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Thailand wants to ‘speak to all sides’ in Burma; First batch of military conscripts complete training

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Thailand wants to ‘speak to all sides’ in Burma

Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin told a cabinet meeting in Bangkok on Wednesday that there were sensitive issues in facilitating talks between the Burma’s military regime and resistance forces, Reuters reported. “We must speak to all sides,” he said.

Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-nukara stated that Thailand is a neutral actor in Burma’s crisis and called for all sides to engage in negotiations. He added that Thailand is prepared to accept up to 100,000 refugees from Burma displaced by conflict.

The remarks from both Thai officials came after Naypyidaw requested Bangkok to allow it to evacuate over 600 troops that surrendered to resistance forces in Myawaddy, via Mae Sot Airport, April 7-9. Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs allowed a plane to land Sunday on “humanitarian grounds,” but canceled departures on Monday and Tuesday.

New Zealand protest calls to disinvite military regime 

A rally took place at New Zealand’s parliament grounds in the capital on Wednesday. Protesters demanded that the government reject visas for Naypyidaw to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Wellington April 18-19.

“The previous New Zealand government [under] the Labor Party [was] against the military and [stood up for] democracy and the Myanmar people. We have learned that the new government is inviting [the regime] through ASEAN,” said Naw Aung, spokesperson for Defend Myanmar Democracy.

New Zealand was one of the first countries to condemn the 2021 military coup in Burma. This ASEAN meeting in Wellington would be the first hosted in the country since 2019. Member of parliament Phil Twyford called on his government to decline visas for the military regime as Australia did during its ASEAN meeting in Melbourne last month.

Regime Minister of Information Maung Maung Ohn meets with conscripts in Naypyidaw on April 8. (Credit: Regime media)

First batch of military conscripts complete training

Regime officials announced that the first batch of 5,000 conscripts completed military training in Naypyidaw, Yangon, Mandalay, Ayeyarwady, Bago, Magway, and Sagaing regions, as well as Mon, and Shan states on Monday. 

One conscript reportedly died during military training earlier this month in Yangon’s Taikkyi Township. “In Yangon, the training was provided in the last week of March. On March 29, the conscripts received medical checkups and demonstrations of how to wear uniforms,” said a Yangon resident. 

The regime opened two military training schools in southern Shan State on April 3. The military’s conscription law was activated on Feb. 10. Five thousand eligible men aged 18 to 35, and women aged 18 to 27, are expected to be conscripted into the military each month. The maximum punishment for evading conscription is five years in prison.

News by Region

KACHIN—Sixty-three Burma Army personnel in the border town of Loije (Lwegel) fled to China on Monday. “I think Chinese officials let them cross to enter China. They all left on Monday night. So, we cleared their military base the next morning,” said an official from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). 

The KIA seized all military outposts along the Lwegel-Bhamo road, a border trading route, on April 1. Residents claimed that trucks transporting local fruit to China were destroyed after all trade was halted in Loije when fighting began on March 29. 

KAREN—Padoh Saw Taw Nee, the spokesperson of the Karen National Union (KNU), told DVB that it is holding surrendered military personnel as prisoners of war in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. He added that the KNU won’t return the troops to the regime in Naypyidaw without their consent. 

“We won’t stop them if they want to go. We won’t force them to go because we are responsible for their security and lives. There are humanitarian policies and laws that we must follow,” said Padoh Saw Taw Nee. More than 600 troops, along with their families, surrendered in Myawaddy Township on Friday. The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) claims that it is negotiating the surrender of the last remaining Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 275 outpost in Myawaddy.

MANDALAY—The National Unity Government (NUG) Ministry of Defense stated that the People’s Defense Force (PDF) attacked the Defense Services Academy in Pyin Oo Lwin on Monday. PDF members fired four 107-mm rockets into the academy’s compound. It is unknown if there were any casualties or damages. 

MON—The PDF claimed that it carried out a drone strike on the Southeast Command Headquarters in Mawlamyine while deputy regime chief Soe Win and other officials were meeting inside the building. “We used fixed-wing drones during the attack. The bombs dropped inside the compound and exploded. We do not know the exact damages yet,” said a PDF spokesperson. Mawlamyine residents said the military patrolled the town and fired retaliatory artillery shells. 

A resistance group calling itself the Mon State Revolutionary Force claimed that it has been contacted by hundreds of people evading military conscription since the law came into effect on Feb. 10. It is training more than 50 new recruits aged 18 to 40, according to its spokesperson Ta La Nai. “After the regime activated the conscription law, some of my friends fled to Thailand and I chose to join the resistance,” said an anonymous member of the group. 

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