Tag Archives: India in Myanmar

Myanmar Round Up- November 2022

Domestically, the country witnessed increased clashes and violent attacks during the month, and the military, along with USDP, is preparing for next year’s elections. The National Day marked the release of more than 5000 prisoners, along with international prisoners such as Australian economist Sean Turnell and Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota. Nevertheless, the military also uses its judicial powers to sentence members of the National League of Democracy (NLD) and opposition forces and give death penalties. During the month, seven students from Dagon University were sentenced to death. Internationally, the month was dotted with a number of significant events including the ASEAN, G20 leaders, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group meetings. The month also witnessed a two-day visit by the Indian Foreign Secretary to Myanmar for border and security concerns. The following article discusses all these developments in detail.

Domestic Situation

Though the military and its proxy party, USDP, are in full swing to prepare for the elections, the opposition forces have no confidence in the plan for elections. The NLD and most of Myanmar’s Ethnic Armed Organisations have rejected the 2023 election. Recently, the Karen National Union (KNU) refused to accept the military’s plan for a national election in 2023 and claimed that the military was conducting elections to legitimise its rule. The KNU had earlier also rejected the 2008 Constitution. The international community such as the United States has urged the countries to reject the poll, warning it would be neither free nor fair, threatening the democratic processes in Myanmar.[1] Even Malaysia, after the ASEAN summits in November 2022, have rejected the elections.

As the number of clashes is increasing in the country, the military-affiliated Pyu Saw Htee militias have forced villagers in Sagaing Region to undergo military training. Led by the nationalist monk U Wasawa from the Association for Protection of Race and Religion, men from the age group 18 to 55 age years are forced to undergo military training. However, in July 2022, at a press conference, the military denied forming Pyu Saw Htee as its military proxies but also allowed the establishment, training and arming of militias at the request of locals for their security, thereby stating that the formation of these militias is legal.[2]

The clashes and conflicts are increasing across the western and southern regions of the countries. The Landmine Monitor Report 2022, released in the month, stated that only two countries, i.e. Russia and Myanmar, actively use anti-personnel landmines. Since 1999, Myanmar’s military forces have used landmines and have surged their use since the February 2021 coup. Since the military coup in February 2021, 57 civilians have been killed and 395 injured by landmines and explosive remnants of war. The Monitor Report also cited the use of mines by non-state armed groups. At the 20th meeting of state parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, the governments stated that they should condemn Myanmar’s use of anti-personnel landmines.

Further clashes are rising against targeted civilians. For instance, the International Institute for Strategic Studies figures stated that attacks and armed clashes across Rakhine and southern Chin State jumped from two in July to 66 in October 2022.[3] Some leaked documents revealed that the military is preparing to launch airstrikes against the Chin National Front in Chin State. Churches, hospitals, and schools in Myanmar’s Christian-majority Chin State are on the list of targets, especially the CNF headquarters on Mount Victoria in Thantlang Township.[4] Christian-majority states such as Kachin, Kayah, Shan, and Chin states have witnessed intense fighting between the military and EAOs.[5]

However, during the month, the Arakan Army and the military reached an unwritten ceasefire with the help of the Japanese government’s Special Representative for national reconciliation, Yohei Sasakawa. Following the measure on 24 November, there has been no armed engagement between the AA and the Myanmar military. The aim was to resolve the difficulties and crises that the people of Rakhine had faced since the blockade was imposed after the 10 November attack. The rationale for this humanitarian ceasefire is also that the harvest time is essential especially given that the yield is low because of a lack of available water. Since the renewed fighting, the regime blocked roads and waterways in northern Rakhine and neighbouring Chin State. It also banned the supply of cement, fertiliser and medicines. [6] Post the November 2020 elections, the AA and the military had reached a ceasefire agreement, but in August 2022, the fighting re-erupted.[7]

The sentences by the military courts appear to be the longest and most arbitrary. During the month, the regime sentenced seven Dagon University students in Yangon to death. They were arrested in April 2022 for their involvement in the shooting of Global Treasure Bank branch manager Saw Moe Win, a former military officer.[8] During the month, a military court handed a 148-year sentence to Win Myint Hlaing, a former parliamentarian from the NLD party. He had already been convicted of five offences, for which he received imprisonment of 25 years.[9] Further, during the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, she denied corruption charges and testified that she was “just giving instructions according to the office procedures”. She has been convicted on 14 charges, and the remaining five corruption charges are still under trial.[10]

On the other hand, the military released 5,774 prisoners to mark National Day on 17 November. Within these, a few important releases were Australian economist Sean Turnell, a former adviser to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; former British envoy Vicky Bowman and her husband Htein Linn, a citizen of Myanmar; Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota, and Counselor Office Minister Kyaw Tint Swe.[11] The move was appreciated by the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Special Envoy for Myanmar, Prak Sokhonn.[12] However, in their statements, both reiterated the call for the immediate release of those who continue to be arbitrarily detained and hoped that more progress could be achieved on the Five-Point Consensus (FPC).[13]

In addition, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) stated that only 402 were political prisoners or were the ones who were about to complete their sentences. According to the AAPP, 12,923 people are still detained who were arrested since the coup for political reasons. According to AAPP Joint Secretary U Bo Kyi, “it is a deliberate tactic meant to deceive foreign governments”.[14] It should also be noted that those who were released were the people who were arrested as a preemptive measure by the Myanmar military to prevent them from opposing military rule. Furthermore, a week later, a district court in Myawaddy sentenced two former MPs, U Wai Lin Aung and Dr Pyae Phyo of the deposed NLD, to 26 years in prison for Terrorism and Treason (Section 112) charges.[15]

