Tag Archives: Human Rights

China: Daily Scan, September 29, 2021

Xi calls for accelerating building of world center for talent, innovation: Xinhuanet
September 28, 2021

Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed efforts to implement the strategy on developing a quality workforce in the new era and to accelerate the work to build China into a major world center of professional talent and innovation. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks when speaking at a central conference on talent-related work, which was held on Monday and Tuesday. Click here to read

China’s newly launched experimental satellite experiences abnormalities: Xinhuanet
September 28, 2021

A Chinese experimental satellite sent into space on Monday has experienced abnormalities, and space engineers are investigating the cause.The satellite was launched at 4:20 p.m. (Beijing Time) on a Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.The satellite entered the planned orbit but showed abnormalities during flightClick here to read

China takes multiple measures to cope with power shortages: Xinhuanet
September 28, 2021

China has taken a slew of measures to cope with the emergency of tightened power supply to meet people’s power needs and ensure economic growth and social stability. Work teams have been dispatched to Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, eastern Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang and Hunan, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said. Click here to read

PLAAF cultivates pilots for intelligentized air battle: China Military
September 28, 2021

The International Military Flight Training Conference 2021 hosted by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) was held in Zhuhai on September 27. Representatives from 49 countries attended the conference by either coming to the conference site or via video link. Twelve Chinese and foreign guests from military and civilian circles made speeches around the theme of “Talent, Innovation, Collaboration, Development”. Click here to read

China’s 2021 anti-piracy operation helps clean up cyberspace: People’s Daily
September 28, 2021

A national anti-piracy operation targeting copyright infringement on the internet has helped clean up cyberspace, an official statement said Tuesday.Copyright law enforcement departments at various levels have investigated 445 cases involving online copyright infringement, shutting down 245 illegal websites and mobile applications transmitting pirated content, and removing 618,300 web links with such content since the operation was launched in June, said the statement. Click here to read

Supersonic cruise missile ready for export: China Daily
September 29, 2021

China is ready to export one of its mightiest weapons a submarine-launched supersonic cruise missile system that has been deployed by the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The YJ-18E, an export version of the YJ-18, is on display at the 13th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, the largest arms show in the nation, which means its maker China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp has obtained government approval to sell the cutting-edge missile overseas. Click here to read

China’s most advanced stealth drones make air show debut: Global Times
September 28, 2021

Airshow China 2021’s opening ceremony on Tuesday attracted attention worldwide, with several of the most advanced China-made drones making their debuts, including the GJ-11 prototype, WZ-7 and WZ-8, which first appeared at the military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 2019, and experts said this shows China’s full confidence in its world-class unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology. Click here to read

Chinese EV battery maker CATL expands overseas investment: Global Times
September 29, 2021

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Co (CATL) has made investments in a pair of major overseas projects, including an acquisition of a Canadian lithium company and investment in a joint lithium project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). CATL has agreed to purchase Canada’s Millennial Lithium Corp for C$376.8 million ($297.3 million), Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing the Canadian mining company. Click here to read

Huawei to recruit more ‘high-nose’ staff who master ‘foreign arms’ says CEO Ren Zhengfei: Global Times
September 29, 2021

Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei said in a company internal email sent on August 12 that Huawei will hire more foreign experts who possess advance skills and can join the development of the company and the country, which was made public on Tuesday. Ren joked using the friendly Chinese slang “high-nose” and mastering “foreign arms” to describe the foreign experts that Huawei is planning to recruit. Click here to read

China’s development finance double US’ but issues threaten belt and road, says report: South China Morning Post
September 29, 2021

China’s development financing has more than doubled that of the United States or any other major power, but if it wants to remain competitive its belt and road projects must address key concerns relating to debt and implementation, a new report said. The extensive analysis published by AidData, a research lab at William & Mary college, on Wednesday showed that China spent an average US$85.4 billion a year in the five years after the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was launched in 2013, far outpacing the US at US$37 billion a year. Click here to read

China faces backlash on move to reduce abortions as Beijing tries to boost birth rate to counter ageing population: South China Morning Post
September 28, 2021

The Chinese government’s move to discourage abortions for “non-medical” purposes has been met by a public backlash, with many seeing this as an intrusive measure meant to raise the country’s birthrate. The State Council said on Monday it will: “reduce the rate of abortions needed for non-medical reasons”, as part of its efforts to improve women’s health, according to a series of new guidelines addressing issues related to women and children in the country. The policy did not elaborate on how this would be achieved. Click here to read

China calls a WTO solar ruling favoring the US ‘dangerous’: Taipei Times
September 29, 2021

China on Monday lambasted a WTO ruling in a row with the US over Washington’s measures to limit the import of solar panel cells, calling it “erroneous and dangerous.” A WTO panel handed a victory to the US earlier this month, rejecting all four of China’s claims and saying that the US measures did not breach global trade rules. China last week said that it would appeal the decision. Click here to read

China asking state-backed firms to pick up Evergrande assets: Reuters
September 29, 2021

Beijing is prodding government-owned firms and state-backed property developers such as China Vanke Co Ltd to purchase some of embattled China Evergrande Group’s assets, people with knowledge of the matter said. Evergrande, saddled with $305 billion in liabilities, is teetering on the brink of collapse. But the central government is unlikely to intervene directly to resolve Evergrande’s crisis in the form of a bailout, according to six people, including four in government and regulatory bodies. Click here to read

VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: September 29, 2021

Afghanistan
MoJ to Enforce Zahir Shah-Era Constitution: Tolo News

For an interim period, the constitution from the time of the Afghan king will be enforced, except for some articles against Sharia Law and Emirate principles. Click here to read

