Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Hangings would be war crimes: UN. The UN’s Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar has announced that it believes the junta’s plan to execute democracy figures, including Ko Jimmy and Zeya Thaw, would constitute a crime against humanity. The UN investigation team concluded that the military’s use of opaque tribunals to sentence the men does not satisfy the basic requirements laid down in international law for a fair trial, saying that it also believed the rights of those convicted were violated during legal proceedings. The body pronounced that: “Imprisonment as a crime against humanity is committed when a person is detained without due process of law, including in violation of fundamental rules of international law. It is also a war crime to impose sentences and carry out executions without a judgement by a regularly constituted court.” The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar was established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018 to document human rights violations and international crimes in Burma since 2011. Nation states, INGOs, EAOs, and various local defense forces have voiced stern opposition to the junta’s plan to resume capital punishment for political prisoners.

CSOs urge French Government to withhold TotalEnergies sanctions exemption. 459 Burmese and international civil society organizations issued a joint statement via rights group Progessive Voice urging the French government not to grant energy giant TotalEnergies an exemption allowing it to bypass EU sanctions and issue payments due to the military’s Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE). Total in January expressed that it was to sell its 31.24% stake in Burma’s offshore Yadanar gas fields, with partner PTTEP of Thailand later emerging as the buyer. The statement requested that French officials listen to the people of Burma and ensure that revenues do not reach the junta. Activists had demanded Total pay taxes due to MOGE to an escrow account inaccessible to the military until the current crisis is resolved. In response, the company said that such a move would violate local laws and put staff members in danger. The EU enacted sanctions against MOGE — one of the military regime’s primary generators of foreign exchange — on Feb. 21, 2022, and the French Senate has said that it recognizes the NUG as the legitimate representatives of Burmese people.

Burma-India overland trade to restart. Burma and India are likely to soon resume bilateral trade, two years after borders were sealed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the New Indian Express. Officials from India’s Ministry of Commerce held discussions with junta authorities over the past few weeks concerning the reopening of the land route linking the two countries, according to sources. Trade is likely to first resume through the Indian border town of Moreh, adjacent to the Burmese border town of Tamu. Burma is one of the largest exporters of legumes and beans to India, while India primarily exports pharmaceutical products to its southeast Asian neighbor. “India shares religious, linguistic and ethnic ties with Myanmar, which is the only ASEAN country adjoining India and, therefore, is a gateway to Southeast Asia. India is seeking to enhance its cooperation with Myanmar in line with our ‘Act East’ and ‘Neighborhood First’ Policies,’’ India’s Ministry of External Affairs told the outlet. Despite the two countries sharing a long land border, trade between India and Burma is mainly conducted by air and sea, with overland imports and exports representing only ~10% of aggregate trade value. The India-Burma border has also been the scene of intense fighting between junta forces and local defense forces in Chin State and Sagaing Region, with Indian border forces intercepting an increasing quantity of narcotics and weaponry at the border and a number of India-based insurgent groups being drawn into fighting — mostly on the side of the Burmese military.

DKBA cozies up to junta. The Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) has pledged to the SAC to always cooperate with the junta, state media has claimed. A DKBA delegation led by DKBA Commander-in-Chief Saw Steel met with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing on Jun. 19 in Naypyidaw. As with all six parties that have previously met with the junta during this round of talks, state media said the groups discussed the establishment of a “federal democratic union” and other “regional issues”. The DKBA delegation is scheduled to next meet with the military’s “peace committee”. The statement from the DKBA’s commander is likely to further antagonize members of the EAO who sympathize with the struggle of fellow Karen people, of which reports suggest there are many. | BURMESE 

News by Region

AYEYARWADY — 53 of 104 Rohingya arrested at Yegyi township’s Yay Nan Thar checkpoint on June 17 were charged under Sec. 6(3) of the Penal Code and later sentenced to two years in prison by the Yegyi Township Court, police sources told DVB. “Every one [of the detained Rohingya] will be charged, but punishments will be handed out in batches. The charges were filed by the migration department,” a source close to the police said. Those sentenced are being imprisoned in Pathein Prison. Those remaining will be sentenced at a future court hearing, according to the police. The Rohingya were arrested while they were being transported in three trucks from Gwa, Rakhine State. Four of the trucks’ drivers have also been arrested and charged by police. DVB recently reported on the hurdles Rohingya people still face when attempting to travel outside of townships in Rakhine State. | BURMESE

