Posts Tagged ‘ASEAN’

The Myanmar Military Captures About 60 Opposition Fighters

July 30, 2021

Recently, almost 60 civilian resistance fighters from the People Defense Force (PDF) in Mingin were arrested as they attempted to attack a village in the Sagaing Region.
According to the PDF, civilian resistance fighters recently attacked Pan Set and Taungbyu villages, which are strongholds of Pyu-Saw-Htee allies who are armed with automatic rifles by the junta.
Residents report that Pyu-Saw-Htee and junta troops raided their villages and attacked the resistance in the township over the past month.
Resistance fighters in Mingin told The Irrawaddy on Thursday they attacked villages on Wednesday to prevent junta attacks on villages in the south of the township with the Phyu-Saw-Htee.
According to the PDF, 57 resistance members were captured by Pyu-Saw-Htee during the firefight at Taungbyu village.
“Our fighters were caught by a trap after entering the village after the Pyu-Saw-Htee said they would surrender,” said a PDF member. Twelve more resistance fighters escaped outside the village.
The junta’s reinforcements forced the resistance fighters to retreat from saving the detainees. Residents report that the military regime used a helicopter to supply ammunition after the firefight.
According to the PDF member, some of our members were slain at the Taungbyu village while others were detained.
Former Mingin Township lawmaker U Maung Myint, a central executive committee member of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), wrote on Facebook on Wednesday that PDF members had been captured as a result of military tactics.
During the fighting in Pan Set village, one villager was killed and three others were injured, according to a former military officer.
According to the PDF, five resistance fighters were injured during the firefight.
A PDF member said troops and Pyu-Saw-Htee members recently raided Konyin village and tortured villagers.
Three villages nearby have been evacuated because of junta raids.
Recent clashes between the resistance and junta have broken out in Mingin Township.
The junta has forced more than 10,000 residents of Twin, Linponeyi, and Zee Pin Twin villages in Kani Township, Sagaing Region, to flee their homes. Residents report finding the bodies of 12 villagers buried by junta troops on Monday near Zee Pin Twin recently.

China Is Being Affected By Rise of COVID-19 Infection Rates in Myanmar

July 29, 2021

The number of new COVID-19 cases in China is increasing every day, owing to an outbreak in Yunnan province, which shares a border with Myanmar, where the Delta variant of the coronavirus has spread.
The National Health Commission reported 65 new confirmed cases for July 19, compared with 31 a day earlier. It was the most since January 30, 2021, when 92 new cases were reported.
Most of the new cases were imported infections, with Yunnan reporting 41 new cases originating from abroad. All of the cases involved Chinese nationals who had recently returned from Myanmar.
The current outbreak of cases is spreading into two small towns in China’s Yunnan province, Ruili, and Longchuan.
As a result of its fourth outbreak since the pandemic started, Ruili reported seven locally transmitted cases on July 19, while Longchuan had one.
The overland transit point for Yunnan, which shares a border with Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam spanning 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles).
In Yunnan, the outbreak represents the second outbreak of the highly contagious Delta strain in China, following an outbreak in southern Guangdong province in May and June 2021.
As he visited Ruili on Sunday, Yunnan vice-governor Zong Guoying promised to build a “fortress of iron” to stop further transmissions.
Xishuangbanna, which shares a long and porous border with Myanmar, has set up checkpoints on all roads to inspect incoming and outgoing traffic.
The police said that travel outside of Xishuangbanna’s urban center of Jinghong was discouraged, and special permits were also required to enter neighboring cities Lincang and Puer, as well as Ruili, when Reuters visited recently.
China reported 19 asymptomatic Coronavirus cases on July 19, 2021, up from 17 a day earlier. Asymptomatic infections are not counted as confirmed cases in China.
China now has 92,342 cases of COVID-19, with 4,636 deaths.

