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Burma coup resistance notes September 16, 2023
Bago PDFs capture 2 junta camps and move closer to Naypyitaw. Karen army takes a camp and hundreds of weapons in Dooplaya. More on junta troops in Thailand.
A lot of action by the Karen army this week:
In Dooplaya District, the Karen army captured an enemy camp at Pine Kalan on the Thai border on Sept. 14, killing 9 troops, while others fled, and seizing hundreds of mortar rounds and guns, ammunition, landmines, and other supplies. A Karen soldier also died and 3 were wounded. The Karen went on to attack a second camp the same day at Poochy Moo; no results reported from that. (Karen Information Center 9/14, People's Spring 9/15)
A supply column had been sent from Pine Kalan to the junta’s besieged camp at Kwi La Dter, a short distance south. The Karen army and Cloud Wings PDF bombarded that supply column with 200 drone bombs, killing 10 troops, and the supplies couldn’t be delivered. Now the camp they came from is under Karen control, and the junta troops went to the Thai side, then back toward Kyaikdon. (Khit Thit Media 9/15)
Also in Dooplaya, the Karen attacked a junta camp at Taungja Inn near Kyondo on Sept. 10, killing 3 enemy including an officer and wounding 8. (Khit Thit Media 9/14)
Karen army Brigade 6 killed 31 junta troops and wounded 26 more in a month of fighting on the Asia Highway where it passes through the Dawna Mountain Range between Kaw T’Ree and Myawaddy. This includes attacks on troops at the spot where a landslide cut the road on August 7. Four Karen soldiers were also killed. Seven junta vehicles were damaged or destroyed. (KNU 9/14)
Update on junta incursion into Thailand: Local reports spoke of the arrival of 80 Burmese troops on the Thai side of the border on September 2. The troops then marched across the border into Kawthoolei’s Dooplaya District, where the Karen army has junta camps cut off from supply routes. Somewhere between 60 and 80 troops reportedly fled back to Lay Tong Ku village in Thailand, in part to seek food because they had none. The Thai regime claims its troops negotiated between the junta troops and the Karen army for the junta troops to return to Kawthoolei, without the Thais taking any action against the invaders. (ktm 9/14) Meanwhile, the incursion has reached the Thai press, and a parliament member is asking for an investigation into the violation of Thai territory by the Naypyitaw junta. (Khit Thit Media 9/13)
Junta troops entered Takondaing village of Kyondo Township from Mudon in Mon State on Sept. 15, sparking a clash with Karen forces there. Troops then invaded private homes. (Than Lwin Times 9/15)
Following the capture of the junta’s Kay Pu camp in Mutraw District on Sept. 6, Karen army Brigade 5 went on to attack 4 more camps the following day, killing 8 troops. (KNU via Mizzima 9/10) In response, jets bombed schools and homes, and the Kawthoolei government closed 11 local schools in Mutraw District on Sept. 10 as a result of the danger. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 9/11)
PDFs stormed a junta camp at Saytpudaung in Taungoo Township, Taw Oo District (Brigade 2 area) on Sept. 9, killing 15 troops including a sergeant, wounding 3, and 2 escaped. (Mizzima 9/11) This is significant because the location is only 125 km from Naypyitaw and near two roads that lead there.