Socio-Economic Distress

During the month, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) said it would cease its Myanmar operations by early 2023, making it the first international bank to withdraw from the country. The withdrawal follows the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) ruling in October 2022, which blacklisted Myanmar. Also, ANZ said it had been facing “increasing operational complexity” over the past several months and was “working with its institutional customers to transition to alternative banking arrangements”. Early in the month, Justice for Myanmar targeted ANZ after leaked records showed the bank had facilitated payments that foreign companies dealing with Innwa Bank – owned by a military conglomerate, the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC).[16]

The military also released data on the performance of the country’s foreign trade and investments during the first eight months of the financial year starting April 2022. The Ministry of Commerce released data regarding foreign trade and investments. The data revealed that Myanmar’s foreign trade went up by 22.32 per cent in eight months from April to November 2022, exports rose by 16.84 per cent from the previous year, and imports rose by 27.99 per cent.[17] Further, Myanmar received 52 investments from foreign countries, adding up to USD 1.451 billion over the seven months of the 2022-23 financial year. Singapore is Myanmar’s largest foreign investor, making up nearly 80 per cent of the total foreign direct investment, followed by investments from Hong Kong and China. However, it must also be noted that the investments made by Singapore and China fell after the military coup. The level of FDI has fallen, and many Multinational Corporations (MNCs) have either suspended or withdrawn their businesses from the country. Moreover, the listing of Myanmar on the blacklist by the Finance Action Task Force (FATF) has raised concerns among several foreign investors.[18]

There have also been concerns over the shortage of electricity across the country. According to Thaung Han, the Union Electricity and Energy Minister, not enough electricity can be produced to meet the daily demands of all of Yangon’s population and electricity will be rationed by providing it in four-hour windows. The Ministry of Electricity and Energy said that currently, it could only generate 3,200-megawatt hours (MWh) of energy whilst demand across the country stands at over 4,000 MWh. Since the coup, power cuts across the country have become more frequent. Even high inflation has pushed up the price of electricity.[19]

Furthermore, Myanmar’s military issued new rules, “Organization Registration Law,” requiring international and domestic aid groups to legally have a government-issued registration certificate to work in the country. The law bans “indirect or direct” contact between aid providers and groups blacklisted by the military. The law could eventually impact deliveries of humanitarian assistance from the aid groups. It states that NGOs that fail to register will be punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a fine of nearly €2,500. The military already has a vast list of groups it claims to be “terrorists” and could expand it further to stop international aid flows into territory controlled by resistance forces.[20]

International Reactions

The Final Report on “Global Response to the Crisis in Myanmar” was released by the International Parliamentary Inquiry (IPI). The report criticised the response to the post-coup crisis in Myanmar by countries and international blocs. The report was released right before the ASEAN meeting scheduled for 10-11 November. Charles Santiago, a Malaysian lawmaker and chairman of the APHR, stated that ASEAN’s FPC reached with Myanmar military leader in April 2021 has been “an utter failure”. In its recommendations, the report called for ASEAN to negotiate a new agreement with Myanmar’s opposition National Unity Government (NUG), ensuring the new accord has enforcement mechanisms.[21]

The United States and European Union announced new sanctions against Myanmar’s military regime. Moreover, the US Embassy issued an alert on 29 November warning its citizens of a rising number of violent attacks in Myanmar and advised them to exercise vigilance in Yangon and avoid suspicious objects or people.[22] The United States has also supported the NUG, and on 18 November 2022, the NUG prepared to open its first representative office in Washington.[23] The EU sanctions apply to 19 more individuals and entities.[24] But on the other hand, the Justice for Myanmar reported that the German Government was funding the training of Myanmar military personnel in violation of EU sanctions. The German Federal Foreign Office continues to train under the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law project. Justice For Myanmar has called on the German government to immediately exclude the Myanmar military from remaining activities in the project. As part of the training, the Max Planck Foundation has invited the junta to nominate three representatives for a workshop, to be held in Singapore from 28 November to 02 December 2022, on maritime security and the law of the sea.[25]

It is also interesting to note that New Zealand has decided to reopen a diplomatic post in military-ruled Myanmar. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) will send a high-ranking diplomat to Yangon to reopen New Zealand’s embassy. Mfat has said none of its actions “infer” the military is legitimate. Officials have also been speaking with members of the NUG, and Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta conducted an online meeting with the NUG’s Foreign Minister, Zin Mar Aung.[26] Also, during the month, Daw Zin Mar Aung was invited to join the Global Town Hall 2022 meeting, and a pre-recorded message was sent for opening remarks, but her remarks weren’t aired as planned because she was dropped from the meeting’s agenda at the last minute.[27]

Furthermore, on 29 November, General Min Aung Hlaing met with the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Russian Ground Forces in Nay Pyi Taw. In the meeting, the two sides discussed the conditions to promote cooperation in defence, education, health, and technical aspects and cooperation in the fight against terrorism. They also discussed the enhancement of friendly relations between the two armed forces, bilateral exchange measures, and strategic cooperation in both countries’ economic and technological sectors.[28] In addition, the Myanmar military delegation attended Transport Week and other international forums in Moscow. The two countries agreed to open direct flights to Yangon and establish a nuclear technology hub in Yangon.[29]