Afghan Businessmen Face Export Problems in Trade with Pakistan: Tolo News

Officials from Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) said that once again Afghan exports face problems in crossing points with Pakistan as the neighboring country allows only 20 Afghan trucks a day while hundreds of trucks are stuck near crossing points between the two countries. Click here to read

Former Afghan officials announce government in exile: The Khaama Press

A number of former Afghan officials who have fled the country along with President Ashraf Ghani announced the continuation of the Afghan government in exile. Click here to read

Taliban to implement a constitution from nearly 60 years ago: The Khaama Press

Taliban’s acting minister of Justice Abdul Hakim Sharaee said that they will implement the constitution from the era of Muhammad Zahir Shah which was ratified 57 years ago. Click here to read

Will not engage in Afghanistan until establishment of inclusive government: Erdogan: The Khaama Pres

President of Turkey Recep Tayyib Erdogan has said that they will not engage in Afghanistan until and unless the Taliban forge an all-inclusive government in the country. Click here to read

Bangladesh
Turkey-Bangladesh ties get stronger as misconceptions clarified- Daily Sabah

Relations between Turkey and Bangladesh scaled up after disinformation about Bangladesh spoiling Muslim unity was proven wrong, Bangladeshi officials said. Click here to read

Crystal meth creeps up on city- Daily Star

There is a growing market for highly addictive drug crystal meth in the capital, operated mostly through encrypted messaging apps, officials have found out. Click here to read

Over 66 lakh shots given: Special Covid vaccination drive marks Hasina’s 75th birthday- Daily Star

The country more than doubled its previous record of single-day vaccinations as the government inoculated more than 66 lakh people against Covid-19 yesterday. Click here to read

No more brokers- Daily Star

The Department of Immigration and Passports (DIP) has taken a plan to introduce licenced “agents” to help people get passports and renew them. Click here to read

AL focusing on polls, BNP on election-time government- Dhaka Tribune

The ruling Awami League has already begun preparations for the next general election, to be held at the end of 2023. Click here to read

Covid-19: Bangladesh records 31 more deaths, 1,310 new cases- Dhaka Tribune

As many as 29,186 samples tested in 24 hours, yielding an infection rate of 4.49%.Click here to read

High Court extends Khaleda Zia’s bail by a year in 5 cases- Dhaka Tribune

File photo of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia Collected the BNP chief is out of prison since March last year as the govt has suspended her sentence. Click here to read

Windows of democracy and Sheikh Hasina’s birthday – Asian Age

Sheikh Hasina regards the people of Bangladesh as her closest and dearest ones. Click here to read

Bangamata Parishad observes PM’s birthday- Asian Age

Bangamata Parishad observed the 75th birthday of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday. The organization also held a discussion program in the capital’s National Museum on the same day. Click here to read

No alternative to Sheikh Hasina to reach desired destination: Hasan- The Observer

Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud on Tuesday said that there is no alternative to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to reach the country in its desired destination. Click here to read

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina likely to visit India next year- Times of India

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is likely to visit New Delhi early next year. The dates for the visit expected to be in January or February 2022, will be finalised only after a formal invitation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi is extended to her. Click here to read

Consultancy contract signed between India & Bangladesh for a new railway line from Bogura to Sirajganj- All India Radio

A new direct rail line from Bogura to Sirajganj in Bangladesh will be developed under a government of India Line of Credit (LoC). Click here to read

Fifty years ago, remote Dimapur airstrip gave wings to fledgling Bangladesh Air Force- Economic time

By November 5, we could proudly say Bangladeshi and Indian Air forces had freed the skies over Bangladesh. The victory over land forces took 11 more days. Click here to read

Bhutan
No local Covid-19 cases for 45 straight days- Kuensel

Bhutan has not reported any positive Covid-19 cases from the community for 45 straight days. The last positive case from the community was reported on August 14: an individual from Gomtu, Samtse. Click here to read

RUB colleges establish happiness and wellbeing centres- Kuensel

Colleges under the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) are establishing happiness and wellbeing centres to address mental health problems. Click here to read

Pandemic impacts nettle fabric business- Kuensel

Like many businesses, the pandemic impacted women who make a living weaving fabric from nettle yarn in Trongsa. Click here to read

Bhutan is home to one of the most expensive mushrooms in the world- Daily Bhutan

Email There is even a festival for it, known as the Matsutake Mushroom Festival. There, you’ll get to sample various dishes prepared with this mushroom. Click here to read

PM hosts reception to mark 50th anniversary Bhutan’s membership to the UN- Bhutan Times

A limited edition collectible commemorative stamp developed in partnership with Bhutan Post to mark the 50th anniversary of Bhutan’s membership to the UN was also launched by Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering and UN Resident Representative Gerald Daly on 21 September. Click here to read

Construction of new bridge along Damchhu-Haa bypass to begin from November- BBS

A new bridge over Wangchhu along the Damchhu-Haa bypass will be constructed from November. The project DANTAK will construct the bridge. The previous bridge which was almost complete collapsed in February this year killing nine Indian workers. Click here to read

Flagship programmes make slow progress amid the pandemic- BBS

With the 12th Five Year Plan already midway, the government was able to utilise only more than Nu 2bn on the flagship programmes so far. A total budget of Nu 10bn was identified for these programmes. Click here to read

How digital cash can lift gross national happiness in Bhutan- Mint

Cash is a relatively new construct in Bhutan. Click here to read

COVID-19 and rabies: Bhutan highlights the importance of cross-border dog vaccination- WHO

