Tag Archives: Indiain Myanmar

Myanmar Round Up – December 2021

The ongoing conflict in the country between the military and opposition forces has resulted in a number of deaths and causalities and increasing human rights violations. The military forces are accused of killing around 1300 people and arresting more than 10,000 individuals. The UN Security Council has called for an end to violence in Myanmar. More than 500 rights groups have urged the United Nations (UN) to stop Myanmar army offensives. The military is also accused of blocking aid to displaced civilians. During the month, Myanmar also confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Domestic and Political Situation

On 10 December, Human Rights Day, a “silent strike” was organised to shutdown towns and cities as a sign of rejection of the military rule. Earlier also, a silent strike was organised on 24 March to disapprove of the military’s coup. In addition, a “Black Campaign” was also staged as individuals posted their pictures wearing black and flashing three-finger salutes of resistance. [1]

Myanmar’s many regions, such as the Sagaing region, Karen State, Shan State, and Kayah State, witnessed violent clashes between the military and ethnic parties.[2] The Karen Peace Support Network (KPSN) released a report outlining human rights abuses; including helicopter gunship attacks against civilian targets, arbitrary abductions and use of civilians as human shields in Mutraw district.[3] The ethnic Kokang army clashed with Myanmar’s military in Shan State. The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) is also fighting around Kokang, Mongkoe and Hsenwi to gain control to the west of Salween River.[4]

The military is also resorting to old tactics and creating anti-Muslim and anti-Christian tensions. [5] According to International Christian Concern (ICC) reports, many incidents against Christians in Chin State are recorded, comprising 90 per cent of the Christian population. Myanmar is positioned at 19 on Open Doors 2021 World Watch List of places that are most difficult to be a Christian.[6] Myanmar military continues to burn houses and churches in the Chin State. The Chin Human Rights Organisation reported burning of the Thantlang town in Myanmar’s Chin State. According to Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), the Assembly of God Church and one of the Thantlang Association of Baptist Church buildings and many others were burned down by the military on 30 December. Further, a township court in Rakhine State sentenced 199 people (most of whom are Rohingya Muslims) to five years in prison under the Immigration Act for “illegally trying to migrate” to Malaysia. [7]

On the one hand, the military is attacking EAOs, and on the other hand, the military regime met with members of the Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee (FPNCC), excluding a few, in Shan State. The meeting was with a view to re-establish links with the EAOs. It has also been reported that China had aided in negotiations between the Myanmar military and members of the FPNCC. A representative from China was present at the meeting. [8] However, the same day, the military attacked the Karen peace town Lay Kay Kaw in Myawaddy Township, controlled by the Karen National Liberation Army Brigade 6. Earlier, the FPNCC member group MNDAA was attacked by a helicopter in Muse District in northern Shan State. [9]

The NUG is also taking steps to cooperate with different EAOs and providing them with military training and support. For instance, on 12 December, Duwa Lashi La, the acting president of the NUG, stated that they would like to work with the Arakan National League (ULA/AA) to overthrow the military dictatorship. Earlier, on 10 December, the Arakan Army (AA) warned the people that fighting could break out in Rakhine State and therefore, the people should be alert.[10]

The military recalled former service members to military duty as many soldiers are defecting. Former military dictator Senior General Than Shwe, rejoined the military, who had stepped down in 2011. [11] The country is also reeling under economic crises. During the month, it has been reported that the military is printing notes to address the monetary deficit. According to sources, an Uzbekistan Airways plane carried paper to print banknotes. [12] Further, on 24 December, the Myanmar military leader commissioned airplanes and helicopters marking the 74th anniversary of Myanmar Navy. Within this, Myanmar commissioned China’s Type 35B Ming-class submarine aka ‘UMS Minye Kyaw Htin’.[13] Myanmar’s military has also sought China’s assistance to build an internet firewall to curb the spread of information against the military.

This month, Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to a four-year jail on the first of the series of charges filed against her. However, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing reduced the four-year sentence to two years of house arrest. She faces ten other charges that could sentence her for the rest of her life. [14] In the case of possession and illegal importation of walkie-talkies, the verdict has been postponed until 10 January 2022. Further, during the month, another letter claimed to be by Suu Kyi was leaked, which stated that neither the CRPH nor the NUG is entitled to use the name of the NLD. But the authenticity of the letter is hard to prove.

