Discover more from Burma Coup Resistance Notes
Burma coup resistance notes August 12, 2023
Junta capital digs in against anticipated attacks as Karen army gets closer
Ethnic regions :
The junta is apparently very afraid of the Karen army coming up through eastern Bago Region to attack its capital Naypyitaw. Since Karen Brigade 3 and allied PDFs captured a stretch of the old Yangon-Naypyitaw highway near Phyu, the junta has deployed more troops along that road and fortified all the entrances to Naypyitaw. Reports say that not many troops were available for this deployment, since most of the troops from Bago Region were already sent to fight in Karenni. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 8/7)
The Karen army and allied PDFs won a large battle on August 9 in Ler Doh Township in Kler Lwi Htoo District. A junta convoy of 60 troops was intercepted by the Karen forces in a battle that lasted all afternoon and into the night. Despite junta mortar fire and two airstrikes, the Karen killed at least half of the troops and captured a large haul of weapons and ammunition. There were 3 killed on the Karen side. The junta was unable to remove its dead. (Myaelatt Athan 8/10) The previous day, the Karen army and allied PDFs killed 5 junta troops at a bridge checkpoint a short ways north in Moo Township using drone bombs and snipers. (Khit Thit Media 8/10)
Revolutionary forces now say they control 70% of the road between Ler Doh and Saw Ti, the two main towns in Kler Lwi Htoo District. They say they they are liberating more villages and driving the junta back, and that junta troops don’t dare travel in uniform, but masquerade as civilians, only with weapons. The Karen army is assisted by battalions under the National Unity Government such as the Royal Peacock Column, the Spring Warriors, and Battalion 3702. (Mizzima 8/11)
Karen forces attacked 80 troops who had occupied Myangone village in Bilin Township, Doo Tha Htoo District on August 5. They killed 10, then the rest ran away leaving their dead and weapons. The Karen captured the weapons and took video evidence of the dead troops. (Khit Thit Media 8/11)
A day-long battle took place in 5 sites around Myawaddy on August 7 as junta and BGF troops continue to try to retake the lost mountaintop camp at Latkattaung. Reports speak of junta and BGF casualties, but no numbers are given; three vehicles took the wounded to hospital. Some of the fighting took place in western suburbs of Myawaddy; the enemy hasn’t been able to get up the mountain. (People's Spring 8/8)
The junta has an equal fear of the Karenni, since it pours so many of its resources into holding the Loikaw-Mobye-Pekhon road that leads toward Naypyitaw, only 150 km away.
A non-military event with military consequences, a section of the Asia Highway in the Dawna mountain range was carried downhill by a landslide on August 7. This renders the road impassable by all traffic between Kaw T’Ree and Myawaddy, including junta troop and supply movements, something the Karen army Brigade 6 has been fighting to accomplish all along. (Karen Information Center 8/7)
Meanwhile, the Karen army’s Cobra regiment in Brigade 6 is stretching its military funds by producing its own food. The Cobra soldiers are cultivating rice and raising poultry, among other food items, in order to maximize their funds available for ammunition and other needs related to fighting. (Than Lwin Khet News 8/9) In general, Revolutionary military units rely on donations for their arming, equipment, and food, donations which are limited.
Karenni forces fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a vehicle full of junta troops in Loikaw town on August 9, killing 9 of them including an officer and seriously wounding 12 more. The explosion blew the vehicle into a ditch, then the Karenni fired on those that emerged. (People's Spring 8/10)
Another report from Loikaw the same day describes a Karenni attack on a dump truck carrying 30 troops, in which 13 were killed and 8 wounded. The truck was damaged and the junta had to tow it. (Mekong News 8/11) It isn’t clear whether these were 2 attacks or the same one. Loikaw is the Karenni State capital and the junta’s main base in the area, so a Karenni attack in the town is a blow behind the lines while the junta is attacking all-out in the south of the state.
