¡¡¡¡YANGON/BANGKOK — Myanmar’s military on Feb. 1 detained State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint in the country’s first coup since 1988, bringing an end to a decade of civilian rule.
¡¡¡¡The Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy had won a landslide in a general election in November. But the military has claimed the election was marred by fraud.
¡¡¡¡For all our coverage, visit our Myanmar Coup page.
¡¡¡¡Read our in-depth coverage:
¡¡¡¡– Myanmar junta’s solar power bid tests post-coup investor sentiment
¡¡¡¡– ‘Painful’ Myanmar engagement sows rage as ASEAN seeks envoy
¡¡¡¡– International Red Cross head meets Myanmar junta chief in Naypyitaw
¡¡¡¡– Myanmar violence, hunger and ruin risk deeper refugee crisis
¡¡¡¡– Myanmar allows Tinder but axes dissent havens Twitter, Facebook
¡¡¡¡Follow the latest developments here (Yangon time):
¡¡¡¡Saturday, June 12
¡¡¡¡1:40 a.m. Violence on the rise in Myanmar despite the junta’s commitment to ASEAN leaders, with reports of troop buildups and attacks on civilians, according to the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.
¡¡¡¡”There appear to be no efforts towards de-escalation but rather a buildup of troops in key areas, contrary to the commitments the military made to ASEAN to cease the violence,” Michelle Bachelet says in a news release.
¡¡¡¡Credible reports indicate that security forces have used civilians as human shields, shelled civilian homes and churches in Loikaw, Phekon and Demoso in Kayah state and blocked humanitarian access, including by attacking humanitarian actors, the news release adds.
¡¡¡¡A witness has told Nikkei Asia that troops fired on unarmed civilians near Demoso on Friday afternoon.
¡¡¡¡Bachelet’s comments come after the U.N. in Myanmar reported earlier this week that more than 100,000 people had been displaced by violence in the eastern state of Kayah. The high commissioner puts the figure at more than 108,000 over the last three weeks alone.
¡¡¡¡Separately, Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the situation in Myanmar by phone with China’s top diplomat, Politburo member Yang Jiechi, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
¡¡¡¡A soldier is seen with a military vehicle in Yangon, Myanmar, Feb. 15. Witnesses say the military is shooting unarmed civilians in Kayah State on June 11.
¡¡¡¡12:30 a.m. “Myanmar is at a point of no return,” writes historian Thant Myint-U in Foreign Affairs, arguing that the Feb. 1 coup has “unleashed a revolutionary energy that will be nearly impossible to contain.”
¡¡¡¡This poses a problem for Myanmar’s neighbors, including China, Thant Myint-U argues: “As the stalemate continues, the economy will crumble, extreme poverty will skyrocket, the health-care system will collapse, and armed violence will intensify, sending waves of refugees into neighboring China, India, and Thailand.”
¡¡¡¡Friday, June 11
¡¡¡¡6:30 p.m. Myanmar troops have reportedly fired on unarmed civilians near Demoso, a town in Kayah state in the country’s east, sending more than 10,000 villagers fleeing from their homes.
¡¡¡¡”SAC [the State Administrative Council, the official name of the junta] troops have been firing weapons since this afternoon near Demoso, including artillery fire. We have been taking one shelter after another. More than 10,000 people are fleeing,” Sai Khun Reh, a teacher at a local school, tells Nikkei Asia.
¡¡¡¡”Most of the internet service is cut off here. I would like to request humanitarian assistance to be delivered,” says the man, who joined the Civil Disobedience Movement after the Feb. 1 coup.
¡¡¡¡The shooting is said to have started after brief fighting between the military and armed anti-coup protesters. According to Sai Khun Reh, one person died during the shooting today.
¡¡¡¡French energy group Total says Myanmar’s Yadana gas field, in which it is an investor, supplies half of Yangon’s electricity.
¡¡¡¡1:50 a.m. French President Emmanuel Macron’s response to the Myanmar coup has “not matched the gravity of the situation,” Human Rights Watch officials say, calling on him to seek stiffer penalties at the Group of Seven summit in the U.K.
¡¡¡¡”This is an opportunity for Macron to be bold and work more closely with key governments for a stronger and more robust response to the junta’s serious crimes in Myanmar,” writes John Sifton, the rights group’s Asia advocacy director, and Benedicte Jeannerod, its France director, in commentary published in Le Monde.