International Responses

Justice For Myanmar called for an investigation and a global arms embargo over arms and military aircraft being sold to the Myanmar military. The report highlighted the involvement of the UN Security Council members including France, Russia, China, Holland and Italy in supporting the Myanmar military. [15] In addition, the United States with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, and the United Kingdom called for the international community to “suspend all operational support to the military”. The US is also exploring additional sanctions against the ruling military rulers in Myanmar.[16] Further, the European Union (EU) has stopped renting its official ambassador’s residence from the family of late Myanmar dictator General Ne Win after eight years. [17]

A UK-based NGO submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) under Article 15 of the Rome Statute. The evidence proves that Myanmar military leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is guilty of crimes against humanity. Under the Myanmar Accountability Project (MAP), the organisation urged the court to open a criminal investigation into the widespread and systematic use of torture as part of the regime’s violent crackdown against the protest movement in the country. Similarly, the NUG is also working to prosecute Myanmar’s military at the ICC. Furthermore, despite the military ruling authority numerous attempts to replace envoy of the previous NLD government at the UN, the nine-nation Credentials Committee of the General Assembly deferred a decision on applications.[18]

During the month, Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Senmet Myanmar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wunna Maung Lwin, in Phnom Penh on 07 December. Hun Sen will assume the chairmanship of ASEAN next year, and he stated that he would visit Myanmar in the year 2022. ASEAN members denied Myanmar’s military attendance at the ASEAN Summit and the ASEAN-China Summit due to “insufficient progress” on implementing the peace plan. However, Hun Sen justified his engagement stating that Myanmar is a “family member of ASEAN” and therefore, it is essential to work with authorities of Myanmar. Hun Sen’s adoption of “cowboy diplomacy”, a term referring to risky and harsh diplomatic tactics, has worried the regional partners.[19]

Following the explosion that landed on the Thailand side, Thailand warned that it would return fire if more artillery shells by the Myanmar military landed again in Thailand. Thailand has also deployed troops along the Thai-Myanmar border and is conducting regular patrols. [20] Further, due to the increasing fleeing of individuals from Myanmar, Thailand has sent over 600 Myanmar refugees back across the border. [21] To date, around 2500 people have fled due to intense fighting between the Myanmar military and Karen National Union (KNU). [22]

Further, Japan has been condemned by Human Rights Groups for training Myanmar military cadets. According to the Defence Ministry Official, the National Defence Academy of Japan was still hosting eight cadets from Myanmar. The Human Rights Watch has suggested that the Japanese government cut ties with the Myanmar military and immediately suspend military study-abroad program involving Myanmar cadets.[23] Also, Japan’s Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa has said that Japan will continue to work for the repatriation of Myanmar nationals who have been forcibly displaced from Bangladesh. [24]

India in Myanmar

In the first such outreach since February 2021, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla visited Naypyitaw and Yangon and met State Administration Council (SAC) chaired by General Min Aung Hlaing. As part of humanitarian support, India has provided 10 lakh doses of ‘Made in India’ COVID-19 vaccines and grant of 10,000 tonnes of rice and wheat to Myanmar. He also met members of civil society and political parties, including the NLD. However, the request to meet Aung San Suu Kyi was denied. [25] Before the visit, the Myanmar military handed over five militants of banned Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) to India. RPF is the sister wing of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). A police official, on condition of anonymity, said that a special flight brought the five Manipur-based RPF militants from Myanmar and handed them over to Manipur police. [26]

However, varied accounts were reported about the visit outcomes. The State-run Myanmar News Agency reported that the two discussed how the Myanmar military could discharge its State responsibilities, take efforts for counter-terrorism, and ensuring peace and stability in the border regions of both countries. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs stated that the Foreign Secretary had “emphasised India’s interest in seeing Myanmar’s return to democracy at the earliest; release of detainees and prisoners; resolution of issues through dialogue; and complete cessation of all violence.” However, no comment was made on the difference between the statements issued in Yangon and New Delhi.[27]

Conclusion

Data from ACLED, analysed by Altsean Burma, shows a 632 per cent increase in armed clashes and attacks compared to 2020. However, the prevalence of violence cannot be the answer to the current crisis. Myanmar is experiencing one of the worst crises since its independence. Furthermore, the new variant of COVID-19 can expose the country’s health care system to risks. According to the United Nations emergency relief coordinator, three million people across Myanmar need life-saving humanitarian assistance because of rising conflict and insecurity, the pandemic, and a failing economy. The military is also accused of blocking humanitarian aid from reaching displaced people. The military has imposed new travel restrictions on humanitarian workers, blocked access roads and aid convoys, destroyed non-military supplies, attacked aid workers and shut down telecommunications services. Therefore, the military must reverse its actions and engage in constructive dialogue with all stakeholders.

