Tag Archives: NUG

Neighborhood News Digest – 24 February 2023

Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing shut after brief reopening – The Times of India

akistan shut down a key border crossing with Afghanistan just hours after it was reopened on Thursday, officials said, the latest twist in the controversial closure of the Torkham junction that started earlier this week. The issue of the crossing, a key trade route for both Afghanistan and Pakistan, has added to increasing tensions between the two countries, which share a troubled and volatile boundary. Click here to read…

Taliban gives major relief to Pakistan, promises action against TTP bases in Afghanistan – Firstpost

The Pakistan government informed in a statement that a delegation led by Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif had discussed the threat posed by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Islamic State (ISIS-K) during their dialogue with Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers in Kabul. Click here to read…

Two mysterious killings in Afghanistan, Pakistan bring a major setback to terrorism in Kashmir – Daiji World

The tottering ecosystem of anti-India militants and separatists in Kashmir has suffered two major setbacks, one after another, in the current week. Two of the most notable Kashmiri terrorists have been gunned down-one each in Afghanistan and Pakistan, raising speculations of group clashes and, as usual, whispers of an “Indian hand” by some politicians. Click here to read…

Adani Power promised to supply power in reduced price to Bangladesh: Report – TBS

India’s Adani Power on Thursday promised to supply electricity to Bangladesh at a reduced price keeping consistent with the generation cost in the country’s existing coal-fired plants. The Adani will import the coal for its plants at the same price the Bangladeshi coal-run plants do for themselves, the mass-circulation Prothom Alo newspaper reported quoting an Adani official. Click here to read…

Both AL, BNP wooing Islami Andolon – The Daily Star

Both the ruling Awami League and the opposition BNP are out to get one religion-based party as an electoral ally, a gain which may help boost the vote bank ahead of the next general polls. For its performance in the recent elections, Islami Andolon Bangladesh (IAB), founded by “Charmonair Pir” Fazlul Karim, has become a factor in the country’s politics. And it led the two major parties to make one request to IAB: if it can’t join their electoral coalition, it should go it alone, said sources. Click here to read…

Pranay reaffirms India’s commitment to development partnership with Bangladesh – New Age

Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh Pranay Verma on Thursday reaffirmed India.s commitment to development partnership and cooperation with Bangladesh to scale up bilateral trade and investment, and promote people-to-people exchanges. He underlined sustained ongoing efforts on both sides to strengthen connectivity and trade infrastructures at our land ports and to gradually decongest and facilitate smoother movement of goods and people across the border. Click here to read…

Bhutan FM talks about geopolitical tensions in Asia Economic Dialogue – Business Standard

Bhutan Finance Minister Lyonpo Namgay Tshering on Thursday said that three important aspects that linger around his mind are geopolitical tensions around the world, climate change and the widening trade aspect. In his remarks at the inaugural session of the Asia Economic Dialogue 2023 in Pune, he said that growth in India will directly or indirectly translate or have a cascading effect on a small country like Bhutan. Click here to read…

Bhutan launches self-sovereign biometric digital ID, crown prince first to enroll – Biometric update

Bhutan’s seven-year-old crown prince His Royal Highness Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck led the way as the first Bhutanese to be enrolled into the country’s new national digital ID system (NDI) in a recent ceremony that took place on his father’s birthday. According to reporting by the state-run Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS), the NDI is a digital wallet that uses state-of-the-art technologies to provide citizens with secure and verifiable ID credentials. Click here to read…

Maldives designs and tests its first satellite “Azum” – Edition

A team of Maldivian engineers has designed and tested the country’s first satellite, as part of the “Azum” space mission. According to the Institute for Global Success (IGS), the CubeSat-level satellite was created without any foreign assistance and can be easily modified to fit different missions. Click here to read…

Maldives FM lauds Indian assistance in developmental projects at Asia Economic Dialogue – The Print

Maldivian Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer on Thursday lauded Indian assistance in developmental projects carried out in Maldives. In his remarks at the inaugural session of the Asia Economic Dialogue 2023 here, he said that developmental projects in Maldives carried out by Indian assistance is geared towards future growth. “India and Maldives share a unique bond based on mutual respect, trust and understanding that goes beyond simple geographical, historical and cultural ties. And as the honourable minister Dr Jaishankar mentioned that there is a fundamental difference between the developmental projects that we are carrying with the Indian assistance. Click here to read…

NUG Rights Minister Demands Justice for Rohingya – Irrawaddy

Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government’s (NUG) human rights minister U Aung Myo Min says the crimes of genocide against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar committed six years ago must be acknowledged and justice sought for the victims. The minister attended an event to mark the second anniversary of the launch of the Spring Revolution against the regime and the sixth anniversary of the Rohingya massacres, held at the United States Embassy in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday. Click here to read…

Winds of Change: Changing Narratives for Rohingya Community in Myanmar – Geopolitics

Myanmar’s longest-running civil disobedience campaign against its military, the Tatmadaw, has created something that was never seen before: a unified Myanmar in the “burning state.” Not only that, but this solidarity has also changed Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic politics. After the coup, most parties have attempted to reconcile with the ethnic minority population, which has been living a life of indefinite banishment in Rohingya camps in Bangladesh since 2017 after being denied citizenship in Myanmar. Therefore, the question is: why are the winds of change now blowing for the Rohingya community? Click here to read…

Ex-Army Chiefs call for strong ties with Nepal – The Tribune

Military bond between India and Nepal remains the bedrock of ties between the two nations and there is a need to further strengthen the bond to enhance the bilateral relations. This was brought out at a conclave of chiefs of the two armies to mark 260 years of the Nepali Army. Click here to read…

Timing not suitable: Nepal barred visit by CIA chief William J Burns last week – Indian Express

In a rare move, the Nepal government last week withheld permission for a visit to the country by CIA Director William J Burns, ostensibly on the grounds that the timing of the trip was “not so conducive”. It is learnt Burns returned home from Sri Lanka, the first leg of his South Asia trip, after the Nepal government conveyed to the US Embassy in Kathmandu that given the political developments, including the impending Presidential election, permission for the visit was being withheld. Click here to read…

Pakistan’s FX reserves rise by $66m to $3.26bn, says central bank – Arab News

Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank rose by $66 million to $3.258 billion in the week ending Feb. 17, it said on Thursday, while its total liquid foreign reserves stood at $8.726 billion. Pakistan, which is a $350 billion economy, is facing economic turmoil, with a balance of payment crisis and only enough foreign exchange reserves to cover three weeks of imports. Click here to read…

Will look at local public sentiment before taking call on helping crisis-hit Pakistan: Jaishankar – Times of India

External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said that the Modi government will look at the local public sentiment before taking a call on whether to help crisis-hit Pakistan. Click here to read…

India slams Pakistan after it rakes up J&K during UNGA session on Ukraine – Indian Express

India slammed Pakistan after it referred to Jammu and Kashmir during a special session on Ukraine in the UN General Assembly, terming the provocation as “regrettable and misplaced” and calling out Islamabad’s track record of harbouring and providing safe havens to terrorists with impunity. Click here to read…

PTI leaders in KP ‘free to court arrest another day’ – Dawn

A day after at least 81 supporters in Lahore went to prison as part of the party’s ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’, PTI workers and leaders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa did not appear too keen to give up their freedom for the sake of ‘real freedom’, as the day ended without any arrests. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka
LG polls not legally declared: President – Daily Mirror

Local government election has not been declared legally and therefore, there is no question of a postponement, President Ranil Wickremesinghe stated today. “An election has not been declared legally as there has not been a quorum when the election commission members decided on the date. “There has been only two members present when the decision has been made on the date while the two members present had decided on the date and then inquired the view of the remaining members who were not present. The quorum of the election commission meeting is three legally therefore no official declaration of the local government elections legally,” the President said. “Also the funds for the local polls has not been requested from the election commission. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka gives nod to $442-million wind project of Adani Group – The Hindu

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka has approved a $442-million wind power project of Adani Green Energy, barely a month since the Indian multinational conglomerate’s stocks plummeted following U.S.-based short-seller Hindenburg’s damaging report on the Group. “Adani, a leading Indian company” received the project approval “to start two wind power plants in Mannar and Pooneryn areas of [northern] Sri Lanka,” the Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka said on Wednesday. The project would likely create 2,000 jobs, and in two years, generate about 350 MW of power, the Board said in a statement. Click here to read…

Myanmar Round-Up: January 2023

The month was marked with major developments as the year 2023 is crucial for Myanmar with the announcement of elections. On 31 January, the two years of emergency rule is supposed to end, and the National Defence and Security Council has to conduct elections in the next six months. With the expiry of the emergency rule, one needs to ask whether the elections will take place and, if yes, whether they will be free and fair. The country witnessed many events preceding the elections, with the changes in the elections rules and regulations and the meetings within different groups. Internationally, as the military rule enters its third year, more sanctions were imposed by the western nations and reports by Human Rights Watch and Fortify Rights raised concerns over the worsening situation in the country.

Elections 2023

04 January 2023 marked 75 years of the country’s Independence. The military celebrated the day with parading of troops and weaponry. In earlier years, the day was celebrated with great festivities, but since the coup, celebrations have been largely muted. [1] Min Aung Hlaing presided over the parade in which he stated that the regime was preparing for the elections with compilations of voters list and creating household registration data and other personal information. He reiterated that aim is to set up a “genuine, discipline-flourishing” democracy to return the nation to a state of stability and normalcy.[2] In addition, on 06-07 January, the State Peace Talk Team, led by Lt-Gen Yar Pyae, held meetings with representatives of ethnic armed groups, including the United Wa State Party, the National Democratic Alliance Army, and the Shan State Progress Party to discuss plans to hold elections in their areas. [3] The preparation of elections has also led to increased attacks from the resistance side.[4]

The military replaced the 2010 law with the new law on political parties, which bars parties and candidates deemed to have links to individuals or organisations “designated as committing terror acts” or seen as “unlawful”. The parties also need to secure at least 100,000 members within three months of registration and have funds of 100 million Myanmar kyats i.e. 100 times more than previously. The new law also states that the existing parties must apply for registration within two months of the legislation being announced, or they will be “automatically invalidated”. Furthermore, the law restrains the parties from lodging any complaints against the Union Election Commission (UEC) decisions on registration.[5] This clearly will prevent any of the resistance forces from being part of the elections and thereby questions the fairness of the elections.

The military regime-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) also stepped up its efforts to solidify its position ahead of polls. On 05 January, Khin Yi held an informal meeting with 37 pro-military parties to discuss how they could strengthen their position in the upcoming elections. In the 2020 elections, the USDP contested almost all the constituencies but only won 71 seats. [6] Following the meeting, two also met 235 representatives of Yangon-based organisations and charities in Yangon.[7] The pro-regime Pyu Saw Htee militias are also forcing voters in Sagaing and Mandalay regions to attend election campaign meetings. [8]

The Acting President Duwa Lashi La of the National Unity Government (NUG) also delivered his speech that 2023 would mark the turning point in the war against military rule and called for continuous revolution with an offensive strategy. The NUG released a New Year Joint Declaration on the People’s Revolution, which has drawn up a one-year plan to eradicate the military dictatorship.[9] They have also called Myanmar’s neighbours and other concerned countries in the Indo-Pacific region to help the people of Myanmar and their legitimate representatives.

