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Regime denies Hun Sen request to meet Aung San Suu Kyi; Military seeks to bolster its drone capabilities

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Regime denies Hun Sen request to meet Aung San Suu Kyi 

The military regime denied a request from Cambodia’s former Prime Minister Hun Sen to have a video call with jailed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday. Hun Sen reportedly made the request during an online meeting with regime leader Min Aung Hlaing on Tuesday. 

Regime spokesperson Zaw Min Tun publicly denied the request. “We are going to avoid matters which can delay or disturb future processes,” he said. Zaw Min Tun claimed that Thailand’s former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra meeting with resistance forces from Burma in April was not appropriate as it encouraged what he called “terrorist groups.”

Aung San Suu Kyi has been jailed since the 2021 military coup. She’s now serving a 27-year prison sentence. The regime did not allow Hun Sen to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi while Cambodia was the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2022. 

Burma nationals in India told not to interfere in elections

The National Unity Government (NUG) Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Tuesday calling on Burma nationals in India not to get involved in the country’s ongoing elections. It also cautioned them from conducting actions that could violate India’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The NUG added that Burma nationals must follow the rules and not traffick wildlife and narcotics. Nearly 79,000 Burma nationals, including Rohingya, have fled to India due to violence in the country, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 

The NUG urged those from Burma who need to cross into India for social or medical reasons to cooperate with local authorities and to contact its Ministry of Foreign Affairs if they encounter any issues. India’s general elections are being held from April 19 to June 1. 

The regime Minister of Home Affairs Yar Pyae meets with Russian drone technicians in Moscow on April 20. (Credit: Regime media)

Military seeks to bolster its drone capabilities

Morgan Michaels, a research fellow for Southeast Asian politics and foreign policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, spoke to DVB. He said that the regime has taken steps to bolster the capabilities of its combat drones since Operation 1027 was launched in October. 

“Interestingly, [Operation] 1027 appeared to be some sort of wake up call for the regime, in the sense that it has apparently recognized that it is not using drones itself in an offensive manner at a significant scale. Recently, the regime has really stepped up efforts to acquire, but then also modify and deploy drones against opposition forces across the country,” he said.

Michaels added that the regime has likely been purchasing military-grade unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from other countries and has been modifying commercial drones to use in combat. An anonymous source in the military told DVB that the regime purchased UAVs from China and that Russia is providing training on how to use them. 

News by Region

ARAKAN—A bridge connecting Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships was destroyed by the Burma Army on Monday after the Arakan Army (AA) captured the Military Operations Command (MOC) 15. “The bridge was destroyed so that the AA cannot enter easily,” said a Buthidaung resident. The bridge was opened in 2017. Hundreds of Burma Army soldiers from the MOC 15 surrendered to the AA on May 2. 

KAREN—At least 20 People’s Defense Force (PDF) and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) personnel were killed during fighting in Kawkareik Township from April 12 to May 7. A spokesperson of a resistance group named White Tiger Column claimed that the Burma Army also suffered heavy casualties. The military launched an offensive to reclaim control of Kawkareik and nearby Myawaddy on April 12. 

SAGAING—Kanbalu Township residents claimed that a woman was killed and another was injured by retaliatory airstrikes after resistance forces captured a military outpost in Malel village on Tuesday. The PDF stated that one of its members was killed and two others were injured during the seizure. 

“Most of the residents managed to flee since we heard the sound of gunfire. The military’s fighter jets and helicopters flew several times and fired over the village. We saw it from a distance but we don’t know the situation in the village,” said a Malel resident. 

Ye-U residents said that the Burma Army has arrested at least 50 men in the town from April 29 to May 6. They are aged between 16 to 40 and are being detained at a high school in the town. “I heard that they will send them to Monywa after they get 100,” a PDF member told DVB. Young men in Ye-U have reportedly fled to nearby towns or joined the PDF to avoid military service under the regime’s conscription law

The Fort Talks series will feature a discussion on Myanmar and Thai citizen journalists today – May 9 at 1pm – live on Facebook. It is hosted by Fortify Rights.

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