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National Unity Government calls for more aid to refugees in Thailand; Vice-President Henry Van Thio retires

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

National Unity Government calls for more aid to refugees

The National Unity Government (NUG) Ministry of Foreign Affairs appealed to the Thai government to provide more humanitarian assistance to refugees from Burma that fled from the fighting in Myawaddy. It also said it is ready to cooperate with Thailand and other organizations in assisting the refugees. 

Aid groups said that the majority of refugees who arrived in Mae Sot, Thailand have been returned to Myawaddy as clashes in the city have subsided. Saw Neh Da Htoo, a tactical commander with the Karen National Union (KNU), said its forces have retreated from positions in Myawaddy to prevent further civilian casualties. One died on Saturday in a regime airstrike.

“Only 800 refugees remain at six shelters in Mae Sot,” said Phoe Thingyan, an aid worker in Thailand, on Monday. Up to 3,000 Myawaddy residents have fled into Thailand since fighting between the military and the KNU, along with its allied forces, escalated in Myawaddy Township on April 19.

Vice-President Henry Van Thio retires

Regime media announced on Monday that Vice-President Henry Van Thio, who was appointed to the post under the National League for Democracy (NLD) government, has retired for health reasons. 

Van Thio was an NLD Member of Parliament (MP) elected in 2015. He initially disappeared from public sight following the Feb. 1, 2021 military coup, but regime media published photos of him attending the National Defence and Security Council meetings in Naypyidaw in July 2023 and January 2024. 

Van Thio previously served as a lieutenant colonel in the military before joining the NLD. On Aug. 9, he was expelled from the party for his involvement with the military regime that was set up by Min Aung Hlaing to replace the NLD government after the 2021 coup.

Civil society accuses Thailand of legitimizing regime 

At least 312 civil society organizations in Burma and Thailand signed a letter accusing Bangkok of attempting to legitimize the regime in Naypyidaw by describing Aung San Suu Kyi as Burma’s “former” State Counsellor and Win Myint as its “former” president when the two were arrested on Feb. 1, 2021 – during the military coup – and handed prison sentences in a regime court.

It claimed Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement on April 17 goes against the “democratic principles and will of the Myanmar people.” Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahidda-nukara stated: “The Thai government welcomes reports that former State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and former President Win Myint have been moved from prison to their homes as a positive step in responding to the concerns of the international community.” 

The CSO letter pointed out that Aung San Suu Kyi is still listed as State Counsellor of Burma by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Coordinating Council and that the Thai Foreign Affairs Minister’s statement contradicts previous ones made by Bangkok.

News by Region

United Wa State Army (UWSA) troops hoist the Burma and Wa flags at a ceremony in Panghsang on April 17. (Credit: Wa State TV)

SHAN—The United Wa State Party (UWSP) held its 35th annual peacebuilding ceremony in Panghsang, the de facto capital of Wa State located in eastern Shan, on April 17. Brotherhood Alliance members, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army (AA) were in attendance. 

KACHIN—Three civilians were killed and three others were injured by airstrikes carried out on Momauk town Monday. Clashes between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burma Army resumed after two weeks of relative calm. 

“Artillery shells were fired for two to three hours in a row. Two people were hit by an artillery shell when they were trying to go to a bunker,” said a Momauk resident. Naw Bu, the KIA spokesperson, said the Burma Army is trying to retake outposts that it lost in Momauk Township. Residents have fled their homes in anticipation of the resumed fighting.

CHINLAND—The Chin National Defence Force (CNDF) said 48 of its members have been killed and 42 have been injured since February 2021. “Our goal is to end the dictatorship and [establish] a federal democracy. We are currently conducting joint operations in southern Chinland,” said Salai Kyong Ngai, a CNDF spokesperson. The CNDF comprises ten battalions and four brigades. It has established its administration in Falam and other townships.

MON—A mobile shop owner was arrested at his home in Bilin town on Sunday for allegedly supporting the People’s Defense Force (PDF). “He was not involved in any politics but opened a mobile phone shop,” said a Bilin resident. He is currently being interrogated and his family said they have not had contact with him since his arrest April 21. Fighting between the military and resistance forces is ongoing in Bilin Township.

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