FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM
India to end free movement regime with Burma
An unnamed senior Indian government official said on Jan. 2 that New Delhi will suspend its Free Movement Regime (FMR) along its 1,643 km-long border with Burma, The Hindu reported.
The FMR allowed Indian and Burma nationals to travel up to 16 km on the other side of the border for up to two weeks without a visa using a border pass. It was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
India’s Manipur State Chief Minister N. Biren Singh called on New Delhi to suspend the FMR last September. He has blamed Burma nationals for the ethnic violence in Manipur State. Over 40,000 refugees from Burma have arrived in Mizoram and over 6,000 in Manipur since the 2021 military coup.
Fleeing soldiers returned to Arakan from Mizoram
At least 151 Burma Army soldiers that fled fighting with the Arakan Army (AA) in December near the India-Burma border and crossed into Mizoram State were airlifted to Sittwe, Arakan State on Jan. 2, NDTV reported.
The soldiers fled to India after their camps in Paletwa Township, Chin State were seized by the AA. The soldiers surrendered to the Assam Rifles, a paramilitary group under the command of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs.
New Delhi facilitated the return of the injured soldiers after providing them medical treatment. At least 104 Burma Army troops fled to Mizoram in November after Chin resistance forces seized their camps. They later returned, with the help of India, through a border crossing.
Seventeen political prisoners died in detention in 2023
The Network of Political Prisoners stated that 17 political prisoners died due to the lack of adequate medical care last year. San Linn San, 30, died inside Yangon’s Insein Prison on Dec. 31. He had been charged under the Counter-Terrorism Act.
“The regime has allowed prisoners to die by denying them essential medical care. They should not have died yet at such young ages,” said Thike Tun Oo, the network’s spokesperson.
A 23-year-old woman prisoner reportedly died in Pathein Prison under similar circumstances on the same day. Advocacy groups are urging the regime and the international community to ensure that inmates detained in prisons receive access to proper medical care.
Fire at Rohingya refugee camp kills at least one
One woman was killed, three others were injured, and 24 homes were destroyed by suspected arson at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on Dec. 31.
“There were several arsons before but the Bangladesh authorities have been unable to do anything until now,” said a Rohingya refugee and human rights activist living in Kutupalong. The injured have been receiving medical treatment and those who lost their homes are in urgent need of blankets, clothes, and food.
News by Region
AYEYARWADY—An unnamed source from an aid group assisting the Rohingya said that more than 20 died in 2023 while they were traveling to Ayeyarwady Region by boat.
The Burma Army arrested 625 Rohingya who landed in the region last year and handed prison sentences to 504 of them. They were heading to Yangon with intentions to travel to Malaysia, the source added.
“They were charged mostly under the Immigration Law. They were given sentences of three to five years in prison, except for the minors,” said the source. The 121 Rohingya children are being held at the Ngatawsan youth training school in Kawhmu, Yangon.
ARAKAN—Two people, including a child, were killed and five were injured when an artillery shell landed inside a village in Kyauktaw Township on Jan. 2. At least 50 people have been killed and 130 injured in Arakan since fighting between the AA and Burma Army resumed on Nov. 13.
KACHIN—The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) claims that it shot down a military helicopter near Laiza, Waingmaw Township on Jan. 3. “I heard that it crashed at Nangpanbum,” said a Laiza resident. It was one of two helicopters transporting supplies, including food and weapons to Burma Army troops in Waingmaw Township.
SAGAING—Five civilians were killed and four were injured by artillery at the Kawlin market on Jan. 2. “We went there to inspect the scene after they [military] fired four shells. Two more shells dropped on the market and three civilians were killed on the spot,” said a member of the People’s Defense Force (PDF).
Another two civilians died on the way to hospital to receive medical treatment, according to the PDF. Kawlin was the first district level town to come under the control of resistance forces in November. It is now under National Unity Government (NUG) administration. Burma Army troops based in the neighboring town of Wuntho have been firing artillery at Kawlin.