To further boost their relationship, China opened a direct shipping route linking its port in the South China Sea to Myanmar’s business hub, Yangon. The new Beibu Gulf Port-Myanmar shipping route was jointly launched by Beibu Gulf Port Group and SITC Container Lines (Shanghai). The embassy said four cargo ships would travel the route weekly. The ships will call at ports in other coastal cities in China, Malaysia and Indonesia before arriving in Yangon. The new route aims to reduce enterprises’ logistics and storage costs.[30] Moreover, on 29 November, a consul from the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar, Lin Tao, paid a call on U Khin Yi, the new chairman of the military’s proxy USDP. The meeting, which was the first between the two sides, focussed on cooperation and came after the junta said it was planning a “national election.”[31]

The month also witnessed the conduct of the 8th Director General-level conference between Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and the Border Guard Police (BGP) of Myanmar after a gap of two years. A nine-member team, led by BGB Director General Maj Gen Shakil Ahmed, participated in the meeting. The conference concluded with the signing of a Joint Records of Discussion (JRD). The conference highlighted the need for joint efforts of both forces to curb the drugs and narcotics inflow and combat transnational crimes, including illegal border crossing. In this regard, Bangladesh emphasised a zero-tolerance policy with an all-out effort to prevent trafficking along the border. In addition, the Myanmar side will continue anti-drug measures following its national drug control policy. The DG of BGB also reiterated the national concern about the early repatriation of Rohingyas. Finally, both sides agreed to share information on a timely basis between the designated contact points and agreed to work together against various terrorist groups along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.[32]

ASEAN Summits

The 40 and 41 ASEAN Summits were held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Myanmar military was not invited to the meetings and was asked to send a non-political representative, to which the regime did not agree. The members admitted that “little progress” has been made in implementing the FPC, and ASEAN leaders urged Myanmar’s military regime to comply with its commitments. They decided to follow a timeline “that outlines concrete, practical and measurable indicators” to support the peace plan. The meeting also stated that the ASEAN would initiate talks with the opposition groups. The meeting concluded with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen handing over the hammer symbolising ASEAN chairmanship to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, who announced the theme of ASEAN 2023 as “ASEAN Matters: The Epicentrum of Growth”.[33]

Following the meeting, the Myanmar military on 11 November slammed a decision by ASEAN to engage with opposition groups, which include NUG and EAOs. The military blamed the lack of progress on the pandemic and was hindered by armed resistance movements that it calls terrorists. In contrast, the NUG released a statement on 12 November regarding the ASEAN decision and agreed that the ASEAN 5PC is not progressing and that there is a need to reframe or expand the 5PC, vowing to work with the ASEAN.[34] During the month, concerns were also raised as the ASEAN member Laos handed over the ASEAN Air Chiefs Conference chairmanship to the Myanmar military. The Myanmar military and Russia continue co-chairing the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) – Plus Experts’ Working Group on Counter Terrorism, for which a meeting is scheduled in December 2022.[35]

On 23 November, the 9th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+) was held, and the ASEAN Defence Ministers, except Myanmar, discussed the changes in the global security environment. Cambodia hosted ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Retreat (ADMM Retreat) under the theme ‘Solidary for Harmonised Security’, along with the 9th ADMM-Plus, the ASEAN-US Defence Ministers’ Informal Meeting and the ASEAN-India Defence Ministers’ Informal Meeting. The meetings highlighted the numerous traditional and non-traditional security challenges faced in present times.[36] The Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin, Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe and Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh joined the meeting of ASEAN Defence Ministers.[37] In addition, the second meeting of the Golden Triangle Prosecutors Network on “Cooperation to Counter Narcotics Trafficking in the Region” was held in Laos. Laos, Thai and Myanmar officials met to discuss joint efforts to crack down on transnational crime, especially drug trafficking in the Golden Triangle border area.[38]

India in Myanmar

On 20-21 November, India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra visited Myanmar, during which he discussed border management and security issues. Kwatra’s visit came amid escalating tensions between ethnic armed organisations and the Myanmar army that could have an impact on the border regions in India’s northeastern states. The discussions were held on bilateral issues relating to border management, security and ongoing bilateral cooperation projects. Foreign Secretary also reiterated India’s commitment to continue with the projects under the Rakhine State Development Programme and Border Area Development Programme.[39] Furthermore, India raised the issue of human trafficking of its citizens in the Myawaddy area of Myanmar by international crime syndicates.[40]

Earlier in the month, Myanmar Minister of Commerce Aung Naing Oo visited Kolkata and stated the intentions to expand the government-to-government (G2G) trade basket by including more agro items, such as green mung beans. The G2G Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on trade cooperation for urad and tur pulses was signed in June 2021. The MoU provided that Myanmar can export 250,000 tonnes of urad and 100,000 tonnes of tur to India annually for three years. He stated that the MoU has been “very successful”. Myanmar is also encouraging bilateral trade settlement in local currencies with India. Myanmar has similar arrangements with Thailand and China. Notably, the Centre has allowed international trade settlements in Indian rupees for export promotion schemes under the Foreign Trade Policy.[41]

Incidents of cross-border movements and transport of goods were also reported during the month. Security agencies in Manipur apprehended a Myanmar national for allegedly entering India illegally and procuring an Aadhaar card.[42] The illicit trade of areca nut, also known as betel nut or ‘supari’, is also reported by the security forces, including the Assam Rifles. To curb the trade of areca nut, the Assam government recently imposed strict restrictions to ferry areca nut through its territory, preventing Tripura and Mizoram farmers from supplying their produce to other parts of India.