AYEYARWADY —The military is upping a recruitment drive targeting youths in rural parts of Myaungmya township, offering a one time payment of K1 million (US$540) and a bag of rice to those signing up, locals told DVB. Soldiers are making the offer in the face of heavy troop losses and miniscule recruit numbers. “Some are being recruited at military checkpoints, while others are being scouted by informants. New soldiers are entitled to benefits — and they are specifically trying to persuade youths with these incentives,” a Myaungmya native said. It has been reported that men are being recruited at checkpoints in Myaungmya and Labutta townships. Locals told DVB that informants are being paid K1.5 million (US$810) for every new soldier they recruit. | BURMESE

CHIN —One woman was gravely wounded and another one received minor injuries when a landmine detonated in Paletwa township. The victims, 38-year-old Win Khin from Sakachaung village and 50-year-old Chit Khin, were living in a refugee camp in a Paletwa football stadium. One of the pair stepped on the device while foraging on the morning of June 20. “The incident occurred between Paletwa and Abaungthar village. Khin lost one of her eyes as well as her legs. The incident is severe, and she is clinging to life. The other was not seriously injured. Both are being treated at a hospital,” a local told DVB. Fighting broke out between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army (AA) on May 36 near Abaungthar village in Paletwa township and troops from both forces are stationed near the village, according to residents. A young man activated a landmine on May 29 in Ngacha village, Paletwa township, and two people were killed and three others were injured in a similar incident in Myebon, Kyauktaw, and Rathedaung townships in Rakhine State in June. | BURMESE 

CHIN —The price of rice has skyrocketed in Paletwa township after the military banned the transportation of rice by river in Paletwa following May 26 clashes between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army (AA), residents said. “We cannot transport rice by water in Paletwa. Rice is not allowed to be carried by motorboat or ferry. Some shops do not even have rice to sell now — a bag of Paw San Hmwe rice which previously retailed for K55,000 (US$30) is now selling for over K70,000 (US$38). I heard today that you need to get permission at the [military-controlled] township administration office to transport rice,” a rice seller in Paletwa told DVB. The price of basic commodities in the region is likely to rise further this week — despite military ferries weekly transporting its own cargo from Paletwa to Kyauktaw — as the nearby river has flooded. A local said that the prices of many staples rose to more than one and a half times their original value after the clashes. “Before the fighting, bags of rice were K50,000 (US$27). Fuel was K15,000 (US$8) per liter, but has risen to K20,000 (US$11). I heard that the military ferry will not sail tomorrow. If it does not, the price of goods will rise further,” a resident of Paletwa said. Paletwa, a strategically crucial town in previous battles between the military and the AA, relies heavily on junta-operated ferries for the delivery of cargo. | BURMESE

KACHIN —Three villagers were found dead with hands bound, faces covered, and gunshot wounds to their heads in Hmawsisa village, Hpakant township on the night of June 19, witnesses told DVB. The bodies were dumped on the outskirts of the village and were taken to Hpakant Public Hospital on the morning of June 20. The victims were all male and from Taw Hmaw, Saiya, and Masar villages in Hpakant township. The bodies of a village administrator and four of his associates were discovered in a similar incident in Malinchaung village on the night of May 31. DVB could not uncover the motive behind the killings, and no group has yet taken responsibility. | BURMESE

MAGWAY —Two child IDPs were killed by unexploded ordnance (UXO) in a forest in Gangaw township on Jun. 19. Seven-year-old Maung Pyae Song Maung and Maung Min Htut Zaw activated the 40mm shell during play. “The victims are said to have hit the ordnance with stones while they were playing. The device exploded and they died on the spot,” a local told DVB. Gangaw PDF advised local people to inform their children about the dangers of UXOs. | BURMESE

MAGWAY —The military arrested two laborers from the department of railways in Yesagyo township on the morning of June 19. The pair are alleged to have been in possession of salvaged iron with the intent to use it in the production of homebrew firearms and explosives. “It is clear that the junta’s soldiers have lost their minds — they’ve arrested people who found scraps of iron believing that they will make guns or landmines!,” a local person exclaimed to DVB. Soldiers are believed to be carrying out arbitrary arrests at checkpoints and the road entries and exits of Yesagyo. The detained were taken to a Yesagyo police station for further investigation and their families have not been contacted by security forces. More than 400 people have been arrested by the regime in Magway Region since January this year. | BURMESE