¡¡¡¡France is home to Total, the energy group whose gas field venture provides a key source of revenue for the Myanmar government.
¡¡¡¡Total has suspended some dividends on its Myanmar operations while saying that cutting off gas supplies would hurt the Myanmar public more than it would the junta, but “Macron should not be swayed by these faulty arguments,” the Human Rights Watch directors say.
¡¡¡¡Thursday, June 10
¡¡¡¡11:10 p.m. The brother of detained Frontier Myanmar journalist Danny Fenster wants U.S. President Joe Biden to take direct action to free the American, thought to be held in Insein Prison since last month.
¡¡¡¡”We have heard from everybody with the exception of the White House,” Bryan Fenster says in an interview with NBC News.
¡¡¡¡Danny Fenster — managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, one of the country’s top independent news sites — was detained while preparing to fly to Malaysia.
¡¡¡¡10:00 p.m. Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, speaking by phone with Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi, calls for the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus on Myanmar announced at the April summit of leaders from Association of Southeast Asian Nations members.
¡¡¡¡Motegi confirms Japan’s continued support for ASEAN initiatives toward Myanmar including humanitarian assistance, and he cites the importance of Myanmar’s junta releasing individuals held in detention, according to a readout from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
¡¡¡¡The two ministers also agree to work together in responding to Myanmar’s political situation.
¡¡¡¡A Beechcraft 1900D regional airliner above Calgary, Canada. A plane of the same model reportedly crashed in Mandalay, Myanmar, on June 10.
¡¡¡¡1:30 p.m. The junta has launched an ambitious scheme to build solar farms that can generate up to 320 megawatts across the heartland regions, areas dominated by the predominantly Buddhist Bamar population, in a major test of investor confidence in the new regime. The Ministry of Electricity and Energy on May 24 issued a tender to build solar power facilities at 12 sites across central Myanmar that would generate between 20MW and 40MW each, on a build-operate-own basis for 20 years, according to tender documents seen by Nikkei Asia. Read more here.
¡¡¡¡Military plane crash in Mandalay kills 12
¡¡¡¡12:30 p.m. Local media outlets start reporting details of a plane crash earlier in the day, saying the plane was a military-owned Beechcraft 1900D regional airliner, carrying military personnel, monks and some civilians. Myanmar military used to possess eight Beechcraft 1900D but lost one in another crash in 2016. The plane was flying from the capital Naypyidaw to Pyin Oo Lwin, in Mandalay.
¡¡¡¡10:45 a.m. Local media outlet Irrawaddy reports that a plane crashed in the Mandalay region’s township of Pyin Oo Lwin in the morning, killing 12 people. About 16 were on board, and one woman and a child were injured. The type of plane that went down and the cause of the crash remain unknown.
¡¡¡¡10:00 a.m. Khin Maung Zaw, one of lawyers in Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team, responds to a report in the official Global New Light newspaper, saying, “These accusations [of] bribery and corruption upon [Suu Kyi] are absurd. They are groundless,” adding that the detained leader “might have defects, but personal greed and corruption [are] not her traits.”
¡¡¡¡Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, seen in this photo taken in 2019, faces new charges under the junta’s anti-corruption law.
¡¡¡¡9:30 a.m. Myanmar’s state-run Global New Light newspaper reports that ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged with additional counts under the country’s anti-corruption law, with the Anti-Corruption Commission accusing her of “illegally accepted $600,000 and 7 visses (11.2 kg) of gold from the former Yangon region’s chief minister,” and adding that she “misused her authority in renting 1.86 acres (0.55 hectare) of land and a building” to open a charitable foundation, which she chairs, resulting in losses to the country of more than 5.2 billion kyat ($3,150). The newspaper, which is seen as a mouthpiece of the junta, also says that two other former officials have been charged under the law.
¡¡¡¡Wednesday, June 9
¡¡¡¡9:30 p.m. The top diplomats and defense chiefs of Japan and Australia “expressed grave concern about the situation in Myanmar” and agreed to work to ensure the Five Point Consensus agreed on at the ASEAN summit in April “leads to concrete outcomes,” according to a statement from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
¡¡¡¡Army troops and police go on patrol in Myanmar’s eastern state of Kayah on May 23. The U.N. human rights rapporteur for the country says many in the state face starvation in the coup’s aftermath.