Despite the sad loss of its young citizen recently, Bhutan is on the right track to achieve this goal. Click here to read

India inks pact for joint development of small satellite for Bhutan- New Indian Express

India on Friday signed the implementing arrangement on the joint development of a small satellite for Bhutan. Click here to read

Maldives
‘Against Freedom of Expression’: Maldives Journalist Bodies Oppose Provisions in New Bill – The Wire

Journalist organisations and NGOs in Maldives have, in a joint statement issued on Tuesday, September 28, called for the country’s authorities to drop certain provisions from the Evidence Bill which is currently being debated in the country’s parliament. Click here to read

Over 100,000 arrivals recorded for the fourth month this ongoing year! – Raajje

The Ministry of Tourism, through its latest daily statistics revealed that Maldives observed a total of 102,745 arrivals between September 1 – 26. Click here to read

Maldives committed to One-China Policy, bilateral cooperation in int’l arena: FM – ECNS

Maldives’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid has reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the One-China Policy and willingness to work with China in areas of mutual interest. Click here to read

India’s 228 million social housing project in Maldives and its significance- Inventiva

Maldives’ state-owned Fahi Dhiriulhun Corporation signed a loan agreement with India’s state-owned National Buildings Construction Company which is also known as NBCC, along with JMC Projects India Ltd. on Thursday. Click here to read

Myanmar
Afghanistan, Myanmar left in UN meet – Manila Times

The United Nations General Assembly drew to a close on Monday without speeches by Afghanistan or Myanmar after world powers intervened in disputes over who would represent the two countries. Click here to read

Junta mouthpiece criticises NLD-led decision to disband Union Democratic Party last year – Myanmar Now

A military-run newspaper has published an op-ed criticising the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) government for overseeing the decision to dissolve the Union Democratic Party (UDP) shortly before last year’s general election. Click here to read

Growing numbers of young people seek to flee Myanmar – BNI Online

Young people disheartened by life in Myanmar following the coup are trying in growing numbers to leave the country and find work to help support their families, RFA reported. Click here to read
Myanmar Junta Troops Ambushed in Shan State – The Irrawaddy

At least 20 Myanmar military soldiers were reportedly killed or wounded on Monday, after Karenni resistance fighters ambushed a convoy of junta reinforcements in Pinlaung, Shan State in southeastern Myanmar. Click here to read

Int’l Rights Experts Urge UN to Declare Myanmar Junta ‘Terrorist’ Organization – The Irrawaddy

An independent group of prominent former UN human rights experts has urged the United Nations Security Council to declare the Myanmar military junta a “terrorist organization” for its atrocities against its own civilians including public torture, executions and taking hostages, including children as young as 2. Click here to read

Nepal
Minister Sharma stresses fully proportional election- Himalaya

Finance Minister Janardan Sharma said the fully proportional electoral system is necessary to eliminate unhealthy competition and malpractices in the election. Click here to read

Government to support tourism sector, says PM Deuba- Himalaya

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has said that the government is committed to support country’s tourism sector which has been hit hard by the COVID -19 pandemic. Click here to read

Poorly handled Covid-19 garbage could give rise to hazardous waste crisis- TKP

Amount of coronavirus-related refuse is increasing. There are protocols to manage such items, but implementation has been weak, leaving public health in peril. Click here to read

Panel on Nepal-China border issues calls for bilateral intervention- TKP

Government committee suggests joint inspection team of experts from both sides to deal with the dispute, if any. Click here to read

MCC ball in Nepal’s court- Nepali Times

‘Take it or leave it’ is the message to Kathmandu after visit by US officials. Click here to read

Maoist leader Barshaman Pun leaves for Thailand for treatment- Republica

CPN (Maoist Center) standing committee member Barshaman Pun left for Thailand today. Click here to read

Writ filed seeking annulment of oath taken by Foreign Minister Khadka- Republica

A writ petition has been filed at the Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking an order to annul the oath taken by Foreign Minister Dr Narayan Khadka. Click here to read

Diplomats gather in Pokhara to revive Covid-19-hit Nepal tourism- Online Khabar

Just as the clouds were covering the Annapurna range, Park Chong-Suk, South Korean ambassador to Nepal, quickly took a selfie with his wife. This was at Naudanda, a few kilometres away from Pokhara, the tourism capital of Nepal. Click here to read

Border Roads Bring India and Nepal Closer- The Diplomat

The 35-km-long Uttarey-Chiwanbhangjyang road will link western Sikkim in India not just to areas on the Nepali side of the border but to western Nepal. Click here to read

Nepali Youth Protest in Capital Kathmandu Against Chinese Land Encroachment- NDTV

A youth association affiliated with Nepal’s Democratic Socialist Party led by Mahantha Thakur staged a protest against China on Tuesday for allegedly encroaching Nepal’s land. Click here to read

India MEA official reaches Nepal, to hold series of discussions- Wion

India MEA official reaches Nepal, to hold series of discussions Read more At: Click here to read

Pakistan
Qureshi again urges world to engage with ‘new reality’ in Afghanistan: Dawn

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has once again urged the international community to engage with the “new reality” in Afghanistan and unfreeze the country’s assets so that things do not fall apart. Click here to read

Mazari rebukes US for introducing bill targeting Pakistan for Afghan failure: The Express Tribune

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari has warned that Pakistan will be made to “pay heavy price” for being an ally of the United States in its ‘war on terror’Click here to read

Shehbaz can be sent to prison for 25 years over corruption: Fawad: The Express Tribune

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has said that Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif would be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison “if hearing of his corruption case is conducted on merit” Click here to read