There were also statements by Three Brotherhood Alliance and Kachin Independence Organisation chairman General N’Ban La demanding dialogue between all relevant stakeholders without Min Aung Hlaing.[10] The NUG further stated that it had raised more than USD 100 million to fund its movement. About 45 per cent of the funds are from the sales of Spring Revolution Special Treasury Bonds. Funds were also raised through the auction of military-linked properties. Finally, the NUG earned three billion kyats (USD 1.89 million) from collecting taxes in 38 out of 330 townships across Myanmar.[11]

The conflict has intensified within the country, and there has been a 361 per cent increase in airstrikes by the military in February-November 2022, according to data collected by ACLED (Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project). Over the same period in 2021, 81 air strikes were conducted by the side of the military. The military was forced to engage in 3,127 clashes with resistance forces, compared to 1,921 clashes over the same period in 2021, a 94 per cent rise in armed conflict. [12] In addition, a report by the Ministry of Women, Youths and Children Affairs of the NUG stated that Myanmar’s regime had killed at least 265 children and 414 women since the 2021 coup. The NUG’s ministry reported this week that 13 per cent of the victims are female, and nearly 9 per cent are under-18s, including infants.[13]

Economic Situation

The World Bank “Myanmar Economic Monitor: Coping with Uncertainty” report described the ongoing struggle in the country to recover from the twin headwinds, COVID-19 and the military coup. The growth is estimated at 3 per cent for the fiscal year ending September 2023, with per capita GDP expected to remain about 13 per cent below its pre-COVID-19 level. The conflict has disrupted business operations, household incomes remain weak, and as a result, nearly 40 per cent of the country now lives below the poverty line. There has also been an increase in opium production. The UNODC estimated that production in 2022 was around 790 tonnes, and potentially as high as 1,200 tonnes, with an expansion in both the amount grown and the yield per hectare. Much of the increase in opium production has occurred in Shan State.[41] Using a combination of satellite imagery and field reporting, a new UNODC report has found an increase of 33 per cent in opium production since February 2021. [15] To stabilise the economy, the Military Council established the Fund for Uplifting of National Economy with 400 billion kyats and a new fund MSME Development Fund for micro, small and medium enterprises, was set up.[16]

International Developments

Human Rights Watch (HRW), in its report “World Report 2023”, accused Myanmar’s military of war crimes and crimes against humanity since the takeover in February 2021. The report noted that the military had committed mass killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, sexual violence, and attacks on civilians in conflict areas. Furthermore, the military hindered the delivery of humanitarian aid to communities most at risk. The report called for international commitment through targeted sanctions against the military and emphasised the role that Indonesia needs to play as an ASEAN chair.[17] In another report, HRW accused Japan of transferring over USD one million in 2022 to Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) under the Yokogawa Bridge Corporation project. HRW urged the Japanese government to suspend all ongoing non-humanitarian aid benefitting Myanmar’s military, which has been accused of committing widespread crimes since February 2021.[18]

The Special Advisory Council on Myanmar also released a report noting that several UN member states continue to sell weapons to the military. Around 13 countries, such as the US, India, France, and Japan, are supplying crucial raw materials and machines to Myanmar’s military for the production of a range of weapons. For instance, high-precision machines made by the Austrian supplier GFM Steyr are used in several locations to manufacture gun barrels. Similarly, raw materials, such as copper and iron from China, have been traced to weapons production in Myanmar. The key components, such as fuses and electric detonators, have been acquired from companies in India and Russia, and the software is believed to originate from Israel and France. The number of factories producing arms in Myanmar has multiplied from around six in 1988 to around 25 factories.[19]

As the military rule is about to enter its third year, Canada announced amendments to the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations on 31 January. These amendments list an additional six individuals under the Schedule of the Regulations and include a new prohibition on the export, sale, supply or shipment of aviation fuel (wherever situated globally) destined for Myanmar or any person in Myanmar. This is the ninth amendment to the Regulations, and in total, it includes over 150 parties.[20]

With Indonesia taking over as the ASEAN Chair, on 11 January, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi announced that they would establish a special envoy’s office to enable a national dialogue to address the crisis and allow humanitarian assistance. The official added that ASEAN would also continue to collaborate with the United Nations special envoy in dealing with the Myanmar issue.[21] In response, Myanmar’s military warned ASEAN not to interfere with its internal matters and warned ASEAN not to “engage with any terrorist groups and unlawful associations [recognised] by the Government of Myanmar”.[22] In addition, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, during his two-day visit to Indonesia, urged the Myanmar military to implement peace plans drawn up by the regional grouping.[23]

On the other hand, the meeting between the chief of Thailand’s Defence Forces, Chalermphon Srisawasdi, and Min Aung Hlaing from 19-21 January raised concerns about a uniform approach within the ASEAN members to deal with the Myanmar crisis. The meeting happened shortly after the assets of Min Aung Hlaing’s children and cronies were confiscated in Thailand over their alleged involvement in the illicit drug trade. The annual meeting of both military leaders did not happen in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, despite a Myanmar military offensive on the border raising security concerns, both sides went ahead with the decision to reopen the friendship bridge across Moei River, linking Thailand’s Mae Sot district and Myanmar’s Myawaddy on 16 January. The reopening of the bridge will facilitate the resumption of cross-border activities after three years of closure.[24]

Earlier during the month, China opened three border gates to Myanmar on 08 January, but Myanmar refused to open the gates on its side of the border following fears resulting from surging COVID-19 infection rates in China. These three border gates, Nandaw, Sinphyu and Manwein, have seen the highest levels of border trade between China and Myanmar.[25] Furthermore, Bangladesh requested China to discuss the issue with the Myanmar government to resolve the fresh unrest at the Zero Line on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.[26]

India in Myanmar

As the Myanmar military began airstrikes on Camp Victoria in Chin State, the fallouts of the same could be heard on the border with Mizoram state’s Champhai district near to the camp. As per media reports, at least one shell landed on the Indian side. Due to similar aerial bombardments, tensions have already been reported with Bangladesh and Thailand. However, India hasn’t yet responded in an official manner.[27] Following the bombings, around 200 Myanmar’s nationals crossed the border into Mizoram.[28] Myanmar’s NUG has also urged the Indian government and other neighbouring countries to stop military warplanes from using their airspace.[29] Finally, there are hopes to complete the last 109 km of Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport (KMMTT) project, as IRCON was recently appointed as the Project Management Consultant (PMC).[30]


Amnesty International accused the military of arbitrarily arresting, torturing and murdering people. Since the coup, more than 3,000 people have been killed, 1.5 million have been internally displaced, and more than 13,000 are still detained in inhumane conditions, with four people executed and at least 138 sentenced to death.[31] There is a widespread call for increased collective international action ahead of the anniversary on 01 February 2023. There is an immediate need to implement a global arms embargo on Myanmar and cooperating countries such as China and Russia to suspend any direct or indirect supply of arms and ammunition. Even the supply of aviation fuel to Myanmar needs to be restrained to ensure that aviation fuel will not be used to carry out airstrikes. And most importantly, as the elections need to be held by the end of two years of military rule, it is crucial to engage with all stakeholders and ensure there is a re-establishment of an inclusive democratic and federal system in Myanmar.

Endnotes :

[24]The Thai military also ignored the violation of its airspace by a Myanmar MiG 29 fighter jet in June 2022. https://www.thaipbsworld.com/thai-militarys-close-ties-with-myanmar-junta-compromising-asean-efforts-to-resolve-crisis/

Neighborhood News Digest – 15 February 2023

Taliban Divided: Interior Min says Afghanistan in “intolerable” state, spokesperson rebuts – Firstpost

Haqqani’s comments came amid an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover in 2021. Last year in December, the hard-line group banned university education for women in Afghanistan, apart from other obscurantist moves to curb natural freedoms of the people Click here to read…

Taliban forces kill 3 Daesh members in raid on Kabul building – Arab News

Taliban intelligence forces killed three Daesh militants and arrested one in an overnight operation in the Afghan capital of Kabul, an official said Tuesday. The raid on a residential building targeted Daesh militants who organized recent attacks in the capital, said Khalil Hamraz, a Taliban-appointed spokesman for Afghanistan’s general director of intelligence. He called the target in the Karti Naw neighborhood an important Daesh hideout. Click here to read…

Feb.15 Marks 34th Anniversary of Soviet Withdrawal – Tolo News

Wednesday, 15 February 2023, marks the 34th anniversary of the withdrawal of the former Soviet forces from Afghanistan. Many of the survivors of the Soviet attacks said that Russian soldiers in Afghanistan committed mass killings. Click here to read…

AL’s counter to BNP on streets raises fear of violence – New Age

The ruling Awami League’s recent tendency to announce a counter-programme on the same day as the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s programme has put the country’s two major political parties on a collision course, raising fear of violence. Speaking with New Age, senior politicians, and political analysts said that these counter-political street programmes were a serious worry that may put people’s lives in danger in the coming days as the next general election drew closer. Click here to read…

Unit 1 of Rampal plant to resume power generation Wednesday – Dhaka Tribune

Unit-1 of the 1329MW Rampal coal-fired power plant will resume production from Wednesday, still under a test run that started in August before being discontinued last month. According to official sources, Unit-1, having 660MW capacity, was forced to shut down on January 14 due to shortage of coal supply. The authorities of the power plant were unable to open any letter of credit (LC) to import coal due to the dollar crisis. Click here to read…

Let’s not neglect jute any longer – Dhaka Tribune

It is very encouraging to see Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself comment on the state of the jute industry in Bangladesh, hitting the nail on the head when she proclaimed that despite being an environment-friendly agricultural product, jute did not get the expected attention and incentives like the RMG (readymade garments) industry. Click here to read…

FDI in the digital sector sees huge potential – Kuensel

Having failed to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) over the years, the FDI Policy is yet again on the government’s table for review. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the average FDI inflows to Bhutan have been less than USD 20 million a year since 2010, contributing less than 1 percent of the gross domestic product. Click here to read…

A Force of Change – Kuensel

Almost a decade after His Majesty’s address to a group of young de-suup trainees at the Military Training Center in Tencholing, Wangdue, the de-suup family today has grown from a few hundred to a formidable group of around 35,000. Click here to read…

Latvian traveler caught smuggling drugs into Maldives – Raajje

A foreigner has been arrested for attempting to smuggle drugs into the Maldives. The Maldives Police Service (MPS) revealed that a traveler from Latvia, 49, was arrested for attempting to smuggle drugs into the Maldives by ingesting them. The arrest was made following an intel report received by the Police Intelligence Unit, by the efforts of officers from the Maldives Immigration and Maldives Customs Service. Click here to read…

