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UN expert says conscription law shows military’s desperation; Alleged Yakuza leader indicted in US

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

UN expert says conscription law shows military’s ‘desperation’

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma, Tom Andrews, said on Wednesday that the military regime’s decision to enforce its conscription law shows “weakness and desperation.” He added that the military still remains a threat to civilians.

“Make no mistake, signs of desperation, such as the imposition of a draft, are not indications that the junta and its forces are less of a threat to the people of Myanmar. In fact, many are facing even greater dangers,” said Andrews.

The regime in Naypyidaw announced on Feb. 10 that it would enforce the conscription law, which stipulates that men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 must serve in the military for at least two years or five years in prison. The U.N. states that there are nearly 2.7 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Burma. 

Activist says regime must be forced into ‘dustbin’ of history

Pro-democracy activist Igor Blazevic, the program director at the Prague Civil Society Center, spoke to DVB about Burma’s political future if the military were to release Aung San Suu Kyi from prison, where she’s been held since the military coup on Feb. 1, 2021. 

“The best for Myanmar [would be] the moment when she is released, if she does what [Nelson] Mandela has done [and] become the senior, respected, political kind of symbol. But basically to leave the political process to be in the hands of those who have been leading the current Spring Revolution,” he said.

Blazevic added that Min Aung Hlaing has tried many times to manipulate democratic forces and fracture the anti-coup resistance. He wants to see the regime excluded from all future political negotiations and placed into what he calls the “dustbin” of history.

Alleged Yakuza leader indicted in US

The U.S. Justice Department announced on Wednesday that it has charged Takeshi Ebisawa, an alleged leader of the Yakuza, with selling nuclear materials he obtained from an Ethnic Armed Organization (EAO). 

“Takeshi Ebisawa brazenly trafficked material containing uranium and weapons-grade plutonium from Burma to other countries. He allegedly did so while believing that the material was going to be used in the development of a nuclear weapons program,” said Damian WIlliams, the U.S. Attorney for the southern district of New York.

Ebisawa was arrested by U.S. authorities in 2022 for attempting to obtain surface-to-air missiles and other weapons for armed groups in Burma and Sri Lanka in exchange for narcotics. He is accused of seeking to sell plutonium and uranium to Iran for its nuclear program in exchange for weapons. 

News by Region

Einme residents read leaflets distributed by regime officials during a visit to Ayeyarwady Region on Feb. 20-21. (Credit: CJ)

AYEYARWADY—Regime officials led a military recruitment drive in the town of Einme Feb. 20-21. “I am not interested in joining the army. I am terrified. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” an Einme resident told DVB. 

Pro-military conscription leaflets were distributed to residents gathered. It read: “As a citizen, do you want to serve in the army, or would you rather end your life as a rebel in the forest?” 

ARAKAN—A Rohingya man working for a civil society group in Kyaukphyu Township said that the military is attempting to enlist all Rohingya aged 18 and above from IDP camps and villages in Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Sittwe, and Kyaukphyu townships. 

“They called a meeting and it was announced that 150 individuals would be selected for the first batch to join 542nd Light Infantry Battalion in Kyaukphyu for the security of the township. The second group will consist of 200 people, and the third batch, 250,” he told DVB. An unnamed administrator said that the families of anyone avoiding conscription will be jailed. 

BAGO—Four civilians, including two children, were killed and five others were injured when a military helicopter attacked three villages in Yedashe Township on Wednesday. The Burma Army is currently deployed in the area.

“There was no fighting and civilians were there. One of the injured civilians was sent to a hospital in Naypyidaw and is in critical condition,” said the spokesperson of a local resistance group. 

YANGON—The Burma Army handed out eviction notices Sunday to more than 80 Chin people in Myaungtaga village of Hmawbi Township asking them to leave by Feb. 22. Some residents are already staying at local churches. 

“They bought the land from real estate agents in 2020. Now, they have no place to stay,” said a resident of Myaungtaga village. The Chin people moved to Yangon when they became IDPs in 2020 during fighting between the Arakan Army (AA) and the Burma Army in Paletwa, southern Chinland.

TANINTHARYI—Two people were killed and several were injured by a bomb detonated near an Air Force base in Myeik on Feb. 21. “Even houses shook,” a Myeik resident told DVB. The Seaview Condo, located near the site of the blast, is owned by a military-affiliated company. No group has claimed responsibility.

Tune-in to the Weekly Briefing podcast, available on Fridays. DVB English News is on Spotify, YouTube, Audible, Amazon Music & Apple Podcasts. Follow us for more.

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