Endnotes:

[1]https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-set-to-shut-down-with-silent-strike-to-defy-junta.html
[2]https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/09/eleven-villagers-shot-and-burned-alive-by-myanmar-soldiers-reports-say
[3]https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/12/1/myanmar-army-helicopter-attacks-force-thousands-to-flee
[4]https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/kokang-armed-group-reports-escalating-fighting-with-myanmar-junta.html
[5]https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/divide-and-rule-myanmar-junta-weaponising-racial-tensions-20211203-p59eid.html

Burmese Army Fires Weapons Targeting Churches in Chin State


[6]https://thealabamabaptist.org/two-pastors-killed-christians-targeted-by-burmese-army/
[7]https://myanmar-now.org/en/news/more-than-100-rohingya-fleeing-persecution-in-rakhine-state-sentenced-to-five-years-in-prison
[8]https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/china-facilitates-myanmar-junta-and-ethnic-armies-talks.html
[9]Other members of the FPNCC include the United Wa State Army and the Arakan Army. None of the seven groups has signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. However, the KNLA’s political arm, the Karen National Union, signed the peace agreement in 2015 and the Burma Army is still attacking its troops. https://www.bnionline.net/en/news/junta-meets-fpncc-mongla
[10]https://www.mizzima.com/article/national-unity-government-nug-makes-overtures-aa-overthrow-military
[11]https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/junta-watch-coup-leaders-wife-draws-public-ire-suu-kyis-new-charge-and-more.html
[12]https://www.irrawaddy.com/business/economy/uzbek-plane-supplies-myanmar-junta-with-banknote-paper.html
[13] https://www.naval-technology.com/news/myanmar-commissions-type-35b-submarine/
[14]https://www.irrawaddy.com/opinion/guest-column/a-new-politics-is-taking-shape-in-myanmar.html
[15]https://www.mizzima.com/article/un-security-council-members-complicit-arms-sales-myanmar-military-junta-ngo
[16]https://www.cnbc.com/2021/12/15/the-us-is-exploring-additional-steps-against-myanmars-military-leaders-blinken-says.html
[17]https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/eu-stops-renting-residence-from-former-myanmar-dictators-family.html
[18]https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/01/world/americas/united-nations-taliban-myanmar.html
[19]https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/12/22/cambodias-cowboy-diplomacy-in-myanmar-isolates-asean
[20]https://www.mizzima.com/article/thailand-warns-myanmar-it-will-return-fire-if-more-artillery-shells-land-its-territory-again
[21]https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/thailand-sends-refugees-back-myanmar-clashes-continue-2021-12-19/
[22]https://www.thestar.com.my/aseanplus/aseanplus-news/2021/12/18/more-than-2500-flee-to-thailand-as-rebels-clash-with-myanmar-army-gets-more-heated-up
[23] https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/12/21/japan-cut-defense-ties-myanmar-military
[24]https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/japan-assures-repatriation-displaced-citizens-myanmar-337921
[25]https://theprint.in/world/india-provides-10-lakh-doses-of-covid-19-vaccines-10000-tonnes-of-rice-and-wheat-to-myanmar/786263/
[26]https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/myanmar-army-hands-over-5-militants-to-manipur-police/articleshow/88304702.cms
[27]https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/myanmar-statement-on-shringla-visit-differs-from-indian-line-on-restoring-democracy/article38030897.ece

Myanmar Round Up – November 2021

08 November 2021 marked the anniversary of the November 2020 elections, which resulted in the landmark victory of the National League for Democracy party. However, the military coup in February 2021 led to a set-back in this democratic transition process. Under the banner of the Spring Revolution, the citizens of Myanmar are demanding the restoration of democratically elected leaders. Voices are being raised against the violent and forced military rule. The People’s Defence Forces and other Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) are responding to military violence with stronger force. The military is also said to be suffering from losses, and the number of deserters is increasing day by day. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, the military has killed more than 1200 civilians. Aung San Suu Kyi has been further pressed with more charges, totalling 11, which could sentence her to 102 years in prison. International reactions have increased and Myanmar’s military leaders are being questioned at the international stage. However, some countries have started negotiating with the military leaders to ensure the continuance of relations.

