Daily Briefing: September 7, 2021

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

THE DAILY BRIEFING

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2021

After months of speculation, the Acting President of Burma’s National Unity Government, Duwa Lashi La, announced that Burma’s “D-Day” began today. In a seven-minute-long rallying cry published to Facebook, he called for the commencement of “a national uprising” and a “people’s defensive war”, suggesting that coordination between Burma’s revolutionary fighting forces has reached a tipping point.

Junta spokesperson, Zaw Min Tun, dismissed the announcement as a ploy by NUG to redirect the international community’s attention back to Burma before the 76th session of the UN General Assembly on 14 September, where countries will compare the credentials of both NUG and the Tatmadaw and, in theory, decide which body represents the nation. Zaw Min Tun also alleged that NUG were attempting to interfere with a plan, announced yesterday, between ASEAN’s Special Envoy and the military for a “ceasefire” to allow for the vaccination of Burma’s citizens. Critics yesterday tore apart ASEAN’s suggestions, pointing at the Tatmadaw’s history of using breaks in war to intensify campaigns in ethnic areas, and questioning why the envoy had spoken in depth with the usurping junta regime whilst apparently failing to contact any representatives of the elected CRPH, NUG, or EAOs. 

Following Duwa Lashi La’s speech, Burma today experienced a number of violent incidents. However, as these were similar to events recorded over previous months, it is difficult to tell how coordinated they are in relation to the D-Day announcement.

Many commentators expect “D-Day” to first manifest in the regions, where EAOs and PDFs loyal to the NUG have long established liberated bases from where to launch operations. After NUG’s announcement, the EAOs and PDFs which have consistently asserted their allegiance to the parallel government—the CDF, KIA and KNU—aired their commitment to commencing a defensive war. 

  • Coinciding with these statements, a battle between KNU 4 Brigade and the Tatmadaw broke out at Palaw, Tanintharyi Region at 9.30a.m. At around the same time, an intense skirmish occurred between the KIA’s 8th and 9th Divisions and the Tatmadaw in Homalin township, Sagaing Region. DVB currently has no information on casualties. 
  • Last night, at least 20 soldiers were killed yesterday after an alliance of the Chinland Defence Force and the Jade Defence Force attacked Tatmadaw troops on the border of Kanpetlet and Saw, Magway Region. Although we currently have no word on the creation of a firm NUG martial chain of command, Deputy Defence Minister, KNU’s Padoh Manh Manh, has confirmed the existence of a comprehensive system of cooperation between EAOs and PDF groups. 

Most speculation on the matter considers that the KIA will hold operations in the north of Burma, the CDF the west, the KNU south, and a coalition of PDF groups the center. We have seen a number of announcements from PDF groups signalling the formation of inter-regional and inter-city alliances over the past two weeks, suggesting that coordination between civilian resistance forces is intensifying.

As such, we can expect to see an uptick in urban guerilla attacks on military personnel and infrastructure, and the trend does appear to have begun today with a notable increase in urban operations:

  • Beikthano PDF claimed to have attacked five targets this morning in Magway Region, including security forces who had been guarding a bank. The group also claimed to have hit a security post outside the headquarters of the Tatmadaw’s 103 Light Infantry Division in Taungdwingyi.
  • In a notable incident, the People’s Revolutionary Association (PRA) fired four 107mm rockets at Magway Air Force Base, according to a statement released by the group. The PRA is a defense force of students and youths from the Magway region. The attack followed early reports from local residents of intense activity within the base since the early morning. It is the first time that a PDF group has openly claimed to have used rockets against a Tatmadaw position.
  • An unidentified group destroyed six generators of cellular towers owned by military-backed telecoms operator Mytel in Butalin township, Sagaing, according to local sources. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the sabotage.
  • Two bombs exploded in Kalemyo, Sagaing Region; one by the city hall and another by a police station. There were no casualties but reports say a passerby was injured by ensuing police gunfire. 
  • The home of a teacher who was not participating in Burma’s CDM movement was targeted with a homemade explosive early this morning in Mandalay. Nobody was injured in the blast. It is the second time that the home had been targeted.
  • A bomb exploded in a primary school which had been camped by junta troops in Mogok, Mandalay Region, this afternoon. According to witnesses, troops responded to the blast by firing indiscriminately. There were no reports of casualties.
  • A well-known military informant has been shot dead outside his home in Hlaing township, Yangon. Han Gyi was shot six times whilst repairing his bicycle, sources say.
  • A bomb exploded at a police hut at Yangon’s Bayintnaung junction at 10a.m. this morning. Security forces fled the scene, but returned shortly after. No casualties have been reported.

Civilian populations reacted quickly to the news. Within minutes of the NUG announcing a “D-Day”, supermarkets and pharmacies across Burma filled with panic buyers. By early evening, most streets of major cities were eerily quiet. 

  • Mandalay University’s Student Union urged all students to partake in the uprising to overthrow the junta. “Mandalay’s Student Union has always been at the forefront of the fight against fascism, and will be at the forefront of the armed uprising”, the statement said.

In response to NUG’s speech, we predictably saw the Tatmadaw increase their presence in Burma’s major cities. 

  • In Yangon, jets flew over the north of the city, and armoured trucks returned to the streets of downtown Yangon. The Tatmadaw also took defensive positions in a number of Yangon’s shopping malls. Last week, DVB received news that military troops had camped Yuzana Plaza in Mingalar Taungnyunt. This morning, troops moved to take AKK Plaza in Thingangyun.
  • Outside of the cities, preparations appeared to be underway for an intensification of regional clashes. Local witnesses reported that a large number of fighter jets from Tatmadaw Air Force bases in Meiktila and Magway were deployed following NUG’s announcement. 
  • Rumours from Kalaw suggest that the railroad linking the town to other strategic points such as Pyin Oo Lwin, Naypyidaw, and Yangon, began running after months of closure, suggesting troop or logistical movements. Military accounts on Facebook spread a rumour that the SAC held an emergency meeting at 2p.m. to discuss war plans, despite the absence of second-in-command, Gen. Soe Win, who is still in Russia. 
  • The increased use of force was certainly evident in some military attacks today. A PDF camp in Myaung, Sagaing was destroyed after the navy attacked it with artillery from positions on the Ayeyarwaddy River. According to a PDF leader, 100 soldiers launched a raid which dispersed the resistance force. Security forces have led a long campaign of abduction against CDM civil servants in Myaung. 

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  • In other news, two of the TMDs regional commanders have been court martialed. Brig. Gen. Thant Zin Oo, commander of Kalemyo Regional Command, and Tun Naing Oo, commander of Loikaw Regional Commend, were detained on corruption charges. Thant Zin Oo had previously been accused by the junta of the infamous recent massacre of 40 civilians in Kani, Sagaing. Tun Naing Oo faces charges of displaying ‘a lack of responsibility’ by incurring heavy troop casualties during an operation in Loikaw, Kayah State.
  • South Korea’s Foreign Ministry says it will provide $3 million in humanitarian aid to those affected by Burma’s COVID-19 crisis. A spokesperson guaranteed that transparency would be provided by partner INGOs to prevent money from falling into military hands.
  • Naing Aung Min, head of the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST), said the group welcomed ASEAN’s Special Envoy’s plan for a four-month-long ceasefire on humanitarian grounds. In a Zoom call with eight EAO leaders—signatories to Burma’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), long dismissed by the NUG— Naing Aung Min said the PPST would attempt to meet with ASEAN’s envoy, Erywan Yusof.