¡¡¡¡10:00 a.m. “Mass deaths from starvation, disease and exposure could occur in Kayah State,” following the Feb. 1 coup and the flight of more than 100,000 people from their homes to escape the civil conflict, Thomas Andrews, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, says in a statement posted on his Twitter account. “[M]any of the 100,000 forced to flee into forests from junta bombs are now cut off from food, water and medicine by the junta,” he writes, adding, “The international community must act.”
¡¡¡¡2:00 a.m. “Violence is spiraling” in Myanmar, says Kurt Campbell, U.S. President Joe Biden’s policy coordinator for the Indo-Pacific.
¡¡¡¡The Biden administration has “privately supported the efforts of ASEAN, particularly Indonesia and Singapore and other countries, trying to begin a process to move the country back to elections and to democracy,” Campbell says in an online event hosted by the Center for a New American Security, a think tank. “This is a relatively difficult and challenging path. It’s hard not to be discouraged, and the situation is getting worse.”
¡¡¡¡”And frankly, we’re asking other countries in the surrounding regions to take the necessary steps” to both isolate Myanmar and reach out to the military leadership, Campbell also says.
¡¡¡¡Noting reports of a bomb attack just before the start of the event, Campbell says the U.S. is “seeing not only challenges from the ethnic insurgencies, but increasingly, a much more organized and determined opposition on the Democratic side, that has refused to go down.”
¡¡¡¡Campbell, a former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs under then-President Barack Obama, leads the largest team on Biden’s National Security Council.
¡¡¡¡Tuesday, June 8
¡¡¡¡9:20 p.m. Worsening conditions in southeastern Myanmar have driven tens of thousands of people from their homes, the United Nations office in the country says.
¡¡¡¡”Recent violence in Kayah state, including indiscriminate attacks by security forces against civilian areas, has led to the internal displacement of an estimated 100,000 men, women and children,” according to a statement.
¡¡¡¡”Many of them are currently seeking safety in host communities and forests across Kayah and southern parts of neighboring Shan state,” the statement adds. “This crisis could push people across international borders seeking safety, as already seen in other parts of the country.”
¡¡¡¡The U.N. urges security forces “to allow safe passage of humanitarian supplies and personnel” and allow direct relief assistance.
¡¡¡¡Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his Myanmar counterpart Wunna Maung Lwin in Chongqing on June 8.
¡¡¡¡9:00 p.m. China’s friendly policy toward Myanmar is not affected by changes in circumstances internal or external to the latter, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi tells counterpart Wunna Maung Lwin.
¡¡¡¡Wang says China supports all parties in Myanmar to resolve their differences through political dialogue, according to a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Wunna Maung Lwin says Myanmar is committed to maintaining national stability and social tranquility, the statement says.
¡¡¡¡Their talks in Chongqing come the day after Wang’s meeting with foreign ministers from Association of Southeast Asian Nations members, during which the Myanmar crisis was discussed.
¡¡¡¡At that meeting, Wang said China is willing to continue to work with ASEAN to jointly urge all parties in Myanmar to put the interests of the people first, and keep calm to eliminate all kinds of violence, according to a separate Foreign Ministry statement.
¡¡¡¡11:00 a.m. The lower house of Japan’s parliament passes a resolution condemning the Myanmar military’s takeover. “The coup by the Myanmar Armed Forces on Feb. 1 is a trampling of democratization efforts and expectations,” it says, stating that the current regime’s legitimacy “cannot be recognized at all.”
¡¡¡¡9:00 a.m. Myanmar’s junta, the State Administration Council, will discuss changing the country’s financial year, the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reports. This would follow a 2018 switch by the National League for Democracy government, to an October-September year rather than April-March.
¡¡¡¡The junta’s leader, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, said during a council speech on Monday that the change had inconvenienced the government, businesses and farmers.
¡¡¡¡Monday, June 7
¡¡¡¡8:00 p.m. Foreign ministers from the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations members have met with their Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Chongqing to discuss regional matters, including the ongoing turmoil in Myanmar. ASEAN has reached out to China for support on implementing a five-point consensus to resolve the Myanmar crisis.
¡¡¡¡This marks the first meeting of the foreign ministers in over a year, and the junta’s foreign minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, also attended, according to Global New Light of Myanmar, a state-owned newspaper. Read more here.