A battle has been in progress in Demawso Township since August 2, and on August 10 the Karenni say there were a lot of junta casualties and weapons captured. The losses prompted the junta to send 3 jets to conduct bombing, but no Karenni forces were affected. Three junta battalions of 300 troops total have been trying to control the Demawso-Hpruso road. (People's Spring 8/11)
Karenni defense forces have surrounded junta troops in Ywathit, Bawlakhe Township and the former BGF camp 1005 in Mese Township since the 3rd week of June, but are finding it difficult to capture them. The Karenni have cut off road access, forcing the junta to deliver supplies by helicopter. (Mekong News 8/6)
A junta jet bombing raid on the Karenni-Thai border went wrong on August 5, when the 3 jets killed 12 of their own troops along with 2 Karenni defense soldiers. Seven Karenni were wounded and are being treated in Thailand. The jets were aiming for Karenni camps as the junta tries to retake border camps that the Karenni captured in June. Three hundred junta troops are trying to fight their way into Mese Township but are stuck, and 300 more are making their way across the Salween River to join them. Over 3,000 refugees have fled to the Thai side, and residents of Thai villages side fled the close shelling and shooting. (Khit Thit Media 8/7, People’s Spring 8/9)
A battle happened on August 5 in Mese Township between junta troops trying to retake lost camps, and Karenni defense forces. Jets dropped bombs six times, forcing the Karenni back slightly, but the junta lost some troops on the ground and the Karenni captured ammunition. Two Karenni soldiers were killed and five wounded. At least 10 junta troops were killed, but the junta removed its dead before they could be counted. (Kantarawaddy Times, People’s Spring 8/8)
The Kachin army and allied PDFs stormed 3 junta camps 15 km from Hpakant on August 7, at Katheintaung, Nam Hmaw, and Sezin. Katheindaung camp normally has a contingent of 70 troops and was a KIA camp until last year; Sezin was a camp of the pro-junta Shanni ethnic proxy militia. The Kachin captured ammunition; about 20 junta troops were killed, according to a PDF that participated. A day later the Kachin evacuated the camps because of junta airstrikes and, they say, due to junta terrorist reprisals against civilians, but they returned to Sezin on August 10. (People's Spring 8/7, 8/9, DVB English 8/9) This is another in a series of Kachin counter-attacks on other junta positions away from the main junta assault at Namsanyang, in Waingmaw Township near the free Kachin capital of Laiza.
Once again, just when it seems that the junta is faced with too many enemies, it picks another fight. On August 4-5 junta troops began firing on a northern Shan militia (SSPP) camp in Lechah Township in central Shan State, after ordering the SSPP to withdraw from 10 of its camps, which the SSPP refused to do. On August 6 the SSPP counter-attacked a junta base in Nampong and 2 other places, leading to fierce battles. An SSPP commander estimated junta deaths at at least 20. The SSPP had been uninvolved in the civil war for many months, so this junta provocation was unnecessary. (The Irrawaddy 8/6, Burma News International 8/9)
NUG Ministry of Defense
The National Unity Government Ministry of Defense says that in the first half of 2023, 30 camps of the junta and its proxy forces were captured, and 3,012 troops were killed and 4,021 wounded during 935 clashes. The camp locations included 10 in Karenni, 6 in Sagaing, and 14 in the southern region (which includes Kawthoolei and Mon.) The statement also says 15 police barracks, 10 border posts, and 14 police stations were also captured. Five air bases were attacked with shock missiles on 7 occasions, and there were 12 attacks on 7 junta weapons factories, as well as attacks on junta military headquarters. Further, 203 rifles were captured, more than 600 mortar and grenade rounds, 170 mines, and 30,000+ bullets. (People's Spring 8/7) Some of the camps captured have since been retaken by the junta, such as the 1005 BGF camp in Mese Township, Karenni State.