In Palaw Township of Beit-Tavoy District, 27 junta troops were killed in an ambush by Karen PDF forces there on Sept. 9. (Khit Thit Media 9/9)
The Karen army has replaced the commanders of its Brigades 4, 6, and 7. Brigades 4 and 7 have done little or no fighting, and the change of leadership is expected to bring those brigades into action. The old Brigade 6 commander was a man in his 80s. (People's Spring 9/11)
Around the time that Brigade 4 got its new commander, 16 members of a Karen splinter armed group calling itself the KTLA left it and joined Brigade 4, bringing their weapons with them. (Tanintharyi Times 9/14)
The Kachin army says it headed off 30 junta troops trying to reinforce Namsanyang near Laiza on Sept. 9, killing 27; the other 3 escaped. The Kachin attacked a 25-truck convoy going toward Namsanyang, hitting an ammunition truck and setting off a fire and multiple explosions. Fourteen of the vehicles couldn’t go on. (People's Spring 9/9, Shwe Pyee May News 9/11)
Fierce fighting is reported in Hpakant and Monyin Townships, but no outcome so far. (People's Spring 9/11, 9/13)
The Kachin and an allied PDF battled junta troops for 3 days in Monyin Township, Sept. 11-13. The troops were avoiding roads due to landmines. The PDF says at least 10 junta troops were killed during the 3 days and a vehicle was destroyed. Junta troops then kidnapped civilians as human shields. (Myanmar Now 9/14)
Intense fighting continues in Muse and Kutkai Townships of northern Shan State between the Ta’ang TNLA army and junta forces. The Ta’ang captured some weapons and destroyed a truck, but casualty figures aren’t reported. (People's Spring 9/9)
The Ta’ang and a Mandalay PDF jointly announced the results of a two-month campaign against the junta that they called the Kanaung Operation. From July 15 to September 10 they say they killed over 80 junta troops during 9 battles and 8 drone attacks, including 4 officers. They posted grisly photos to Telegram of large numbers of dead troops and captured officer insignia, as well as a captured truck and weapons. A PDF soldier died also. The fatalities occurred as follows: July 15, 19 dead including an officer; Aug. 4, 15 dead including another officer; Aug. 11, 10 dead including an officer; Aug. 26, 7 killed; Sept. 7, 9 killed and children taken as human shields; Sept. 8, 13 killed and a camp captured; Sept. 10, 3 killed including an officer. (Khit Thit Media 9/12)
The Ta’ang are also fighting in 2 places in Mogok Township of Mandalay Region since September 15.
Karenni defense forces attacked junta troops in a village of Hpruso Township on Sept. 11. They killed at least 20 troops and seized a similar number of weapons. (Mekong News 9/15)
Junta jets struck close to a village in Pekhon Township on Sept. 7, utterly devastating a large number of corn stalks and causing damage to some rocks. The bombs may have been intended for a nearby refugee camp. (Kantarawaddy Times 9/9)
A grouping of Mon PDFs fired mortars into two junta camps in Ye Township on Sept. 12 and killed 2 officers and 2 other soldiers, and wounded 7. Junta troops then fired at civilians, injuring 6.
People’s Defense Forces (PDFs)-----------------
A PDF in Naypyitaw dropped 2 bombs from a drone into the air force base there on Sept. 15. The base is protected by drone jammers, but the PDF said it hit the military aircraft storage area while the power was out at the air base. Damage isn’t specified. (Mizzima 9/15)
A number of the local militias (PDFs) in central Burma have joined to form a larger group calling itself the Burmese National Revolutionary Army, BNRA. It is led by a PDF commander from Palay Township in southern Sagaing Region known as Colonel Naga (dragon), and it is loyal to the National Unity Government Ministry of Defense. It comprises 18 battalions plus some smaller groups. Col. Naga said in a Sept. 8 video announcement that the BNRA aims to overthrow the dictatorship and establish federal democracy, enforce the Code of Conduct and avoid war crimes by Revolutionary forces, prevent any more conflict among local groups, distribute resources more evenly among fighting forces, and promote cooperation and equality among ethnicities. Col. Naga said he consulted with the NUG in May about forming the BNRA, but the NUG says that meeting made no mention of the BNRA. (Khit Thit Media 9/9)
A PDF battalion captured a junta camp on Sept. 9 at Kachandaung in Minhla Township of Bago Region. The troops there were involved in illegal logging and timber smuggling, theft for ransom of motorcycles, and extortion of local residents. When the PDF attacked, the troops fled and the camp was burned and destroyed. (People's Spring 9/10)
PDFs in Mogok Township of Mandalay Region captured another camp on Sept. 10. Two junta troops were killed and 6 wounded, the rest fled, and the PDFs occupied the camp. (Khit Thit Media 9/14)
PDFs in Wetlet Township counter-attacked a junta village terrorism column on Sept. 9, killing 18 troops. (Khit Thit Media 9/9)
CDSOM and other PDFs drone-bombed a junta camp in Myaung Township on Sept. 11 despite the junta’s use of anti-drone jammers. The PDFs used fixed-wing drones resembling small airplanes and killed 7 troops in the camp and sent 5 to hospital with injuries. (Myaelatt Athan 9/13)
PDFs have been attacking another boat convoy going from Mandalay toward Kachin State on the Irrawaddy River. On Sept. 11 they fired on the boats from 3 locations, hitting one of them in the stern and forcing the convoy to stop for repairs at Htee Chaing. (Myaelatt Athan 9/14) Likewise on the Chindwin River, a convoy of 7 junta supply boats came under PDF fire in Kani Township on Sept. 11-12; three troops died and 7 were wounded. (Khit Thit Media 9/13)
Three men trained by the NUG to lead a special forces unit in Kawthoolei turned out to be junta infiltrators, who stole weapons from the unit and absconded to the junta. The whole unit then had to be disbanded because security and the other soldiers’ identities were compromised. They are now sheltering with another NUG unit. (RFA Burmese 9/13) This is the second known instance of PDF soldiers defecting to the junta.
