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Burma coup resistance notes August 5, 2023
The junta’s major 3-prong offensive in Karenni, Chin, and Kachin bogs down against stiff resistance.
The junta’s onslaught against the Kachin free capital of Laiza is stalled, with 5,000 troops attacking at Namsanyang village of Waingmaw Township near Laiza. After a month of fighting the junta still has not been able to capture Namsanyang, and the Kachin army continues to counter-attack in Kutkai, Hpakant, Indaw, and other places in addition to heading off reinforcement convoys trying to get to Namsanyang. (Myanmar Now 8/3)
The Kachin army captured a junta camp at Mali Chaung on August 3. When jets bombed the area in reprisal, they destroyed a power line from the nearby hydroelectric plant that supplies Waingmaw and Myitkyina towns, the latter being the state capital. (People's Spring 8/5)
Junta troops continue to drive southward from Bawlakhe toward Mese along the east bank of the Salween River, but are being attacked around Mobye and Pekhon where combat is intense. Few reports are in yet.
Karenni defense against the latest invasion resulted in 20 junta troops killed along the Mobye-Loikaw road during 2 days of fighting July 24-25. A truck was destroyed and 8 weapons were captured along with ammunition. Among the dead, according to the Karenni, were remnants of the junta’s “monster column”, Infantry Battalion 708, which was infamous for massacres, rapes, and beheadings in Sagaing Region. Many were previously killed by Sagaing PDFs and the Karen army in Kler Lwi Htoo District. (Khit Thit Media 8/1)
About 50 troops entered a village in Pekhon Township on July 21 and got involved in an 8-day battle against Karenni defense forces in which 13 of them were killed including an officer. There were also wounded on both sides. Junta troops dug defensive trenches but the Karenni overwhelmed them and destroyed the trenches, and the remaining troops retreated. (The Irrawaddy 7/30)
A video shows Karenni soldiers recovering badly-decomposed junta troops abandoned by their units during July and burying them. (Myanmar Now 8/2) During the junta’s big offensive in the month of July, Karenni forces fought 33 battles and killed 84 junta troops and captured 3 alive. The junta launched 42 airstrikes that killed 4 civilians and injured 8.
Chin defense forces attacked a patrol car carrying 7 troops/police in Mindat town on July 30, killing all aboard, but they couldn’t get the weapons. Four other police were also wounded, of which the district police lieutenant colonel was serious. Fighting continued the morning of July 31. (Khit Thit Media 7/30, People’s Spring 7/31)
An urban guerrilla group blew up the police post at the end of the Salween River bridge in Pa-an, the junta-occupied capital of Karen State. The blast devastated the police offices at the roadside and caused a crater in the road, and killed 5 junta troops and police including a deputy commander, and wounded 6 other police, and killed a civilian passer-by. This police post has been especially pernicious, stopping vehicles and making everyone get out for inspection, invading cell phones to check for expressions of anti-coup sentiment, extorting money from travelers, and abducting young people. (Karen Information Center, Khit Thit Media 7/31, 8/5)
Eleven junta troops were killed in a battle in Kaw Nwe village on the Asia Highway east of Kaw T’Ree town (Kawkareik) on July 27, and 3 were wounded. Drone bombs pierced a roof, and PDFs under the Karen army fought a 6-hour battle. (Khit Thit Media, Chindwin Yoma News 7/30)
In Thayetchaung Township of Beit-Tavoy District, on July 27 a PDF set off a bomb outside a school where staff have been collaborating with the junta. It was just a bait attack, which drew 50 troops in 3 trucks to investigate. When they arrived, a large roadside bomb and five small ones went off, killing 10 troops and wounding 10 others. (Khit Thit Media 7/30)
In another battle in Beit-Tavoy, a PDF fought 150 junta troops in Launglone Township near Tavoy on July 22, killing 10 of them and wounding 20. It was only announced on August 3. Three PDF soldiers were also killed and one seriously wounded. The next day the junta kidnapped civilians as human shields, so the PDFs held their fire. The PDFs are trying to clear out that part of the township, but some junta troops remain. (People's Spring 8/3)
Local defense forces in Beit-Tavoy District fought junta troops 52 times during July, killing 217 junta troops and wounding at least 36. Ten PDF soldiers were killed and 6 wounded. Yephyu Township was the most active followed by Launglone. These numbers are an increase from June. (Tanintharyi Times 8/2)
A 2-day battle occurred July 31-August 1 in Bilin Township of Doo Tha Htoo District. Karen forces attacked the junta with drones and mortars, causing an unknown number of casualties. The junta then sent in 100 reinforcements from nearby units. The junta burned one of its own vehicles that the Karen had disabled, to prevent its capture. Further fighting is anticipated. This area is a chokepoint between greater Myanmar and the southeast panhandle, which includes most of Kawthoolei and Mon State. (Mizzima 8/3)
The Karen army has destroyed another bridge to block junta movements, this time in Phyu Township of Kler Lwi Htoo District. Explosives brought down the bridge on August 2; it is completely impassable. (Myaelatt Athan 8/4)
The battle between Ta’ang ethnic forces (TNLA) and the junta is now affecting trade with China. The fighting in and around the Muse border town has led the junta to close the gate into town. (People's Spring 7/30) Muse is the main crossing between China and Burma for people and goods. The current battle started July 29 and is still ongoing.
