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UK sanctions three accused of human trafficking; Thai-Burma border aid task force to be formed

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

UK sanctions three accused of human trafficking

To commemorate Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, the U.K. placed sanctions on three gambling tycoons: Saw Chit Thu, leader of the Karen State Border Guard Force (BGF), Saw Min Min Oo, managing director of a company owned by the BGF, and She Zhijiang, a Chinese-Cambodian businessperson arrested in Thailand last year. 

All three are involved with the “new city” project along the Thai-Burma border in Shwe Kokko Myaing, Karen State. This is where alleged online “scam farms” are in operation. “We will not tolerate criminals and repressive regimes violating the fundamental rights and freedoms of ordinary people worldwide,” said David Cameron, the U.K. Foreign Secretary.  

The three are among nine people and five entities accused of human trafficking and perpetrating significant fraud across the region. The U.N. estimates that at least 120,000 people in Burma are being forced to work for cyber scam operations.

Thai-Burma border aid task force to be formed

Thailand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara and regime Minister Than Swe agreed to establish a joint task force to improve humanitarian aid for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and people living along the Thai-Burma border. 

The two made the announcement at the 8th Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) in Beijing, China on Dec. 7. Bangkok hopes this joint effort will foster stronger engagement between Naypyidaw, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the international community. 

Another 400 Rohingya reach shores of Indonesia

An estimated 400 Rohingya arrived in Indonesia’s Aceh Province on Sunday, confirmed the chief of a fishing village. The U.N. stated that 1,200 Rohingya have landed on the shores of Indonesia over the last month with an unknown number of boats being pushed back to sea by locals.

Fortify Rights Director John Quinley III condemned ASEAN for violating international law by allowing boats to be pushed back. “It’s a shameful policy that ASEAN has in protecting refugees that are fleeing violence, persecution, and imminent threats to their lives,” said Quinley in an interview with DVB. 

DVB Weekly Cartoon: “Malicious media” reports what the tiny dictator wants to keep hidden.

News by Region

ARAKAN—Mobile phone and internet services will be shut down gradually as over 100 Mytel and 200 MPT telecom towers are unable to source fuel. “In the coming week, all telecom towers in the state will be out of fuel,” said an unnamed spokesperson from the state telecommunications department. 

Over 200 out of 500 MPT telecom towers and 100 out of over 300 Mytel telecom towers are unable to operate without fuel. The military has blocked all roads and waterways since fighting against the AA resumed on Nov. 13. 

CHIN—The AA captured a military outpost in Paletwa Township on Dec. 7, a source close to the AA told DVB. The military allegedly suffered significant casualties, the source added. The outpost was occupied following 20 days of fighting. The Taronai outpost in Paletwa Township was captured on Dec. 4. 

MANDALAY—Former soldiers jailed at Obo Prison were ordered to return to the military on Dec. 7. “These individuals were not permitted to return home. Instead, they are expected to resume military duties,” an unnamed official from Obo Prison told DVB. 

Refusal to comply with the military order could result in an additional 60-year prison sentence. Similar reports have emerged at Paungde Prison in Bago Region and Pathein Prison in Ayeyarwady Region. 

SHAN—Poppy farmers in southern Shan State have reported a surge in cultivation since the 2021 military coup. Increasing numbers of farmers growing the crop has led to a slight drop in poppy prices this year, with earnings now exceeding 900,000 kyat per Viss (1 Viss = 1.63 kg). Prices were at least 1.3 million kyat per Viss prior to 2021.

Farmers said that taxation exceeding 200,000 kyat per acre has been imposed by armed groups. “We need to pay taxes to the [PNO] and PNLA. Farmers are also required to pay fees to both the regime’s police and soldiers,” a farmer told DVB. The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported a 33 percent increase in poppy plantations since 2021. 

YANGON—Two protesters were killed and at least two others were arrested during an anti-coup protest in Tamwe Township on Dec. 8. Regime security forces pursued and shot at protesters who had barricaded a street and set tires on fire. “They shot and apprehended the protesters,” a Tamwe resident told DVB. 

A security guard was injured by an explosion at the gate of Shwe Htut Tin compound in East Horse Race Course road of Tamwe Township on Dec. 9. “It is better not to go to any crowded places at this time,” said a Tamwe resident. An unnamed group in Yangon claimed that it had detonated a remote-controlled bomb.

(Exchange rate: $1 USD = 3,550 kyat)

Watch Newsroom: The Social Life of Teak in Myanmar on Spotify or YouTube. Listen to it on Audible, Apple or Google Podcasts, Amazon or YouTube Music. DVB English News podcasts.

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