¡¡¡¡4:30 p.m. A Myanmar court will hear prosecutor’s witnesses from June 14, the lawyer of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi told media in Naypyitaw after a special court hearing on Monday. The hearing will continue until June 28, after which the defendant’s witnesses will be called and heard until July 26, the lawyer said, adding that the court was likely to pass a sentence by mid-August.
¡¡¡¡The lawyer also said that Suu Kyi was now where she was moved before the previous court hearing on May 24, although neither she nor the lawyer were told of the location.
¡¡¡¡2:50 p.m. A special court hearing against ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi was held in Naypyitaw. The court has arranged all cases against Suu Kyi to be judged within 180 days starting from the date of the filing of each case at the court, ending by August. The trial will be held every week on Monday and Tuesday starting from next week. Suu Kyi was allowed to meet with her lawyers in person for the second time since the military arrested her in the Feb. 1 coup.
¡¡¡¡Sunday, June 6
¡¡¡¡11:00 a.m. Thailand is disturbed by the violence in many parts of Myanmar, and wants to see the implementation of steps agreed by Southeast Asian leaders in Jakarta in late April with Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing present to help end the turmoil since the Feb. 1 coup, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday. “We have been following developments in Myanmar closely with much concern, especially incidents of violence in many parts of the country,” Reuters reports, citing a statement by foreign ministry spokesperson Tanee Sangrat.
¡¡¡¡Saturday, June 5
¡¡¡¡7:00 p.m. Protesters in Mandalay voice criticism of Friday’s meeting in Naypyitaw, the national capital, between two ASEAN officials from Brunei and Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, chairman of Myanmar’s junta, the State Administration Council. Demonstrators took to the streets of the former northern royal capital to condemn the “useless” ten-member regional bloc and burn the ASEAN flag. “When we were young, we were told that ASEAN was an organization meant to cooperate fairly between countries, but now we realize that helping with injustice means destroying democracy in the region,” said one student leader. He said students in Mandalay will carry on fighting for national freedom “without expecting any help from ASEAN or the U.N.”
¡¡¡¡Protesters in Mandalay, Myanmar’s former northern capital, took to the streets on June 5 and burned the flag of the “useless” Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
¡¡¡¡Friday, June 4
¡¡¡¡Suu Kyi’s whereabouts unknown, lawyers say
¡¡¡¡11:30 p.m. Ousted State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from her home in Naypyitaw, where she has been held under house arrest, and is now in an unknown location, her legal team says.
¡¡¡¡The National Unity Government, a parallel government set up in opposition to the coup, has issued a statement expressing concern about her safety.
¡¡¡¡9:00 p.m. Members of a Brunei delegation that met with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing also held a meeting with election commission chairman Thein Soe on Friday, military-owned Myawaddy TV says.
¡¡¡¡Brunei’s Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Erywan Pehin Yusof and compatriot Lim Jock Hoi, the current secretary-general of ASEAN, spoke with the election chief.
¡¡¡¡”Procedures for an upcoming election,” which the junta says it aims to hold in the future, and “ASEAN’s cooperation” were discussed at the meeting, according to the report.
¡¡¡¡Myanmar’s internet access is said to have been shut down during the scheduled hour of a press conference held by the opposition Friday.
¡¡¡¡8:30 p.m. More information on the internet shutdown.
¡¡¡¡Internet cut off during opposition news conference
¡¡¡¡5:00 p.m. Sources at internet service providers told Nikkei Asia that Myanmar’s internet access would be shut down until 6 p.m. Friday. The sources were not aware of the reason, but said it was likely an attempt by the junta to disrupt a press conference currently being held by the National Unity Government, the parallel government to the junta, which was scheduled between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
¡¡¡¡Although there were nightly curfew-like internet access restrictions until late April, Friday’s interruption was the first full-scale shutdown since Feb. 6-7, spanning all mobile and fixed-line connections during daylight hours. Myanmar’s Telecommunication Act authorizes the government to direct telecom operators to suspend the services for “the public interest” in an “emergency situation.”
¡¡¡¡2:30 p.m. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the chief of Myanmar’s military, met Friday with Brunei’s second minister for foreign affairs, Erywan Pehin Yusof, and compatriot Lim Jock Hoi, secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw. Sources in the Myanmar military told Nikkei Asia that the meeting between the military chief and the two ASEAN officials started at 2 p.m. Read more here.
