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Burma coup resistance notes May 13, 2023
Junta defectors tell of weakened military; widespread anger at China; a divided ASEAN tries and fails to be relevant in Burma.
The junta has committed another massacre by burning civilians to death. Troops burned 13 adults and 5 children alive in Kler Lwi Htoo District of Kawthoolei on May 10. They took revenge on these civilians after they lost three officers and two soldiers while fighting with the Karen army. Other civilians are still missing. (KNU 5/12)
The Kawthoolei government (KNU) published combat statistics for the first four months of 2023 for the whole of Kawthoolei: During 1,642 clashes with junta and BGF troops, Karen forces killed 1,736 of them including 5 officers, and wounding 1,188. On the Karen side, 59 soldiers were killed and 166 wounded. More than 400,000 civilians are displaced as refugees in Kawthoolei as a result of junta bombing, for whom the government is trying to provide food and other necessities. (KNU 5/11)
The Karen army ambushed a junta convoy in Win Ye Township of Dooplaya District on May 9, destroying 4 vehicles, killing 6 troops and capturing others, and seizing weapons. The dead and captured troops had supplies of yaba (methamphetamines) on them. Three Karen soldiers were also killed. (Karen Information Center 5/12)
Two junta soldiers who recently defected to the Karen army said in a debriefing that half of their battalion is gone, and the force is hollowed out. (Salween Press 5/9) A 30-year junta army veteran, a sergeant, defected to the CDM in Puta-O Township of Kachin State. He said the dictator Min Aung Hlaing is worse than a bandit, and he was sick of being confined on his base. Due to combat deaths and desertion, his battalion was down to 81 soldiers. (The Irrawaddy 5/11)
After Karen forces destroyed a road bridge used by the junta for supply and reinforcements last week, the junta sent an engineering team and a military security detail to the site on May 8, and they were blown up. At least one person died and others were injured. (Myaelatt Athan 5/9)
Junta administrative staff are fleeing Bawlakhe town in Karenni State after the Karenni defense forces attacked four sites in the town on May 1. They fear that the town will fall soon to the Karenni forces, since the junta garrison is weakened and the supply route from Loikaw is being cut by the Karenni. Some staff paid the junta about US$1,000 each to be flown to Loikaw by helicopter. The Karenni say they can take the town, but are waiting for the right moment in order to minimize civilian casualties. (People's Spring 5/11)
In a dispute at a junta check gate north of Loikaw in Karenni State, a soldier shot his commander and then himself, on May 4. (People's Spring 5/7)
Junta scorched earth village terrorism campaign---------------
Human Rights Watch revealed that the bomb used in the April 11 Paziji village massacre that killed 170 civilians was of a type called a thermobaric explosive, which disperses a cloud of fuel that then mixes with oxygen to create a powerful explosion over a wide range. It kills so indiscriminately that it is banned internationally in proximity to civilians, and its use near civilians is considered a war crime. (Mizzima 5/10) The Burma junta, of course, specializes in war crimes against civilians.
The illegal regime is forcibly closing and demolishing monasteries in Naypyitaw Region that care for and educate orphans. The regime considers charity work to be against the junta. (Khit Thit Media 5/13)
The junta bombed a place where a PDF had collected wood to build temporary homes for refugees burned out of their villages by junta terrorist attacks. The bombing happened in Yinmapin Township of Sagaing Region on May 6, and had no military objective, only keeping civilian refugees homeless. Fortunately the bombing didn’t disrupt the provision of temporary homes. (Chindwin Yoma News 5/6)
Junta jets destroyed a CDM high school in Tandaw, Ye Oo Township, Sagaing Region on May 9. No one was present at the time. (Khit Thit Media 5/9) The junta has been specially targeting hospitals and schools, normally considered a war crime.
People’s Defense Forces (PDFs)-----------------
PDFs in Thabeitjin Township of Mandalay Region kept up attacks for 3 days May 2-4 on a column of 100 junta troops using drone bombs and roadside bombs. They killed 37 of the troops, including 2 officers. (Khit Thit Media 5/6)
Coordinated PDFs attacked a column of 80 junta troops in Myaung Township of Sagaing Region on May 6, killing about 20.
Coordinated PDFs fired mortar barrages into four junta/Pyu Saw Htee camps simultaneously in Ye Oo Township of Sagaing Region on May 11. The simultaneous attacks prevented the junta garrisons from reinforcing each other. The PDFs estimate 10 killed, including 2 officers, and about 20 wounded. This comes after junta jets demolished Ye Oo high school during a bombing.