US senators want Pak role probed in Taliban win: The News

A bill was Monday introduced in the US Senate requiring assessments and imposition of sanctions on the Taliban and persons assisting them in Afghanistan. Click here to read

NCOC for vaccination of children aged 12-years, above: The News

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has decided to vaccinate children aged 12 years and above. “In today’s meeting of NCOC, it has been decided to vaccinate all above 12 years and above,” Click here to read

Sri Lanka

932 persons test positive for COVID-19 – Daily FT

Daily COVID-19 detections remained below 1,000 for the second consecutive day with 932 persons testing positive for COVID-19 yesterday. Click here to read

Ensure workers’ rights before extending GSP+: EPZ workers write to EU Ambassador – The Morning

The Stand Up Movement Lanka organisation has written to the European Union (EU), requesting that it intervene to ensure that the rights of workers in the Export Processing Zones (EPZs) are addressed prior to deciding on whether or not to extend the grant of the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) trade concessions to Sri Lanka. Click here to read

Sri Lanka Govt. suspends order placed to procure Oxygen from India – Daily Mirror

The Government has decided to suspend the order placed to purchase 1,080 tonnes of liquid oxygen from India, required for the next three weeks. Click here to read

National Issues Haunt GoSL at UNGA 2021 – Ceylon Today

Sri Lanka’s long-standing problem of seeking justice for the Tamils, and Catholics after the Easter Sunday attacks, has reached the United Nations Headquarters. Click here to read

Myanmar Round Up: August 2021

It has been six months since the declaration of the military coup, protests and demonstrations have continued. During the month, week, anti-coup demonstrations were reported in Kachin and Shan states, Magway, Mandalay, Sagaing, Tanintharyi, and Yangon regions. The protests on 08 August referred to the “8-8-88” democracy uprising on 08 August1988, which the then-military regime crushed.

On 01 August, Senior Army General Min Aung Hlaing announced himself as the Prime Minister and pledged to hold elections by 2023. However, Ms Schraner Burgener stated that Myanmar’s Permanent Representative in New York, Kyaw Moe Tun, remains its legitimate UN Ambassador, while Ms Suu Kyi and President Myint are its leaders. Recently, international media reported a plot was uncovered to kill Ambassador Tun, who denounced the coup in the General Assembly Hall in New York.1 Ms Burgener also said the situation in Myanmar “is still very worrisome”. The third wave of COVID-19 infections has also hit the country.

Political Situation

Senior General Min Hlaing announced the formation of a caretaker government and took on the role of Prime Minister. He also announced that the elections would be held by 2023. 2 The “Provisional Government” replaces the State Administration Council (SAC) chaired by Min Hlaing that has run Myanmar since the coup. The National League for Democracy (NLD) members shadow government, National Unity Government (NUG) condemned the military ruler’s decision to take on the role of the Prime Minister in a caretaker government and said the move was designed to win legitimacy.3 Later on 03 August, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken dismissed the military’s elections plan.4

Military authorities forced one of the lawyers representing Aung San Suu Kyi to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This was done to stop statements of Suu Kyi from reaching the public. Suu Kyi has a five-member defence team, out of which one was forced to sign the agreement promising not to talk to local or international media. The court hearings were postponed at the start of July as the third wave of COVID-19 infections hit the country.5 Further, columnist Sithu Aung Myint and BBC Burmese presenter Htet Htet Khine were tracked down and arrested on 15 August. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned these latest arbitrary arrests, and called for their immediate release.6

During the month, the military faced protests, strikes and a resurgence of armed conflicts. The military authorities have branded their opponents as terrorists. In the Karen state, fighting between the military and the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU), known as the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), occurred on a near-daily basis in Hpa-pun Township. The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) said the military was responsible for all the shootings between 03 to 08 August. The KIA opposed the regime and attacked junta troops and police stations in Kachin and northern Shan states since 11 March.7

On the other hand, at least 1,130 Myanmar soldiers were killed and 443 wounded in more than 700 clashes between junta forces and local militias across the country from June 1 to July 31, Myanmar’s shadow NUG said in a report. Moreover, more than 350 civilians were killed and nearly 140 wounded during the same period.8 In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Myanmar’s UN envoy Kyaw Moe Tun — described the incidents as “clearly amounting to crimes against humanity,” calling on the UN Security Council and the international community to impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar’s military.9

During the month, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing signed an amendment to the Counterterrorism Law, introducing harsher penalties for supporting anti-regime activities. Under the amendment, the jail term is increased from three to seven years for “acts of exhortation, persuasion, propaganda and recruitment of any person to participate in any terrorist group or activities of terrorism”.10

The United League of Arakan (ULA) is advancing steadily towards its objective of assuming administrative control in Rakhine State, and has seen a high level of compliance from the state’s residents with the stay-at-home order it issued on 20 July in response to the third wave of COVID-19. The ULA has also announced that it will set up a judiciary in Rakhine State. Since the coup the ULA and its armed wing, the Arakan Army, have accelerated their effort to expand their ability to govern the state and be seen as its legitimate governing body. Further, on 05 August, it announced plans to implement household registrations throughout the state and introduction of day and night patrols as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak and its state’s security. The ULA has also been punishing people for flouting the stay-at-home order.11

The latest wave of COVID-19 has made the country vulnerable to a health crisis. Myanmar’s army has carried out at least 252 attacks and threats against health workers since the coup. More than 190 health workers have been arrested and 86 raids on hospitals carried out since the coup, said the report by Insecurity Insight, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), and Johns Hopkins University Center for Public Health and Human Rights (CPHHR). In addition, they identified 15 incidents in which the response to the COVID-19 outbreak had been obstructed – including confiscation of personal protection equipment and oxygen supplies for the exclusive use of the army. 12