The COVID-19 Sandbox Plan in Phuket Could Be Suspended Soon

July 28, 2021

Thailand’s first tourism hotspot to waive quarantine for vaccinated foreign visitors is facing a spike in COVID-19 cases, which could endanger the experiment seen as a model for other tourism-dependent nations to open their borders.
During the week ending July 27, 2921, the resort island reported 125 new Covid-19 cases, higher than the government’s threshold of 90 cases that could trigger a temporary suspension of the program. Local authorities closed public schools and shopping malls and banned gatherings of more than 100 people recently in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.
Local residents accounted for the majority of new infections, and all high-risk contacts on the island have been isolated to prevent further spread, officials said. Since the so-called Phuket Sandbox was launched on July 1, 2021, only 26 vaccinated visitors have tested positive for the virus out of more than 11,800.
Covid resurgence in Phuket mirrors the situation elsewhere in Thailand and Southeast Asia, where authorities are struggling to contain the outbreak fuelled by the more contagious delta variant. A setback to the quarantine-free travel in Phuket could jeopardize the government’s plan to expand the model to more islands and beach resorts to save the tourism industry.
As authorities are watching for more signs of infection spread, it may still be too early to suspend the Phuket model. Official data show that 70% of Phuket’s population is fully immunized, compared to about 5% nationally.
“We are entering a tightening mode and reducing local activities on the island, but we have several circuit breakers in place before the reopening program is suspended,” said Thaneth Tantipiriyakij, president of the Tourism Council of Phuket. Currently, we are assessing the situation day-by-day and week-by-week with the surge in infections.
After the emergence of the third wave of Covid infections in early April, the country has seen an unprecedented surge of Covid infections and deaths. Thailand’s key economic centers, including Bangkok, have been subjected to strict restrictions on inter-provincial travel and on most business activities.
In addition to the 90 weekly-case limit, other triggers for Phuket Sandbox suspension include detection of infections in all three districts on the island or more than six sub-districts; identification of more than three clusters; and the use of 80% of hospital capacity.
According to Thaneth, authorities will restrict travel routes or impose a temporary ban on tourists leaving hotels before considering a full suspension. In the coming days, officials will review the situation and decide if additional tightening measures are needed, he said.

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Myanmar Gem Industry Meets With The Myanmar Military

July 9, 2021

Several top gem industry figures attended a meeting hosted by the junta-controlled Myanmar Gems Enterprise recently to discuss securing new technology and foreign investment for the sector, a leaked invitation letter shows.
A total of 20 presidents, vice presidents, and secretaries of gem and jewelry associations convened in Naypyitaw on June 2021 30 via Zoom from Yangon, Mandalay, Sagaing, and Kachin.
Aung Kyaw Win, vice president of the Myanmar Gems and Jewellery Entrepreneurs Association and husband of junta-appointed cabinet member Thet Thet Khine, organized their participation. The meeting was also hosted by him.
As Myanmar’s second-largest export after oil and gas, gems are a vital source of income for the junta, as the movement to remove it from power seeks ways to cut off its funding.
Myanmar Gems Enterprise was sanctioned in April and May by the US and the UK. The majority of Myanmar’s jade, rubies, and other gems, however, are imported from China, and much gems trading takes place on the black market.
In the agenda at recent meeting, association leaders discussed the availability of ore, technology and funding, foreign investment flows, taxes, and online sales.
Recently, Myanmar’s underground National Unity Government said that any business projects approved by the military council were “null and void,” and that those involved in such projects would “be held criminally responsible.”
It also warned entrepreneurs against doing business with the junta-controlled natural resources ministry as they could be “blacklisted” and face other legal measures.
According to a gemstone entrepreneur who requested anonymity, the attendees at the meeting could help the coup regime gain access to more funds by providing expert advice on how to develop the sector in exchange for permits and licenses.
Therefore, they should be “socially punished.”
“All they had to do was refuse to attend the meeting at a time when everyone was participating in Civil Disobedience, but there they were,” said the entrepreneur.”
Aung Kyaw Win owns a chain of jewelry stores called Shwe Nan Daw, which has been boycotted by anti-coup protesters, as well as a branch of Victorious Gems in Singapore.
His wife, Thet Thet Khine, gained a position of power in the junta’s cabinet after her People’s Pioneer Party lost badly in the 2020 general election.
Yangon Gem and Jewellery Entrepreneurs Association members Myint Thet Naing, the director of the Naing Family (Mogok) Gems and Jewellery Company, and Aung Kyaw Zin, director of SP Gems, attended the meeting last week.
The association’s second secretary, Mra Thidar, and treasurer Nyunt Nyunt Khaing were also present. They jointly own the company Special Jewellery – Mra & Khaing.
During the junta, Than Shwe appointed Soe Mra to head the department of mining. Soe Mra’s daughter, Thidar, is the daughter of Aung San Suu Kyi, who led the department.
Those opposed to the coup consider the duo knowledgeable about bringing gems to international markets. “They know everything there is to know about the gems business, from transport to sales. That’s why [Aung Kyaw Win] invited them to the workshop.”
Sources in the gem industry said that exporters were thinking about falsifying the origin of their stones and selling them out of Thailand to avoid sanctions.
It was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic, but a gems emporium was held in Naypyitaw after the February 1 coup, though items were heavily discounted.