Political and Domestic Situation

On 24 November, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Prime Minister and Chairman of the State Administration Council (SAC) stated that the military has taken over the entire responsibilities of the State and is working on the five-point road map. He further stated that the pattern of democratic transition in the country depends on the country’s situation and socio-economic development. He reiterated the provisions stated in the 2008 constitution to transition to a multi-party democracy.[1]

The military rulers are confident they can wipe out armed civilian resistance against them in three months. With the withdrawal of the rainy season, the military regime deployed thousands of troops in the Chin State, Sagaing and Magwe regions of Myanmar. As a result, the Human Rights Watch provided evidence of multiple active fires in Chin State after reviewing thermal anomaly data collected by an environmental satellite sensor (VIIRS). On 29 October 2021, thermal anomalies were detected for the first time. While the human rights groups and media blamed the military, the military spokesperson, Gen. Zaw Min Tun, claimed that the Chinland Defence Force had set the houses on fire. Because of the ongoing fights, Thantlang has been nearly uninhabited since September.[2] On 01 November, the Three Brother Alliance, including the Kachin Independence Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and AA, condemned the military artillery strikes on Thantlang region.

Fortify Rights conducted interviews of displaced people and humanitarian workers along with members of the military. The group reported that the military committed war crimes in the Karenni State by arresting humanitarian workers and destroying food stocks meant for displaced people. Further, the military delayed travel authorisation for international aid workers, set up roadblocks, and confiscated aid supplies. Similar accounts have been reported in other parts of the country, especially in Chin and the Sagaing region.[3]

The confrontations were also reported between the military and the Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State. Villagers reported that the military sent reinforcement troops to the region after the alleged clash.[4] After the armed conflict, the AA released 15 captives arrested on humanitarian grounds. It has been suggested that the release was done after the visit of Yohei Sasakawa, Japan’s Special Envoy to Myanmar. Mr Sasakawa had previously attended a virtual meeting with the AA.[5]

Many assassinations took place during the month. One of the most prominent ones was the assassination of Thein Aung, Chief Finance of Mytel Telecommunications, a military-linked telecommunications company. Mytel provides revenue to the military government and is a major target of the anti-military forces. As a result, it has been boycotted by the consumers and local media have reported that more than 80 of its cellphone towers have been destroyed to date.[6]

As a result of confrontations, the military has suffered its heaviest losses, with 1300 soldiers killed and 463 injured in clashes. The country’s shadow National Unity Government’s (NUG) Defence Ministry reported that the military casualties are almost double the number the regime suffered in September.[7] Further, even though the military defectors are a small percentage, the number of defectors has contributed to a growing crisis among the troops. As a result, the military is unable to recruit new soldiers. The military has recalled all retirees, and the soldiers’ wives have been ordered to provide security for the bases.[8]

To coordinate between civilian resistance forces and allied EAOs, the NUG declared the formation of a command structure. Many members of the People’s Defence Force (PDF) reported a lack of adequate weapons and commanders. The objective of the new command structure will be to control the spread of arms and weaponry in the country.

The NUG also started selling bonds to fund the revolutionary movement with a target to raise at least USD 800 million. On the opening day itself, it raised USD 6.3 million.[9] Further, the NUG blacklisted two military-controlled conglomerates – Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) and their subsidiaries. The NUG’s Commerce Ministry stated that the military-owned companies committed high treason and controlled numerous businesses by abusing military power and exerting undue influence.[10]

International Reactions

The civil rights groups have called for a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting to stop escalating violence in Myanmar’s Chin State. The Human Rights Watch released a statement on behalf of 521 international and domestic organisations.[11] The United States (US) also condemned the Myanmar military’s use of violence in Chin State and called for urgent international action to hold the military accountable.[12] As a result, the UNSC expressed “deep concern” over the intensifying armed clashes and violence in Myanmar. The council’s 15 members issued a statement calling for an immediate end to the fighting and for the military to exercise “utmost restraint”.[13] Further, Nicholas Koumjian, head of Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, stated that there is a widespread systematic attack on civilians “amounting to crimes against humanity” which in turn is based on the preliminary evidence collected since the military seized power.[14]

Bill Richardson, the American ex-diplomat, visited Myanmar during the month after the invitation of the military’s foreign minister, U Wunna Maung Lwin. The US State Department welcomed Mr Richardson’s trip. He claimed the visit to be largely successful as US journalist Danny Fenster was released from the prison, and his efforts helped increase access to humanitarian aid and vaccines for Myanmar and resumption of Red Cross visits to the country’s prisons. Previously, Richardson had made numerous visits to Myanmar since the 1990s. However, no promises were made by General Min Aung Hlaing during their talks. Mark Farmaner, Director, Burma Campaign UK, was critical of Mr. Richardson for not securing the release of other prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi.[15]

