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Over 100 workers from Burma arrested in Malaysia; Martin Smith says scale of crisis is unprecedented

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Over 100 workers from Burma arrested in Malaysia

Malaysian authorities said at least 109 undocumented Burma nationals were arrested in Seremban, Malaysia on Jan. 23. “At least 60 of the arrested Burmese workers are ethnic Chin,” a Burma national living in Malaysia told DVB. One Burmese worker was reportedly injured while attempting to evade arrest.

At least 1,000 undocumented Burma nationals have been arrested across Malaysia since December, according to members of the Burmese diaspora. The arrests occurred during special operations to crack down on undocumented migrant workers. Those who were arrested are expected to face three months in jail before being deported to Burma.

Martin Smith says scale of crisis is unprecedented

In the lead up to the third anniversary of the 2021 military coup, DVB sat down for an interview with independent analyst Martin Smith. He has spent the last 40 years researching and writing reports on Burma’s conflicts. Smith is also the author of the book Burma: Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity.

“We have to remember that Myanmar now is on a scale of conflict alongside places like Gaza, Syria, and Ukraine. This is one of the world’s most active and diverse conflict zones,” said Smith. “This is a massive war and crisis and death toll. The scale of suffering that is going on in the country is pretty much unprecedented.” 

Smith added that he believes the military is unable to rule given the nationwide resistance and unity among Burma’s ethnic nationalities. He points to this regime’s lack of a clear plan to bring stability and peace to the country.

Documentary institute calls for Shin Daewe’s release

The IDFA Institute called for the release of documentary filmmaker Shin Daewe after she was sentenced to life by a military court in Yangon on Jan. 11. “Our family simply wishes to see her resume her work as usual. We eagerly await the day when our sister will return home,” a family member told the IDFA Institute.

Shin Daewe worked as a journalist at DVB from 2005-2010 and is known for documenting the 2007 Saffron Revolution. She won local and international awards for her documentary films. She was arrested in Yangon while picking up a drone last October and charged under the Counter-Terrorism Act. 

Lost in Reflection: A Rohingya`s Gaze into Hope`s Abyss is currently being exhibited at the British Museum in London (Credit: Ro Mehrooz)

Rohingya Photography Competition 2024 puts spotlight on camp life

The Rohingya Photography Competition (RPC) announced its 2024 edition, themed “My Environment in the Camps.” This year’s contest will shine a spotlight on the lives of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

“Each participant is required to submit three photographs depicting their environment. This may encompass various aspects of camp life, including their shelters, places of worship, markets, and various forms of labor,” said Shafiur Rahman, the RPC founder and organizer.

The RPC has engaged in advocacy for Rohingya photographers since 2020, advising them on copyright infringement and for rightful compensation from international media. Details on these efforts can be found on the RPC website, which also features media coverage of previous photo contests.

News by Region

ARAKAN—The Brotherhood Alliance announced on Jan. 24 that the Arakan Army (AA) has seized control of Pauktaw. Fighting has also been reported in Mrauk-U, Minbya, Kyauktaw, Buthidaung, and Ramree. At least three children were killed and eight others were injured by artillery in Buthidaung Township. 

Airstrikes were also carried out during the fighting in the townships. “We all had to flee our homes. An airstrike was also reported to have taken place. Three houses were set ablaze during the attack,” a resident from Ramree told DVB. 

MON—Locals said that 117 Rohingya were arrested in a village of Thanbyuzayat Township on Jan. 25. “Residents alerted the authorities, and even children are among those arrested,” a villager told DVB. 

An unnamed source close to the local administration said that the Rohingya were traveling from Arakan to Malaysia with the help of brokers in Thanbyuzayat. A total of 546 Rohingya were arrested in the township in 2023. They were sentenced to two years in prison each under the Immigration Act. 

SHAN—The Pa-O National Liberation Army (PNLA/PNLO) seized control of a police station and government offices in Hsihseng Township, located in the Pa-O Self-Administered Zone of southern Shan State on Jan. 25. 

Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN) reported that the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF) and the People’s Defence Force (PDF) assisted the PNLA in Hsihseng. An airstrike was carried out on the town on Jan. 24. At least two people were killed.

Khun Lay Toe, a member of the PNLA, told SHAN that fighting started when the Burma Army and the regime-allied Pa-O National Army (PNA) intercepted a PNLA convoy carrying weapons and ammunition in Hopong Township on Jan. 21. 

Watch our latest video: Circus play for Thai and Myanmar kids in Mae Sot. DVB English News is on X, FB, IG, Threads, TikTok. Subscribe on YouTube.

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