¡¡¡¡2:00 p.m. New daily COVID-19 cases fell to 72 on Thursday, down from 122 the day before, the World Health Organization reports. But the seven-day average — commonly seen by health authorities as a trend indicator — through Thursday crossed 72, the highest since Feb. 11.
¡¡¡¡Thursday, June 3
¡¡¡¡10:15 p.m. International Committee of the Red Cross says its president, Peter Maurer, met with junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Myanmar, confirming a Nikkei Asia report.
¡¡¡¡”Caught between armed conflict, COVID-19 and the current situation, people in Myanmar are in need of urgent assistance and protection,” Maurer said in a statement.
¡¡¡¡”This visit aimed to share ICRC’s concerns on the current humanitarian situation and reinforce ongoing efforts to ensure space for neutral and impartial humanitarian action,” the statement added. Read the ICRC statement here.
¡¡¡¡8:30 p.m. The European Union will impose a third round of sanctions on Myanmar’s junta in the coming days, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell tells Reuters in an interview in Jakarta.
¡¡¡¡Brunei emissaries to meet junta chief on Friday
¡¡¡¡5:20 p.m. Brunei’s Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof and compatriot Lim Jock Hoi, ASEAN’s secretary-general, are scheduled to arrive in Myanmar this evening. The pair will meet with Min Aung Hlaing, chief of Myanmar’s junta, in Naypyidaw on Friday, according to diplomatic sources. Brunei is the chair of ASEAN this year.
¡¡¡¡ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi in Jakarta in August 2019.
¡¡¡¡? Getty Images
¡¡¡¡4:30 p.m. The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer meets with Min Aung Hlaing, chief of Myanmar’s junta, on Thursday, in the first visit by a senior western official to the capital, Naypyitaw, since the Feb. 1 coup. Read more here.
¡¡¡¡4:00 p.m. Shares in Amata Holding Public have made their debut on the Yangon Stock Exchange on Thursday. The exchange now lists seven companies. Amata was initially meant to list in March, but that was pushed back due to the Feb. 1 coup. Amata is the first hotel and tourism business in Myanmar to be listed on the exchange.
¡¡¡¡1:45 p.m. The court hearing at a district court against the ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi under the country’s official secrets act in Yangon has been adjourned to June 17, according to San Marla Nyunt, a member of Suu Kyi’s legal team.
¡¡¡¡8:30 a.m. Up to 150 protesters stage a flash protest in the center of Yangon. The first large demonstration there since early May drew people from around the city, who typically demonstrate in groups of 20 to 30 close to home. It has been unusual to see such a relatively large demonstration downtown. “We want to show that our movement is still active downtown,” said Maung Saint, one of the organizers, in comments to Nikkei Asia. “We are not cold-blooded yet. As written in our banner, we want to show that we are all in this together. We are demanding that the 2008 constitution be dissolved and a federal democratic union be formed.”
¡¡¡¡Wednesday, June 2
¡¡¡¡10:10 p.m. More than 40 French lawmakers urge the country’s administration to declare support for Myanmar’s National Unity Government, a parallel government formed in opposition to the junta, and to increase pressure on energy group Total, Le Monde reports. The parliamentarians also want the European Union to go further in its sanctions against Myanmar by targeting the oil and gas sector, in which Total is invested.
¡¡¡¡Anne Genetet, a member of the French National Assembly, strikes a pose during a democracy in Myanmar rally, in Paris, France, on May 22.
¡¡¡¡9:50 p.m. The U.S. calls on Myanmar to release detained journalists Danny Fenster and Nathan Maung, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman tells reporters in Bangkok. Both are U.S. citizens.
¡¡¡¡Fenster, managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, one of the country’s top independent news sites, was detained Monday while preparing to fly to Malaysia, the publication says. Maung, a co-founder of Myanmar news site Kamayut Media, was arrested March 9, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, citing accounts in Myanmar media.
¡¡¡¡6:00 p.m. Local media report that Aung Kyaw, a journalist belonging to the independent broadcaster Democratic Voice of Burma, and Zaw Zaw, a freelance journalist working for Mizzima Media, were sentenced to two years in prison by a special court set up inside Myeik prison in the Tanintharyi region of Myanmar’s southeast. The two journalists have been charged for breaching section 505(a) of Myanmar’s penal code, which prohibits publishing or circulating any statement, rumor or report that might “deprive, affect, hinder, disturb, damage the motivation, discipline, health, conduct” of civil servants and the military.
