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Over 8,000 Rohingya refugees left homeless after fire; At least fourteen killed in airstrike on Khampat

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Over 8,000 Rohingya refugees left homeless after fire

More than 8,000 Rohingya lost their homes after a fire swept through a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on Jan. 7. The cause of the fire is still unknown and there have been no reported casualties, according to local authorities. 

“We only managed to escape with so few clothes, took the children and rushed out. Everything else is ruined,” said Abdur Rahim, a Rohingya refugee living at the camp.

The fire occurred as polls were set to open in Bangladesh’s election. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League expects a fourth straight term. Over one million Rohingya live in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, having fled a 2017 military operation labeled a genocide by the U.S. government.

At least fourteen killed in airstrike on Khampat

Fourteen people, including children, were killed and 20 were injured in a series of airstrikes carried out on Kanan village, located in Khampat town of Sagaing Region, near the Burma-India border on Jan. 7. 

“Two fighter jets dropped bombs in the morning when many people were at the church. We found fourteen bodies including six children between the ages of nine to eighteen,” said a rescue worker. 

A church, a school and many homes were destroyed. Residents claimed that the military attacked to kill civilians gathered on Sunday. Khampat came under the control of resistance forces in November 2023. The military denied responsibility.  

Over 41,000 cybercrime suspects transferred to China last year

The military and Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAO) transferred more than 41,000 people suspected of being involved in online fraud operations in Burma last year. Chinese state media reported that Beijing has arrested 79,000 people total. 

“The crackdown in Myanmar is focusing more on scams, human trafficking, and the enslavement and harm to Chinese nationals because China perceives a direct threat to its security interests. But the result of this is that the criminal networks are adapting. And increasingly focusing their malign criminal activity on other markets besides China,” said Jason Tower, Burma director for the United States Institute for Peace (USIP).

Criminal syndicates have expanded their presence in Burma since the COVID-19 pandemic and 2021 military coup. The Brotherhood Alliance launched Operation 1027 in northern Shan State on Oct. 27, 2023 with the stated aim to eliminate cyber scam centers along the China border. 

Weekly Cartoon: The tiny dictator plays the same old tune about holding an election while the country burns.

News by Region

NAYPYIDAW—Min Aung Hlaing made a plea to 39 of the 45 political parties registered with the Union Election Commission (UEC) to help the military hold a peaceful election during a meeting on Jan. 6. 

“All parties should help provide information about those [anti-military] groups to bring safety,” he said. Min Aung Hlaing vowed to hold the election in his first meeting with political parties since the 2021 military coup. 

Regime media reported that Min Aung Hlaing co-chaired the fourth Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Leaders’ Meeting, via videolink, with Chinese Premier Li Qiang on Dec. 25. 

The Prime Ministers of Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam were in attendance. The LMC has funded 106 projects worth 31.6 million USD in Burma. 

BAGO—Four civilians were killed and 19 were injured when two artillery shells landed during a funeral in Yephyukan village, Nyaunglaypin Township on Jan. 5. 

“The shells dropped there and killed people including a child. Six people were seriously wounded,” said a Nyaunglaypin resident. Fighting in the village has been ongoing, forcing some residents to flee their homes.

CHIN—Two people, including a child, were killed and two were injured by artillery in Paletwa Township on Jan. 3. “The military has targeted the town since the Arakan Army began fighting the Burma Army’s 289 battalion,” a local told DVB. 

Six Paletwa residents have been killed and 16 others were injured due to the military’s airstrikes and artillery attacks on the township. The AA has seized 24 military camps and outposts in Paletwa. 

KACHIN—Lisu men in Waingmaw Township have fled forced recruitment by a pro-military militia since December. “These individuals are fleeing as they refuse to [fight for the military],” a Waingmaw resident told DVB.

The militia has stated it is forcefully recruiting one member per Lisu household in the township. Shwe Min, the leader of the Lisu National Development Party (LNDP), established the militia on October 30, 2023. 

SAGAING—Five people were killed and two were severely injured in an airstrike on a village in Taze Township on Jan. 4. A religious building, school, and several houses were also reportedly destroyed. 

“I thought they would not attack because there is no ongoing fighting in the area,” a Taze resident told DVB. A member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party in Sagaing condemned the airstrike and claimed that the military indiscriminately targeted civilians. 

SHAN—Laukkai, the capital of the Kokang Self-Administered Zone located in northern Shan State near the China-Myanmar border, came under the control of the Brotherhood Alliance after the military’s Laukkai Regional Operation Command surrendered to the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) on Jan. 5.

The Karen community in Queensland and Victoria states of Australia celebrated its New Year in Brisbane on Jan. 6. The Karen New Year is Jan. 11.

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