Senior officials from China, Japan and Thailand also visited Myanmar to meet Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Sun Guoxiang, the Special Envoy of Asian Affairs of the China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yohei Sasakawa, Japan’s Special Envoy for national reconciliation in Myanmar, and Don Pramudwinai, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister visited the country during the month. Mr Sasakawa discussed the current situation and the peace process in Myanmar and Japan’s assistance to the country. He also visited camps for internally displaced Rohingya in Sittwe and met with Arakan National Party representatives. However, the details of the visit were not discussed.[16]

Myanmar’s military leaders’ five-member delegation was refused permission to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP-26. The delegation was led by Ambassador Tun Aung Kyaw of the Myanmar Embassy in London. Myanmar’s shadow NUG attempt to send a delegation was also rejected.[17] Due to the ongoing crises, it has been argued that the country is losing opportunities because of non-participation at meetings on important issues. On the other hand, the military delegation participated in the 89th Interpol General Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey. Than Hlaing led the delegation, who was appointed deputy home affairs minister in February. Canada, the EU, UK and US have sanctioned Than Hlaing for his role in overseeing the military’s crackdown on the public, in which more than 1200 civilians have been killed and more than 10000 were arrested.[18]

The United Nations adopted a resolution on Rohingya titled “the Situation of Human Rights of Rohingya Muslims and Other Minorities in Myanmar”. The resolution was jointly tabled by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the European Union (EU). The resolution welcomed the appointment of the new Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar and requested a work plan for her engagements in Myanmar. It also called for effective implementation of the MoU between Myanmar, the UNHCR and the UND[19]P.

Chinese projects in Myanmar are again at high risk as they face protests from the local population. Apart from the issue of maintaining no transparency and accountability in implementing these projects, the issue of forcible land acquisition has surfaced. The preparations have started to seize 250 acres of land in the proposed Kyaukphyu KPSEZ industrial zone. The 250 acres of land belong to more than 70 local farmers from four village tracts. And now it has been revealed that out of those 250 acres of land, 60 acres belong to three unknown people who registered these land plots under Myanmar’s land ownership law. There is an allegation that 22 local farmers are illegally occupying the land. Similar incident was earlier reported during the construction of the offshore Shwe Gas field and pipeline project.[20]

India’s Engagements with Myanmar

Armed militants ambushed the Assam Rifles convoy in Manipur’s Churachandpur district and killed five soldiers, including Colonel Viplav Tripathi, his wife and their eight-year-old son. The Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) and Manipur’s Naga People’s front jointly claimed responsibility for the ambush. It has been argued that fighting the Myanmar military war against pro-democracy resistance groups may have emboldened the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), a Manipur-based extremist group. This also brings into question China’s re-establishment of its links with PLA Manipur and other like-minded groups in the backdrop of the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).[21] Further, the Moreh Battalion of Assam Rifles recovered a large number of prefabricated Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) weighing approx 250 Kg along with a large quantum of other explosives and warlike stores.[22]

Mizoram governor, Hari Babu Kambhampati, stated that the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (KMMTTP) is almost nearing completion within the Mizoram side. Despite the pandemic, the Public Works Department completed several works of formation cutting (405 km) and construction of cement concrete pavements (90 km).[23] Mizoram plans to give COVID-19 vaccines to more than 12000 Myanmar nationals who are currently taking shelter in the state. The Mizoram government had also sent delegations to the Centre, seeking assistance for the Myanmar nationals; however, the Centre is yet to respond.[24]

Conclusion

The country is reeling under political, social and economic crises. The continued violence from both sides has increased the number of displaced people and pushed them to live in inhumane conditions. The political crises continue as the military government rule continues to thwart the return of democracy. The NUG claims to be the country’s legitimate leaders as they were democratically elected by the people of Myanmar, whereas the military rulers claim to be the rightful defenders of the country. The economic crises continue and the COVID-19 cases continue to rise. The UNSC states that the solution to the current crises lies in the pursuance of dialogue and reconciliation with the interests of the people of Myanmar.