UNICEF Representative presents Letter of Appointment to FM Shahid – Raajje

The new UNICEF Representative to the Maldives, Dr. Edward Addai has presented his Letter of Appointment to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid. Dr. Edward presented his Letter of Appointment to Minister Shahid on 14 February 2022. During the meeting held following the presentation, Minister Shahid and the Representative discussed the role of UNICEF in the Maldives. As such, discussions were held in areas on child protection, maternal and child heath, immunization, nutrition, pre and primary education and social inclusion. Click here to read…

Myanmar’s opposition opens foreign ministry office in US – RFA

Myanmar’s opposition National Unity Government officially opened a shadow embassy in Washington on Monday, with a U.S. State Department official at the event using a speech to reject the legitimacy of elections planned by the military junta later this year. The so-called NUG has set up a government-in-exile after the military took power from a democratically elected government in a February 2021 coup. Click here to read…

No sales of arms to Myanmar for ‘a very long time’, says Singapore minister – Borneo Bulletin

Singapore has not sold military weapons to Myanmar for a very long time and has effected a ban on the sale of arms there, said Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament yesterday. The minister was replying to a question from Member of Parliament (MP) Dennis Tap on recent assertions in the report of the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar which stated that Singapore functions as a “strategic transit point for potentially significant volumes of items” including raw materials that contribute towards military production by the Myanmar military. Click here to read…

It’s Time for Myanmar’s Neighbors to Sideline the Military Junta – The Diplomat

Anyone still hoping for a political solution to Myanmar’s crisis should ask one question: is the military junta willing to be held accountable for its crimes? The definitive answer, demonstrated repeatedly by their mounting atrocities, is “no.” But without accountability for the crimes committed since the February 2021 coup, which include the burning of women and children alive, there can be no political solution to the country’s conflict. Click here to read…

Chinese crypto scams forcing Filipinos to work for them in Myanmar – Mizzima

Chinese criminals running cryptocurrency scams in Southeast Asia are targeting Filipinos to work for them because of their English-language and computer skills, a Philippine foreign ministry official said Monday. Filipinos were “prized” targets for scam networks operating in Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, said Eduardo de Vega, acting undersecretary for migrant workers’ affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs. Click here to read…

“Differences Between Friends Can Be Resolved Through Talks”: Nepal Ex-PM – NDTV

Nepal’s former prime minister K.P. Sharma Oli, who on Tuesday held an extensive meeting with visiting Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, said any kind of differences between Nepal and India can be sorted out through dialogue, a source close to the CPN-UML chairman said. Click here to read…

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra completes his two day official visit to Nepal – NewsOnAir

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra completed his two-day official visit to Nepal at the invitation of the Foreign Secretary of Nepal, Mr. Bharat Raj Paudyal. During his two days visit Foreign Secretary Kwatra called on the President of Nepal, Mrs. Bidya Devi Bhandari, Prime Minister of Nepal, Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, and Foreign Minister of Nepal, Dr. Bimala Rai Paudyal alongwith meeting other senior members of the Government of Nepal and other leaders. Click here to read…

Nepal King Rekindles Calls For Restoration Of Nepal’s Status As A ‘Hindu Kingdom’, Joins Protests Against Government – Swarajya Marg

The former King of Nepal Gyanendra Shah on Monday (13 February) joined a public campaign that seeks to reinstate Nepal’s status as a “Hindu Kingdom”. Notably, the campaign was launched on the day the Nepal government led by the Communist Party leader Pushpakamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ declared a public holiday to mark 23 years of the Maoist war. Click here to read…

Asked to condemn Moscow, but followed India’s example of ‘neutral’ stand in Russia-Ukraine War: Imran Khan – India TV

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday claimed that the former Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had asked him to condemn Russia in its act of invading Ukraine, but he refused to do so citing India’s stand on the matter. Click here to read…

Govt turns to parliament after Alvi ‘refuses’ ordinance – Dawn

Despite its attempt to expedite pas­sage of fiscal measures mandated by the Internat­i­o­nal Monetary Fund (IMF), the government was forced to head to parliament on Tuesday after President Arif Alvi “adv­ised” Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to take parliament into confidence over the Rs170 billion in new taxes that are being levied. Click here to read…

The economic woes of Pakistan and Sri Lanka have similar origin stories – Scroll

Economists ascribe Sri Lanka’s recent financial problems to a severe decline in tourism and remittances, as well as a substantial tax cut, but poor governance is atop the list of the factors that played havoc with the island nation’s economy, which relied heavily on tourism and remittances. Both these sources were hit badly by the Covid pandemic as the workers were laid off on a mass scale. Click here to read…

Pakistan nearly doubles gas prices to meet IMF bailout terms – Money Control

Cash-strapped Pakistan nearly doubled natural gas taxes Tuesday in an effort to comply with a long-stalled financial bailout, raising concerns that the hardship could pass to consumers in the impoverished south Asian country. Click here to read…

Pakistan-Turkey relations: What’s in it for Ankara? – DNA India

Three devastating earthquakes struck Turkey’s South-eastern region bordering Syria in the early hours of 06 February 23. The widespread destruction and ensuing loss of life have, as expected in any major disaster of this magnitude, overwhelmed the country. The World community responded swiftly and immediate for HADR operations, given the intensity of envisaged damage, both to property and life. Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif’s too responded to the request by Turkey soon after. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka envoy meets Indian ministers seeking support for economic recovery – Hindustan Times

Sri Lankan high commissioner Milinda Moragoda on Tuesday met with union commerce minister Piyush Goyal and union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman to discuss India’s support for his country’s economic recovery, including through the expansion of bilateral trade and use of the rupee for trade settlement. Click here to read…

Protests against Wickremesinghe sweep Sri Lanka’s Tamil-dominated provinces – Peoples Dispatch – Peoples Dispatch

On February 11, the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) and students of Jaffna University in Sri Lanka staged a protest against a musical event organized by the secretariat of President Ranil Wickremesinghe in Jaffna as part of Sri Lanka’s 75th Independence day celebrations. At least 18 protestors, including Selvarajah Kajendren, Member of Parliament and General Secretary of the TNPF, were arrested at the protest. They were later released on bail. Click here to read…

Japan to grant 5 bn yen to Sri Lanka for public health sector fuel purchases – Economy Next

Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena said at the weekly cabinet press briefing on Tuesday February 14 that 35 million US dollar-worth grant is to be made under Japan’s Economic and Social Developmenet Programme so that Sri Lanka may continue essential and urgent health services uninterrupted. Click here to read…

Russia-Sri Lanka Economic Forum successfully held in Sri Lanka – Daily FT

Amidst the changing global dynamics, with the intention of strengthening socioeconomic relations between Russia and Sri Lanka, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) recently organised a four-day program, Russia-Sri Lanka Economic Forum (23-27 Jan.), which heralded fruitful outcomes for both nations. Click here to read…

Neighborhood News Digest – 16 January 2023

Uzbekistan Halts Power Supply to Afghanistan: DABS – Tolo News

The country’s power distributor, Da Afghanistan Bereshna Sherkat, said on Sunday that the imported electricity from Uzbekistan has been disconnected due to technical issues. DABS official Safiullah Ahmadzai said that Islamic Emirate officials are negotiating with Uzbekistan officials about the reconnection of power supply to the country. He said to address the lack of electricity in Kabul, the company has activated the Tarakhil thermal power station. Click here to read…

Former woman MP shot dead in Afghanistan – The Tribune

A former Afghan female lawmaker who refused to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover was shot dead along with her bodyguard by unidentified assailants in Kabul late Saturday night. This is the first time a lawmaker from the previous administration has been killed in the city since the takeover. Mursal Nabizada (32), extremely critical of the Taliban’s policies, was elected MP under the previous western-backed government from a constituency in Nangarhar district, considered the base of the Islamic State (IS). Click here to read…

Afghan bank’s cash remarks ‘misleading, unhelpful’ says UN – Devdiscourse

The United Nations (UN) mission in Afghanistan has slammed the Taliban-controlled central bank for making what it described as “misleading and unhelpful” remarks about cash destined for humanitarian work in the ravaged country. “CLARIFICATION 1-Cash shipped to #Afghanistan by the UN is placed in UN accounts in a private bank. It is used by UN agencies to support its humanitarian work 2-Announcements by non-UN entities about UN fund shipments are misleading & unhelpful,” the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) tweeted. Click here to read…

Bangladesh pins hopes on nuclear energy as its way out of power cuts and rising fuel prices – Scroll

The Rooppur nuclear plant is being built by Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation, using Russian technology and a Russian loan of $11.38 billion to be repaid over two decades from 2027. Click here to read…

Let’s talk the talk: Confronting Bangladesh’s national security threats – Dhaka Tribune

The discourse of national security takes place rarely, and even in such rare discourses, there is a deliberate effort to demilitarize it. It is often portrayed to the public and indoctrinated in academic settings that Bangladesh has no security threats. Therefore, all it needs to do is focus on economic development. Click here to read…

Cutting Extrajudicial Killings: US satisfied with Rab’s progress – Daily Star

Visiting US Assistant Secretary Donald Lu yesterday expressed satisfaction that Rab reduced extrajudicial killings since late 2021, when the US imposed sanctions on the forceClick here to read…

China, Bhutan agree to expedite negotiations to resolve border dispute – The Economic Times

China and Bhutan have reached a “positive consensus” to push forward the implementation of the agreement to expedite negotiations to settle their border dispute through a three-step roadmap. The 11th Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on the China-Bhutan Boundary Issues was held in China’s Kunming city from January 10 to 13, according to a joint statement issued by both countries. Click here to read…

New Delhi hopes Bhutan will factor in Indian concerns on trijunction – The Economic Times

Following Bhutan-China expert group meeting in Kunming on boundary issues, India is hopeful that its concerns on the trijunction will be considered in the next round of Sino-Bhutanese consultations. Senior Indian officials visiting Thimphu, coinciding with the January 10-13 meeting in the Chinese city, underlined the special nature of Indo-Bhutanese ties, people in the know said. It is understood that various aspects of Bhutan-China talks were discussed. Click here to read…

Bhutanese economy to grow at 4.1 percent in current FY: World Bank – Kuensel Online

The World Bank forecast the Bhutanese economy to grow by 4.1 percent in the fiscal year 2022-23, in its report “Global Economic Prospects” report, released on January 10. The reopening of borders in September last year is expected to support growth in the industry and services sector, the Bank said. Bhutan’s growth has revised down by 0.6 percentage points from the World Bank’s June projection last year of 4.7 percent. Click here to read…

Maldives Presidential Election to be held on Sept 9 – Avas

The Presidential Election will be held on September 9 this year. The date of the election was announced by the Elections Commission (EC) at a press conference at the Manhattan Business Hotel this morning. EC’s President, Fuwad Thawfeek, said if the election goes to a second round, the voting of the final round would be held on September 30. This year, 280,000 people are eligible to vote in the election, he said. Click here to read…