International Scenario

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) appointed Brunei’s Erywan Yusof, as a special envoy. The appointment of a special envoy is part of a five-point consensus between ASEAN and Myanmar military leader Min Aung Hlaing in April. However, the decision has invited criticism. Aaron Connelly, an analyst with International Institute for Strategic Studies, stated that Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore had “pushed for tougher language”, though it was vetoed by the military representative Wunna Maung Lwin.13 ASEAN also failed to recognise NUG formed CPRH. As a result, the body was excluded from the ASEAN 42nd assembly Inter Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) held in Brunei. The NUG members condemned ASEAN for excluding it and inviting a military representative as an observer. In April, the NUG’s representative was not invited to ASEAN’s special summit on Myanmar. Instead, the military leader attended the meeting.14 ASEAN has to date, not recognised the NUG government and representatives.

Another international investor retreated from Myanmar and sold all its businesses to a local partner finding it challenging to operate under military rule. Australian mining company Myanmar Metals Limited (MYL) has divested its entire stake in a mining project in Myanmar’s northeast. The company stated that the political situation in Myanmar had undermined the confidence of markets. MYL disposed of its 51-percent stake in the Bawdwin project to its local partner Win Myint Mo Industries Co Ltd for a total of USD 30 million.15 However, Indian Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ) have claimed that the company believes that its investment in a port in Myanmar is not in violation of any sanction guidelines issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of Treasury and therefore, continued its investments.16

Nevertheless, few countries continued to provide emergency aid. The US announced USD 50 million to support relief groups dealing with the fallout from a surge in Covid-19 cases. The US funding will aid “those forced to flee violence and persecution” as well as help groups provide healthcare services in addition to essentials such as food, shelter and water, the State Department said.17

China has continued to provide its support by entering into agreements and helping the country via vaccines. China will transfer around USD 6 million to Myanmar’s government to fund 21 development projects. A Myanmar Foreign Ministry statement said the funds would be transferred from China for projects within the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation framework. It said those included animal vaccines, culture, agriculture, science, tourism, and disaster prevention.18 Since the military coup, the mining of rare-earth metals has increased in the Kachin state. Multiple sources told Frontier and Danwatch, a Danish investigative outlet that collaborated on this investigation, that the rare earth mining in Kachin is extracted illegally by Chinese or Chinese-backed companies in areas of Chipwi Township under the de facto control of an armed group and militia led by Kachin warlord Zahkung Ting Ying.19

The two countries, China and Myanmar also faced issues due to increased incidents in the bordering area with China. The Chinese authorities have sent a complaint letter to the Myanmar military demanding an investigation. In the letter, Chinese authorities said they were highly concerned about the recent incidents, describing them as breaches of the China-Myanmar border agreement. China also warned the incident repeats, it would “make the necessary response”. Moreover, the Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned Myanmar Ambassador U Myo Thant Pe on 05 August and urged the regime to stop immediately fighting in border areas. In response, the regime claimed the artillery shell and bullets were fired by the MNDAA. The military rather stated that the military would attack armed groups that threatened the lives of people and the stability of the border areas. It urged China to collaborate with the Myanmar military to fight against armed groups and prevent them from occupying bases in border areas.20

India Myanmar Engagements

On 10 August, few members of the Manipur extremist group, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), were killed in a factional fight in Myanmar. The incident occurred near the Nanyang Wakathan camp of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang-Yung Aung) in the Sagaing region of Myanmar. According to intelligence officials, tensions rose because the Myanmar military was forced to either pay for lying low in the country or join the soldiers in fighting the pro-democracy forces. Moreover, the PLA cadre, short of money was also being pressured to fight the People’s Defence Force, the armed wing of Myanmar’s NUG in exile.21

On the other hand, Myanmar has conveyed its apprehension over the deployment of the Border Road Organisation (BRO) for the completion of the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway and Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport (KMTT) project, the Union government informed the parliamentary committee on home affairs.22

In a successful operation, Assam Rifles recovered a huge cache of arms, ammunition and other war-like stores in Mizoram’s southernmost Lawngtlai district near the Indo-Myanmar border. The operation was carried out jointly by Assam Rifles troopers posted at Zorinpui, the southern tip of Mizoram on the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (KMMTTP) road and state police from Bungtlang. However, no person was arrested in connection with the recoveries. In another major achievement, Assam Rifles and Customs department also seized 502 cases of smuggled foreign cigarettes on Ruantlang and Kelkang- Khaungleng road in Champhai district near the Myanmar border during a joint operation.23

The issue of Rohingya was again raised in Lok Sabha. Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, informed that Rohingya Muslim migrants indulge in illegal activities for which the respective governments have been asked to take action. Rai also said that instructions had been issued to capture their biographic and biometric particulars and cancel fake Indian documents. Furthermore, steps have been taken to initiate deportation proceedings under provisions of law.24

Rohingya Crises

As the Rohingya crisis enters its fifth year, it is essential to reflect on the dismal situation of the refugees living and their continued repression. For the first time in five years, Rohingya refugees expelled from Myanmar testified in court on 17 August. According to activist group Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, five survivors of sexual violence testified to the Federal Criminal Appeal Court in Buenos Aires remotely from refugee camps in Bangladesh, according. However, the details of it were not shared.25