Endnotes :

[1] https://elevenmyanmar.com/news/five-point-road-map-will-continue-sacs-chair
[2]https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/11/03/satellite-data-raise-fears-myanmars-army-setting-towns-ablaze#
[3]https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/11/10/myanmar-military-accused-of-blocking-aid-to-displaced-civilians
[4]https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/locals-report-new-clash-between-arakan-army-military-in-maungdaw
[5] https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/arakan-army-releases-15-captives-arrested-during-armed-conflict-with-myanmar-military
[6] https://apnews.com/article/business-myanmar-telecommunications-assassinations-e244447c0b83e15215524a94a326a3fc
[7]https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-junta-loses-1300-soldiers-killed-over-last-month-nug.html
[8]https://indianexpress.com/article/world/myanmar-army-soldiers-abandon-crisis-7633925/
[9]https://www.metro.us/myanmar-opposition-raises-6-3/
[10] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmars-civilian-government-blacklists-junta-conglomerates.html
[11] https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/activists-urge-un-intervention-over-myanmar-army-offensives-2021-11-05/
[12]https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-junta-aims-to-wipe-out-armed-resistance-in-three-months.html
[13] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/un-security-council-expresses-deep-concern-as-myanmar-violence-worsens.html
h[14]ttps://globalnews.ca/news/8355169/myanmar-coup-crimes-against-humanity/
[15]https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/07/world/asia/myanmar-bill-richardson.html
[16] https://www.bnionline.net/en/news/japanese-envoy-sasakawa-says-he-told-aa-hold-its-fire-wake-brief-clash-last-week
[17] https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/snubbed-11102021183951.html
[18] https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/national-unity-government-calls-on-interpol-to-review-juntas-invitation-to-89th-general
[19] https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/rohingya-crisis/2021/11/18/united-nations-adopts-resolution-on-rohingyas
[20] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/china-backed-myanmar-infrastructure-project-leaves-farmers-landless.html
[21] https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/manipur-ambush-brings-china-role-in-northeast-back-in-focus-101636891328423.html
[22]https://www.eastmojo.com/manipur/2021/11/09/assam-rifles-recovers-huge-acache-of-explosives-along-indo-myanmar-border/
[23] https://thenortheasttoday.com/states/mizoram/9621-per-cent-work-on-multi-modal-transit-transport-project/cid5812373.htm
[24] https://www.eastmojo.com/news/2021/11/11/mizoram-mulls-covid-jabs-for-12000-myanmar-refugees/

Myanmar Round Up: September 2021

September 2021 marks the seventh month of continued demonstrations and protests against the Myanmar military after the coup. The violence has spread to both urban and ru-ral areas. Meanwhile, COVID-19 has surged and this could result into a public health emer-gency. The country is also reeling under economic crises with the lack of financial liquidity and depreciation of the currency. Internationally, no speech was given from the side of My-anmar at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The first in-person QUAD summit was held in the United States (US) and the need for peaceful resolution of the crises was stated.

Political Crises and Coup Resistance

With the National Unity Government (NUG) call for “people’s defensive war” on 07 September 2021, intense protests and fighting between the military and ethnic groups were reported. Duwa Lashi, Vice President of NUG, in his 14-point speech, also urged the members of the military to join pro-democracy groups and ethnic groups to attack the military. [1] However, the Military spokesman Zaw Min Tun dismissed the NUG’s call for revolt. Moreover, false reports were circulated that State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi did not accept armed resistance against the military regime by the shadow National Unity Government (NUG) and the People’s Defence Forces (PDFs). [2] The NUG call for the “people’s defensive war” has not been met with much sympathy from the international community.

The situation has been marked by violence, including tit-for-tat killings between the military and the résistance forces. Some of the major incidents during the month were reported. In-tense fighting between the Chinland Defence Force (CDF) and the military was reported at Lungler village. The CDF and CNA cadres attacked the military camp at Lungler. [3] Since the early July, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the military have been clashing in Mongkoe and Pansai in northern Shan State. During the month, the MNDAA retook control of a strategic hill near Phaung Sai village, which the military had captured earlier. [4]

According to the Human Rights Ministry of the civilian NUG, the military attacked the Sagaing Region and murdered about 112 people within three months. The NUG also reported the military massacres in Kani to the UN Security Council in August. [5] Attacks against civilians were also reported in northern Karen and Kayah States.

