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Thailand prepared to take up to 100,000 refugees; Activists say Chevron withdrawal isn’t enough

Editor’s note: The Daily Briefing newsletter will be on break from April 12-16 for the Thingyan holiday. We’ll be back in your inboxes on Wednesday, April 17. Happy Thingyan!

Thailand prepared to take up to 100,000 refugees

Parnpree Bahiddha-nukara, Thailand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday that Thailand is prepared to temporarily take in 100,000 refugees from Burma. He made the remarks as fighting between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and the military continued along the Thai-Burma border, in Myawaddy Township of Karen State. 

“We have prepared for a while and we can accommodate about 100,000 people in Thailand’s safe area temporarily,” he added. The Myawaddy-Mae Sot border crossing into Thailand remains open and trade continues with Burma, according to the Thai government. 

The Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge, which connects Mae Sot to Myawaddy, is the third largest border gate in Burma. The Thai military has increased security and patrols along its side of the border to prevent any fighting on the Burma side from spilling over into Thailand.      

Activists say Chevron withdrawal isn’t enough

The activist group Blood Money Campaign claimed on Tuesday that Chevron’s transfer of its shares of the Yadana gas project to Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), and Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP), will continue to provide funding to the military regime. 

Blood Money Campaign called on the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia to impose full sanctions on MOGE. Chevron announced that it has withdrawn from the Yadana gas project on Monday after it previously stated that it would divest from Burma in January 2022. 

“We are calling for the sanctions [and] to disinvest in any business that could directly benefit the military. Sanctions could help the people [and] prevent the military supplies, economic supplies that support the military to kill the people,” said Aung Myo Min, the Minister of Human Rights in the National Unity Government (NUG).

Replenishing troop strength through military conscription

Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan is a conscientious objector who refused U.S. military service in 1971 during its war on Indochina. Since 2005, he has been a research coordinator with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines with a focus on Burma. He spoke to DVB about the military conscription law, which was activated on Feb. 10.

“They want to get 60,000 people in their conscription. That’s not going to happen. But let’s say they even come close to half of that, 30,000. That would essentially replace the numbers that they have lost in the first three years of armed conflict since the military coup,” he said.

Moser-Puangsuwan claimed that the military is willing to lose at least one million out of the 14 million eligible for conscription to prison, resistance strongholds or exile. The law stipulates men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 must serve two years. The maximum punishment for evading conscription is five years in prison.  

Korean artists, invited to perform at the Thingyan festival, are greeted upon arrival at Yangon International Airport on Tuesday. (Credit: Regime media)

News by Region

YANGON—Twenty-four Korean artists and singers arrived in Yangon on Tuesday to participate in Thingyan celebrations organized by the regime in Naypyidaw. The performers include actor Baek Eun Hee and singers Rejen, Henny, and Dj-Saemi. They traveled to Naypyidaw on Wednesday. 

“The second batch of artists will arrive on April 12 and 14,” said an anonymous source close to the regime’s administration. The regime has invited K-Pop and Russian artists to perform during the Thingyan festival April 13-16. 

KACHIN—The military carried out at least eight airstrikes on Namyar village, Hpakant Township, on Tuesday. Residents of Namyar and two other villages fled their homes when fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Burma Army began last month. 

“The KIA attacked the Namyar military outpost in the early morning [April 9]. The military conducted retaliatory airstrikes and artillery shellings,” said a Namyar resident. The KIA has seized control of more than 60 military outposts along the Myitkyina-Bhamo Road. 

The KIA stated that it had seized 10 billion kyat from the outpost of Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 142 in the town of Loije (Lwegel) in Momauk Township, located along the Burma-China border, on Tuesday. 

“We found the banknotes stored inside their garage. They were trying to take them out,” said a KIA official. The sixty-three Burma Army personnel abandoned the outpost and fled to China through a small border gate on Monday. The LIB 142 outpost has been in Loije since 1987. 

MANDALAY—A group calling itself Aung Si Daw Operation claimed that it had detonated an explosive at the Mingalar Mandalay Thingyan pavilion in Chanmyathazi Township on Tuesday. “It is just a warning and we did our best not to harm civilians,” said a spokesperson of the group. No one was injured but a KBZ bank branch was damaged. The regime has set up Thingyan pavilions around the Mandalay Palace moat. 

(Exchange rate: $1 USD = 3,840 kyat)

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