Further, unconfirmed sources have stated that the Myanmar military has been getting arms from India and transporting them from the border through Sagaing Region. According to the Kalay People’s Defence Force (PDF), a junta convoy carrying weapons from India travelled from India to Sagaing Region on 25 November.[43] However, when the Indian embassy in Yangon was contacted, they rejected reports that the country was involved in arming the Myanmar military.[44]


The UN chief Antonio Guterres urged the Myanmar military to immediately return to democracy and stop the “unending nightmare” engulfing the country. As per the various meetings and statements by countries and regional organisations, implementing ASEAN’s 5PCs is crucial to establishing stability and peace in Myanmar. The solution to the current impasse lies in initiating negotiating with all stakeholders rather than having any one fraction in power.


Informal ceasefire with Myanmar military ‘not permanent’ solution, Arakan Army says

[8]These students are Ko Khant Zin Win, Ko Thura Maung Maung, Ko Zaw Lin Naing, Ko Thiha Htet Zaw, Ko Hein Htet, Ko Thet Paing Oo and Ko Khant Linn Maung Maung https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-junta-sentences-seven-students-to-death.html
[9]Win Myint Hlain was elected to the local parliament of Magway region in 2015. He did not take part in the 2020 election but participated in protests against the military before being arrested in November 2021. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/11/3/myanmar-court-sentences-ex-lawmaker-to-173-years-in-prison
[21]The IPI held six public hearings along with several private hearings and received dozens of written submissions. Malaysia’s Santiago and Indonesian House member Chriesty Barends travelled to the Thai-Myanmar border in August to gather information. The IPI investigation team included officials from African countries, the Americas and Europe. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/asean-myanmar-11022022162047.html
The upcoming Singapore workshop is the fifth in a series of six planned activities. Two in-person workshops were held in Vietnam (September 2022) and the Philippines (July 2022). The Max Planck Foundation’s project started in October 2020, with the objective “to strengthen preventive diplomacy and regional cooperation in SEA to improve maritime peace and security”. https://www.mizzima.com/article/german-government-training-myanmar-junta-soldiers-possible-eu-sanctions-breach
[26]The organisers dropped her name after the UN complained to a co-organiser that the inclusion of Daw Zin Mar Aung and her deputy would amount to taking sides in Myanmar’s conflict. The event was hosted by the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI) and Global Citizen. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/the-world-myanmar/myanmar-nug-foreign-ministers-unaired-global-town-hall-speech.html
[29]The agreement was signed in 2019 between Beibu Gulf Port and Yangon Port of Myanmar to establish a sister port relationship, providing favourable conditions for Myanmar to strengthen cooperation with ports in the pan-Beibu Gulf region https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/china-opens-new-shipping-route-to-myanmar-from-south-china-sea.html
[31]The Border Agreement-1980 between the countries aimed to enhance bilateral cooperation in combating illicit drugs and psychotropic substances and to prevent illegal border crossing. The agreement aimed to resume coordinated patrols between the two guarding forces to counter the potential threats posed by terrorist groups along the border. https://en.prothomalo.com/bangladesh/5vl5kchs70
[37]The first meeting was held in Thailand in 2018. The Golden Triangle region is an area where the borders of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar meet along the Mekong River. https://borneobulletin.com.bn/laos-thailand-myanmar-seek-ways-to-crack-down-on-drug-trafficking-2/

Myanmar Round-Up: October 2022

The month witnessed a rise in conflict between the military and the opposition forces, especially the air strikes as the rainy season was receding. The preparations for elections have started as the Union Election Commission called for bids for the supply of equipment. Internationally, the ASEAN special meeting was an event, to mark the developments prior to the 10-13 November meeting. During the month, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) put Myanmar on the ‘High-Risk Jurisdictions subject to a Call for Action’ category – commonly known as blacklist countries on 21 October.[1] India pushed further for speedier completion of the Kaladan Multi-Modal project and is also witnessing increases in refugees from Myanmar as well as the problem of drug supply is on the rise.

Political and Domestic Crisis

In the latest push for the general election, Myanmar’s military-appointed Union Election Commission called for bids to supply polling equipment i.e. plastic ballot boxes, voting booths, pens, envelopes, ballot papers, ropes, ink and badges. Holding an election is part of the military’s five-point roadmap released after the 2021 coup. In the process, the regime plans to replace the current first-past-the-post electoral system with proportional representation. The change is seen as favouring the military and its allied political parties.[2] It is also widely believed that Min Aung Hlaing wants to be “elected” president and will probably be nominated for the presidency by the military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party. In early October, the USDP chose Khin Yi, one of Min Aung Hlaing’s right-hand men, as its new leader. The Myanmar military also plans to include a large number of retired officers, either as candidates or to help with campaigns.[3]

On the one hand, detained State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s last five remaining cases of corruption were filed at Naypyidaw Prison Court. She has been charged with 19 cases since the military coup and has been sentenced to a total of 26 years in prison for 14 of them.[4] On the other hand, the military released former planning and finance minister U Soe Win of the NLD government, singer Po Po and beauty blogger Win Min Than.[5] Further, the country’s scenario is marred by repeated fighting in Kachin (except in Chipwi, Panwa and Phimaw townships), Chin, Rakhine, Karenni, Karen and Mon states. There is currently no fighting in southern and eastern Shan State. Furthermore, as the rainy season is ending, the military has started increasing airstrikes. The regime has used helicopters, jet fighters and surveillance drones to indiscriminately attack civilians. The aerial bombing campaign is concentrated in Sagaing and Magway regions and Kayah, Karen and Chin states.