The civilian resistance forces have destroyed more than 80 telecom towers owned in a joint venture between the Myanmar military and Vietnam’s Defence Ministry. In addition, the month witnessed the targeting of Mytel telecom masts after the NUG declared a nationwide people’s defensive war against the military regime. The people have been boycotting Mytel services since the coup in protest at the military takeover, and the civilian forces had first targeted their offices in early April. [6]

The violence inflicted by the military has urged the soldiers and police to break ties and nearly 2,500 soldiers and police defected and joined the resistance movement since the coup. However, the military has not yet commented on these developments. On the other hand, the military has offered rewards to whistleblowers and informants who help make arrests of people associated with anti-military groups. [7]

The month also marked the 33rd Anniversary of the National League for Democracy (NLD), born in 1988. However, due to the current crises, there is a question mark over its future existence. Since its formation, the NLD was being persecuted by the then military regime and also ousted by the current military regime. [8] During the month, Aung San Suu Kyi was supposed to appear before a special court in Naypyitaw’s Zabuthiri Township, but was cancelled as it was reported that she fell sick. Later, she attended a hearing at a special court in Naypyitaw’s Zabuthiri Township. The lawyer said arguments in the sedition cases against all three were heard under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code, and the court will give its decision at the next hearing. [9]

The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), a military-backed party, released a joint declaration which it said was signed by 23 political parties on 08 September. The joint declaration urged the UN not to approve U Kyaw Moe Tun as the parallel NUG’s Myanmar ambassador to the UN. However, few parties denied that they had not signed such a statement. [10]

Economic Crises

There were massive disruptions in the financial sector, as the military intervened in operations of the Central Bank of Myanmar and restricted internet access. There is a lack of cash liquidity and the currency has been depreciated to its lowest. The US dollar exchange rate rose to a record high of around 2,500 to 2,700 kyats per dollar. [11]

During the month, the Kanbawza (KBZ) Bank branch in the northern Shan State town of Ky-aukme was robbed. In recent months, three other bank robberies were reported. [12] The World Bank and UNDP have projected that the proportion of people living in poverty could double to almost half of the nation’s population by the beginning of 2022. This would reverse the gains made since 2005. Most young people are applying for passports at a recently reopened office in Yankin Township in the Yangon to run away from the political repression. [13]

International Responses

The 76th session of the UNGA closed without the speech from Myanmar. The current representative Kyaw Moe Tun, chosen by former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, had been critical of the military coup. However, the military has made two requests to replace him with a former general. But the United Nations has not yet approved the appointment. [14]

In a report, the US and China agreed to defer the decision to November on who would occupy Myanmar’s seat at the UN – the military or the NUG. Both the countries sit on the UNGA Credentials Committee (UNGA-CC), and seven other members, which have the mandate to decide country representation at the organisation. The nine-member committee also includes Russia, which has “informally endorsed” the deal. This means that the sitting representative, Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, will continue to hold the seat and is expected to “hold his tongue” and “keep a low profile”. [15]

On 24 September, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) leaders called for an end to the violence in Myanmar in a joint statement. The Prime Ministers of the four countries – the US, India, Australia and Japan participated in the first-ever in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit, hosted by the US. The leaders also called for the urgent implementation of ASEAN’s Five Point
Consensus on Myanmar. [16] Ear-lier, ASEAN’s Special Envoy for Myanmar, Erywan Yusof, had proposed a four-month cease-fire until the end of this year to the military and the regime had accepted it. However, the parallel NUG has said that to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid, the Special Envoy should have got an agreement from the military regime to cease civilian arrests and provide for meetings with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. [17]

The military also engaged in talks with Pakistan to produce JF-17 Block III fighters, a lightweight, single-engine, fourth-generation multi-role combat aircraft. According to well-informed sources, the Pakistan delegation was in the country from 01-05 September. Myanmar has purchased JF-17 multi-role combat aircraft from Pakistan in the past, and is currently in “advanced negotiations” to build third-generation models under license. The jet fighters can engage in air-to-air battles and have ground-attack capabilities to deliver both dumb bombs and precision-guided munitions. Thus, they are suitable for Myanmar, where armed conflict with ethnic rebels is frequent. [18]

The World Bank proposed a “Refugee Policy Review Framework” (RPRF) to integrate Roh-ingya’s in Bangladesh. The WB has proposed the RPRF for 14 member states, currently hosting refugees. The proposal is to evaluate the effectiveness of the grants for the refugees and host communities under its “soft-loan window” International Development Assistance. The WB offered USD 2 billion to Bangladesh if it integrated Rohingya refugees with economic and social rights. However, Bangladesh rejected the proposal and stated that Rohingya are “forcibly displaced persons”, and Bangladesh only provided temporary shelter. At the end, Rohingya want to return to Myanmar. Such a proposal will further instigate Myanmar to slow the repatriation process. [19]