Bangladesh has been hosting over 1.1 million Rohingya since military crackdowns in 2017. Recently, World Bank initiated talks with Bangladesh to integrate Rohingya into the Bangladesh community. However, Bangladesh was against any long-term programme by the World Bank (WB) to integrate Rohingya into Bangladesh. Bangladesh has raised concerns as it faces problems of drug dealing, illegal human trafficking, prostitution, expansion of illegal markets. Also, serious damage to resources, lands, deforestation is now common in Chittagong. Bangladesh also claimed that such proposals hamper the initiatives taken by Bangladesh for Rohingya repatriation.26

Despite the NUG unveiling plans to amend the country’s constitution, and give citizenship to the Rohingya, the authorities in Myanmar currently have no plan to include minority Rohingya Muslims living in camps as they begin vaccinating priority groups against COVID-19 in western Rakhine State. Local administrator Kyaw Lwin told Reuters from Sittwe township that the rollout had begun with 10,000 vaccinations for priority groups such as the elderly, healthcare workers, government staff and Buddhist monks. However, he said there were no current plans for vaccinating any Muslims living in camps in Sittwe. Following an outcry from the human rights group, the Myanmar military backtracked on its plans to withhold Covid-19 vaccinations from the Rohingya minority in Rakhine. Instead, the military’s spokesman said in a news conference on 27 August that vaccinations will be offered to Rohingya in Rakhine.

The Way Forward

The fighting between Myanmar’s military and ethnic armed groups increased in August and is expected to intensify in the coming days as the military has sent reinforcements to rebel-held territories. The military has asked its unit commanders and other senior officers to be combat ready in a recent order. On the other hand, around 1500 soldiers have defected from Myanmar’s military since the coup and have joined the troops created by the political opposition to fight the military. The number of vulnerable refugees has increased. It is time to bring all stakeholders to the table and resolve the current crisis. Furthermore, it is important to cease all attacks from the side of the military and gain the trust of the citizens.

Endnotes
  1. https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/08/1097452
  2. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/fears-of-another-long-dictatorship-as-myanmar-coup-maker-appoints-himself-pm.html
  3. https://www.euronews.com/2021/08/03/us-myanmar-politics
  4. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/us-dismisses-myanmar-juntas-election-plan.html
  5. https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/suu-kyis-lawyer-forced-to-sign-pledge-not-to-speak-to-the-media
  6. https://rsf.org/en/news/two-more-journalists-arrested-myanmars-military-junta-0
  7. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-military-shells-kachin-civilians.html
  8. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/killed-08132021181109.html
  9. https://edition.cnn.com/2021/08/06/asia/myanmar-bodies-found-army-crackdown-intl-hnk/index.html
  10. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-coup-chief-amends-counterterrorism-law.html
  11. https://www.frontiermyanmar.net/en/arakan-army-extends-administrative-grip-on-rakhine-state/
  12. https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/myanmar-army-attacks-medics-hampering-covid-response-rights-groups-say-2021-08-10/
  13. https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3143809/asean-appoints-brunei-diplomat-erywan-yusof-envoy-myanmar
  14. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmars-ousted-mps-condemn-asean-for-inviting-junta-to-parliamentary-summit.html
  15. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/australian-mining-company-sells-stake-in-myanmar-project.html
  16. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/australian-mining-company-sells-stake-in-myanmar-project.html
  17. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/beijing-to-transfer-82m-to-myanmar-junta-to-fund-development-projects
  18. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/beijing-to-transfer-82m-to-myanmar-junta-to-fund-development-projects
  19. https://www.frontiermyanmar.net/en/weapons-power-and-money-how-rare-earth-mining-in-kachin-enriches-a-tatmadaw-ally/
  20. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/china-complains-after-shell-gunfire-from-myanmar-hit-border-town.html
  21. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/six-of-manipur-extremist-group-killed-in-myanmar-say-officials/article35872422.ece
  22. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/infrastructure/myanmar-objects-to-bro-presence-in-trilateral-road-project/articleshow/85282213.cms
  23. https://nenow.in/north-east-news/mizoram/mizoram-security-forces-recover-arms-and-ammunition-from-lawngtlai-near-india-myanmar-border.html
  24. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/govt-says-rohingyas-indulging-in-illegal-activities-101628601441879.html
  25. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/rohingya-to-give-first-testimony-in-push-for-myanmar-army-probe
  26. WB has undertaken a long-term program for 16 countries hosting refugees and they will provide money from a Tk2,000 ( Bangladesh Taka) crore fund. https://www.eurasiareview.com/04082021-world-banks-proposal-local-integration-of-rohingyas-in-bangladesh-possible-oped/
  27. https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/myanmar-covid-vaccination-rollout-leaves-rohingya-waiting-2021-08-11/
  28. https://www.ucanews.com/news/rohingya-receive-covid-jabs-as-myanmar-junta-extends-rollout/93922#
  29. https://www.laprensalatina.com/some-1500-soldiers-have-deserted-myanmar-army-since-coup-media/

Myanmar Round Up: July 2021

During the month, Myanmar faced a double crisis – political turmoil and COVID-19. The country’s health care system has collapsed, and the number of cases reported is vastly underestimated because of limited testing. At an informal Security Council discussion, Barbara Woodward, Britain’s UN Ambassador, warned that half of Myanmar could be infected with COVID-19 by the end of July. Myanmar is struggling with a surge in infections and the military ruler is calling for greater cooperation with the international community to contain the COVID-19 wave. The military has assured that six million Chinese vaccines and two million Russian vaccines would be delivered. With COVID-19 deaths rising in Myanmar, allegations are growing from residents and human rights activists that the military government is using the pandemic to consolidate power and crush the opposition.