According to data collected by the Irrawaddy, a total of 28 aerial attacks were launched in five regions from 01-28 October, leaving 111 dead and injuring at least 126 civilians. Sagaing Region was worst-hit, suffering 18 of the 28 junta airstrikes this month. On the other hand, there are also reports that the military is losing its strength due to daily clashes and is vulnerable to mine attacks by resistance forces. There are also reports that the military is undermanned and has been forced to form companies out of combat support units. The military is struggling to recruit both officer cadets and privates, forcing the junta to field firefighters, police and administrative employees as security personnel, as well as the pro-regime Pyu Saw Htee militias. [6] Therefore, the regime is increasingly relying on aerial attacks. As a result, the NUG Defence Minister U Yee Mon warned the People’s Defense Forces to remain on high alert.[7]

Economic Crisis

In an attempt to gain foreign currency, military chief Min Aung Hlaing claimed that the domestic travel and inbound tour industries are re-starting in Myanmar. On the occasion to mark World Tourism Day, the military organised an event, which was attended by Russian and Japanese ambassadors and the heads of the diplomatic missions of a number of other countries, including India. Myanmar is also planning to launch direct flights to and from Moscow and arrange Russian-language courses. At the same time, regime-backed documentaries on Myanmar have been aired by a Thai military-owned broadcaster to attract travellers from the neighbouring country.

However, on the one hand, the regime is opening up its economy; on the other hand, the military is imposing pre-broadcast censorship on local and foreign television serials. The military-controlled Information Ministry stated that it will ban any content it deems politically or religiously dangerous, or that it believes undermines the culture and national solidarity or arouses sexual desire. In addition, the regime has banned the online news outlet The Irrawaddy and charged the outlet’s registered publisher for violating national security laws. Post the military coup, the Irrawaddy stopped operating from Myanmar and moved production and editorial staff outside the country. Therefore, the impact of the ban on The Irrawaddy was limited. However, before declaring the ban, the news outlets and their reporters faced immense harassment. [8] Furthermore, Myanmar’s military jailed Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota for “seven years imprisonment for breaching an electronic communications law, and three years for encouraging dissent”. Kubota arrived in Myanmar in July 2022 and was filming a “documentary featuring a Myanmar person”.[9]

Amid the military shutdowns, the NUG’s communications minister U Htin Lin Aung asked Elon Musk to offer satellite internet firm, Starlink, to Myanmar. They asked the provider to give uncensored internet across the country. According to Access Now, at least 54 of Myanmar’s 330 townships have internet blackouts. Justice for Myanmar also reported that the military aims to build a digital dictatorship and is taking control of all mobile networks, directly and through proxies.[10]

Finally, as the country faces an upsurge in the prices of food and fuels, drug consumption has increased. In the months preceding the coup, Chinese triad groups operating in the Greater Mekong region began expansion in narcotics production. Recent entrants, Wan Kuok-kui’s 14K Triad and She Zhijiang’s Yatai International, have spread the reach of Chinese organised crime deeper into Myanmar’s borderlands. These chemicals “disappear into eastern Shan State under the control of the [United Wa State Army] and other insurgent groups,” Mr. Michael Brown, former US Drug Enforcement Administration attaché to the Myanmar government from 2017 to 2019, told Frontier. The UWSA is Myanmar’s most powerful ethnic armed group, which controls two autonomous enclaves on the Thai and Chinese borders, and has long been accused of involvement in the narcotics trade.[11]

International Engagements

The United States added another round of sanctions on Myanmar’s military government, targeting three individuals and one entity. The reason for this round of sanctions was “their roles in the procurement of Russian-produced military arms from Belarus for the Burmese regime.”In his statement, Blinken also referenced the military government’s execution in July of four political prisoners and the 16 September helicopter attack on a school in the Sagaing Region that killed at least 11 children. [12] The EU had last imposed sanctions seven months ago, and Justice for Myanmar (JFM) called upon the EU to take concrete steps and impose sanctions on 31 companies, that have procured weapons for the regime since the 2021 coup. Currently, only the Htoo Group of Companies is facing EU sanctions. All of the businesses have been sanctioned by the US and UK, and some face sanctions from Canada. [13]

On 27 October, a Special meeting of ASEAN was held in Jakarta, because Indonesia will take on the chairmanship of ASEAN in November 2022. The meeting was held ahead of the ASEAN and East Asia Summits in Cambodia from 10-13 November. There have been increasing calls for Jakarta to take decisive steps to address the Myanmar political crisis. On 26 October, Cambodia issued a statement about the airstrike in Kachin State and other airstrikes in Karen State. However, the statement fails to identify the military directly but instead notes that “all parties concerned, in particular, one with significant power on the ground” must commit to an “immediate cessation of violence.” During the month, a military airstrike unlawfully killed at least 60 people at a music concert in Kachin State. From the meeting, Malaysian foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah, one of the strongest advocates on pressing ASEAN to take firmer measures on Myanmar was absent from the meeting as Malaysia is due for a general election in November.[14]

However, Myanmar was not invited following its failure to honour the peace plan. The military’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded that as the meeting was held without Myanmar, it would not be bound by its outcomes. The regime also said renewed pressure from ASEAN to implement a peace plan would “create more negative implications.” While a renewed push to bring about reforms within ASEAN is being pursued, Human Rights Watch expressed “huge disappointment”, stating that ASEAN had remained committed to the stalled consensus. [15] Further, NGO Fortify Rights, noted that the ASEAN should scrap the “five-point consensus” on Myanmar and enact emergency measures such as forming an agreement on protecting Myanmar refugees, authorising cross-border humanitarian aid, and coordinating with other UN member states to deprive the Myanmar military of weapons, aviation fuel, revenue, and political recognition.[16]