The TNLA fought a day-long battle in Muse Township on August 3, at the end of which the junta retreated. As the Ta’ang were clearing the area, they found 10 dead junta troops; 13 wounded were also evacuated. The Ta’ang captured a quantity of weapons and ammunition. (The Irrawaddy 8/4)
In Kyaukme Township of northern Shan State an unknown group attacked a junta convoy coming from Naung Cho on August 4, killing 13 troops including an officer. Several seriously wounded troops were also sent to hospital. (Khit Thit Media 8/4)
People’s Defense Forces (PDFs)-----------------
Many guns were turned on the 9-boat junta supply flotilla ascending the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay toward Bhamo in Kachin State this week. PDFs fired grenades, mortars, and rifles at the boats in Kyauk Myaung and Shwebo Townships on July 27, damaging 2 of the boats and forcing the convoy to stop at Thabeikjin, where wounded troops from the boats were taken to hospital at Kyaukji. The boats spent three days there undergoing repairs. This was despite the boats firing mortars into civilian villages along the way to discourage PDFs and ground troops patrolling the river banks, where they also came under PDF attack. Reports say 37 troops were killed mostly by mortars hitting the boats. The boats are carrying food and ammunition for the large assault on the Kachin army that began two weeks ago; two of the boats are navy escorts for the cargo boats. The junta uses boats due to the constant PDF bomb attacks on the roads. (Myaelatt Athan, Khit Thit Media 7/30)
Likewise on the Chindwin River which runs through Sagaing Region, a 7-boat convoy came under PDF attack on July 29 in Monywa Township, just as the convoy was starting out. The number of casualties aboard the boats isn’t known yet, but ambulances arrived at a dock to remove the dead and wounded. (Myaelatt Athan 7/31)
PDFs in Depayin Township of Sagaing Region attacked a junta camp there on August 2, using locally-manufactured mortars guided by scout drones. Ten junta troops were killed, while 7 PDF soldiers received minor injuries. (Khit Thit Media 8/3)
A dalan couple in Minhla Township of Sagaing Region was warned by PDFs to stop providing information to the junta army, but then they told the junta the whereabouts of a PDF camp in exchange for money, leading to a raid that seized PDF ammunition. The PDFs assassinated the dalans, and when junta troops found the bodies, they cut off the woman’s head and hung it on the couple’s front gate, and claimed that the PDF had done it. (Khit Thit Media 8/4)
Two disputes between PDFs in central Burma led to shooting and deaths. A jurisdictional argument arose in Depayin Township of Sagaing Region, in which the NUG-affiliated Depayin Township People’s Defense Force warned the 96 Soldier PDF not to locate in that township because the latter does not have a relationship with the National Unity Government. The NUG has not said that non-NUG PDFs are banned. (The Irrawaddy 7/31)
Then two PDFs from neighboring townships in Yesagyo in Magway Region and Myinchan in Mandalay Region fought each other in Yelejun island, which is in the Irrawaddy River that separates Magway and Mandalay Regions. A commander from Myinchan was killed. The cause of the dispute isn’t reported, only that these two have had a rivalry since the Revolution began. (Chindwin News Agency 8/4)
Six junta troops including a sergeant turned themselves in to Karen authorities in Doo Tha Htoo District of Kawthoolei, bringing ammunition (no mention of weapons). (People's Spring 7/30)
The junta has been arresting more of its own senior officers. On July 26 the deputy commander of the coastal military command, the regional minister of border affairs and security, and the commander of the 20th operational command in Beit-Tavoy District were relieved of their posts and taken into custody. They are a major, a colonel, and a brigadier general, respectively. A report says junta crony businesses smuggling goods from Thailand complained that these officers were demanding bribes that were too large. This comes after top commanders in Kachin State were arrested and replaced. (Khit Thit Media 7/30)
A leaked junta communiqué from late July instructs all battalions around the country to build hidden towers against drone attacks, dig communication trenches between buildings, lay minefields around camps, and conduct practice drills that include junta family members simulating Revolution attacks. Dependents are now to be called on as combatants. The measures aim to guard against troops giving up on the junta and fleeing. This is the latest in a series of internal measures showing the junta increasingly on the defensive and aware of its vulnerability. (Than Lwin Times 8/4)
Karenni commanders comment that the junta’s 66th Division, which they face, has been subject to so many troop losses from death, capture, and desertion, that the division’s structure is “broken.” They say that the front line troops, which are now all troops, are so exhausted that they are easily beaten in battle, so it doesn’t matter how many reinforcements are sent. More than 2,600 junta troops have died in Karenni land during the Revolution. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 8/3)
A new report by James Rodehaver of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Action (UNOCHA) says that the Naypyitaw regime’s blockage of humanitarian relief for refugees, artillery fire and landmines and aerial bombing in civilian areas including refugee camps, destruction of food and food storage areas, destruction of hospitals and medical supplies, attacks on health workers, and burning of over 60,000 homes amount to war crimes under the Geneva Convention. (Khit Thit Media 8/2) It is a summary of the junta’s actions that constitute genocide, or the deliberate attempt to kill a population, rather than merely warfare.