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Myanmar Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi Gets Vaccine

July 8, 2021

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, her lawyer confirmed to the media.
Myanmar is currently facing a spike in cases, which has spread as far as China.
Since the February coup, health workers have walked out in protest, crippling medical services.
With 3.5 million doses administered, only 2.8% of Myanmar’s 54 million population is fully vaccinated.
We do not know when the 76-year-old former leader received the vaccinations, or which vaccine she was given.
Apart from her brief court appearances after she was removed from power and detained by the military, little is known about her.
During the same day, Myanmar recorded 3,602 new cases of the disease, with 15 cases reported in Ruili, a bordering city in China.
The AFP news agency reports that Myanmar is attempting to acquire more vaccines after receiving 1.5 million doses from India and 500,000 doses from China earlier this year.
Restaurants in the capital Nay Pyi Taw have been closed since Monday, and more curbs are expected, AFP reported.
Since Monday, Ruili has also been placed under lockdown – the second time in four months following the discovery of imported cases from Myanmar.
A total of 210,000 residents of the city have also been tested for the virus.

The Myanmar Military Has Strategy To Stomp Out The Opposition

July 7, 2021

Awng Di, 13, walked over to his aunt’s house in Kachin State about noontime to feed her chickens on May 24, 2021. Heavy artillery crashed through the chicken coop 30 minutes later, killing Awng Di before he could reach the nearby clinic.
Awng Di’s mother told Al Jazeera that her family has never been involved in politics. “We’re just trying to survive,” she added. I now want to curse [military soldiers] every time I see them.
Since April, Momauk township, where Awng Di was from, has been the site of clashes between Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military, and the Kachin Independence Army, the armed wing of an ethnic armed group. More than 11,000 people have been displaced by violence in Momauk and other parts of Kachin State, according to UN estimates.
Since the February 1 military coup, fighting in Momauk and other towns across Myanmar has accelerated as long-standing conflicts between the Tatmadaw and ethnic armed groups in border areas have resumed or intensified, and civil defence forces have emerged in towns without fighting before.
230,000 people have been displaced as a result of the Tatmadaw’s air and ground attacks since the coup. Security forces have also looted and burned homes, blocked aid access and transportation of relief items, cut telecommunications networks, shelled places of refuge, and killed and arrested volunteers delivering humanitarian assistance.
The Tatmadaw has continued to use four cuts, a strategy the military began using against Karen people in the 1960s and has since used against civilian populations of other ethnic minority areas, according to Naw Htoo Htoo, program director of the Karen Human Rights Group.
“[The Tatmadaw] doesn’t use the words ‘four cuts’ anymore, but the strategy is the same as the four cuts that they have used on ethnic people for over 70 years,” said Naw Htoo Htoo.
As a means of starving the support base of armed resistance and turning civilians against resistance groups, this strategy restricts access to weapons, funds, intelligence, and recruits.
Aside from Karen State, the armed forces have also used the strategy in Kachin and Rakhine states, most infamously in northern Rakhine State in 2017, when its ‘clearance operations’ sent hundreds of thousands of mostly Muslim Rohingya into Bangladesh.
Kim Jolliffe, an independent researcher focused on security and conflict in Myanmar, says that the four-cuts strategy treats civilians as central resources on the battlefield instead of mere collateral damage.
“They face extreme violence and their livelihoods are destroyed so that armed groups can’t find refuge and civilian support,” he told Al Jazeera.
As a result of the coup, the Tatmadaw appears to have increased its use of four cuts throughout the country, including in areas dominated by ethnic Bamars. After security forces looted homes in the central Magway Region’s Gangaw township in late March, local residents retaliated with hunting rifles. According to local media group Myanmar Now, the Tatmadaw responded with heavy explosives and machine guns, killing four people and sending more than 10,000 fleeing into the forest.
The Magway Region’s Pauk township also witnessed indiscriminate violence on June 15, when more than 200 houses in Kinma village burned to the ground, killing an elderly couple trapped inside. Al Jazeera spoke with two Kinma residents under the condition of anonymity who said they were unaware of any clashes before the fire, but according to Myanmar Now, the incident occurred days after skirmishes between local resistance fighters and plainclothes police and soldiers.
According to one of the villagers, at least nine people in plainclothes entered the village around 11 pm on June 15, 2021, setting homes on fire and shooting at villagers’ cattle, pigs, and buffaloes.
The Tatmadaw has blamed the incident on 40 ‘terrorists’ and said the media are discrediting it by accusing it of torching the village.
The media repeatedly called the military spokesperson but did not receive a response regarding the violence or the “four cuts” strategy.
Than Tun Aung, the pseudonym for one of the two villagers from Kinma interviewed by Al Jazeera, said they are now scattered in nearby villages or staying in makeshift shelters in the jungle where they are running low on food and supplies. “We encounter police and soldiers every now and then on our way to collect aid,” he said. Our alertness keeps us on our toes.
On May 23, the Karenni People’s Defense Forces stormed a police station in the town of Moebye in Shan State’s Pekon township, resulting in a conflict across the region. As civilian defense fighters conducted targeted ambushes with homemade weapons, the Tatmadaw launched what the UN called “indiscriminate attacks”, firing artillery and guns into civilian areas and displacing 100,000 people, many of whom are now living in nearby forests.