People’s Defense Forces (PDFs)-----------------
As a flotilla of 3 aircraft fuel tank boats and 2 navy escorts with 80 to 100 troops on board ascends the Chindwin River, it was attacked on August 5 by PDFs with mortars and gunfire in Salingyi Township, not far from their starting point. The navy boats fired continually to try to protect the tankers. The PDFs say 10 troops were killed and others offloaded to a hospital when the boats were forced to dock. (People's Spring 8/6) Then on August 10 one of the boats was damaged by PDF fire on the way through Kani Township. (Mizzima 8/11)
The 9-boat supply flotilla going up the Irrawaddy River has taken on more than 50 hostages as human shields, which troops kidnapped from communities along the banks. After sustaining damage from PDF mortar, rocket, and gunfire, the group docked in Shweku, southern Kachin State on August 7 and stayed there until at least the 9th. (Myaelatt Athan 8/11)
When the 9-boat convoy stopped in Kani, 60 troops disembarked to deliver supplies to a Pyu Saw Htee camp on August 10, and were attacked four times by PDFs on their way there and back. Ten troops were killed, mostly by drone bombs, then by ground fire. Two drones were lost due to jammers. A PDF commander was killed by junta mortar fire, and his weapon was lost. (Khit Thit Media 8/11)
Khampat, at the northern end of the Sagaing-Chin border, was a new battle front at the end of July, and fighting has continued around Khampat in early August. PDFs are in control of most of the area, but the junta still has an army base and police barracks in the town. Reports speak of heavy junta casualties, but numbers are not available. The junta had to bring in reinforcements by helicopter in order to hold its bases. (People's Spring 8/6)
Two junta columns totaling more than 80 troops came out of the Zee Phyu Kone Pyu Saw Htee camp on August 7 to destroy villages and were intercepted by Palay Township PDFs with locally-manufactured mortars and gunfire for an hour, killing 10 of them, according to the PDFs, who captured some weapons and ammunition. A jet responded with three bombs. The junta troops holed up in a village monastery to burn their dead and treat their wounded. (Myaelatt Athan, Mizzima 8/8)
PDFs in Myaing Township of Magway Region have surrounded a Pyu Saw Htee terrorist camp since August 2 at Thayetgwa, and are demanding surrender, or the PDFs will destroy the camp with mortar fire. There are about 25 terrorists in the camp. The PDFs already destroyed most of the buildings in the camp. Junta troops in Myaing town have not come to the rescue. (Mizzima 8/6)
In Saw Township of Magway Region, most of which is under Revolution governance, a gang rape occurred in April in a PDF-run prison, by 8 guards improperly vetted for hiring by the PDF. An NUG investigation confirmed that a 22-year-old woman in prison since 2022 for theft was raped by the guards. The 8 have now been arrested and are in prison awaiting trial by NUG courts. (Myanmar Now 8/6) This is an instance of Revolution governance taking on judiciary responsibilities in liberated territories.
Also on the theme of PDF discipline, 11 PDF members in Yesagyo Township of Magway Region were arrested and disarmed by colleagues for beating and abducting a mother and two children. They will be tried in NUG court. (Myanmar Now 8/8)
The internal purges continue within the junta, as the pressure of the growing military defeat leads to recriminations by the dictator against his commanders. This time a top confidant of dictator Min Aung Hlaing, Lt. Gen. Tay Za Kyaw, is the victim, arrested and interrogated at the end of July. Tay Za Kyaw accompanied the dictator on foreign trips and was a leader in the junta-proxy USDP political party. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 8/5) This follows
A total of 62 other junta officers at the general and colonel ranks were forcibly retired at the end of July. These officers had already been transferred from military duty to civilian government departments, and are out of favor with the top junta brass, for reasons not explained. (DVB English, 8/7) This purge, with the earlier ones, shows a regime with few trusted members and a justified fear of being undermined by its own officers.
