FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM
More Burmese workers expected to travel illegally as passport offices remain shut
The Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation suggested that more undocumented Burmese nationals would illegally enter neighboring countries, especially Thailand, due to the closure of passport offices. “We have all heard the news that migrant workers who illegally entered Thailand are being arrested day by day. More people will be encouraged to travel illegally now that the issuing of passports has been suspended. It can encourage more people to travel illegally,’ the member said.
Since early January, passport offices in Burma have been shut down without further notice. Passports for workers with jobs in Thailand were being issued up until this week. The “Green Channel” for migrant workers is being operated by the junta along with licensed companies. This service was suspended on Jan. 17. According to sources, the passport suspension is due to companies demanding significantly higher fees compared to the original cost at passport offices. “The information that companies were taking K2 million ($949 USD) per person [for issuing passports] was leaked,” a source stated.
Thai police arrest Burma nationals with large haul of drugs
The Mae Sot police discovered 80,000 tablets of methamphetamine at the apartment of two undocumented Burma nationals on Jan. 17. The two were arrested in Mae Sot during a Thai police patrol and questioned at a police station. The police discovered photos of the drugs on their phones. The police later checked the couple’s apartment and discovered 28 packages of drugs each containing 200 tablets. According to Thai police, the two testified that they smuggled the drugs into Thailand from Burma via the Friendship Bridge. Thai authorities said they will be prosecuted.
Deposed president moved to separate building in Taungoo prison
President U Win Myint was moved to a separate building in Taungoo prison on Jan. 14. “He was brought inside the prison together with two highway express buses. I knew there was a very important person on that bus. None of the staff were allowed to go outside the prison that night. Security in the prison was tight the next day. The staff are not allowed to bring anything inside the prison and prisoners are also not able to go from one place to another. Around 80 military personnel are currently guarding the prison. They also assigned prison staff and police officers to guard the president’s building,” a prison official said. There are five prison buildings in Taungoo prison but a separate building was built to only house the president.
News by Region
BAGO—Two men and a child were killed in Shwe Thar Yar village, Htantabin Township on Jan. 17. Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a vehicle with three passengers, including a local administrator, a former administrator, and a child. The men were killed instantly. The child was taken to hospital but later died from injuries.
KACHIN—Regime forces have been arresting and evicting workers from gold and amber sites in Danai Township, according to locals. The arrests and evictions have taken place at La Pu Kha and Payin Taung mining sites since Jan. 13. “They arrested workers for taking part in illegal business,” a resident said. The Burma Army seized six backhoes and burned down over 20 buildings and shops. Regime forces have closed routes to the mining sites in Danai town since Jan. 14. More than 1,000 miners were evicted from their work sites.
KARENNI—One person was killed and eight others, including children, were injured during an attack at the 71st anniversary of Karenni State Day in Loikaw on Jan. 15. “Seven children and two female police officers were injured. One civilian was killed instantly,” a Loikaw resident said. Regime media accused the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and People’s Defense Force (PDF) of the attack. The KNPP denied the accusation, stating that “it has never conducted a single attack that targeted the public.” Read more here.
RAKHINE—Three soldiers deserted from the Burma Army’s 540th Battalion, based in Mrauk-U town, on Jan. 16. The Burma Army was searching for the soldiers in the town, according to locals. Desertions of Burma Army troops have increased in recent months, according to political and military analysts.
Residents living in northern Maungdaw Township are still facing difficulties accessing humanitarian aid since non-governmental organizations have been barred from visiting the area, according to locals. “Since around July we have not received aid at all,” a resident said. “NGOs have not yet been able to come directly to provide food to the villages in the north. So we have to travel to Kyein Chaung to take the aid,” another resident said. Kyein Chaung village is located more than 64 kms from their villages. Many local residents are unable to afford the transportation costs to and from Kyein Chaung village. Humanitarian aid organizations have resumed operations in Rakhine State on Jan. 10 but some villages have yet to receive any assistance.
A man was seriously injured when he stepped on a landmine on Jan. 18 in Mrauk-U Township. The landmine was in a forest near the No. 378 infantry battalion of the Burma Army, according to a local aid group. “[His] right leg was blown off. His left one was also injured. The wound is severe,” a representative of the aid group told DVB. At least 10 people have been killed and more than 30 have been injured by unexploded ordnances (UXO) in Rakhine State in 2022.
WA—The junta gave residents in Mongmao and Namtic townships in Wa State national registration cards (NRCs) and household lists on Jan. 15. This would allow them to participate in the junta’s planned election. More than 9,300 NRCs and 3,900 household lists from the two townships were issued to local officials. NRCs are being issued to allow Burmese citizens to vote. According to locals, the NRCs and household lists are for the purpose of travel rather than to vote.