Economic and Political Crises

World Bank’s Myanmar Economic Monitor stated that the economy is expected to contract around 18 percent in Myanmar’s 2021 Fiscal Year (Oct 2020-Sep 2021). The ongoing political turmoil and a rising third wave of COVID-19 cases have a damaging impact on lives, livelihoods, poverty and future growth. It also predicted that the country’s economy is around 30 percent smaller than it would have been in the absence of COVID-19 and the military takeover of February 2021.

Economic activity has been hit by reduced mobility and incomes, protests and labour shortages, as well as the ongoing disruption of critical business services, including logistics and telecommunications, and public services such as health and education. In addition, the physical currency remains in short supply and access to banking and payment services remains limited. As of mid-July, the Myanmar Kyat had depreciated by around 23 percent against the US dollar since late January, which combined with trade disruptions has led to rapid price increases for some imported products, including fuel. These shocks have weakened consumption, investment, and trade, and disrupted businesses’ operations and the supply of labour and inputs.1

In further development, two statements issued by the National League for Democracy (NLD) has been accepted as evidence against Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and Naypyitaw Mayor Myo Aung, who are charged under Section 505 b of the Penal Code. The statements, released by the party’s central executive committee on February 7 and 13, were submitted as part of the incitement case. The 07 February statement urged the international community not to recognise the coup regime. And the 13 February statement stated that all regulations, rules and laws enacted by the military were illegal. Judge Maung Maung Lwin ruled out the defence team’s objection to the submitted evidence.2 During the month, Myanmar security forces searched Suu Kyi’s house without a search warrant, according to her lawyer.3

Clashes Continue

The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) attacked three military bases in the Kachin State towns of Mogaung and Waingmaw on 29 July, and launched an assault on the junta’s Waingmaw-based Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 58. Later, the KIA also attacked two military bases between Kutkai and Muse townships in northern Shan State. In addition, the KIA intercepted and attacked seven naval vessels belonging to the military on the Irrawaddy River near Shwegu in Kachin State.4 Clashes have been breaking out between the military and the KIA in Kachin State since April.

Despite last month’s peace talks, clashes between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and the Karen State Border Guard Force (BGF) are continuing. The KNLA’s Brigade 1 clashed with a BGF battalion led by Major Saw Tin Win near the village of Kontangyi in northern Hpa-an Township in Karen State. Between 15 to 22 July, there were 29 clashes between the military forces and Brigade 5 of the KNU’s armed wing, the KNLA. The military-backed Karen Border Guard Force (BGF) joined junta soldiers in attacks against the KNLA, clashing with the group’s Battalion 1 in Thaton, across the border in Mon State.5

Fighting erupted between Chinland Defence Force (CDF) and Myanmar military in Mindat Township for the first time since a temporary ceasefire. The peace agreement brokered between the military council and CDF (when CDF in Mindat was called Mindat People’s Administration) expired on 12 May, after the former refused to release all of the youths it arrested. On 13 May, the military council imposed martial law. The military sent troops to Mindat and shelled CDF positions, and the civilian resistance group retreated to the jungle. A second temporary ceasefire was brokered from 20 June to 04 July, which was extended until 16 July.6

Organisations like the KIA, Karenni Army and KNLA have shown solidarity in their position against the military. To counter these, pro-military social media users spread disinformation to cause rifts between the groups or discourage other prospective trainees from entering the ethnic-controlled territory. Many Facebook posts have accused ethnic armed organisations of killing or mistreating civilian trainees. However, the posts provide no evidence to support the allegations, and both People’s Defence Forces and the armed organisations have denied the incidents.7

Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights Watch have accused that dozens of journalists have fled from Myanmar to Thailand since the military seized power to escape a crackdown on the country’s free press. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, around 98 journalists have escaped the country since the military crackdown.

In addition, the Taa’ng National Liberation Army (TNLA) ordered businesses operating within its territory to stop selling products made by military-owned companies. Merchants were given the order at meetings held in TNLA-controlled townships and villages. Products banned under the new rules include Myanmar Beer, Red Ruby and Premium Gold cigarettes, and tickets for buses run by Shwe Mann Thu, Parami, and other military companies. This will promote the nationwide campaign to boycott military products. The ousted National Unity Government has also endorsed the order.8

International Responses

Damian Lilly, the author of the report, published by the New York-based International Peace Institute (IPI), accused the UN of doing little and being directionless in taking any coherent steps to control Myanmar’s crises. Lilly also accuses China and Russia of their role in obstructing efforts to hold the Generals to account. 9

In another striking move, Myanmar’s military rulers seek to replace the country’s ambassador to the UN, Kyaw Moe Tun, who condemned the coup and refused to recognise the military regime. Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that he had appointed Aung Thurein as Myanmar’s UN ambassador. Lwin stated that the Kyaw Tun was terminated on 27 February 2021, due to his failure to perform his assigned duty and mandate. This was the second attempt to remove Kyaw Tun; earlier on 12 May also a letter was sent to the UN, but no action was taken.10

On 02 July, the United States announced sanctions on seven military personnel and 15 individuals in the family of previously sanctioned officials and businesses related to the Myanmar military. Additionally, the US Commerce Department restricted trade exports to four companies, which provide services to the Myanmar military. 11

Despite the call for the imposition of the arms embargo by the international and civil society groups, Russia has delivered a consignment of Sukhoi Su-30SME multi-role fighter jets and military training aircraft to Myanmar. In addition, Myanmar has been using Russian Mig-29 and Jak-130 aircraft for a long time; and the two countries have established close cooperation in the defence field. 12

Given the surge of COVID-19 cases, China has closed its border with Myanmar. In addition, it is adding a barbed-wire fence spanning around 600 kilometres between Ruili, Lijiang, and the Gaoligong mountains in its southwestern province of Yunnan. China is also constructing walls to block soldiers, ethnic militias, drug, and gun-smuggling from entering in the country.13