As the conflict continues in Myanmar, an estimated 70,000 have fled to neighbouring countries and more than one million have been internally displaced, according to the High Commissioner’s Office, OHCHR. Yet, regional actors are forcing Myanmar refugees and other nationals back. For instance, Malaysian authorities accelerated deportations to Myanmar, returning over 2,000 people since April. Thai authorities have similarly pushed asylum seekers back without verifying their protection needs.[17] Following Malaysia’s latest round of deportations on 06 October, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk called for a moratorium on the forced returns of refugees and migrants to Myanmar. In addition, UN Special Envoy Noeleen Heyzer also said she would continue to urge the ASEAN to develop a regional protection framework for refugees and forcefully displaced persons. [18]

As international organisations get criticised for their limited actions and normalising relations with Myanmar’s military regime, various agencies have made an effort to justify their actions. Using social media, they deployed infographics and other tools to demonstrate how international aid organisations are working in the country.On 03 October, for instance, the Myanmar Information Management Unit (MIMU), which operates under the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), published a map that shows areas covered by “projects under implementation” by international nongovernmental organisations (INGOs) and the Red Cross. Another graphic tweeted by OCHA Myanmar on 06 October, claims that its “partners reached 3.1 million people with assistance at least once in the first half of 2022”. However, a closer look reveals that these figures do not provide an accurate picture of the actual situation on the ground. For instance, the disclaimer from MIMU: “This map shows the presence of organisations and does not indicate the volume of assistance, the number of beneficiaries, or the extent to which needs are met or unmet.” In short, these facts and figures are highly misleading.[19]

Following weeks of border tension caused by Myanmar military operations across the border regions, on 26 October, a three-member delegation of the Myanmar military met Bangladesh Army in Dhaka. The two sides discussed working on regional peace and security, the exchange of training and relevant information and the quick repatriation of the Rohingya. The Myanmar delegation led by Lt Gen Phone Myat, Command Bureau of Special Operation, also made a courtesy call to Bangladesh Army Chief Gen SM Shafiuddin Ahmed. The Myanmar delegation reiterated that they are interested in enhancing friendship and communication with Bangladesh and solving bilateral problems. [20] In another development on Rohingya, Tom Andrews, the UN Human Rights expert on Myanmar, said that the extremist Rohingya organisation Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) was involved in the massacre of Hindus in Myanmar and should be held accountable. An Amnesty International investigation confirmed that “up to 99 Hindu women, men, and children” had been massacred by ARSA fighters, who also abducted Hindu villagers in August 2017 in Rakhine State.[21]

Finally, another major giant sold its operations to a locally owned company. Switzerland’s Trafigura’s Puma Energy, the main supplier of aviation fuel in Myanmar, announced that it had sold its operations in the country to a locally owned company. The company agreed to sell its stake in Puma Energy Asia Sun (PEAS) and its minority share in National Energy Puma Aviation Services (NEPAS). NEPAS was a joint venture between Puma Energy and the state-owned Myanmar Petrochemical Enterprise under the military’s Ministry of Energy. Puma had initially suspended its operations following the military coup but later resumed distribution for civilian purposes.[22]

India’s Engagements with Myanmar

During the month, the Indian government earmarked a corpus of Rs 17.8 billion to complete the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project in Myanmar. The remaining part is a two-lane highway measuring 109 km from Paletwa in Chin State to Zorinpui at the border of the two countries. The other parts of the project have been completed in Myanmar, including the construction of the Sittwe Port, a river terminal at Paletwa and the dredging of the Kaladan River. A new agreement was inked by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs with IRCON International Limited as the project implementing agency (PIA). According to the agreement, the highway will be constructed by local sub-contractors to be decided by IRCON and completed within 40 months. The project was commenced 12 years ago and the next deadline is 2023. But completing the highway in the existing circumstances could be challenging for the implementing agency.[23]

In another push to India’s Act East Policy, Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia announced that flights would soon begin between Manipur’s capital Imphal and Mandalay in Myanmar under the UDAN scheme.[24] In addition, a Myanmar delegation led by its Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Minister Tin Htut Oo visited the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, to acquire seeds for a variety of beans and pulses, including green gram (mung beans). The delegation met with representatives of the India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA) and the Overseas Agro Traders Association (OATA) to discuss the addition of green gram to Myanmar’s bean and pulse export list, and to invite more Indian investment in Myanmar. They also met with other private companies to buy seeds for cotton and sunflower.[25]

At present, more than 30,300 Myanmar nationals have taken shelter in different parts of Mizoram since the coup. To accommodate the people, the Young Mizo Association (YMA) urged the Mizoram government to establish relief camps in a “compact” area. According to the Home Department, as of 22 October 2022, 30,385 Myanmar nationals, including 10,013 females and 11,650 children, have taken shelter across all 11 districts of Mizoram. Of them, 13,210 people have been lodged in 160 relief camps, while 17,157 people live outside the relief camps.[26] During the month, India also successfully rescued 45 of its nationals trapped in fake job rackets in Myanmar. Out of them, 13 Indian citizens reached Tamil Nadu.[27]

