Home Awareness Burma Express: Weekly News Highlights (July 17-23)
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Burma Express: Weekly News Highlights (July 17-23)

Gavroche has selected for you some salient news in Burma during this past week. An essential news overview for anyone interested in this Southeast Asian country.

 

Politics, Diplomacy

 

The European Union has imposed sanctions on six new Burmese junta officials and one junta-controlled entity, citing escalating violence and serious human rights abuses since the 2021 military coup. °2 (ME 2), a state-owned company controlled by and generating revenue for the Myanmar Armed Forces. The persons concerned are subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban which prevents them from entering or transiting EU territory, the EU statement said. The EU imposed sanctions on the junta’s health and sports minister, Dr Thet Khaing Win, under whose leadership hundreds of doctors were fired for political reasons and had their licenses revoked, while private hospitals were told not to hire doctors who refused to work in public hospitals under military rule.

 

The Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP) has confirmed that six of the 37 political prisoners who disappeared from Daik-U prison in the Bago region were killed by the Burmese regime. The 37 political prisoners at the jail, also known as Kyaiksakaw, have been missing since June 27, when the junta announced it was transferring them. The AAPP this month reported the deaths of two of the political prisoners after their families received letters from prison authorities. The activist group said six other families had received the same letters. All letters indicate that during the transfer of prisoners from Insein prison, a vehicle crashed and the prisoners attempted to escape. They were killed by “warning shots” fired by security personnel trying to capture them. An AAPP spokesperson said the junta’s claims were impossible.

 

Myanmar’s military regime has launched a disinformation campaign to sow division between detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the resistance movement, distributing leaflets claiming she does not support the movement. Residents of Thabeikkyin and Amarapura townships in Myanmar’s northern Mandalay region said soldiers and police distributed leaflets to passers-by earlier this week. The leaflets, which feature a “collage” of photos of Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under the caption “Thai Foreign Minister Reveals During ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat He Met Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” are accompanied by highlighted text claiming that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi did not support the move. The photos are accompanied by highlighted text that reads: “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has categorically rejected NUG and CRPH members who have used violent means to kill people while ignoring her political stance of non-violence.

Economy

The Central Bank of Burma (CBM) has revised its policy of mandatory conversion of export earnings into kyats at the official benchmark from 65% to 50% of export earnings, according to a July 13 announcement. Following the implementation of a directive issued on April 4, 2022, making it mandatory within 24 hours to convert all foreign currency receipts into local currency at an administered rate, the Burmese central bank has gradually implemented a series of exemptions, including the new directive of July 13. In addition, the regulations stipulate that the transfer of foreign currency to foreign countries must be carried out through licensed banks and requires the approval of the Foreign Exchange Regulatory Committee.

The NUG will launch the first Burmese cryptocurrency bank. The soft launch of the Spring Development Bank (SDB) began on July 22 as part of the National Unity Government’s (NUG) efforts to fund the revolution and block financial flows to the junta, Burma’s shadow government announced on July 20. Its Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment (MOPFI) and the interim central bank have been preparing for seven months to establish the bank, which will become Myanmar’s first financial institution to run entirely on crypto and blockchain. Plans are underway to open SDB branches or agency access points in key liberated areas, said Minister of Planning, Finance and Investment U Tin Tun Naing. The soft launch will focus on user acceptance testing, said U Tin Tun Naing, who is also acting central bank governor. He said the junta had made threats to citizens’ bank accounts and violated privacy despite banking rules that prohibit it.

 

Three of four Chinese-backed liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plants in Kyaukphyu township of Rakhine state in western Myanmar have stopped working. The three closed plants are located near the Kyaukphyu deep-sea port project and are operated by VPower, a Hong Kong-listed power generation company. Two of the plants stopped operating last year, and the third was shut down recently after operating at partial capacity due to limited LNG supply, said U Poe San, a former Kyaukphyu municipality lawmaker. The company, which has a stake in nine power plants in Myanmar, said in September 2021 that it would not renew power plant contracts in Kyaukphyu township, Rakhine state, and Myingyan township, Mandalay region.

 

Society/Repression/Conflict

 

Three opponents were killed and two others injured on July 19 when groups from the Magwe region attacked a pro-junta village in southern Pauk township. Fierce fighting began around 5 a.m. when several groups jointly attacked the village of Tat Kone, the base of a pro-junta Pyu Saw Htee militia and a military unit. Two other attackers were injured. Two members of regime forces were also killed in the clash and at least 11 others were injured. The junta also carried out a 45-minute airstrike on opposition forces with an Mi-35 attack helicopter, but no fighters were injured in the airstrike, said the Chauk guerrilla force, which joined the raid. Local opposition groups said at least 23 villages in southern Pauk township were looted and burned by regime forces and pro-junta village-based Pyu Saw Htee militias, including Tat Kone.

A teacher who ran an online school opposed to the military regime was sentenced to 20 years in prison on July 17 by a Myanmar junta court at Obo prison in Mandalay, lawyers say. Daw Ei Shwe Sin Myint ran the Aung Myay Thar Zan Federal School in Aungmyaythazan Township, Mandalay Region, in cooperation with the National Unity Civil Government (NUG). The school was opened in February 2022, a year after the coup, for families who rejected education under the junta, with classes ranging from primary to junior high school. Four teachers, including Daw Ei Shwe Sin Myint, were arrested on March 22 last year. The school was then closed. In April last year, junta newspapers reported that 15 teachers, aged between 20 and 40, had been arrested for teaching illegally on instructions from the NUG.

An airstrike by the Burmese junta has hit a village in Kachin state near where regime troops have been fighting the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) since last month. Three jet fighters bombed the village of Nam San Yang, which was previously controlled by the KIA about 9 km from its headquarters in Laiza, on the night of 21/22 July. According to KIA spokesman Colonel Naw Bu, no casualties were reported as the villagers fled last month. On July 20, the KIA attacked junta reinforcements from Bhamo township in La Gyar Yang village, Momauk township. This village is on the Myitkyina-Bhamo road, about 22 km south of Nam San Yang.

Myanmar’s National Unity Government commemorated the 76th Martyr’s Day on Wednesday by paying tribute to independence hero General Aung San and eight of his colleagues assassinated 76 years ago today, as well as heroes of the ongoing anti-regime Spring Revolution.

This article is originally published on gavroche-thailande.com

 

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