Opposition FIghters Kill Myanmar Military Snitch And Bombed Government Offices

July 6, 2021

Local resistance fighters have claimed responsibility for the killing of a man accused of aiding the military in its deadly assault against a protest stronghold in Bago in April 2021.
Kyaw Kyaw, also known as Kyaw Soe Htut, was shot twice in the stomach at close range at around 8 am on Sunday morning according to a witness, adding that both the victim and his two attackers were riding motorcycles.
The people on the bike shot him while he was on his motorcycle. “He hit the pavement and crashed,” the witness said.
The Bago branch of the People’s Defense Force (PDF) also bombed the Hantharwaddy Township administration office and the township electricity office before the assassination.
An employee was injured in the bombing at the electricity office.
Members of the local PDF said, “This is just a first step in holding terrorists accountable.” The bombings are no different.
During the time the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party was in power, Kyaw Kyaw, 50, was the administrator of Shin Saw Pu Township, according to a Bago resident.
Kyaw Kyaw was spotted with soldiers attacking a protest stronghold on Ma Ga Dit road on April 9 according to four Bago residents. During the attack, dozens of people were killed.
The junta’s spokesperson could not be reached for comment on Sunday’s killing.
PDF member said the group would investigate all claims that someone has worked with the military before launching an attack.
In his statement, he added, “We do not exterminate informants until we are certain that they have accurate information.”.
“Never have we assassinated anyone immediately after getting the information.”
He said the bombings were part of efforts to target the “pillars” of the junta.

The Myanmar Military Raid Of Opposition Military Force Results In 25 Getting Killed

July 5, 2021

 At least 25 people were killed by Myanmar security forces in a confrontation with opponents of the military junta in a town in the nation’s center, residents and Myanmar language media reported.
The military’s spokesman did not respond to requests for comment on the violence at Depayin, which is about 300 kilometers (200 miles) north of the capital, Naypyidaw.
Myanmar’s state-run Global New Light reported that “armed terrorists” ambushed security forces patrolling there, killing one and wounding six. As a result of retaliation by the security forces, the attackers retreated.
With Aung San Suu Kyi’s Feb. 1 coup against her, Myanmar, a country of 53 million people, is engulfed in chaos.
Four military trucks dropped soldiers in Depayin early on Sunday morning, according to an anonymous Depayin resident.
Youths from a local People’s Defense Force, formed to oppose the junta, took positions to face them. According to the resident, the intruders only had makeshift weapons and were forced back by the security forces’ heavier firepower.
According to the resident, 25 bodies had been collected after the fighting.
BBC Burmese service and Than Lwin Khet News carried similar accounts.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the details.
According to a post on the Depayin People’s Defence Force’s Facebook page, 18 of its members were killed and 11 wounded.
People’s Defence Forces were founded by opponents of the junta in many parts of Myanmar, some of them in conjunction with a National Unity Government set up underground to fight the military administration.
There have been about two dozen ethnic armed groups fighting in Myanmar’s borderlands for decades, but Depayin is in the heartland of Myanmar’s Bamar majority, which also dominates the armed forces.
Since the coup, violence has driven more than 230,000 people from their homes, according to the United Nations. It also says more than 880 people have been killed by security forces since the coup, and more than 5,200 are in custody.
These figures are untrue, but the military authorities have not provided their own estimates.
The army says it assumed power in accordance with the constitution. Former electoral officials dismissed the allegations of fraud in elections swept by Suu Kyi’s party in November.
The Myanmar Military recently announced that they don’t like foreign journalists using the word junta. They want to sue them for using this word. 