The month witnessed the continuation of the seizure of drugs smuggled from Myanmar. The Assam Rifles troopers seized 92,550 highly addictive Methamphetamine tablets worth around Rs 31 crores and arrested one person in this connection in Mizoram.[28] Further, sources in Assam Rifles said more than 20 Myanmar nationals had been arrested in the past few months in Mizoram. The security agencies in the region have been recently claiming that rebel groups of Myanmar are using Mizoram to arrange and transport arms and equipment to aid their fight against the military.[29]


Since the coup, the UN reports that more than one million were displaced, and 28,000 civilian properties were razed. According to data collected by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) as of 4 October 2022, there are 12,563 political prisoners are being held by the Military Council in Myanmar.[30] On 30 October, global protests against the Myanmar military were recorded. In the US there was a demonstration in support of those fighting the military in Myanmar. There was also an anti-Myanmar military demonstration led by the Buddhist monk, Daegu Sayadaw, in South Korea.[31] Even organisations such as Progressive Voice, Kachin Women’s Association Thailand and Women’s League of Burma raised concerns and called upon UNSC to stop evading its responsibility in Myanmar.[32] Further, Fortify Rights believes that constructive engagement with the Myanmar military is impossible at this stage, and ASEAN must isolate the military and engage the NUG, Myanmar civil society, and ethnic armed organisations. However, to conclude, any constructive resolution to the current crisis must involve all stakeholders, the military, NUG and the EAOs.

Endnotes :

[8]On 29 September, the news agency’s former director, Thaung Win, was arrested and charged with violating the Publishing and Distribution Act. Further, local reporters from two media outlets, BBC Burmese and The Irrawaddy online news journal, went into hiding. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/irrawaddy-10312022181138.html
[9]Kubota is the fifth foreign journalist to be detained in Myanmar, after US citizens Nathan Maung and Danny Fenster, Robert Bociaga of Poland and Yuki Kitazumi of Japan — all of whom were later freed and deported. https://www.rfi.fr/en/international-news/20221006-myanmar-jails-japanese-filmmaker-for-10-years-diplomatic-source
[12]The sanctions target the Myanmar businessman Aung Moe Myint, the son of a military officer whom the US Treasury Department claims “has facilitated various arms deals and weapons purchases on behalf of Burma’s military.” The Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has also targeted Aung Moe Mying’s company, Dynasty International Company Limited, and two of its directors: Hlaing Moe Myint, his twin brother, and Myo Thitsar. https://thediplomat.com/2022/10/us-announces-sanctions-on-myanmar-military-linked-arms-broker/
[13]Few of the groups are Dynasty Group and its subsidiaries founded by Aung Moe Myint, KT Group, Ky-Tha Group and its subsidiaries owned by Jonathan Kyaw Thaung, Mega Hill General Trading, Miya Win International Myanmar Chemical and Machinery (MCM) run by Aung Hlaing Oo, International Gateways Group, Star Sapphire Group of Dr. Tun Min Latt, Sky Aviator and Synpex Shwe. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/asia/thai-court-rules-suspended-pm-prayut-can-resume-office.html
[23]Early in 2022, the Indian government terminated the contract with a joint venture of Engineers Projects India Limited (EPIL) and C & C Construction Co. Ltd, which was tasked to construct the highway in Myanmar. In 2019, 10 people, including four Indians and a Myanmar lawmaker, were abducted by the Arakan Army from two boats between Paletwa and Kyauktaw. https://www.irrawaddy.com/opinion/guest-column/challenges-await-new-contractor-as-india-rejigs-plan-for-completion-of-kaladan-project-in-myanmar.html

Myanmar Round Up: October 2021

Despite the announcement of a unilateral five-month ceasefire from 01 October, Myanmar continues to witness intense fighting. This is because the ceasefire was not called with the loose coalition of ethnic armed organisations and civilian militias opposing the military across the country. Ravina Shamdasani, the United Nations (UN) human rights spokesperson, raised concern that there are fears about an imminent attack being planned by the Myanmar military as it is building up heavy weapons and troops in many areas. She documented attacks by the military in the past month in Chin state and other areas.

Another UN’s official, Andrew Kirkwood, said in a virtual briefing that the citizens of Myanmar are reeling under “a severe crisis,” with a total of 20 million or nearly half of the population living in poverty. Around 3 million have been in need of aid since the military takeover and the third wave of COVID-19. In addition to this, there is a serious lack of funds. While there is a need for USD 385 million, the organisation has received only a third. [1]

Domestic Situation

Myanmar’s military chief announced the formation of a new military coastguard comprising of four armed vessels. It was previously operated by Myanmar’s navy. The adoption is part of the strategy to become a first-class force. [2] The military has escalated its raids and acts of violence, including arbitrary killings, burning villages and shelling residential areas. They have used heavy explosives, jet fighters and helicopters in recent clashes with civilian resistance fighters. [3] The country has also witnessed pro-military rallies in the capital and other towns with a strong military presence. However, the demonstrations were only the second time since the coup. Prior to the coup, extreme Buddhist nationalists and their followers regularly organised pro-military rallies, especially after international criticism of the military’s actions against the Rohingya Muslim minority. However, these démonstrations came after the military’s lethal crackdowns on civilian anti-regime protesters. [4]

The military accused six ethnic armed organisations of aiding and abetting ‘terrorist’ attacks in Myanmar. The six organisations include – Karen National Union (KNU), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Chin National Front (CNF), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS). In addition, they are accused of providing military training to People’s Defence Forces (PDFs), getting involved in the illicit drug trade, and having links with foreign organisations.[5]