On May 7 PDFs fired 12 107mm missiles at a junta weapons factory in Seitpyu Township of Magway Region. The missiles targeted the armory of the #22 junta weapons factory. Details of damage haven’t been reported. (People's Spring 5/10)
In Salingyi Township of Sagaing Region, PDFs were on the offensive against a junta/Pyu Saw Htee village terror squad, killing 13 of them and wounding 5 on May 8. (Khit Thit Media 5/9) The next day, PDFs attacked the Zee Phyu Kone junta/Pyu Saw Htee camp in Shwebo Township of Sagaing Region killing at least 20. (Khit Thit Media 5/10)
PDFs blew up a truck carrying junta food supplies in Myaing Township of Magway Region on May 11, wounding 6 Pyu Saw Htee terrorists aboard the truck. The PDFs then seized the food supplies and burned the truck. The truck had all of its windows armored with sheet metal except a small gap for the driver. (Mizzima 5/12)
PDFs drone-bombed a junta checkpoint where 15 troops were stopping motorists and extorting money in Wetlet Township on May 12. Two bombs dropped by the PDF drone killed 6 and wounded 7.
PDFs have cut off the town of Htilin in Magway Region, blocking roads and stopping the entry of food and other goods. The reason is that there is almost no one left in Htilin town other than junta troops, Pyu Saw Htee terrorists, and collaborationist government staff. Food and medicine are apparently becoming scarce. The PDFs say anyone wanting to leave should do so, and the PDFs will arrest any members of the enemy. Since the entire township is liberated except for the hard core of pro-junta people in Htilin town, the PDFs want to eliminate this last troublesome enemy presence. (The Irrawaddy 5/8) This is the first news of such a tactic being employed to take an urban center; most towns in Burma are still junta-controlled, even in areas where nothing else is.
The Chuang Oo PDF in Sagaing Region suffered a setback on May 6 when 100 junta troops raided its camp at Nat Yekan. The troops killed 5 PDF soldiers and 3 civilians, and chopped four of their heads off. No weapons were lost, but the troops then went on to burn 600 civilian homes in another village.
After troops burned Jettu village in Maddaya Township of Mandalay Region on May 4, seven of them were crossing a river when their boat capsized and six of them drowned, including an officer. Later, when another junta officer came to investigate the accident, a PDF bomb blew him up. (Khit Thit Media 5/9)
The junta is claiming that it will pay PDF fighters a bonus to surrender with their weapons, much like PDFs and ethnic armies pay to defecting junta troops. The junta says it will pay the equivalent of hundreds of dollars to traitors of the Revolution, and pulled a TV publicity stunt where Pyu Saw Htee members posed as surrendering PDF soldiers.
Political and economic-------------------
There has been a new wave of anti-Chinese protests after the visit of Beijing’s foreign minister Qin Gang last week. Crowds are burning Chinese flags, and protest banners carry slogans like, “China Stop Killing Myanmar People and Supporting Fascist Criminals.” A PDF in Mandalay Region’s Nwatoji Township fired on junta troops guarding the Chinese oil and gas pipeline (without damaging the pipeline itself.) People believe the illegal regime is failing fast, so they bitterly resent China trying to prop it up.
A convoy carrying ASEAN diplomats and refugee relief supplies was shot at in southern Shan State on May 7, and turned back. Ambassadors from Singapore and Indonesia were traveling from Taunggyi city to Sisaing Township when bullets struck one of the buses, causing no injuries. The junta blamed PDFs, but there are 2 junta battalions and no PDFs in the area, so the suspicion is that the junta didn’t want the diplomats visiting the area and fired warning shots. (The Irrawaddy 5/8)
An ASEAN conference in Indonesia May 9-11, to which the junta was not invited, focused on the Burma coup and civil war, but Indonesian President Joko Widodo admitted that ASEAN made no progress on the Burma issue. The problem is that ASEAN is divided between democratic governments and military regimes that have opposite views on the illegal coup in Burma. ASEAN has been described as a “toothless talking shop,” having issued in 2021 a bland, un-demanding 5-point plan for the junta to follow to reduce violence – but remain in power. The junta simply ignored the ASEAN plan. (Mizzima 5/8, The Irrawaddy 5/11)
The junta arrested five of its own senior officers. The most senior is the general commanding the 99th infantry division in central Burma; the others included three Majors and a captain. They are charged with false arrest and extortion of wealthy individuals. (Ayeyarwaddy Times) Too corrupt for the junta is very corrupt indeed.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s former economic advisor Sean Turnell, an Australian, had a meeting with British King Charles recently. Turnell was held in a junta prison for nearly two years and is a strong advocate for the democracy cause in Burma. King Charles is known to be a sympathizer as well, having met several times with the elected leader of Burma, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been locked up in a junta prison following the illegal coup of Feb. 1, 2021. Karen human rights activist Zoya Pan has also met recently with King Charles.
The film ‘The Way’, about the pro-democracy movement in Burma, won 3 awards at the international Festigious International Film Competition in Singapore. (DVB 5/9)