The rampant inflation exacerbated by the printing of 20,000 kyat banknotes by the regime is hurting not only the general population, but in particular military families most acutely. Soldier salaries of 100,000 to 200,000 kyats per month, while barely sufficient before the coup, have long since been rendered unlivable by the kyat’s loss of value since then. Soldier families are expected to stay on their bases and not leave, as hostages against desertion, which prevents them from supplementing their income. The result is military families in “deep trouble” and experiencing hunger. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 8/7)
At the Chinese-owned Wangbao copper company in Salingyi Township of Sagaing Region, 300 junta troops have cordoned off the entire local village of Wet Hmay and are preventing villagers from entering or leaving, shooting at those who try. They fear starvation. The junta is claiming the land for the company, without paying for any of it. (Khit Thit Media 8/6)
Seven hundred junta troops attacked 4 villages in Thabeikjin Township of Magway Region on August 4. In one of them, they found and murdered six young men, then dressed the corpses in captured PDF uniforms, and the junta’s propaganda media claimed they were dead PDF soldiers. In fact they were civilians. (Khit Thit Media 8/8)
The Shan Human Rights Foundation reports junta army murders and gang rapes in Muse Township during the recent battle with the Ta’ang ethnic army (TNLA). Troops killed three village men on July 27 and then dressed the corpses in captured TNLA uniforms for propaganda purposes. One of the men was killed by mortar fire, the other two beaten and shot. Other troops kidnapped a pregnant woman on July 30 and sexually assaulted her, then kidnapped a mother of two children and gang-raped her. (Mekong News 8/9)
Junta troops at an entrance gate to Myaung Township in Sagaing Region have been abducting young women for no reason and gang-raping them. The women were stopped at a road checkpoint on the Monywa-Chaung Oo road. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 8/10)
Political and economic-------------------
August 8 was the 35th anniversary of the 1988 massacre of thousands of anti-fascism protesters in Myanmar during the democratic uprising that year. Remembrances took place in many locations, including some clandestine protests using umbrellas decorated to say “8 8 88”. Last year there were viral photos of these umbrellas at a downtown crossroads in Yangon, so the junta patrolled that intersection heavily this year. The umbrellas showed up elsewhere.
The price of rice, the basic foodstuff in Burma, has risen over 20% since July 31. Merchants say this is due to 2 causes, the printing of 20,000 kyat banknotes and the war on farmers in the rice belt. Still, the junta is trying to force prices to stay the same with its “price stabilization committee.” The regime proposes to stockpile rice and sell it to workers at half the market value through regime-controlled shops. Likewise for other commodities like cooking oil. (The Irrawaddy, “စစ်ကောင်စီ ကုန်ဈေးနှုန်း ကျအောင် လုပ်နိုင်ပါ့မလား”, 8/5)
The financially desperate Naypyitaw regime is again grasping at overseas migrants’ salaries. In an August 10 announcement, the junta’s “embassy” in Bangkok declared that Myanmar workers in Thailand must return home to schedule their salaries to pass through regime-controlled banks, to be exchanged at the regime’s artificially-low exchange rate as a form of tax, and so that the regime can capture the hard currency as it gets exchanged into the increasingly worthless Myanmar kyat. (DVB English, 8/10)
Singapore-based UOB Bank decided to cut funds availability to the Burma junta by limiting money transfers to and from Burma. UOB already closed its Burma branch, and will now close all accounts opened there. This bank is used by junta officers, crony companies, friends of the regime, and investors doing business in Burma. Pressure from the American government is rumored to be behind the move. Singapore banks have been used for junta weapons purchases. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 8/10)
There is another round of protests against the Chinese-owned mines in Sagaing Region for supporting the junta’s genocide of the people there. The Wangbao and Yang Tse companies own three copper mines in Salingyi Township that provide staging grounds for the junta’s terrorist raids and mortar shelling of surrounding villages, as well as paying royalties that support the fascist regime. The mines are built on land stolen from local communities, and even before the coup they created health problems with their waste. (The Irrawaddy 8/10)
 The Irrawaddy, “Chinese Miner Called on to Stop Aiding Myanmar Junta Atrocities”, 8/10/23