Cambodian PM arrives in the Maldives on official visit – Avas

The Prime Minister of Cambodia, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, arrived Sunday morning on an official visit to the Maldives at the invitation of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. This is the Cambodian Prime Minister’s first visit to the Maldives. Click here to read…

Local resistance, not foreigners, key to Myanmar’s future – Financial Review

Myanmar’s abject deterioration since the February 2021 military coup accelerated throughout 2022, with more violence, retribution and pain spread across the rapidly impoverishing country of 55 million people. The military regime spent the year trying to reinforce its positions on the battlefield and its claims to institutional legitimacy. It is failing on both fronts. Click here to read…

Global firms help Myanmar’s military make weapons, says report – BBC

Myanmar’s military is producing a vast range of weapons to use against its own people thanks to supplies from companies in at least 13 countries, former top UN officials say. The US, France, India and Japan are among those named, despite Western-led sanctions intended to isolate Myanmar. The report says the home-produced arms are used to carry out atrocities against those who oppose the military. Click here to read…

Myanmar shadow government raises $132m to oppose junta – Strait Times

Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government said it has raised more than US$100 million (S$132 million) to fund its democracy effort and topple the junta. About 45 per cent of the funds are from the sales of so-called Spring Revolution Special Treasury Bonds, according to Mr Tin Tun Naing, shadow minister for planning, finance and investment. Click here to read…

Myanmar Junta Airstrikes On Rebel Camps Spark Scare In Mizoram – Swarajya Marg

Airstrikes by Myanmar’s ruling junta on the headquarters of the Chin National Front (CNF), the political wing of the rebel Chin National Army (CNA), earlier this week has caused a scare in neighbouring Mizoram. Fighter jets of the Myanmar Air Force dropped bombs on the CNF headquarters at Mount Victoria in Chin province of that country, killing five CNF members and injuring scores of others, on Tuesday (10 January) and Wednesday (11 January). Click here to read…

68 dead in Nepal’s worst domestic air disaster – The Kathmandu Post

Nepal saw its worst domestic air disaster on Sunday morning when Yeti Airlines flight NYT 691 from Kathmandu to Pokhara crashed a few minutes before landing at the new international airport. The plane carried 72 persons, including passengers and crew, and 68 had been confirmed dead as of Sunday evening, the country’s civil aviation regulator said in a statement. Rescue efforts have been suspended for Sunday. Click here to read…

Govt forms panel to probe plane crash- The Himalayan Times

The government has formed a five-member probe committee to investigate Yeti Airlines plane crash near Pokhara Regional International Airport today. An emergency Cabinet meeting held today decided to form a panel under former government secretary Nagendra Ghimire to investigate the accident and submit its report within 45 days, said government Spokesperson and Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Paudel. Click here to read…

Kerung border reopening brings little joy to traders – The Kathmandu Post

Nepali traders had cheered when China allowed two-way trade to resume at the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border last month, but they are finding out that the joy may have been premature. Beijing has declared that exports from Nepal will be allowed to pass only on a fortnightly basis. Imports to Nepal, however, are permitted to pass daily, officials said. “For now, China has allowed 14 goods carriers to cross the border every fortnight,” Narayan Prasad Bhandari, chief of the Rasuwa Customs Office, told the Post. Click here to read…

Nepal PM Prachanda says he will visit India soon – The Hindu

Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has said that he will visit India soon on his first foreign trip after assuming the top executive post of the country for the third time. However, the Nepal government is yet to officially announce the Prime Minister’s visit to India. The date and itinerary of the visit are yet to be finalised. Click here to read…

Embarrassing to ask for more loans: Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif – OpIndia

Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif, said that it is becoming very embarrassing for him to ask for further loans from other countries. Pakistan, which is perennially in an economic crunch, is once again getting bailed out by other countries like Saudi Arabia. The Pakistan PM thanked Saudi Arabia for their support but at the same time, mentioned that it is not a solution as the loans would have to be returnedClick here to read…

Oil dips, but hovers near 2023 highs on China demand optimism – Dawn

Oil prices dipped in early Asian trade on Monday, but held close to the highest levels since the start of the year on optimism that China’s reopening will lift fuel demand at the world’s top crude importer. Brent crude fell 36 cents, or 0.4 per cent, to $84.92 a barrel by 0116 GMT while US West Texas Intermediate crude was at $79.65 a barrel, down 21 cents, or 0.3pc amid thin trade during a US public holiday. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka
HC Moragoda meets Gujarat State Governor, Chief Minister – Daily News

The High Commissioner congratulated the Chief Minister on his resounding victory at the recently concluded assembly elections in Gujarat. The discussion focused on the interactions between the State of Gujarat and Sri Lanka in multiple spheres and particularly in the tourism sector. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka to cut army by half after financial crisis – Deccan Herald

Bankrupt Sri Lanka will drastically slash its military, the defence ministry said Friday, as the government works to overhaul its shambolic finances after an unprecedented economicClick here to read…

We are discussing problems of Tamil people, says Sri Lankan President on Pongal festival – The Print

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Sunday said his government is discussing problems of the North and the Tamil people, in a step towards reconciling the island nation that has suffered three decades of war and insurgency. Click here to read…

Myanmar Round Up- December 2022

As the country proceeds with the election year 2023, the military and its part Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) are gearing up for elections in 2023, while the National Unity Government is refusing to recognise the elections. The conflict continues between the military and opposition forces, and there is an increasing number of casualties and human displacement. The military court sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi to another seven years of prison for corruption charges, with a total of 33 years in prison. During the month, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution asking the military to end violence and release all political prisoners. In the United States, both houses of the legislature passed the BURMA Act, which now awaits President’s approval. Further, due to “no visible progress” on the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus, ASEAN excluded the Defence Minister from ASEAN Defence Minister’s meeting. Though, Thailand hosted an informal meeting with Myanmar’s military leaders, along with Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. Finally, after an informal ceasefire between Arakan Army and Myanmar military, India is speeding up the implementation of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Project, but there are increasing concerns because of human and drug trafficking across India-Myanmar borders. The major national and international developments in December 2022 are discussed in the article below.

Domestic and Political Situation

Myanmar’s military replaced village tract and ward administrators in Yangon with members of the military-backed USDP. The move comes after USDP chair U Khin Yin introduced a security framework for party members. Yangon has been the centre of conflict and has witnessed brutal crackdowns and mass arrests of protesters. The details of the replacement were leaked from the Yangon General Administration Department, which stated the department had permitted to replace 72 village tract and ward administrators and 292 hundred-household heads.[1] China has also launched an outreach to assist the USDP ahead of the elections.

On the other hand, Duwa Lashi La, the acting president of the National Unity Government of Myanmar (NUG), in an interview with Khmer Times, refused to recognise the elections and claimed that NUG is in control of 60 per cent of the country. He condemned the military Government’s acts of violence and called for ASEAN and other international communities to give them the same support they have been providing to Ukraine. However, he also added that there is room for negotiation and political dialogue but only when the military recognises its fault and “there is punishment for those who committed the hideous crimes”.

Major clashes were reported during the month. The military carried out a three-day attack on Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) base located in Laukkai Township, Shan State. The troops blocked roads and set up checkpoints to search vehicles entering and exiting Laukkai. In 2021, the MNDAA—as part of the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee—met with representatives of the Myanmar military, but the agenda and results of the meeting were not disclosed. However, a few days later, the military launched a major offensive against the group in Muse Township. [2]

The opposition forces also carried out attacks on the military. On 17 December, the resistance forces attacked a military air base in Yangon’s Hmawbi Township. Hmawbi People’s Defence Force (PDF) and allied resistance groups claimed responsibility for the attack. Since the coup, the military regime has escalated its airstrikes against PDFs, ethnic armed organisations and civilian targets. As the PDFs lacked anti-aircraft missiles, they started targeting military air bases in Yangon, Mandalay and Magwe regions.[3] Incidents were also reported in Kachin and Mon states and Sagaing, Magwe and Mandalay regions.[4] The military also suffered heavy casualties in clashes with the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in Shan State starting on 07 December. After six days of fighting, TNLA gained control of four villages from the military. Later, Myanmar clarified that it was targeting the People’s Defence Forces (PDFs), not the TNLA, and on 17 December, the two sides reached an agreement[5]

In addition, the military is reportedly resupplying its troops in Rakhine State despite an informal ceasefire between the Arakan Army and the military. Furthermore, despite lifting travel restrictions, the regime continues to block the Ponnagyun-Rathedaung and Minbya-Myebon roads and waterways in Ann Township. [6] The NUG, on the other hand, invited more people to join the revolution. In the latest call to soldiers, police and civil servants, the NUG asked them to join the revolution as informants if they can’t defect. The NUG issued the invitation because intelligence needs are growing as the revolution accelerates. NUG’s statement promised protection of the Ministry of Defence and rewards for informants depending on the level of information sent. However, this also raises concerns as now the regime would further tighten restrictions on telecoms and closely monitor phone and internet use among its members.[7]

While the conflicts and violence continue, the military has extended its ceasefire agreement with Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) until the end of 2023. The agreement was extended to boost the peace process in Myanmar.[8] On the contrary, the seven ethnic armed organisations, which are signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), failed to arrange an informal meeting with Myanmar’s regime. The Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), New Mon State Party, Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council (KPC), Arakan Liberation Party, Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, Pa-O National Liberation Organisation (PNLO) and Lahu Democratic Union on 07 December proposed a meeting with Lieutenant General Yar Pyae, Chairman of the National Solidarity and Peace Negotiation Committee. Meanwhile, the Karen National Union (KNU), which is a signatory to the NCA but fighting the regime, said it has no plans to hold talks.[9]

During the month, the final hearings of the Aung San Suu Kyi case were held, and she was sentenced to 33 years of prison in total. In the recent hearing, she was sentenced to seven years on five charges of corruption, thereby totalling 33 years in prison. [10] Meanwhile, in her first public comments, she said she was proud of young Burmese people and all those struggling to defend and fight for democracy. The message was shared via her Australian former economic adviser, Sean Turnell, who was released by the regime in November 2021. In an interview with News 10, he said he met Suu Kyi when they were sentenced.[11]

The month also marked the celebration of the founding of the Myanmar Air Force and Navy. The Chairman of the State Planning and Administration Council, Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, General Min Aung Hlaing, opened the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Myanmar Air Force and Navy, in which new aircraft and helicopters were commissioned into service. The major attraction this year was the acquisition of the Sukhoi Su-30SME fourth-generation multi-purpose fighter aircraft.[12] In addition to the 75th anniversary of Myanmar’s independence celebrations in January 2023, the State Administration Council issued two types of new gold coins; a tical and a half-tical (one tical is approximately equivalent to 16.33 grams).[13]

Economic and Social Situation

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, divested from Yoma Bank after its business with military companies was exposed, according to Justice For Myanmar (JFM). In 2020, Yoma Bank extended a loan to Pinnacle Asia, a Myanmar company owned by Khin Thiri Thet Mon, daughter of military chief Min Aung Hlaing. The loan funded the company’s construction of telecom towers for the military-owned mobile operator, Mytel. IFC has now sold its 4.5 percent stake in Yoma Bank to First Myanmar Investment (FMI) for USD 5 million.[14]

