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Junta holds ceremony with Russian officials, Journalist receives additional prison sentence

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Junta holds ceremony to mark nuclear project with Russian officials

On Dec. 11, the junta held an event in Naypyidaw to celebrate its agreement with Russia’s Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation. According to regime media, the Russians will help establish a nuclear power plant in Burma. The junta’s Ministry of Electric Power and Ministry of Science and Technology signed a memorandum of understanding with Rosatom last July after Min Aung Hlaing met with Russian officials. Russia and Burma have grown closer since last year’s coup. Obtaining nuclear technology has long been an ambition of  Burma’s previous military juntas and was the subject of a 2010 DVB documentary film called “Burma’s Nuclear Ambitions.”

Journalist receives further prison sentence 

The Insein Prison Court sentenced journalist Sithu Aung Myint to an additional seven years in prison on Dec. 9. This stems from a charge of attempting to incite “hatred” against the Burma Army and civil servants. “The recent sentence under Section 124(a) is seven years in prison with a fine of K10,000 ($ 4.70 USD),” a source close to the court said. Sithu Aung Myint is now facing 12-years in prison. This includes the five year sentence he received from other charges. The veteran journalist has reported for DVB, VOA and Frontier Myanmar.

News by Region

MANDALAY—The Burma Army paid workers to attend an anti-National Unity Government (NUG) demonstration in Madaya town on Dec. 12. The protesters reportedly marched on the road and chanted anti-NUG and anti-People’s Defense Force (PDF) slogans. “Around 70 locals attended the rally. They are from John Brick factory and were paid a day’s wages. They were paid K3,000 ($1.43 USD) and we’re given one bag of rice each,” a local told DVB. 

RAKHINE—The Border Guard Police smuggled goods into Bangladesh using a port in Maungdaw, local traders said. “Around three motorboats leave from Maungdaw Port illegally every day in coordination with the border guard police,” a local trader told DVB. The goods being transported to Bangladesh are reported to include alcohol and coffee.

SHAN—At least 1,200 people living in Namsan Township have been forced to flee after fighting between the Burma Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) broke out five days ago. “All the internally displaced persons (IDPs) are of different ages, including elders, pregnant women, children and disabilities. They have no extra clothes to wear. They need blankets and medicine. Most importantly they need food. The monastery cannot afford to take care of all the IDPs as there are too many of them,” a Buddhist monk told DVB. “On Dec. 7, the military council sent reinforcements including soldiers with five helicopters to Konethar, Panlock and Huemen. Fighting broke out as TNLA personnel were already in Konethar,” said Tar Aik Kyaw, the TNLA spokesperson. A religious building and five houses  in Konethar village were destroyed by Burma Army shells.

SAGAING—A Pyu Saw Htee militia is threatening to burn down Yaw village in Kabalu Township if residents don’t attend military training, locals said. “In previous days, attendees were randomly chosen. Only those that were selected had to attend the training. But now it has become mandatory,” a resident told DVB.

The Kalay People’s Defense Force (PDF) claimed to have killed a Burma Army sergeant and arrested two employees of the Myanma Economic Bank (MEB), according to locals. “Now we are investigating the remaining two. We are not going to beat them,” a Kalay PDF spokesperson told DVB. The two are being held “in line with international human rights standards,” according to the PDF. They are expected to be charged by a legal team formed by Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) police officers.

YANGON—Two people were injured in an explosion at an immigration office in Dagon Township on Dec. 12. Two people on a motorbike were reported to have thrown a grenade inside the office, a source said. “One man and woman were hit. They are not office staff. They are now in the hospital,” a source told DVB. Two unexploded homemade bombs were discovered and detonated by the Burma Army in Hlaingthayar Township on Dec. 12, according to a residents. “The army detonated the bombs. No one was injured,” a local told DVB.

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