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Regime attends ASEAN Defense Minister Summit in Laos; Martial law declared in TNLA controlled townships

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Regime attends ASEAN Defense Minister Summit in Laos

Zaw Naing Win, the director general of the regime’s Defense Ministry International Affairs Department, attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers Meeting in Luang Prabang, Laos on Tuesday, Kyodo News reported

Thailand’s Defense Minister Sutin Klungsang expressed hope that the regime’s participation in the summit could help Burma to finally implement the ASEAN Five Point Consensus to end violence and begin dialogue with all stakeholders, but the crisis has only worsened since Min Aung Hlaing agreed to it in April 2021.

The regime was excluded from the ASEAN-Australia Summit 2024 concluding today in Melbourne. It sent a “non-political” representative to Laos in January, signaling a shift in the regime’s engagement with ASEAN as it has been barred from all meetings since August 2022.

Martial law declared in Ta’ang controlled townships

The regime announced that it had imposed martial law in Mantong, Namhsan, and Namtu townships of Shan State – currently under the control of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) – on Monday.   

It issued the directive after the Brotherhood Alliance – which includes the TNLA, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and Arakan Army (AA) – announced that it reached an agreement with the regime following talks in Kunming, China on Sunday. They agreed to “safeguard” Beijing’s interests, share tax revenue at border crossings, withdraw troops from the frontlines, and for the military to concede seized territory. 

The regime has also declared martial law in Mongmit and Mabein townships in northern Shan State on Feb. 28 where fighting between the Burma Army and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has been ongoing since January. Data for Myanmar states that the regime has imposed martial law on 61 townships since the 2021 military coup. 

Xanana Gusmão welcomes Tun Aung Shwe, the NUG representative to Australia, to the Myanmar People’s Summit in Melbourne on March 4.

‘Myanmar People’s Summit’ held in Melbourne

Members of the National Unity Government (NUG) and civil society groups organized the “Myanmar People’s Summit” in Melbourne, Australia on Monday. Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão spoke at the event. He and Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta have long been supporters of Burma’s democracy movement.

“The struggle in Myanmar is also our struggle,” said Gusmão. He expressed support for the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2669 which calls for the military to cease all violence and release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi. 

The event coincided with the ASEAN-Australia Summit 2024. The Burmese diaspora held a protest in front of the summit’s venue, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. They called on ASEAN to recognize the NUG instead of the military.  

News by Region

ARAKAN—The AA announced on Monday that it seized control of Ponnagyun town, which is located 32 kms (20 miles) from the capital Sittwe, on Monday. Retaliatory airstrikes were reported. “The airstrikes resulted in the destruction of motor boats,” a Ponnagyun resident told DVB.

Nyo Twan Awng, the AA vice deputy commander-in-chief, denied reports that a ceasefire agreement was reached between it and the Burma Army during talks between the Brotherhood Alliance and the military in Kunming, China. The AA controls the towns of Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Minbya, Myebon, Pauktaw, and Taungpyo in Arakan as well as Paletwa in Chinland. 

KACHIN—The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and People’s Defense Force (PDF) claimed to have captured a large cache of weapons, including two howitzers, during the seizure of the military’s Magyigone strategic outpost in Mansi Township on Monday. 

“There were many guns, artillery shells and ammunition as the outpost was a large one. They conducted a series of airstrikes after we seized the outpost but no one was injured,” said a PDF member. The KIA and PDF launched its attack on the outpost Feb. 29. Seven military outposts in Shan and Kachin states have been seized by the KIA and PDF since January. 

SAGAING—Kawlin Township residents said that homes and a school in Khantha village were destroyed by airstrikes on March 3. “Two PDF members were injured but no civilians were injured as the forces rescued them,” said a Kawlin resident. 

Around 11,000 people have been displaced from their homes since fighting began between the PDF and the Burma Army near Kyauktan village since Feb. 23. Around 17,600 Kawlin residents are unable to return to their homes as fighting continues. The Burma Army retook Kawlin from the PDF on Feb. 14. 

TANINTHARYI—A resistance group calling itself the Ba Htoo Army told DVB that it would not take action against three education staff detained at Dawei University of Technology during a raid. Vice-Rector Kyaw Aung and professors Su Su Latt and Nandar Lwin were arrested  on Feb. 28, on accusations of endorsing “military slave education.” 

Activist groups such as the Dawei District Strike Committee and the Bamar Youth Network, demanded the three’s release “in accordance with international standards” if the faculty had not violated human rights or committed any crime. The Burma Army tightened security around Dawei University of Technology after the staff had been detained.  

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