As a result of the Russia-Ukraine war, there has reportedly been a rise in the cost of fertilisers leading to a shortage in the production of food in Myanmar. Myanmar farmers rely on imported fertiliser, and its rising international prices, along with the devaluation of the kyat, have driven up the prices of agricultural inputs. The International Food Policy Research Institute reported that Myanmar’s rice productivity dropped 2.1per cent during last year’s monsoon season. Yields declined significantly in Kayah and Chin states, both affected by conflict and high costs of inputs. IFPRI said the prices of fertiliser based on urea increased by 56per cent and the mechanisation costs rose by 19 per cent, while the paddy prices at the farm rose by just 8per cent. In a separate survey of millers, IFPRI reported that 91per cent of the millers stated limited access to electricity and affordable fuel as their most significant disruptions, leading to a decline in output by 20per cent. However, the regime’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation said that the country was sufficiently producing, and the country expects to grow over 17 million acres of paddy in the current fiscal year.[15]

As a result of continued violent attacks, Myanmar nationals have travelled across waters to reach a safe place. This month Sri Lanka Navy rescued 104 distressed Myanmar nationals aboard a passenger vessel in Sri Lanka’s waters. The distressed vessel is reported to have trespassed due to a mechanical failure while it was carrying passengers from Myanmar to Indonesia.[16] Malaysia, on the other hand, lifted the stay on deportation of Myanmar nationals. The court lifted a stay on the deportation of 114 Myanmar nationals, clearing the legal obstacles to their deportation and raising concerns about the likely threats to their safety if sent back to Myanmar. In February 2021, the Malaysian court imposed a stay to delay the deportation of 1,200 Myanmar nationals, which the government ignored. Despite the High Court imposing a temporary stay, the government deported 1,086 people. The 114 were left behind in immigration detention because they had tested positive for COVID-19.[17]

During the month, three more Burmese journalists were sentenced to prison. The latest victim is Soe Yarzar Tun, a Yangon-based freelancer who was sentenced by the special court inside Yangon’s Insein prison on 16 December to four years in prison with hard labour under Section 52 (a) of the Counter-Terrorism Law.[18] While the cases of human trafficking have increased across Myanmar borders, Brigadier General Aung Htay Myint, head of the Transnational Crime Division, reported that they successfully prevented 81 cases of human trafficking, helping a total of 840 people between 2020 and 2021. He revealed the information during the 5th inter-ministerial meeting of the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking – COMMIT, which took on via video link at the Myanmar Police Force headquarters. The meeting was attended by representatives from COMMIT countries — Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam and officials from the COMMIT Secretariat. The meeting was chaired by Thailand, and the member countries discussed the development of the Transn,ational Referral Mechanism (TRM) and the designing of a Mekong sub-regional work plan.a href=”#_edn19″ name=”_ednref19″>[19]

International Developments

The major development during the month was the adoption of the resolution on Myanmar by the United Nations Security Council. On 21 December, the 15-member council adopted a resolution which demanded an end to violence and called on the country’s military rulers to release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi. 12 members voted in favour, but India, China and Russia abstained. The resolution was first tabled in September 2021 by the United Kingdom. The language of the resolution was widely debated to avoid any veto against it from Russia and China.[20]

The Myanmar military, however, rejected the resolution and accused the UNSC of trying to “destabilise” the country. The military released a statement which stated that the resolution includes “several intrusive elements on Myanmar’s internal affairs that contravene the principles and purposes of the United Nations” and instead claimed that the situation in Myanmar was “solely internal affairs” of the country and “in no way poses any risk to international peace and security.” [21] During the month, the United Nations General Assembly Credentials Committee agreed to uphold the status of Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun as the permanent representative of Myanmar to the United Nations. Kyaw Moe Tun was appointed to his position in 2020, but since the military takeover, the military has made numerous attempts to remove him from this position.[22]

Another major international development was the passing of the BURMA Act by both houses of the United States (US) legislature as part of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA). The act aims to provide non-military aid to the parallel National Unity Government (NUG) and its affiliate organisations, including the National Unity Consultative Council, the People’s Defence Forces (PDF) and ethnic armed organisations (EAO). The Burma Act also authorises measures to prevent the military regime from acquiring weapons and expands sanctions against military businesses. The act authorises political support for establishing federalism, as well as humanitarian aid and technical support for anti-military forces. It also promises action against perpetrators of war crimes. The NDAA will help the Myanmar people if brought into law after signing by US President Joe Biden.[23] The US also included Myanmar on the list of 12 countries that are of “particular concern” for religious freedom violations. They reported that the Christian minorities now face persecution similar to what the Rohingya have faced. [24]

Canada became the first country to impose sanctions on Myanmar military jet fuel suppliers, Asia Sun Group, a Myanmar conglomerate. Asia Sun Group is a local partner of the Myanmar military and is involved in procuring, storing and distributing jet fuel. Asia Sun Group’s role in the Myanmar military’s jet fuel supply chain was detailed in the Amnesty International report, Deadly Cargo, with research supported by Justice For Myanmar. In the past few months, the military conducted indiscriminate airstrikes to wage war against anti-military revolutions. Canada also sanctioned key Myanmar military arms brokers, Dynasty International Company Limited and International Gateways Group. The groups have also been sanctioned by the US and UK.[25]

The European Union also excluded Myanmar from the representation at the meeting in Brussels with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on 14 December. Since the coup, the EU has imposed rounds of sanctions on Min Aung Hlaing and military-controlled conglomerates and companies, the latest ones being in November 2022.[26] In addition, the EU has allocated around 6.5 million Euros for the support of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in its efforts to tackle the humanitarian food crisis in Myanmar.[27]
Furthermore, ASEAN excluded Myanmar from the ASEAN Defence Minister’s meeting. Defence Minister from major ASEAN events due to “no visible progress” on the implementation of the 5PC<[28] Even Prak Sokhonn, ASEAN’s Special Envoy on Myanmar, cancelled his third announced trip to the country. While it is reported that the visit is cancelled due to time constraints as he has to attend the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit in Brussels, it rather reflects growing tensions between the regional bloc and Myanmar’s military regime.[29] However, Thailand, in contrast, has tried to maintain relations with the military as usual. Thailand hosted interested members of ASEAN to an open-ended consultative meeting on the situation in Myanmar on 22 December. Government ministers of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam met with military representatives to “find pathways towards a return to normalcy”. Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin attended along with Kan Zaw, Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, and Ko Ko Hlaing, Minister for International Cooperation. However, the meeting was not attended by Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.[30] Later the NUG strongly urged ASEAN not to waver from its policy of excluding the country’s military leaders from its meetings.[31]

Furthermore, Thailand’s newly appointed Ambassador to Myanmar, Mongkol Visitstump, presented his credentials to the State Administration Council and Prime Minister Min Aung Hlaing on 07 December. He discussed a wide range of issues in bilateral ties, including trade, investment and tourism. The ambassador later met with Soe Win and discussed the long-delayed Dawei Deep Sea project.[32] Thailand also did not officially open any temporary safe zones along the border and did not make any official records of new refugees arriving from Myanmar, further pushing back the Myanmar nationals into the country.

China’s engagement with the Myanmar military gets closer as China delivered six FTC-2000G fighter jets to the regime’s air force. The six fighter jets are currently being checked over at Meiktila airbase in Mandalay Region. The deal for the fighter jets was signed in January 2022, with each fighter plane costing about USD 9 million. Pilots, engineers and armament officers of the Myanmar Air Force visited China in June 2022. These visits relate to the training of the MAF personnel.[33] The month also witnessed the visit of Pakistan Colonel Imran Khan to Myanmar to discuss military cooperation. The two-day visit was from 29 November-01 December. A 10-member team from the Myanmar Air Force (MAF) is currently in Pakistan undergoing training on precision targeting in air operations and on the JF-17 jet fighter.[34]

Moreover, on 02 December, a forum on China-Myanmar economic cooperation was held to enhance economic and investment cooperation between the two countries. The forum was organised by the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) with the theme “China’s New Development and China-Myanmar Cooperation”. According to Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce, during the first half of the 2022-23 fiscal year, China was Myanmar’s largest trading partner.[35] Also, the China-funded Kyaukphyu Anargat (Future) Mobile Clinic project in Myanmar’s Rakhine State entered its final stage in December. The project is already providing free healthcare services to around 1,500 villagers.[36]

During the month, the second Russian trade delegation visited Myanmar to boost bilateral economic ties. Russian economic development minister Maxim Reshetnikov met Min Aung Hlaing and his ministers and signed seven agreements. Min Aung Hlaing and Reshetnikov discussed technical cooperation in arable and livestock farming and iron and steel, pharmaceuticals, mining and energy production. They also discussed the formation of Myanmar-Russian Friendship and Cooperation Associations in Myanmar and plans to boost bilateral cultural cooperation. In addition, the third Intergovernmental Russian-Myanmar Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation was held in Naypyidaw.[37]

India and Myanmar

After the informal ceasefire between Arakan Army and Myanmar military, India is pushing for the finalisation of its transport project linking the two countries. Indian Consul Jay Krishna met military-appointed Rakhine State Chief Minister Dr Aung Kyaw Min and discussed the official opening of the Sittwe seaport and its Kaladan River route inland through Rakhine’s Kyauktaw to Paletwa in Chin State. They also discussed the incomplete section of the project — a two-lane highway running 109 kilometres from Paletwa to Zorinpui on the Myanmar-India border. The sea-river-road transport route will link Kolkata with Sittwe Port over the Bay of Bengal.[38]

During the month, the Assam Rifles seized 600 Kg of Brown Sugar in Manipur’s Chandel district bordering Myanmar.[39] Given the rise in the number of seizures along the India-Myanmar border, the Manipur government stated that it set up more outposts. Manipur Chief Minister inaugurated the Sangaithel police outpost in Imphal West district and said that more outposts would also be set up along the India-Myanmar border to check illegal immigration, smuggling activities, and cross-border crimes.[40] The Indian Government is also planning to fence a few spaces of the India-Myanmar border, but several local organisations from Manipur are raising objections against the scheme. The issue was raised in the Indian Parliament on 14 December by Manipur’s representative, Leishemba Sanajaoba. The United Committee Manipur (UCM), an apex body of 32 civil society organisations in Manipur, warned that an agitation opposing the move would be launched if the government goes ahead with the fencing project. The UCM alleged that Myanmar had encroached around 5 km into Manipur along Border Pillar 103 after a visit to the spot by a team of the apex body. According to the annual report of the Indian Home Ministry, only 136 km at the Lohit sub-sector in Arunachal Pradesh and 35 km at Kabaw Valley in Manipur are “undemarcated”.[41]

Way Forward

Marking World Human Rights Day, 08 December 2022, Tom Andrews, the UN Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar, urged the world countries to take robust actions for the people of Myanmar. There have also been calls for the British government to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court, as it did with Ukraine. [42] As Myanmar inches closer to the elections in 2023, it is important that all stakeholders are involved in the discussion to conduct free and fair elections. The increasing violence and conflict between the military and opposition forces are creating humanitarian loss and economic and social harm to citizens, which needs immediate attention. Myanmar itself needs to find solutions within its own social and political structures to address this crisis.