¡¡¡¡After the verdict, Aung Kyaw Ko said he has no faith in the judiciary under the junta, the State Administration Council, and does not plan to appeal.
¡¡¡¡A script Burmese protesters in Tokyo use.
¡¡¡¡2:10 p.m. Around 40 Burmese expatriates in Japan demonstrate outside the Myanmar’s embassy in Tokyo. They called for deposed State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and detained civilians to be freed. “We are here to pressure people who haven’t clearly expressed their will against the military,” an organizer told Nikkei Asia, naming Japan as a leader that can influence the junta.
¡¡¡¡Some of the 35,000 Myanmar citizens in Japan will benefit from a rule change that came last week, extending their visas for up to a year. But Japan has so far declined to impose sanctions or cut diplomatic or economic ties with the junta, insisting on maintaining communication and influence with military leaders. Although small compared to a protest in February in several parts of Tokyo that drew thousands, police showed up in force due to the embassy’s location in an upscale residential neighborhood.
¡¡¡¡AIIB says it deals with ‘de facto governments’
¡¡¡¡11:30 a.m. The Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has left open the door to funding projects in Myanmar even if the Southeast Asian nation does not return to its democratic path. AIIB Vice President Joachim von Amsberg told the Financial Times that while the bank did not have any new projects under consideration for Myanmar, it did have a framework for dealing with “de facto governments.” “We would not take a view on the form of government, we would go through our checklist,” he said.
¡¡¡¡Junta removes ‘Aung San’ from bridge name
¡¡¡¡7:00 a.m. Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing yesterday attended a renaming ceremony of a bridge in Mon State that in 2017 was named after Gen. Aung San, Myanmar’s pre-independence hero and father of Aung San Suu Kyi. The bridge is now the Than Lwin Bridge (Chaung Sone). In 2017, Mon residents protested naming the bridge after Suu Kyi’s father rather than after an ethnic Mon.
¡¡¡¡Women show the three-finger salute as they carry portraits of Aung San Suu Kyi and her father, independence hero Gen. Aung San, in Yangon, Myanmar, on Feb. 7.
¡¡¡¡Tuesday, June 1
¡¡¡¡4:36 p.m. The chair and secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plan to travel to Myanmar this week even as the 10-nation bloc remains divided on how to respond to the military coup there, reports Reuters, citing four diplomatic sources.
¡¡¡¡ASEAN, a grouping that includes Myanmar and has a policy of non-interference in the affairs of members, has led the main diplomatic effort to resolve the violent turmoil gripping the country following the overthrow of a democratically-elected government four months ago.
¡¡¡¡1:00 p.m. Olympic-qualifying swimmer Win Htet Oo tells Nikkei Asia he is calling on the International Olympic Committee to ban the Myanmar Olympic Committee from representing the country in the upcoming Tokyo Games. It “does not share Olympic values,” he said, adding that “the Myanmar Olympic Committee cannot be a part of the Olympic movement because it is essentially operating as an extension of the military’s rule.” Read more here.
¡¡¡¡Factory index shows ‘softer yet still marked decline’
¡¡¡¡12:30 p.m. The manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index for May issued by IHS Markit has improved slightly to 39.7 from 33.0 the previous month, although it remains below the neutral reading of 50. The latest result showed “a softer yet still marked decline in operating condition,” the statement said, while adding, “Political instability and strong inflationary pressures weighed heavily on the growth outlook.”
¡¡¡¡IHS analyst Shreeya Patel said that “although there are signs the most challenging period has passed, data continues to highlight concerns over the longer-term implication of the coup.” The PMI poll asks companies about changes in output, new orders and other business conditions, compared with the previous month. Any number below 50 indicates a contraction, while a reading above 50 means the opposite.
¡¡¡¡Schools reopen to low attendance amid boycott
¡¡¡¡9:00 a.m. Students returning to primary school for the first time in a year are showing up in their street clothes, which likely reflects fears of recrimination amid a boycott movement. At one school in Yangon, “around 50 students went inside to attend classes,” far fewer than usual, a street vendor said. “And 20 of them were wearing plain clothes, so it seems they will change into their uniforms later.”
