, 2021 and was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment under Sec. 52(b) and and three years under Sec. 505(a). Hein Min Zaw, Kyaw Soe Moe and Ma Jar Sai Aung were sentenced three years each on Sept. 1. MRS demanded the immediate release of the detainees.

YANGON—A man who allegedly robbed an AYA bank on Pyay Road, Hlaing Township, and escaped, was arrested by security forces on Sept. 2. Security forces apprehended a masked man following the incident, according to local sources. “I don’t know if he is the real culprit, but security forces beat and arrested a man on 2 Myankantha Road. People in the ward said he is the culprit,” a resident in Hlaing Township told DVB. The 29-year-old suspect is now being held at Hlaing Myoma Police Station. State media announced that it will take action against him in accordance with the law. There have been at least 10 reported incidents of bank robberies across Burma since the coup.

A 100 household administrator from No 3 ward, Hlaing Thar Yar township, was shot dead on Sept. 1, according to local sources. “It happened around 4 p.m. and he was killed on the way to the hospital. It is unknown who did it,” a source close to the administration office told DVB. On June 9, an administrator from No 20 ward was also shot and killed by unidentified gunmen.