India’s Engagements with Myanmar

Indian newspapers have reported that the Meitei rebels’ are cooperating with Myanmar’s military regime since April. They have quoted Indian intelligence officers as saying that the PLA-MP and the UNLF were involved in the lethal crackdown in Kale and Tamu in which 12 civilians were killed. In May 2021, Myanmar’s military regime met with some Meitei rebel leaders, which led to the Meitei rebels agreeing to work for the military regime in exchange for cash and a base in Sagaing Region. However, despite widespread reports of Meitei rebel groups cooperating with the regime, not every Meitei rebel is willing to fight for the regime, said ethnic Naga observer Ko Aung Tun. [20]

China in Myanmar

In August 2021, China held a test run of a new overland trade route with Myanmar. Around 60 containers were sent in the first trial by road from Yangon, entering China at the border crossing between Shan State’s Chin Shwe Haw and Lincang in Yunnan Province, before continuing by rail to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. The test comes after the first visit to Myanmar after the visit of Special Envoy for Asian Affairs Sun Guoxiang—since the military junta seized power in February. The new route could help boost trade with Myanmar and link China with the Indian Ocean. Further, the agreement to conduct preliminary field investigation work for the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Deep Sea Port Project had been signed during the month. [21]

Scholars have argued that China is playing its ‘dictatorship diplomacy’. By promoting the pa-riah regimes and dictators, China’s strategic depth is increased. The regimes are internationally isolated, not accountable to their people and their human rights violations are labelled as “internal matters”. [22]

Conclusion

Myanmar’s military arrested thousands of civil servants, teachers, students, medics and administrators, and have increased violent attacks on civilians and armed organisations. The armed organisations are also waging attacks against the military, especially after the NUG call for “people’s defensive war”. Myanmar’s economic hardship is compounded due to the COVID-19 crises and political turmoil. The international organisations are paying lip service by stating the need to engage in dialogues; however, no constructive efforts are being taken.

References

[1] https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/myanmar-shadow-government-unveils-new-strategy-oppose-military-rule-2021-09-07/
[2] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmars-suu-kyi-denies-false-reports-that-she-opposes-armed-resistance-to-junta.html
[3] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/myanmar-army-civilians-clash-near-border-100-flee-to-mizoram/articleshow/86107391.cms
[4] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/ethnic-armed-group-captures-strategic-hill-from-myanmar-junta-forces.html
[5] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmars-shadow-government-prepares-evidence-of-junta-war-crimes.html
[6] Mytel is a joint venture that involves a number of companies, including the government-owned Star High Public Co Ltd, which is run by the Myanmar military conglomer-ate Myanmar Economic Corporation, Myanmar National Telecom Holding (MNTH) Public Ltd, a consortium compromising 11 companies, and the Vietnamese telecom company Viettel, a Hanoi-based state-owned enterprise operated by Vietnam’s Ministry of Defence.https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/over-80-myanmar-military-owned-telecom-towers-destroyed-nationwide.html
[7] https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/defect-09022021203230.html
[8] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmars-nld-marks-33rd-anniversary-facing-abolition-threat.html
[9] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmars-daw-aung-san-suu-kyi-attends-court-as-health-improves.html
[10] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-military-backed-usdp-accused-of-exploiting-smaller-political-parties.html
[11] Before the military coup, the exchange rate was between 300-1,400 kyats per USD https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmars-currency-hits-record-low-as-coup-wreaks-havoc-on-economy.html
[12]https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/kbz-bank-robbed-in-northern-shan-state
[13] https://www.bnionline.net/en/news/growing-numbers-young-people-seek-flee-myanmar
[14] https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/09/29/news/world/afghanistan-myanmar-left-in-un-meet/1816472
[15] https://barbedwires.substack.com/p/what-to-make-of-the-us-china-deal
[16] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/quad-leaders-call-on-myanmar-junta-to-end-violence.html
[17] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/nug-questions-aseans-ceasefire-agreement-with-myanmar-junta.html
[18] The JF-17 is co-developed by Pakistan Aeronautical Com-plex and China’s Chengdu Aerospace Corporation. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/pakistan-defense-delegation-made-unannounced-visit-to-myanmar-capital.html/amp?__twitter_impression=true
[19] https://www.eurasiareview.com/10092021-rethinking-sustainable-solution-to-rohingya-crisis-limits-of-world-banks-proposal-oped/
[20]https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/rebel-fighters-from-india-cooperating-with-myanmar-military-regime.html
[21] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/agreement-moves-myanmars-kyaukphyu-port-project-a-step-forward.html
[22] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/china-tests-new-trade-route-with-myanmar-in-show-of-support-for-junta.html