Endnotes :

[2] he MNDAA is also a member of the Brotherhood Alliance, which includes the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Arakan Army. https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/military-launches-major-assault-on-kokang-base-on-china-myanmar-border
[4] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/war-against-the-junta/myanmar-resistance-inflicts-more-casualties-on-junta-forces.html
[12] https://www.scramble.nl/military-news/myanmar-air-force-day
[24]The other eleven countries on the blacklist are China, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua and North Korea for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act 1998. https://www.ucanews.com/news/myanmar-remains-on-us-religious-freedom-blacklist/99631
[33]Designed and manufactured by Guizhou Aviation Industry Corporation under the supervision of state-owned aerospace and defence firm Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the FTC-2000G is a light multi-role trainer and combat aircraft. It is capable of carrying up to 3 tons of missiles, rockets or bombs and is tasked mainly with airstrikes against ground targets, according to aerospace news portal Defence World. It can also be used for flight training, aerial surveillance, patrol missions, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, close-in air support, and air escort missions. The FTC-2000G is in service with the Navy and Air Force of the People’s Liberation Army and costs US$8.5 million per unit. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-junta-takes-delivery-of-ftc-2000g-fighter-jets-from-china.html
[34]The training is believed to be an attempt to fix the problems that have left the MAF’s JF-17s grounded due to technical malfunctions. Myanmar bought 16 JF-17s from China. The first batch of six aircraft was delivered in 2018, but details about the delivery date for the other 10 remain unclear. Myanmar was the first country to buy the JF-17. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-junta-and-pakistan-boost-military-ties.html
[36]Designed by the China International Trust Investment Corporation (CITIC) Consortium and funded by the Yunnan Aid, the mobile clinic project was being implemented by the local civil society organisation Kyaukphyu Socio-Economic Development Assistance Association (KSEDAA) https://english.news.cn/20221225/901aae31441645598734361054399504/c.html

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/

VIF Neighbourhood News Digest – December 07, 2022

Uzbekistan NSA: It is Important Afghanistan Not Be Isolated: Tolo News

Uzbekistan National Security Advisor Victor Mohammadov said that it is “important” to not allow Afghanistan to be Isolated or to leave it on its own. He made the remarks at the first India-Central Asia Meeting of the National Security Advisers/Secretaries of Security Councils. “Afghanistan is one of the important factors of security and steady development of Central Asia and South Asia,” he said. “It is important that we do not allow Afghanistan to be isolated and leave it on its own to deal with the social, economic, and humanitarian crisis. It is important… because this will lead to increasing poverty in the region which we are already feeling ourselves. Click here to read…

Amiri Visits Indonesia for Intl Conference on Afghan Women’s Education: Tolo News

The US special envoy for Afghanistan women and human rights has begun a trip to Indonesia, Switzerland and Turkey from December 5-12, the US Department of State said in a statement. “Special Envoy Amiri will participate in the International Conference for Afghan Women’s Education co-hosted by the Governments of Indonesia and Qatar to support Afghan women and girls’ access to education,” the statement reads. This comes as students called on the caretaker government to provide educational opportunities for them. Click here to read…

Kazakhstan Inks Agreement to Manage Hairatan-Mazar-e-Sharif Railway: The Khaama Press

The Afghan officials signed management of the Hairatan-Mazar-e-Sharif railway with a Kazakhstani company named Mansour Fatih, after months of discussion on the topic. The company will manage technical issues for the railway, getting paid over $4.1 million annually, according to sources. According to Bakht Rahman Sharafat, the acting head of Afghanistan Railway Authority, the current leadership will pay only about 25% of what the previous Uzbekistan company would receive for the service. Click here to read…

Dhaka, Delhi agree on security, border management to strengthen cooperation – Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh and India on Tuesday reiterated their commitment to further deepen and strengthen mutual cooperation in the security and border-related issues. The outcome came as the 18th meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on security and border management between Bangladesh and India was held on December 5-6, according to a media statement issued by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs. The Indian delegation was led by Piyush Goyal, additional secretary, Indian Ministry of Home Affairs while Bangladesh delegation was led by AK Mukhlesur Rahman, additional secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs. Click here to read…

Awami League, BNP at odds over Dec 10 rally – Dhaka Tribune

Tension over the BNP’s December 10 rally in Dhaka mounted high on Tuesday as the opposition party once again failed to reach an agreement with the government and law enforcement agencies on the venue of its rally. Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) sources said the BNP must hold the rally at Suhrawardy Udyan, as it has been given permission to use the venue. However, the BNP leaders are adamant that they will not hold the rally there, although mentioning that they are open to other options. Click here to read…

What Bangladesh must do now as a global climate leader? – Daily Star

In Bangladesh, we have an opportunity to lead the other LDCs by taking forward the proposal to set up a National Mechanism for Loss and Damage (NMLD) as a public-private partnership under the leadership of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, as well as the ministries of disaster management, finance, and planning. Together with private sector actors such as insurance companies, civil society and researchers, Bangladesh is in a position to become a pioneer in developing a national-level mechanism to deal with the inevitable losses and damages caused by climate change. Click here to read…

Not a good season for orange exporters – Kuensel Online

Mandarin orange farmers and exporters in the country could likely face a difficult season this year if Bangladesh decides not to import. As a measure to save its dwindling foreign currency exchange reserves, Bangladesh has restricted many import categories. In the case of mandarin oranges, one of the most exported cash crops from Bhutan, Bangladesh importers have not yet been able to provide Letter of Credits (LC) without which exporters in Phuentsholing have not been able to export. Click here to read…

Ramifications of the Tax Bill of Bhutan 2022 – Friedrich Naumann Foundation

The current parliament of Bhutan, the third in line, has in its eighth session introduced and endorsed the Tax Bill of Bhutan 2022 in a bid to address the shortage of foreign currency reserves, prioritize the local sector (whilst substituting potential imports with local products) and encompass amendments to laws pertaining to Custom Duty (CD), Sales Tax (ST) and Green Tax (GT). The proposal from the Finance Ministry is to increase taxes on goods that are harmful to health and the environment while reducing taxes on essential commodities. Click here to read…

Assam: Task force to deal with man-elephant conflict at Indo-Bhutan border formed – Northeast Now

The Dhansiri Forest Division Udalguri have taken up several measures to combat the acute man-elephant conflicts in the Indo-Bhutan border areas in the Udalguri district. According to reports, the department has formed special task forces to deal with the menace and drive away the herd of elephants descending into human habitation areas and paddy fields from the hills. Click here to read…

Cabinet approves MoU with Maldives on immigration – Colombo Gazette

In the course of bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and the Maldives it has been proposed to establish a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in immigration matters between the two countries. Accordingly the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Public Security Tiran Alles to enter in to a Memorandum of Understanding to improve and strengthen cooperation in immigration matters between the two countries. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka plans deal with Maldives to tighten border controls – EconomyNext

Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers had cleared a plan to enter into a deal with Maldives to counter illegal migration and tighten border controls. The Minister of Public Security had proposed to enter into memorandum of understanding agreement with Maldives immigration authorities to prevent “informal migration, human trafficking” and also tackle “blacklisted travelers”, a government statement said. Click here to read…

Online passport applications temporarily suspended – Mizzima

The Myanmar Passport Issuance Board announced on 4 December that the Online Booking System for obtaining a QR Code to apply for a passport will be temporarily suspended beginning 5 December. It said that the current system is being suspended so that it can be improved with the introduction of new technology that will allow people to make appointments easily and quickly 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Click here to read…

Myanmar Junta and Pakistan Boost Military Ties – The Irrawaddy

Senior Pakistan defense official Colonel Imran Khan visited the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw last week to discuss military cooperation with the junta, according to sources familiar with his visit. Colonel Khan’s two-day visit from November 29 to December 1 is the latest sign of the growing defense ties between Islamabad and Naypyitaw. The military regime did not comment on the attaché’s visit and no details of what was discussed have emerged. Click here to read…

New narrative: NUG claims it controls 60% of Myanmar – Khmertimeskh

He condemned the Junta Government for its unwillingness to end the violence and rocking the country. Duwa Lashi La also called for Asean and other international communities to give them the same support they have been providing to Ukraine. The military, led by Senior General Min Aung Hlain, on February 1, last year launched a coup against the civilian government led by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, bringing the country into unrest and turmoil. Click here to read…

Russian Trade Delegation Signs Seven Agreements With Myanmar Junta – The Irrawaddy

A second Russian trade delegation in a month is visiting Naypyitaw to boost bilateral economic ties. After talks with Myanmar junta boss Min Aung Hlaing and his ministers, Russian economic development minister Maxim Reshetnikov met business owners and signed seven agreements. No details were provided by the junta but Russian state news agency Tass reported that a joint protocol on trade, disease control, education and science was signed. Click here to read…

Nawaz greenlights poll prep as ‘N’ pushes back plans to ‘save assembly’: Dawn

In an apparent effort to dispel the impression that the PML-N is ‘running away’ from elections in Punjab, and seemingly out of legal options to forestall a possible dissolution of the provincial assembly, the party’s supreme leader, Nawaz Sharif, has directed the PML-N’s provincial chief to begin homework for shortlisting suitable candidates for polls. However, party leaders insist they’re only preparing for the eventuality where the province goes to polls; they believe the ruling coalition in Punjab would not dissolve the legislature. Click here to read…

Editorial: Disquiet on the western front: Dawn

It is very difficult for Pakistan to be delinked from Afghanistan, because of reasons of geography and history. Yet a strategically mature and realistic policy is needed to manage relations cordially with Pakistan’s western neighbour. At a recent consultative dialogue in Islamabad, former generals, diplomats and other experts put their heads together to discuss the situation, made all the more critical following the banned TTP’s rescinding of the ceasefire with the state. There was wide consensus that a reorientation or reformulation of Pakistan’s Afghan policy was required. But the million-dollar question remains: how? Click here to read…

Govt snubs talk of economic emergency: The Express Tribune

The government ruled out on Tuesday the possibility of imposing an economic emergency in the country to deal with one of the worst crises in its history but said it was contemplating energy conservation measures to reduce the import bill. In a statement, the finance ministry said that the government remained committed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme and the talks for starting the review under the programme are at an advanced stage.
Click here to read…

Environmental emergency imposed in Punjab: The News

Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi on Tuesday imposed an environmental emergency in Lahore and other cities to reduce the smog, which has been declared a calamity. “There is a ban on burning crop residues across Punjab,” the CM said and ordered implementation of a plan designed to reduce smog. He said action should be taken to control the factors causing smog. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka
President meets donor agencies for lengthy round table discussion – Daily News

The World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) representatives decided that a coordinated assistance programme supported by the multilateral financial institutions is required for Sri Lanka to recover from the economic crisis the country is currently facing. Click here to read…