MANDALAY —A military officer was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Maha Aung Myay township on the morning of Jun. 21. “He recently arrived from Yangon — he was shot at around 7 a.m. while he was visiting his mother’s house,” a local close to the sergeant’s mother told DVB. Sgt. Myo Htwe is believed to have been shot five times and died on the spot. On Oct. 1, an administrator was shot dead by an unknown assassin in the city’s Chanmyatharzi township. | BURMESE

MANDALAY —14 people were arrested in Kyaik Pyin ward, western Mogok, after security forces cordoned off streets and checked household guest lists on the morning of Jun. 20, according to locals. It is currently unknown who was arrested or why the arrests were staged, yet some people are believed to have been detained at a tea shop alongside CDM civil servants. The group is currently being detained at police stations in the township. Residents expressed alarm over the raid, with most remaining indoors due to the massive security presence within the town. On June 15, IEDs detonated at two different state high schools in western Mogok, with two local people arrested in connection to the attacks. | BURMESE

RAKHINE —The Arakan Army (AA) arrested three officers from Kyauktaw township’s Myoma Police Station near a football field in Myothit ward on Monday evening, locals told DVB. “It’s been confirmed that three policemen were taken into custody [of the AA]. Each group is currently detaining members of the other,” a resident of the nearby historical town of Mrauk-U said. Those detained included a police sergeant, a Kyauktaw resident said. The AA has captured at least three Burma Army personnel and four police officers since June 11, after promising to detain members of the security forces that were found to be harassing Rakhine citizens. The two armies continue to nominally observe a Nov. 2020 ceasefire. | BURMESE

SAGAING —Sai Se Laing (aka Sai Kyan Aung), manager of the southern branch of the Shanni Literature and Culture Association and vice-chairman of the Shanni Youth Network, was detained by PDF operatives on Jun. 19, the Shanni Youth Network has claimed. Those who know the young man expressed bemusement over his capture. Read more. BURMESE

SAGAING —The military arrested Moe Zaw Tun, a lawyer representing ousted Sagaing Chief Minister Dr Myint Naing, on June 20, according to sources close to the detainee. “The military arrested Moe Zaw Tun at around 1 p.m. yesterday. He is a lawyer that mostly works political cases,” the source said. The reason behind the arrest is unclear, but the military has previously threatened and arrested members of legal teams representing NLD officials. The lawyer was arrested at his home in Monywa and his whereabouts are unknown. He is said to specialize in the representation of those charged under Sec. 505(a) of the Penal Code, the military’s unbounded “thought crime” law introduced since the coup. | BURMESE

SAGAING —The bodies of two people believed to have been killed by the military were found in the forest near a monastery in Gontaw village, Salingyi township on the evening of Jun. 20. The victims were from Gontaw village and were arrested on Jun. 16 while fleeing a military raid. The reasons behind the arrests and killings are unknown. Soldiers stationed in the village monastery also set fire to nearby homes and arrested residents. Locals say that some villagers are still missing. | BURMESE

SAGAING —Junta forces set fire to Kaung Sint village in Yinmarbin township on the morning of June 20, destroying 16 houses and forcing more than 1,000 locals to flee. The military has been stationed in the village for three days and had previously killed livestock and destroyed homes, locals said. Soldiers are said to have opened fire on those attempting to extinguish the flames, forcing villagers to flee. A resident said that clashes between local defense forces and the military broke out at around noon following the arson attacks. | BURMESE

TANINTHARYI —The Launglon People’s Administration announced on June 20 that around 3,000 people have fled the township over the past five days due to ongoing violence being committed by the military. The PAF said that a man and a woman were killed, and that two men and a woman were injured during recent attacks. 18 men and eight women are believed to have been arrested in the past five days and are being held at Launglon Police Station. Some were released after being questioned by police. An official from Launglon Township People’s Administration said that they are working to systematically document atrocities committed by junta forces in order for legal action to be taken both locally and internationally to ensure that victims of violence receive justice. | BURMESE

YANGON —The junta has banned civilians from using overpasses in Yangon, positioning soldiers near walkways across the city, residents have reported. Yangon’s overpasses were constructed during the NLD administration to improve road safety, yet only soldiers have been allowed to use many of them since the coup. Protesters in Yangon often use the prominent structures to hang anti-military signboards and revolutionary banners. | BURMESE