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The Myanmar Military Slays Couple For Being Opposition Members

July 4, 2021

At their home in Mandalay Region’s Myingyan Township, two members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) were fatally shot by unidentified gunmen.
Moe Hein, a well-known tutor and executive member of Myingyan’s NLD, was killed along with his wife at their home around 7 p.m. recently.
Pyu Saw Htee, a junta-led group that published a list of 38 Myingyan NLD members on June 26, said it would act sternly if any attacks on government buildings, schools, government employees, hospitals, or other people took place.
A reporter reported that two members of the NLD were killed in the town just a few days after they returned home from hiding. As the junta’s forces hunted all NLD members in the township, the couple had been in hiding.
After killing the NLD members, the unknown gunmen searched the house and seized a mobile phone belonging to the victims.
Local residents say junta forces arrived minutes later at a nearby house and arrested a civilian.
The couple was buried on Saturday morning.
Unknown assailants have attacked several wards and village administrators, as well as junta informants in the township.
Several of the attacks in the township have been claimed by civilian resistance fighters from the Seven People Defense Force and Zero Guerilla Force.
In mid-June, junta forces shot dead two detained civilians, including the son of a National League for Democracy (NLD) member, following a knife attack on an alleged junta informant in Myingyan, Mandalay Region.
Pyu Saw Htee groups containing pro-military supporters were also formed to deal with anti-regime demonstrations in the township, residents said.
The military trains and arms Pyu Saw Htee group members with firearms.
The People’s Defense Forces claim that Pyu Saw Htee members have intentionally committed crimes, bombings, and arson attacks on schools and private properties to blacken the name of civilian resistance.
Schools and the lives and property of ordinary people will never be harmed by the people’s defense forces.

The FIrst Expats To Arrive in Phuket Under The Sandbox Are Interviewed

July 3, 2021

According to the local tourism office, the first group of foreign tourists to arrive on Phuket under the sandbox tourism program enjoyed their stay on the island.,

According to Nanthasiri Ronsiri, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phuket office, Israeli tourists who visited the Old Town on the island’s first day of reopening were impressed by the locals and the food.
Nathasiri said that the group, including Israeli tourists, tour groups, and members of the press, will spend a week in Phuket and visit many islands and communities.
A community leader in Phuket’s Old Town, Somyot Pathan, said tourists brought joy to residents, praising them for adhering to social-distancing measures.
Somyot reports that tourists from Dubai visited the Old Town recently.
Nanthasiri estimates that Phuket welcomed 2,435 tourists recently.
On Thursday, the first day of the reopening, 326 passengers landed on four flights from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Singapore. On Friday, about 500 people were expected to arrive.Phuket Sandbox is part of the government’s plan to reopen the kingdom to foreign tourists without requiring them to undergo quarantine.
Visitors with vaccinations must stay in Phuket for 14 days before traveling to other provinces.
On July 15, 2021, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao will open their doors to foreign tourists without quarantine requirements. Phuket’s postcard-perfect beaches were visited by travelers within 24 hours of receiving a Covid-19 test result.
They were the first people to arrive in the country. Sigal Baram, visiting with her husband and friends from Israel, said, “This is the perfect place to just relax and clean our minds, ou heads, after a long time.”
The ‘Phuket Sandbox’ initiative allows fully vaccinated tourists to move freely on the island without being quarantined, although masks are required in most public areas.
Local street vendors said they had not been affected by the return of tourists, despite the fact that hotels and restaurants welcomed them back.
It is unlikely that street vendors will get money from overseas tourists… the money will instead go to hotels and restaurants, said Yupin Pap, a massage therapist who lost her job during the pandemic and became a street vendor selling food on the beach.
Last year, Thailand lost 160 billion baht in tourism revenues as foreign arrivals plummeted 83%.
Bangkok was particularly hard hit by job losses and business closures.
“I see the shops closed, which is a big change from before,” said Omar Alraeesi, who visits Phuket every year from the United Arab Emirates.
There were millions of people visiting Phuket every year before the pandemic, and the government and industry hope the reopening will help save its battered economy.