Bilateral discussions – Daily News

President Ranil Wickremesinghe met with the British High Commissioner, Japanese Ambassador, US Ambassador, Indian High Commissioner and Australian High Commissioner in Colombo and exchanged views on bilateral development cooperation. Click here to read…

Sri Lankan HC in Pakistan visits Karachi to further business ties – Daily News

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Pakistan Vice Admiral Mohan Wijewickrama who visited Karachi to engage with the business communities and in promotional activities formally handed over the Commission of Appointment to Barrister-at-Law and Senior Partner Mandviwalla and Zafar Mehmood Mandviwalla appointing him as Honorary Consul of Sri Lanka for Hyderabad in Sindh Province. Click here to read…

VIF Neighbourhood News Digest – December 01, 2022

Blast Rocks Capital of Samangan: Tolo News

A blast occurred in Jahdia seminary during afternoon prayers on Wednesday in Aybak city in Samangan. According to local officials, the blast left 19 people dead and 23 others wounded. “So far, 23 wounded have arrived and, unfortunately, 19 fatalities,” said Sayed Osman Sayedi, deputy head of Samangan province. Click here to read…

High-Level Pakistani Delegation Arrives in Kabul: Tolo News

A senior Pakistani delegation led by Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar arrived in Kabul on Tuesday morning and met with acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Muttaqi discussed the release of Afghan detainees in Pakistan, the transport of goods and passengers between countries, and trade issues, the statement said. Click here to read…

Pakistan’s Hina Rabbani Stresses Imperative of ‘Practically’ Engaging with Afghan Government: The Khaama Press

According to a statement from the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, November 29, the Pakistani official Hina Rabbani Khar undertook a one-day official visit to Afghanistan where she met with the current Afghan administration’s several authorities. Click here to read…

‘Islamic System is What Every Afghan Wants,’ Says Afghan Deputy PM: The Khaama Press

The political deputy of the Afghan prime minister, according to the state-run Bakhtar News Agency, met with influential figures of Maidan Wardak, Baghlan, Takhar, Kapisa, Parwan, and Panjshir provinces, in the Sapidar Palace in Kabul, the Afghan capital. Click here to read…

41 eminent citizens call for quick implementation of CHT accord – Dhaka Tribune

A total of 41 eminent citizens has demanded the speedy implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) agreement by removing all obstacles. On December 2, 1997, the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the government of Bangladesh signed this historic agreement in an effort to find a political solution to the Chittagong Hill Tracts issue. It is alleged that a powerful section of the government administration is creating major obstacles in the implementation of the CHT agreement, the statement saidClick here to read…

December 1, 1971: When Indira Gandhi ‘had to’ intervene – Dhaka Tribune

The Bangladesh Liberation War escalated to its peak at the end of November, when Pakistan’s military ruler General Yahya Khan declared a state of emergency on November 23, 1971 in the face of a mobilization of troops by India. Active fighting continued in the border areas of East Pakistan in the last week of November, with some Indian officials seen increasingly open about the fact that Indian troops had gone across the border. But they continued to maintain that the crossings were aimed at quelling Pakistani shelling and were an act of self-defenseClick here to read…

Quader: If BNP resorts to anarchy, it will be handled strictly – Dhaka Tribune

Awami League (AL) general secretary Obaidul Quader on Wednesday said if BNP wants to create anarchy centering its rally in the name of movement, it will be handled with an iron hand. “If BNP adds elements of violence to its movement, the Awami League along with the people will give a befitting reply to it,” he told a press briefing at the Secretariat here. Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister, questioned: “Why did the BNP select the December 10 for its rally? Did not BNP know the history of Bangladesh?” Click here to read…

Bhutan is an exemplary country when it comes to gender equality– Kuensel Online

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering during the National Assembly yesterday said that Bhutan does not have gender inequality. This was in response to MP for Khar-Yurung Tshering Chhoden’s question. Tshering Chhoden asked Lyonchhen what is being done in preparation to achieve the gender goal of 50 percent women leadership representation by 2030. She said that the minutes of the world conference of women in 1995 in Beijing set this goal. She also said that Bhutan has only 16.5 percent women representation in Parliament, 12.6 percent in Local Government, 39.8 percent in civil service, and 18 percent at the executive level. Click here to read…

President Solih offers condolences following the passing of Chinese ex-President Jiang Zemin – Raajje

The Maldivian leader has offered condolences following the passing of the former President of China Jiang Zemin. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih extended his condolences in a message to the President of China, Xi Jinping on Wednesday. In his message, President Solih stated that as China mourns the death of their former President Jiang Zemin, he extends sympathies to the people and President of China, on behalf of the government and people of MaldivesClick here to read…

“Maldives committed to address global environmental agenda through development of informed policies” – Raajje

Vice President Faisal Naseem has reiterated the commitment of the Maldivian government to address the global environmental agenda through the development of informed policies on nitrogen management in the archipelago nation. The Vice President made this remark while speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the “South Asian Nitrogen Hub” (SANH) meeting in the Maldives. Click here to read…

Defending human rights in post-coup Myanmar – sydney.edu

The military coup in Myanmar in February 2021 plunged the country into crisis. After seizing power from a democratically elected government, the military junta met nationwide protests with brutal force, arresting, torturing and killing its perceived opponents. The violence sparked an armed uprising, while the country’s economy, health and education systems have teetered on collapse. Click here to read…

Myanmar’s exiled National Unity Government cautiously recognises rights of Rohingyas – The Hindu

The laws of Myanmar that prompted one of the largest refugee crises in recent decades involving the Rohingya community of the Rakhine province is deeply unpopular among the democratic anti-junta forces. The Hindu was told recently that the ruling military junta is under growing pressure from the “troops” of the National Unity Government (NUG) which is being “actively engaged” by several countries, including France and the United States. Click here to read…

Myanmar’s Civilian President Warns NUG Ministers not to Raise False Hopes – The Irrawaddy

Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government (NUG) Acting President Duwa Lashi La cautioned ministers and deputies on Tuesday not to raise false hopes among the Myanmar people. “We cannot forget that the citizens of Myanmar, both at home and abroad, are the primary source of support for the revolution and that it is difficult for governments that lack the support of the public to survive long-term,” Duwa Lashi La told the NUG’s cabinet on Tuesday. Click here to read…

Congress reaches out to Janamat Party chief Raut to discuss new government – The Kathmandu Post

CK Raut, president of the Janamat Party, held talks with Nepali Congress leader Bimalendra Nidhi on Wednesday and offered to join the new ruling coalition. Nidhi confirmed to the Post about his meeting with Raut. Nidhi later visited Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and briefed him about his meeting with Raut. During their meeting at Baluwatar, Nidhi informed Deuba that Raut has offered to support the ruling coalition in both the federal parliament and provincial assemblies and that the coalition should start talks with the Janamat Party. Click here to read…

Why Nepal election is good news for India – India Narrative

The results of Nepal’s pivotal elections are yet to emerge, but it is likely that that the dice is loaded in favour of the Nepali Congress-led five party alliance. This is good news for India. In fact, if the NC had not emerged as the largest single party to triumph in the polls, it would have further tempted China to unite all the communist parties leading to the emergence of a new government led by the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), backed by a few smaller parties or independentsClick here to read…

PR vote count: UML gets 2.7 million votes, NC following – Khabarhub

As per the details of the Election Commission recorded till Wednesday, the CPN UML is leading the vote count. The party has received 2,720,639 votes out of 10,171,273 valid votes so far. Similarly, the Nepali Congress has obtained 2,585,090 votes followed by the CPN (Maoist Centre) with 1,153,443. Likewise, the Rastriya Swatantra Party has garnered 1,104,245 votes, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party 579,275, the Janata Samajbadi 408,964, the Janamat Party 376,199, the CPN (Unified Socialist) 290,196 and the Nagarik Unmukti Party 268,436. Click here to read…

China’s stakes in the Nepal election – ORF online

The Chinese are closely following the recent Nepalese election. The last few months saw China carrying out back-to-back high-level exchanges with Nepal. In March 2022, days after the Nepalese parliament ratified the much-debated United States (US) Millennium Challenge Corporation(MCC) Compact, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid a state visit to Kathmandu and expounded on China’s “Three Supports” for Nepal in terms of “blazing a development path suited to its national conditions, … in pursuing independent domestic and foreign policies… and in participating in Belt and Road cooperation to a greater extent”. Click here to read…

Govt to review strategy after TTP calls off truce: The Express Tribune

Official sources told The Express Tribune that there would be a “review” of Pakistan’s strategy following the TTP announcement earlier this week and spike in terrorist attacks. In June, the TTP announced an indefinite ceasefire after a series of meetings between the Pakistani representatives and the militant outfit in Afghanistan. Click here to read…

Newly appointed COAS Gen Asim calls on PM: The Express Tribune

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Muneer and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Sahir Shamshad Mirza separately called on President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday. Click here to read…

Islamabad-Moscow talks: Pakistan seeks Russian crude at 30-40pc discount: The News

Pakistan was represented by State Minister for Petroleum Musadik Malik during the talks held in Moscow. Secretary Petroleum Capt (retd) Muhammad Mahmood, Joint Secretary and officials of the Pakistan Embassy in Moscow accompanied the state minister. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka
President issues strong statement after COP27 Conference – Daily News

Having participated in the COP27 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt earlier this month, President Ranil Wickremesinghe issued a statement on Tuesday (29) on its outcome. The President was critical of the countries that were historically accountable for the greatest damage and who are capable of meaningful contributions but who have stymied the furtherance of climate action. Following is the statement issued by President Ranil Wickremesinghe. “For 27 years, world leaders have been meeting under the COP framework to confront the greatest threat to the future of humanity – climate change. Yet, we are no closer to the implementation of a universal and collaborative plan of climate action as mandated by the COP process. Click here to read…

World Bank assures continuous support to Sri Lanka – Colombo Page

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena held discussions with World Bank Country Director Chiyo Kanda and senior Strategy and Operations officials about the progress of ongoing projects and proposed future projects, Prime Minister’s Office said. The Prime Minister briefed the delegation about the steps taken by the government to overcome economic challenges and said the new reforms would result in early conclusion of monetary arrangements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). World Bank Country Director expressed satisfaction over the short term measures to ease the economic situation and stressed the need for continuous midterm and long-term efforts. She assured continuous support to Sri Lanka. Click here to read…

Four UPFA allies shun Maithripala’s summons – Daily News

Secretaries of four constituent Parties in the UPFA have informed the UPFA Leader and former President Maithripala Sirisena that they would not participate in the executive committee meeting which had been summoned by him yesterday National Congress Leader A.L.M.Athaullah, Eelam People’s Democratic Party Douglus Devananda, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna Secretary Thissa Jayawardena and T.Kalansuriya of the Desha Vimukthi Party have sent letters to the UPFA leader separately. They have informed the former President Maithripala Sirisena that an executive committee meeting of the UPFA can only be convened by its General Secretary Mahinda Amarawera and the Leader of the Alliance does not have any authority to summon such a meeting. Click here to read…