Thousands of factory workers, students, civil servants and others have joined the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) to oppose the military’s actions. In response, the military has arrested and gunned down thousands of individuals and imposed martial law. The independent media units are shut down and internet and social media blackouts are imposed. Many ethnic armed groups are in active conflict against the military. Further, the resistance forces in Mandalay, Sagaing and Magway regions stated that they used landmines to inflict heavy casualties against the military. The Christian-dominated areas such as Kachin, Kayah, Karen and Chin states also witnessed intense fighting.[6]

At least 152 local administrators in Yangon, Sagaing, and Magway regions have left their posts in recent weeks after the National Unity Government (NUG) demanded they quit and resistance fighters threatened more assassinations of those who continue to serve the coup regime. Around 102 administrators have been killed since the coup.[7] A train engineer accused of informing the military council of other railway staff members taking part in the CDM was also killed in Mandalay Township. The town is a transportation hub and home to one of Myanmar’s primary railway workshops. He was responsible for the arrests of several staff members and for thousands of staff members losing their jobs.[8] On Facebook and Telegram, the defectors run Pyithu Yinkhwin or People’s Embrace program, in cooperation with the NUG, to convince their ex-comrades. From 7 September to 7 October, 429 soldiers and 334 police defected in response to the call.[9] However, the defectors are facing troubles as well. Brigadier-General Phyo Thant, the commander of the military’s North West Command was detained and interrogated by the military regime after his plan to defect was exposed. He fears being used as a scapegoat by the military and being held responsible for the recent attacks.[10]

In the State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi corruption case, former Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein testified that he gave seven viss (around 11.4 kg) of gold and USD 600000 to her. [11] Under the charges of breaching COVID-19 rules, State Counsellor and President have pleaded not guilty. Both were charged under Article 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Law for violating restrictions while campaigning for the NLD. [12] In another significant revelation for the first time, the circumstances of President U Win Myint’s detention on the morning of 01 February were stated. He stated that on the day of the coup he refused to resign from his post and claimed that he would rather die than to accept the army officers’ condition.[13] Soon after the testimony, the military imposed gagging orders on five lawyers representing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and barred them from speaking to the media, foreign diplomats and international organisations.[14]

International Responses

In a significant development, ASEAN leaders expressed their discontentment about Myanmar’s military making no progress in implementing the ASEAN five-point consensus roadmap. In response, the ASEAN leaders decided that the military leader, Min Aung Hlaing be excluded from the regional submit. The NUG welcomed the exclusion of military leader from the regional summit, but also stated that it should be the legitimate representative. However, it was decided that the ASEAN will invite a non-political representative from Myanmar to its summit. Brunei had invited Myanmar’s highest-ranking diplomat Chan Aye to participate “non-politically” in the summit.[15]

However, the ASEAN summit was conducted in late October without the presence of any delegate from Myanmar.[16] On the other hand, the military leader claimed that the ASEAN has failed to recognise the responsibility of opposition groups for the ongoing violent unrest. He also announced an amnesty for thousands of people arrested for taking part in protests against the military’s seizure of power.[17] Nevertheless, it was later reported that many were rearrested shortly after their release.[18]

The United States (US) introduced the BURMA Act of 2021 to support a return to democratic governance and cut off the funding for the Myanmar military. The bill directs the US to redouble efforts to push the UN to take stronger action, including a global arms embargo. The act also provides funding for critical humanitarian needs, including the COVID-19 response and supports people displaced by the conflict. The act further requires the secretary of state to decide whether the military has committed genocide and other crimes against humanity. [19]

The NUG is able to harness support among the international community. After being recognised by the French Senate, and setting up representative offices in the US, the UK, the Czech Republic, Australia and South Korea; the European Parliament voted to recognise the NUG and its parliamentary committee as the legitimate representatives of Myanmar. Later the military-controlled Ministry of Foreign Affairs raised objections against the UN, international organisations and foreign government parliamentarians for extending support to the NUG.[20]

India’s Engagements with Myanmar

The Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) said it has decided to exit its investment in Myanmar by June 2022. Earlier in August 2021, APSEZ had said its investment in Myanmar did not violate any sanction guidelines issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of Treasury.[21]

Justice for Myanmar (JFM) has reported that the Indian arms manufacturer Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) exported a remote-controlled, air-defence station to Myanmar in July 2021. However, the BEL has not responded to the questions. The BEL has made multiple shipments to Myanmar’s military for a coastal surveillance system since the coup. India also abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly resolution in June which called for a ban on arms sales to Myanmar.[22]

Furthermore, India is suffering from a huge influx of refugees from Myanmar. According to the UN, roughly 15000 people in Myanmar have fled for India in the last eight months since the coup. Catherine Stubberfield, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Asia and Pacific bureau, said the agency had tracked some 5000 people who successfully entered India from Myanmar. The recent exodus has been in Chin State, which borders the Indian state of Mizoram and is predominantly Christian. Many of the locals in Mizoram are also ethnic Chin and have close ties to the Chin people in Myanmar.[23]


According to the UN Special Rapporteur Thomas Andrews, more than 1100 people have been killed and over 8000 have been arbitrarily detained. Since the coup, around 230000 have been forcibly displaced. The country is reeling under chaos and violence and it has been suggested that the military leader should step down and return power seized in the February coup to the democratically elected government. The world countries are slowly recognising the NUG, which in a way delegitimises military rule. The ASEAN decision to exclude the military leader from attending the regional summit has also made a dent in the military’s confidence. It is yet to be seen how long the military will continue its rule against the will of thousands of citizens and international condemnations.