Amid Myanmar’s COVID-19 spike, the developer of the controversial China-backed Shwe Koko new city project near the Thai border in Karen State has been recruiting staff, prompting fears over a rise in cross-border crime. The Irrawaddy has been told Yatai International Holding Group (IHG), which Chinese investors run, has been recruiting a manager for a five-star hotel, human resources manager, an accountant and gardeners this month. The project is also controlled by the Karen State Border Guard Force (BGF), an armed group backed by Myanmar’s military. The project was suspended after the National League for Democracy government formed a tribunal to investigate irregularities. However, following the February coup, activity at Shwe Koko appeared to revive, including hiring new staff and restarting gambling. 14

The Thai army seized face masks illegally imported into Myanmar from Maw Taung-Singkhon pass on 22 July, according to Thai media. They found 44 packings of KF94 face masks manufactured by South Korea, 17 packings of three-ply masks. According to Article 167 of the 2017 Thai Ordinance, these items are part of a controlled substance that prohibits the availability of adequate medical supplies in the country and their export.15

Myanmar’s military government banned telecommunications company executives from leaving the country without authorisation. Before the coup, Myanmar’s primary telecom and internet service companies, Telenor, Ooredoo, MPT, and Mytel were pressured in 2020 to install a “lawful intercept” without any legal processes in place to protect citizens’ privacy. Telenor, a Norwegian telecoms firm and one of two foreign operators in the telecoms sector of Myanmar, flagged the plans publicly and expressed concern for citizens’rights to privacy and freedom of expression on 03 December 2020.

Telenor sold its Myanmar business to the Lebanese investment firm M1 Group after the military’s travel ban on telecom executives. Activists in Myanmar fear that the exit of Telenor will cause further obstructions to their free expression as they relied on the company as a protector of human rights. The Western company’s decision to sell its Myanmar business likely reflects the increasing difficulty of continuing operations under principles of free communication and expression. 16

The civil society organisations have filed a formal complaint with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) accusing Norwegian telecoms giant Telenor of “irresponsible disengagement” from the country. The Netherlands-based Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) submitted the complaint on behalf of the 474 Myanmar groups. They alleged that the Telenor Group’s sale of its Myanmar operations to the Lebanese M1 Group is in violation of OECD standards outlining the requirements for a responsible exit from the country. The OECD complaint described M1 Group, a Mikati family enterprise, as an unsuitable partner for Telenor’s handover. The Mikati’s are accused of having a history of businesses in authoritarian countries including Syria, Sudan and Yemen, as well as face allegations of corruption and terrorist financing. 17

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution on 12 July 2021 titled the “Human Rights Situation of Rohingya Muslims and other Minorities in Myanmar” a powerful message to the regime for its gross violations of human rights, specifically against the stateless Rohingyas. Bangladesh has played a crucial role in the approval of the resolution. The resolution condemned human rights’ violations by Myanmar military against the Rohingya and other minorities, and called for a reconciliation process. The resolution was approved without a vote in the Geneva-based council. China, one of the 47 council members, told it could not join the consensus but did not insist on bringing the text to a vote.18 However, Myanmar’s military rejected the resolution, and stated that the resolution is “based on false information and one-sided allegations”. 19

India’s Engagement in Myanmar

A Singapore-based Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) report titled, “Myanmar Coup, Resistance and India’s Response: Fractured Between Words and Deeds” has stated that a possible full-scale armed revolt in Myanmar will have a spill-over effect on India. The report also said India has an opportunity to build on the “reservoirs of goodwill” with many of the Myanmarese citizens. The Indian Border States that share religious, kinship and historical affinities with people in Myanmar are supporting Myanmar people; for instance, Mizoram is hosting more than 15,000 Myanmar refugees. However, the report underlined India’s fears that condemning the military publicly would result in alienating Myanmar and pushing it closer towards China. 20

However, India has come under the radar of Myanmar anti-coup activists who are opposed to the idea of any relationship between the Indian government and Myanmar military. Justice for Myanmar (JFM) condemned the awarding of a contract by the Indian government-owned Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Kolkata to A to Z EXIM Ltd—a unit of the Mumbai-based Bharat Freight Group—to operate, maintain and develop the port and inland water transport terminals at Sittwe, Rakhine State and Paletwa, Chin State. 21

Assam Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi has raised concerns about the illegal smuggling of arms, gold, drugs and liquor through Myanmar via Moreh and requested the Indian Army to play a more dominant role in controlling the inter-state movement.22 In another incident, fifteen Rohingya immigrants, including six minors and three women, have been held by Railway Police Force (RPF) in Assam’s Karimganj district. According to reports, the RPF personnel had intercepted 15 people sitting in Badarpur railway station after observing some suspicious activities. 23

Conclusion

Over recent days, the country has rapidly descended into the most severe public health crisis. The hospitals are struggling with a shortage of oxygen supplies and lack of intensive care capacity while just a small percentage of the population has been vaccinated against the virus. Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) are playing a crucial role in addressing COVID in the territory where they have control, such as the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) carried out extensive COVID-19 tests and restricted entry to Laiza and Maijayang, since the first week of July. The KIA has also vaccinated some 30,000 people with COVID-19 vaccines donated by China. 24

Due to political crises and continued clashes, thousands have been displaced by military attacks in recent months, placing them at even greater risk. Myanmar urgently needs international support to address the unfolding tragedy. Right now, the humanitarian response from UN agencies and international organisations is inadequate.