Two PDFs in Maddaya mistook each other for the enemy from a distance and exchanged fire, causing 2 injuries on Sept. 13. One other soldier is missing. (Mandalay Free Press 9/14)
The NUG says that over 100 junta troops fled from their units during July and August out of fear of being sent to the front lines in Karenni State, where casualty rates are high. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 9/10) The Karenni themselves had already said 128 junta troops defected within Karenniland during the same period. Defections may be surpassing deaths and injuries, and are helping to shrink the Naypyitaw militia fast.
The junta continues its crackdown on itself. It arrested 5 directors this week including the Director General of the junta’s so-called “Ministry of Economy and Commerce” and Brig. Gen. Yan Naung Soe, secretary of the “Foreign Exchange Supervisory.” The economically illiterate top generals suspect them of violating the regime’s strict and artificial currency exchange and import/export rules that are designed to nullify market forces and suspend the law of supply and demand. Even the regime’s own members find it impossible to abide by these rules. Over 100 business leaders have also been jailed, from the pharmacy, oil, food, and banking sectors, for carrying on business according to market conditions rather than regime rules. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 9/10)
Similarly, the regime is so afraid of its members escaping abroad that it has banned travel outside Burma, or applying for passports, by military members and family members without permission. (Khit Thit Media 9/11) The tight police state affects not only members of the public, but the regime’s personnel as well.
A report from the junta’s Battalion 247 based in Namsang, Shan State says wounded soldiers are being sent back to the front lines in Karenni State before they’re healed, and families are worried because of the high death rate of soldiers sent to Karenni. (Khit Thit Media 9/11) Junta soldiers are terrified of the Karenni.
Two junta officers defected to the Chin defense forces with full weapons in Matupi, Chin State, according to a Sept. 9 announcement. (People's Spring 9/9) Three more defected to a Kachin PDF in Bhamo Township, and another defected to Karen army Brigade 6. (People's Spring 9/10, Mizzima 9/11) A policewoman defected with full weapons in Pyay Township of Bago Region and several families escaped from a Pyu Saw Htee terrorist camp in Palay Township of Sagaing Region. (Myaelatt Athan 9/11) Two junta soldiers joined Karen army Brigade 3 with full weapons on Sept. 11 in Saw Ti Township. (Khit Thit Media 9/14)
Due to PDF control of roads, the junta has shipped supplies for its flailing Kachin State campaign via Irrawaddy River boats and rail. Two trains left Mandalay on Sept. 4, but have not arrived because PDFs sabotage the tracks. Six boats also left on Sept. 10. The junta has chased 30,000 villagers away from their communities near the train tracks. (Myaelatt Athan 9/13)
The Putin regime in Russia delivered 2 more of the 6 SU-30 advanced fighter jets that the Naypyitaw junta ordered in 2018 after the Rohingya genocide. (People's Spring 9/10) The first two were delivered in February 2022.