¡¡¡¡The junta is bracing for potential bomb attacks at schools and appears to be stepping up security around them.
¡¡¡¡8:00 a.m. Primary schools in Yangon are receiving fewer students as schools reopen after one year and the junta braces for potential bomb attacks at schools. Many students across the nation have said they will boycott classes to protest what they call “military slave education.” According to one mother visiting an elementary school: “This area is more stable than other areas, so [attendance] at this school is better, but still lower than last year.” A small truck with what looked like security personnel had previously checked the area. “They come every day,” the mother told Nikkei Asia.
¡¡¡¡7:30 a.m. Estimates show that at the end of May, there were between 100,000 and 120,000 more internally displaced persons than in January, after armed minorities — including the Kachin, Chin, Shan, Karen and Karenni — resumed actions against the military. “We have already seen tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of people leave [urban] areas and return to their rural homes, for both security and economic reasons,” said Richard Horsey, senior adviser on Myanmar for the International Crisis Group, in comments to Nikkei Asia. But there is no guaranteed safe place for them, as “junta forces even fire at churches where people are sheltering and white flags are flying,” a relief worker said. Read more here.
¡¡¡¡Monday, May 31
¡¡¡¡Tatmadaw uses heavy weapons on Karenni
¡¡¡¡6:00 p.m. A spokesperson for the Karenni People’s Defence Force told local media that Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, has used helicopter gunships and artillery barrages to attack Demoso in the northern part of Karenni State. There has been fighting in this area near the border with Shan State since May 21.
¡¡¡¡Troops drop down from a Russian-made helicopter during a military display in late March in Naypyitaw, the national capital. Tatmadaw helicopter gunships have been used against ethnic minorities since fighting erupted on multiple fronts in the wake of a coup on Feb. 1.
¡¡¡¡It has also been reported locally that the Three Brotherhoods Alliance — which brings together the Arakan Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army — launched an attack on a military outpost in Kutkai, northwest of Lashio in Shan State, killing 11 Tatmadaw troops and seizing some drugs.
¡¡¡¡Sunday, May 30
¡¡¡¡Military again unilaterally declares ceasefire
¡¡¡¡9:00 p.m. Military-owned Myawaddy television reports that the office of the commander in chief says the military will extend a nationwide ceasefire from June 1 to June 30 in order to negotiate with armed ethnic organizations for lasting peace. The office is also looking forward to a peaceful reopening of schools on June 1. All military operations will cease unless the defense, security or administrative functions of the state are encroached upon, it said.
¡¡¡¡Saturday, May 29
¡¡¡¡2:15 a.m. “Food prices have rocketed” in Myanmar under the junta’s tightening controls on transportation and distribution, says Thelma Tun-Thein, country facilitator for Myanmar for the U.S.-based Bush Institute’s Liberty and Leadership Program.
¡¡¡¡For Myanmar’s poor, already hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, “there are no safety nets, no food banks, no stimulus checks,” she says.
¡¡¡¡Friday, May 28
¡¡¡¡US calls for release of detained journalist
¡¡¡¡11:00 p.m. The U.S. expresses concerned for detained Frontier Myanmar editor Daniel Fenster and calls for his immediate release.
¡¡¡¡”We have pressed the military regime to release him immediately and will continue to do so until he is allowed to return home safely to his family,” a State Department spokesperson is reported as saying.
¡¡¡¡Frontier Myanmar managing editor Danny Fenster. (Handout via Reuters)
¡¡¡¡10:30 p.m. Sunset in Yangon.
¡¡¡¡10:15 p.m. The United Nations is wary that Myanmar’s massive illicit drug trade is receiving a boost from the economic and security crises that have engulfed the nation since the military coup almost four months ago.
¡¡¡¡”We are concerned that already very high levels of drug production and trafficking will increase,” says Jeremy Douglas, regional representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific at the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime, or UNODC. Agencies in neighboring countries “are also expecting a jump.” Read more.
¡¡¡¡9:00 p.m. New daily COVID-19 cases fall to 72 on Friday from 96 the day before, junta’s health ministry reports.
¡¡¡¡8:00 p.m. South Korea’s Posco International says it is reviewing dividend payments on a gas project in Myanmar. If suspended, it would place additional financial pressure on the military government.
