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Resistance forces withdraw from base near Myawaddy; The Karen and the Karenni announce media guidelines

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Resistance forces withdraw from base near Myawaddy

The Burma Army raised its flag outside the Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 275 base in Myawaddy Township with the help of the Karen Border Guard Force, which now calls itself the Karen National Army (KNA), on Tuesday. The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and the People’s Defense Force (PDF) retreated from the base on Sunday. 

“It seems to be that the KNA is playing all sides and playing careful. They were in a difficult position because the SAC [military regime] asked them to give back their guns,” said Paul Greening, an independent observer who monitors the Thai-Burma border. 

The KNLA, and its allied resistance forces, seized LIB 275 on April 11. Its political wing the Karen National Union (KNU) stated that it retreated from its positions in Myawaddy to prevent further civilian casualties. A Burma Army offensive called ‘Aung Zeyya’ was launched April 12 to retake Myawaddy, an economic lifeline for the regime. 

The Karen and Karenni announce media guidelines

The Karen National Union (KNU) stated on March 21 that all journalists and media operating in KNU-controlled areas must register with identification documents for security reasons. Only authorized KNU members can give interviews and filming is prohibited without permission. Videos and photos may be inspected at any time upon request.

“We bear responsibility for both the local and foreign news agencies who arrive in our area. Every news agency must be held accountable according to the ethical standards of their respective organizations. We publish these restrictions out of necessity. We must prioritize security,” said Padoh Saw Taw Nee, the KNU spokesperson. 

The Interim Executive Council (IEC) requests all journalists register upon arrival in Karenni State with a letter of recommendation from their media outlet. While reporting journalists must wear a uniform bearing the logo of the media outlet and carry a press card at all times. Both the KNU and IEC will place restrictions on media who fail to adhere to these new guidelines. 

Bangladesh nationals who were jailed at Sittwe prison wait to be repatriated. (Credit: Bangladesh Embassy in Yangon)

Bangladesh repatriates citizens jailed at Sittwe Prison

The Bangladesh Embassy in Burma stated that 173 of its nationals jailed at Sittwe Prison, in the Arakan State capital, were repatriated by naval ship and handed back to the Bangladesh authorities on Wednesday. 

The regime will, in turn, repatriate its 285 Border Guard Police (BGP) who recently fled attacks by the Arakan Army (AA) into Bangladesh, BSS News reported. A handover ceremony for 330 BGP personnel, and their families, who had also fled AA attacks was held near Cox’s Bazar on Feb. 15. 

Bangladesh has provided asylum for nearly 1.2 million Rohingya refugees in camps around Cox’s Bazar. The Rohingya have fled from successive military attacks in Burma. Most recently in 2017 when over 700,000 Rohingya fled into Bangladesh, which has been labelled a genocide by the U.S. government.  

News by Region

ARAKAN—At least 86 people have died from an outbreak of acute diarrhea in Rohingya villages and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Sittwe over the last week. The residents face movement restrictions by local authorities. “There are no doctors, nurses and medicines at the hospital near the IDP camp,” said a Rohingya resident. 

A healthcare worker in Sittwe said that 90 percent of those who died were children and that some communities have yet to be visited. The Rohingya have requested assistance from the World Food Programme (WFP) and other international aid groups but the regime has restricted access to IDP camps. 

KACHIN—Hpakant residents said that the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and its allied PDF seized control of the LIB 116 outpost near Seze village in Hpakant Township on Wednesday. The KIA captured Seze police station on April 9 and launched its attack on LIB 116 April 20. Kachin media reported that the KIA is currently clearing the outpost. The number of casualties is unknown.

KAREN—The KNLA and PDF claimed that the military used chemical weapons against them during drone attacks in Kawkareik Township from April 19-21. “[About 60 PDF members] felt dizzy and vomited after inhaling the smoke. It is impossible to continue to fight back against the enemy in these circumstances. So, we had no choice but to give up some places as this is not an ordinary fight,” said a PDF spokesperson. Fighting between the military and Karen resistance forces began in Kawkareik April 12 as a part of the offensive to hold Myawaddy Township, which was seized from the military on April 11. 

NAYPYIDAW—The Naypyidaw People’s Defense Force (PDF) claims that it has been contacted by more than 1,000 people since the regime activated its military conscription law on Feb. 10. The PDF started training 289 new recruits on Sunday. “I joined the PDF because I do not want to serve in the military,” said one of the new recruits. Bo Linkyar, a PDF spokesperson, said his unit participated in attacks on Naypyidaw’s Aye Lar Airport. He added that the PDF is cooperating with resistance forces in Shan, Karenni, and Karen states, as well as Bago Region.  

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