Junta guards stole food, medicines, and books from 14 political prisoners in the Monywa prison, so they went on a hunger strike. Thirty-six other prisoners then joined them. Finally the guards returned the stolen goods and the hunger strike ended. (The Irrawaddy 9/13)
Junta administrators in Ywangan Township of southern Shan State are threatening farmers not to work on their farms, now during the growing season. This deliberately causes hunger. The junta thinks PDFs might benefit from the food grown, so it doesn’t want any food grown for anybody. (Shwe Pyee Myay News 9/15)
Political and economic-------------------
The food shortages caused by the junta’s foreign currency and import/export rules were already causing long queues of citizens waiting to buy rice and cooking oil from the junta’s mobile sales points, which sell at subsidized prices but never have enough supply. Now the regime is rationing cooking oil to one bottle per household in the Irrawaddy Region, and only with an approval letter from the local junta administrators. Permits are required to move, store, and process rice, and the junta insists on keeping detailed information on every movement of rice. (The Irrawaddy 9/13)
Instead of just going shopping, you now have to first go to a government office for an official letter, then stand in a long queue and wait to get a limited allowed amount.
In Yangon and Irrawaddy Regions, troops threatened shop owners to start stocking boycotted junta crony company products such as Myanmar Beer, Ruby cigarettes, and others. That doesn’t mean customers will buy them. (Khit Thit Media 9/14)
On the same theme, the junta rounded up fuel oil importers and tried to summon others back from overseas, as “greedy businessmen” who raise prices. In fact they deal in imported products, so as the kyat devalues, they need to raise domestic sales prices to cover the cost of importing, but this is now illegal. The oil company owners are all regime cronies, but that hasn’t shielded them; it is said that 90% of the private donors to the dictator’s giant Buddha statue – cronies – are being investigated as “greedy businessmen.” Rice, cooking oil, bean, corn, and other commodity importers have also been jailed by the hundreds. They were all bribing a regime general for permission to change kyat to dollars at the market rate, which is illegal, and when that general, Yan Naung Soe, was arrested, those paying him off were too. Another high-level junta general, Lt. Gen. Myo Myint Htun, was also arrested on charges of corruption related to violations of the junta’s price controls. (The Irrawaddy 9/13) The rules are so impossible, even regime officials widely flaunt them.
At this point a large number of the country’s top import traders are in jail, and the generals are trying to run the economy themselves, a subject they know nothing about. They are using the only strategy they are familiar with, force. The junta-controlled parts of Myanmar become more like North Korea every day.
Because the junta has made it impossible for the private sector to provide food for the public, it says it will build a military-owned palm oil factory in Kawthoolei’s Beit-Tavoy District. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 9/14) It would presumably operate at a loss, like the junta’s other recent food supply efforts; but this “project” is like the regime’s other fantasies such as nuclear power, electric railroads, and car factories, and stands little chance of actually happening.
The NUG established an Interim Justice Enforcement Committee in to ensure that Revolutionary groups adhere to the rule of law. It is concerned about the possible loss of public trust through arbitrary acts by loosely-governed local armed forces. (Than Lwin Times 9/11)
The American Congress held a meeting to discuss human rights violations in Burma on Sept. 13. Various parliamentarians attended and were briefed by American foreign relations staff as well as UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar, Tom Andrews, himself a former member of Congress, and some Burmese human rights activists. They discussed increasing diplomatic and economic pressure against the junta, especially sanctioning the junta’s oil and gas company, MOGE, its largest source of revenues.
China’s pressure on the Naypyitaw junta and other militia groups has resulted in the capture and deportation of over 1,200 people suspected of on-line scamming of Chinese citizens. The suspects themselves are believed to be Chinese. The China-sponsored Wa State enclave in eastern Shan State handed over a large number of them to Chinese police. (Mizzima 9/9)
Russia and the Naypyitaw regime signed an agreement to cooperate on the junta’s plan for a sham election in 2025. (Mizzima 9/13) When Russia is the model for your elections…
The Naypyitaw junta planned to host a conference of ASEAN air force commanders September 13-15, but Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, refused to attend. Only Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam sent representatives. (Myanmar Now 9/13) The split between democratic and authoritarian ASEAN countries is clearly highlighted here.