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Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge reopens, Indonesia to create ASEAN Special Envoy on Burma office


Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge reopens 

The Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge (No. 1) linking Burma’s Myawaddy and Thailand’s Mae Sot reopened on Jan. 12. This comes after being closed for three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Daw Thin Thin Myat is the president of the Myawaddy Border Trade Chamber of Commerce. She told DVB that the reopening could bring benefits “from bilateral trade to the economy, education, and health.” Citizens of both countries need to have travel documents and pay a fee at the border gate that allows them to stay in Burma or Thailand for up to seven days. U Moe Joe is the president of the Mae Sot-based Joint Action Committee for Burma Affairs (JACBA). He welcomed the reopening and urged Burma nationals to travel to Thailand “only through safe and legal routes.”

Kachin religious leader charged with incitement

Kachin religious leader Dr. Hkalam Samson has been charged with incitement, following a charge under the Unlawful Associations Act last month. His first court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 13 despite being held since his arrest on Dec. 5. “Today, lawyers took the opportunity to meet with Sayadaw [referring to Dr. Hkalam Samson] inside the prison,” said Lahpai Zau Ra, the deputy secretary of the Kachin Baptist Convention. Dr. Hkalam Samson was arrested upon return to Myitkyina after being detained at Mandalay Airport on his way to Thailand for a medical appointment last month. The regime states that Dr. Hkalam Samson’s sermons and speeches “violated” the law. “The family and friends saw the Sayadaw from a distance on his way in and out of the prison. I have learned that he is in good health,” Lahpai Zau Ra added.

Indonesia to appoint Special Envoy on Burma

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi stated that Burma will no longer hold the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) “hostage.” Indonesia is the current chair of ASEAN. Marsudi will set up the ASEAN  Special Envoy on Burma office, Nikkei Asia reported. “Indonesia will make every effort to help Myanmar to exit the political crisis,” Marsudi said. She added that ASEAN is committed to the Five-Point Consensus and that it will continue to cooperate with the UN Special Envoy on Burma. ASEAN has so far barred Burma’s junta officials from attending summits. But critics argue that the actions do not go far enough as violence continues to escalate in Burma.

News by Region

AYEYARWADDY—The wife of a political prisoner was arrested and charged on Jan. 7 for allegedly distributing “prohibited materials” inside Pathein Prison. “We haven’t been able to see her yet. I asked the police and they said that a case has been opened against her. I learned that she was charged for sending prohibited items into the prison,” a source told DVB. Following a protest on Jan. 6 inside Pathein Prison, one political prisoner was killed and more than 60 were injured. Political prisoner Ko Win Min Htet (aka) Mae Gyi is still missing after prison authorities ended the protest using violence, according to sources inside the prison.

KAREN—Four people, including a priest, were killed and seven others were injured during an airstrike on Jan. 12 in Laywar village, located in the Karen National Union (KNU) Brigade 5, Mutraw District, Hpapun Township.“One villager told me there could be still more casualties,” said Colonel Saw Kler Doh, the spokesperson for the KNU Brigade 5. On Jan. 7, five people were killed and one was injured in an airstrike, which destroyed a hospital and several houses, according to the KNU.

MANDALAY—There were no reported injuries as explosions took place in five areas of the city on Jan. 11. A local resistance group claimed responsibility for the attacks. “We will prevent unfair elections no matter what,” said a spokesperson of the group. Authorities have been collecting census data for the junta’s planned 2023 election since Jan. 9. The local group claims the attacks were not meant to injure anyone, but to deter them from continuing their work collecting census data for the junta.

Watch the latest DVB Reports, featuring Burmese-Americans protesting outside of the Thai embassy in Washington, D.C. They demand the Thai government stop meeting with Burma’s military council (junta).
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