Geopolitical tensions and repaying external debt – Daily Mirror

To India, developments in Sri Lanka are always a great matter of interest. Due to Lanka’s proximity to India, developments in our country are always a matter of great interest to India – regarding its security concerns.
Since the LTTE insurgency, relations between India and Lanka were strained. The development of close relations between China and Sri Lanka during regime of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in Indian eyes, appeared to give China unprecedented access to this country and raised fears in India due to its perennial border disputes with that country.
Resultantly, we see India shedding its post-independence insecurity about the presence of Western powers in its neighbourhood and attempting to balance out what it sees as China’s forays into its (India’s) sphere of influence, with closer relationships with the US – as for example the QUAD grouping a security arrangement between Australia, India, Japan and the US. In the more recent past – especially in the aftermath of our economic meltdown- India has proven to be a saviour to our country. At a time when hunger stalked our nation, India provided us with all manner of help ranging from lines of credit, to food, medicine and many other essentials. Click here to read…

VIF Neighbourhood News Digest – November 23, 2022

Exhibit Held in Kabul to Display Domestic Products: Tolo News

The Ministry of Industry and Mines (MoIC) said that efforts are underway in support of the private sector and that such exhibitions will be held outside the country to promote markets for Afghan products. “We are hoping for a day that such exhibitions will be held in Arabic countries like the UAE, and other countries like China and Central Asia as well as neighboring countries,” said Nooruddin Azizi, acting Minister of the MoIC. Click here to read…

Afghan Families Sell Belongings to Make Ends Meet: The Khaama Press

According to Martin Schuepp, Director of Operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), an average Afghan family can only afford 82% of basic food commodities, expressing concerns over the economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. Click here to read…

DABS Says Uzbekistan Technical Issues Caused Rolling Blackout in Afghanistan: The Khaama Press

During a press conference on Monday, November 21, Engineer Safiullah Ahmadzai, Chief Operating Officer of DABS, stated that the cause for the shortage of electricity and subsequent power outages is due to a technical difficulty in Uzbekistan’s gas system. Click here to read…

BNP’s Dec 10 Dhaka rally: Cops, AL to be on high alert – The Daily Star

Law enforcers have taken all-out measures, including keeping Dhaka city BNP leaders and activists under close watch, to pre-empt “potential subversive activities” centering on the BNP’s Dhaka rally on December 10. Click here to read…

Dhaka should focus more on Indo-Pacific’ – The Daily Star

The Indo-Pacific region has become a focus for the world powers. Dealing with them has become challenging for many countries. How should Bangladesh handle such a situation? Ali Riaz, a distinguished professor at the Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University, yesterday shared his views with The Daily Star’s Porimol Palma…Bangladesh, and South Asia as a whole, always looked at West Asia and Central Asia, which were the gateways to the world. It is no longer the case now. The whole economy has shifted towards the Indo-Pacific. Also, the geopolitical importance of the region has increased manyfold because of the rise of China. Click here to read…

Military diplomacy: A vital tool to mend Myanmar-Bangladesh ties – Dhaka Tribune

The military cooperation between Myanmar and Bangladesh has a lot of promise. There are several areas where the two countries may engage and work together, with the most essential being the improvement of relations. In a fresh turn of events, a three-person delegation from the Myanmar army met with the Bangladesh army in Dhaka. The two sides talked about promoting regional security and stability as well as the prompt repatriation of the Rohingyas. The Myanmar Army was reminded by the Bangladesh Army to exercise caution when undertaking any operations in the border regions. Click here to read…

ISRO to launch satellite developed by Bhutan – The Tribune

The ISRO is gearing up to launch the next PSLV mission from the spaceport at Sriharikota on November 26, which will carry a Oceansat-3 satellite and eight nano-satellites, including one developed by Bhutan scientists. India had, in September last year, signed an agreement with Bhutan for the joint development of the satellite, which was initiated following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Thimphu in 2019. Click here to read…

Buddhist confederation, monastic body hosting delegation of Bhutanese monks from Nov 22 to 30 – The Print

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], November 22 (ANI): The International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) in coordination with the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan is hosting a 24-member delegation of Bhutanese monks who are visiting India from November 22 to 30, said officials.During this tour, the monks are scheduled to visit various religious and Buddhist heritage sites in India including Nagarjuna Konda, Buddhavanam, Amravati, National Museum, and Sankissa, among others. Click here to read…

Discussions held on expanding Maldives-Sri Lanka relations in investment, trade – Raajje

The discussions were held between Vice President Faisal Naseem and High Commissioner of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the Republic of Maldives, Adam Maznavee Jaufer Sadiq. They discussed the exchange of technical and professional expertise between Maldives and Sri Lanka. Discussions have been held on ways to further expand relations in investment and trade, between the governments of Maldives and Sri Lanka. Click here to read…

India retains lead as top tourism market of Maldives this year – NewsOnAir

India has retained its lead as the top tourism market of Maldives this year. Close to two lakh Indian tourists visited Maldives in 2022 so far. The Indian mission in Maldives in a tweet said that India has been the biggest contributer to tourism in Maldives since 2020. The High Commission of India in Male also congratulated Maldives on securing World’s leading destination title for 2022 at the world travel awards earlier this month. Click here to read…

Myanmar’s Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Denies Latest Corruption Charges in Court Appearance – The Irrawaddy

Myanmar’s ousted leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi denied further corruption charges when she testified on Tuesday in a junta-controlled court, according to a source with knowledge of the matter. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been a prisoner since the military toppled her government in February 2021, ending the Southeast Asian nation’s brief period of democracy. Click here to read…

NUG Suggests How ASEAN Can Get Meaningful Changes From Myanmar Junta – The Irrawaddy

Myanmar’s military regime released 402 political prisoners last week as part of its amnesty for nearly 6,000 inmates. The move was hastily embraced by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) special envoy for Myanmar, who said the release was a sign of good will and an important gesture suggesting that the ruling junta is ready to change, despite the fact that Myanmar has been in turmoil since last year’s coup. Click here to read…

Siem Reap ADMM Retreat in full swing without Myanmar – Khmertimeskh

The ASEAN defence ministers, except Myanmar, discussed the rapid changes in global security environment as they convened for the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Retreat (ADMM Retreat) in Siem Reap yesterday. Besides the ADMM Retreat, held under the theme ‘Solidary for Harmonised Security’, Cambodia is also hosting the 9th ADMM-Plus, the ASEAN-US Defence Ministers’ Informal Meeting and the ASEAN-India Defence Ministers’ Informal Meeting from November 21-23. Click here to read…

Vote count update: NC wins 12 seats; RSP 4 and UML 3 – Khabarhub

In the initial vote count of the election held on Sunday, Nepali Congress (NC) has taken the lead followed by CPN-UML so far. Till now, NC has won in 12 constituencies and the UML in three constituencies. As of now, NC is leading in 45 constituencies followed by UML, which is leading in 43 constituencies. The Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP), which has already won four seats, is leading in five constituencies. Likewise, the Unified Socialist Party led by Madhav Kumar Nepal has won one seat and is leading in five constituencies. Click here to read…

Poor transfer of Congress votes weighing down coalition partners – The Kathmandu Post

Congress voters seemed reluctant to back other coalition candidates. But they voted for the UML in some places. Preliminary results of the federal and provincial polls held on Sunday suggest the votes of Nepali Congress have not been transferred to other coalition partners. This had been long feared. The transfer from Nepali Congress to CPN (Maoist Centre) was thought to be particularly hard; Congress leaders were among the main Maoist targets during the decade-long bloody insurgency. Nonetheless, an electoral alliance was forged between the Congress, the Maoist Centre, the CPN (Unified Socialist) and the Rastriya Janamorcha. Click here to read…

After ballot paper mix-up, calls grow for shift to electronic voting – The Kathmandu Post

In Ilam constituency 1, some 100 ballot papers of the first-past-the-post (FPTP) elections for the House of Representatives were found dropped into the boxes meant for FPTP votes for the provincial assembly. Similar thing happened at a polling centre in Rukum East. In the press meet after the conclusion of the voting on Sunday, Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Thapaliya had said they had received several complaints of ballot paper mixup. Following such complaints, the commission decided to count the votes under all four categories—FPTP and proportional representation of both the lower house and provincial assemblies—simultaneously. Click here to read…

PM Office receives summary for top military appointments: Dawn

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said on Wednesday morning that it has received the summary from the Ministry of Defence with a “panel of names” for the appointment of the new chief of army staff (COAS) and the chairman joint chief of staff committee (CJCSC). Click here to read…

Govt shares revised budget framework with IMF: The Express Tribune

Despite the worst flood in the country‘s history and hundreds of billions of rupees in unbudgeted subsidies, Pakistan has initially projected only Rs990 billion fiscal slippages in this financial year, hardly showing a negative impact of Rs55 billion on its revenues. Click here to read…

Row over sugar export further delays crushing: The Express Tribune

In what appears to be a deliberate move, the sugar mills in Punjab have refused to start the sugarcane crushing season from November 25, as a deadlock between the government and mills over permission to export the sweetener persists. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka
Second Reading of Budget 2023 passed with majority of 37 – The Island

The second reading of Budget 2023 was passed with a majority of 37 votes in Parliament yesterday. The vote taken at 6 pm received 121 votes in favour and 84 votes against. The SJB, JVP, SLFP and SLPP dissidents voted against the Budget. Click here to read…

P627 Patrol Vessel commissioned as Vijayabahu – Daily News

The Offshore Patrol Vessel P627 the most recent addition to the Sri Lanka Navy fleet received from the United States (U.S.) Coast Guard was commissioned as Vijayabahu under the patronage of President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday (22). The commissioning ceremony was held at the Colombo Port. The Vessel P627 began her home-bound journey from the Port of Seattle on September 3, 2022 and arrived in Colombo on November 2 after about 10,656 nautical miles (19,734 km) of sea passage. The President as Chief Guest was accorded a Guard of Honour by the Sri Lanka Navy. The President boarded the, SLNS Vijayabahu Vessel accompanied by Navy Commander Vice Admieal Nishantha Ulugetenna and unveiled the ship’s name board. Click here to read…

China Spy Ship Row: Sri Lanka FM Ali Sabry says New Delhi’s sensitivities will be kept in mind – WION

In the backdrop of the visit of Chinese spy ship, Sri Lankan foreign minister Ali Sabry has said that Indian “Indian sensitivities will be kept in mind” so that it doesn’t lead to any “unpleasantries” for both the countries. Remember Chinese spy ship or as Beijing has been terming it research vessel research vessel Yuan Wang 5 had visited the Sri Lankan port of hambantota raising concern for New Delhi. Speaking exclusively with our diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal from Colombo, FM Sabry said, “everyone who will be entitled will be known in advance, we will have a known procedure in place so that no one is surprised, so therefore it is important we also have the freedom of navigation in the Indian ocean.” Click here to read…

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