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First aid shipment arrives in Burma from Thailand; Military conscription drive counted in 172 townships


First aid shipment arrives in Burma from Thailand

The Thai Red Cross delivered its first shipment of aid into Burma at the 2nd Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge in Mae Sot, Thailand on Monday. Over 4,000 bags of essential food items will reach 20,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Nabu, Tharmanya and Paingkyone villages in Karen State, according to the Thai authorities. 

“I am worried that we will not receive enough aid as it will come through the Myanmar Red Cross Society which is under the control of the regime,” said a resident of Karen State displaced by the conflict and now living as an IDP. 

Thailand’s Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Sihasak Phuangketkeow, along with other local officials, attended the handover ceremony. The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that it will work with “relevant partners” to expand aid shipments into Burma. 

Military conscription drive counted in 172 townships

Data for Myanmar has documented that the regime’s administration has gathered data, conducted military draft lotteries, and registered men aged 18 to 35 for conscription in 172 townships in several states and regions of Burma up to March 22. 

These activities have been held in most townships of Naypyidaw, as well as Ayeyarwady, Yangon and Bago regions. The regime has been able to recruit conscripts in only a few areas where fighting between the Burma Army and resistance forces is taking place. 

The military conscription law was activated on Feb. 10 and requires men and women (aged 18-27) to serve in the military for at least two years. The National Unity Government (NUG) declared the conscription law “invalid” and claimed people do not need to adhere to it. 

Retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel Miemie Winn Byrd speaks to a crowd of 200 gathered in New York City on March 23 (Credit: CJ)

Expert on US-Burma relations criticizes regime 

Miemie Winn Byrd, a Burmese-American professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, shared her insights on the crisis in Burma unfolding since the 2021 military coup at a meeting in New York City on Saturday.

“It’s crucial to understand that this is not a civil war but a conflict among factions,” she said to a crowd that included 200 people from Burma living in the U.S. when asked how best to get more international attention.

Byrd criticized the military conscription law saying that it can only lead to a worse outcome for the regime. She clarified how best to appeal to the international community for assistance. The U.N. states that 18.6 million people require urgent humanitarian aid in Burma.

News by Region

ARAKAN—The Arakan Army (AA) stated on Sunday that it had seized control of the Yan Aung Myin military outpost, located west of the Kyainchaung border guard station, in Maungdaw Township on Saturday. 

“Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Sittwe, in northern Arakan State are left to be captured by the AA. It can control the whole state if it seizes Sittwe,” said an unnamed Arakanese political activist. 

Weapons and ammunition were seized after the outpost was taken by the AA. It now controls the towns of Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Minbya, Myebon, Pauktaw, Ponnagyun, Rathedaung and Ramree in Arakan State and Paletwa in southern Chinland. 

KARENNI—The Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF) stated on Sunday that it had sentenced two of its members to 20 years in prison for killing a suspect while in custody. The 27-year-old victim died on Feb. 21 after being arrested for alleged drug trafficking. 

The KNDF claimed its two members “improperly fired weapons that were provided to them.” They received their prison sentences after an investigation was conducted by the KNDF central committee. 

Mese residents said that the Karenni National People’s Liberation Front (KNPLF) has been collecting money from businesses in the town since Feb. 29. The funds collected range from 30,000-100,000 kyat depending on the size of the business.    

“I paid 30,000 kyat as they arrived early in the morning with a receipt. My business is not doing well as there are many displaced people here. It is not okay if these funds are collected monthly,” said an unnamed business owner in Mese. 

Mese came under the control of resistance forces, including the KNPLF, KNDF and Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) last year. Residents have criticized the KNPLF for collecting money despite not formally announcing a tax. 

MANDALAY—Three unidentified armed men robbed a KBZ bank in Chanayethasan Township on Monday, stealing more than 200 million kyat. A KBZ bank in Chanayethasan and Pyigyitagon townships were also robbed in June and July 2022.

“They came into the bank like they were customers and pointed guns at the employees. Two of them carried an ax and a knife. They took all the money on the counter,” said an unnamed source close to the bank. The Burma Army later arrived and questioned bank employees.  

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(Exchange rate: $1 USD = 3,740 kyat)

The Thai Red Cross began aid deliveries to its counterpart in Burma under Thailand’s humanitarian plan aimed at managing the conflict on Monday, March 25. (Credit: Reuters)


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