The junta abducted 5 young people (3 women 2 men) from 3 townships in Sagaing Region and charged them with crimes due to their social media posts supporting the National Unity Government and PDFs. Four of the five were given 7-year prison terms, and one got a life sentence for raising funds for PDFs. (Chindwin News Agency 7/30) As a practical matter, almost all political prisoners will remain hostage until the regime falls.
The Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, an international human rights watchdog, said on August 1 that the number of civilians known to have been killed by the illegal junta has reached 3,857. Another 24,123 have been unfairly abducted to prison, of which 156 were sentenced to death.
The National Unity Government Ministry of Human Rights announced that the terrorist regime has committed 144 massacres so far, in which 1,595 people have been murdered. Massacres are defined here as murders of 5 people or more in a single event. These mass killings continue up to the present. (Khit Thit Media 8/1)
Atrocities against political prisoners continue, despite the publicity stunt of releasing 7,000 mostly non-political prisoners on August 1. In Therawaddy Prison, at least 30 political prisoners, including 14 women, were beaten so badly that two died and one is in a coma. These 30+ held a Martyr’s Day protest on July 19, wearing black arm bands. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 8/3)
Political and economic-------------------
Dictator Min Aung Hlaing extended the “state of emergency” in the junta-controlled districts for another six months on July 31. These have run continuously since the illegal seizure of power on Feb. 1, 2021, with no end in sight until the regime falls. By these declarations, the rogue regime grants itself the right to commit limitless human rights abuses in order to maintain power.
One day after extending the “state of emergency,” the dictatorial regime made token gestures of clemency, reducing elected head of state Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s trumped-up prison sentence from 33 years to 6 and President U Win Myint’s to 10 years. It released over 7,000 prisoners nationwide, of which only a few were political opponents of the regime, and many were near the end of their sentences anyway. The National Unity Government was having none of these empty stunts. Interim President Duwa Lashila maintained that nothing short of releasing all political prisoners immediately will do, otherwise the armed struggle will continue. (Than Lwin Times 8/1)
The 20,000 kyat “bank notes” issued by the illegal regime on July 31 were declared invalid by the National Unity Government, due to the fact that this regime lacks any authority to issue currency. The notes will not be honored by any future legitimate government, and are outlawed in liberated territory, more than half the country. On August 1 the first local jurisdictions issued bans on the use of the fake 20,000 kyat bills when the Kalay Township PDF interim government warned local citizens not to use them. Any of these fake bills found will be confiscated and legal action could follow. (Myaelatt Athan 8/1)
The printing of the 20,000 kyat notes has caused a spike in inflation, with consumer prices, the dollar exchange rate, and the price of gold rising sharply. In true authoritarian fashion, the regime is trying to solve this self-inflicted problem by dictating the economic terms, forming a “price stabilization committee” to regulate commodity prices in each region. Business leaders have criticized the attempt to hold prices steady while the kyat value falls, causing vendors earn less, even though they have to pay more. This can lead to either a thriving black market, or the flow of goods stopping, or both. (Than Lwin Times 8/3)
The National Unity Government recently accredited 375 primary schools in 5 townships of Beit-Tavoy District, as well as two on-line schools. More are under consideration. The NUG’s governance and services are constantly expanding, as the junta’s shrink. (Tanintharyi Times 8/3)
Dictator Min Aung Hlaing ordered the construction of a giant marble seated Buddha image in Naypyitaw, and at its consecration on August 1 a leading cleric, Mahana Sayadaw, delivered a speech in which he rebuked the dictator, saying the Buddha’s teaching forbids doing evil and harming others, and such actions must be avoided. He then raised the 3-finger Spring Revolution salute. (Chindwin News Agency) The Sayadaw must have counted on his elevated religious position to speak so boldly, but the fascist regime generally brooks no criticism, so the Sayadaw was taking a risk in speaking out.