¡¡¡¡Posco International has a majority stake in Myanmar’s Shwe gas project. It also has a stake in the pipeline that transports the gas to China.
¡¡¡¡France’s Total and America’s Chevron have already suspended some payments from a similar gas joint venture that is also part-owned by the state-owned gas enterprise.
¡¡¡¡Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne tells shareholders the energy group will comply with any further sanctions imposed on Myanmar by the U.S. and the European Union.
¡¡¡¡Protesters hold a outside the Japanese stadium where Myanmar’s national team plays a FIFA World Cup Asia qualifiers soccer match versus Japan on May 28.
¡¡¡¡7:45 p.m. Myanmar’s World Cup qualifying match against Japan has ended in a 10-0 loss for the visiting Southeast Asian team, which played without some veteran members who refused to step onto the pitch under the junta government.
¡¡¡¡Reuters photographer Soe Zeya Tun captures some of the action at Fukuda Denshi Arena, near Tokyo.
¡¡¡¡6:30 p.m. A military tribunal has sentenced 28 individuals to 20 years in jail with hard labor for arson attacks on two Chinese-linked factories — a shoe plant and garment factory in the Yangon area — Reuters reported earlier, citing state media. A series of attacks hit mainly Chinese-backed factories in March. No one claimed responsibility, but Beijing is widely seen as being supportive of the junta.
¡¡¡¡4:45 p.m. A group called Revolution Tokyo Myanmar stages a flash protest outside the stadium where the national soccer teams of Japan and Myanmar are meeting to play a World Cup qualifier match tonight. “No to military dictatorship,” they shouted. “We do not want a team that does not represent Myanmar.” At least one substitute in the Myanmar squad flashed a three-finger salute that has been adopted by Myanmar’s widespread civil disobedience movement.
¡¡¡¡Christine Schraner Burgener, the U.N. secretary general’s special envoy to Myanmar, gave a press conference in Tokyo at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on May 28. She has yet to be granted access to Myanmar.
¡¡¡¡4:00 p.m. Christine Schraner Burgener, the U.N. secretary general’s special envoy to Myanmar, holds a press conference on Friday in Tokyo at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. “I would encourage [U.N.] member states to support people and talk to the NUG because they need our support,” she said. The NUG is the National Unity Government of Myanmar set up mostly by politicians elected in November’s general election, and operates underground or in exile. It has appointed ministers in a parallel entity to the State Administration Council, the junta of Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, who seized power on Feb. 1.
¡¡¡¡The U.N. special envoy conceded that officially recognizing the NUG has its problems. According to Myanmar’s 2008 military-drafted constitution, appointments of ministers would require endorsement by President Win Myint, who along with State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has been arrested. “So clearly it is a difficulty,” the envoy said. “It’s up to the member states if they accept NUG as a legally appointed government.” Schraner Burgener, a former Swiss ambassador to Bangkok who has not been allowed entry into Myanmar, said the U.N. has the NUG’s contact details.
¡¡¡¡9:00 a.m. The number of reported daily COVID-19 cases surged to 96 on Thursday, according to the health ministry under the junta. This is the highest count since Feb. 9, which could reflect hospitals’ inability to conduct tests, as many are still operating at under capacity. After the Feb. 1 coup, official reports of daily infections had mostly not exceeded 30, likely due to fewer health workers available to administer tests.
¡¡¡¡1:30 a.m. Amid a crisis in their home country, Myanmar’s national soccer team members are set to face Japan in a men’s World Cup qualifier. The match starts at 7:20 p.m. local time at Fukuda Denshi Arena in Chiba, near Tokyo.
¡¡¡¡The Myanmar Football Federation announced the squad just the day before. The Associated Press reports that star players such as defender Zaw Min Tun, striker Kyaw Ko Ko and goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Htet have refused to participate in international matches for Myanmar in protest of the military coup.
¡¡¡¡Kyaw Zin Htet told AFP: “It would be good if some of [the Myanmar players] came out and gave the three-fingered salute to an international audience.”
¡¡¡¡FIFA rules prohibit slogans, statements or images related to “any local, regional, national or international political party/organization/ group, etc.” and “any specific political act/event.”
¡¡¡¡Japan leads the five-team Group F in the Asian Football Confederation qualifiers, followed by Tajikistan, with Myanmar in fourth.
¡¡¡¡Members of the Myanmar national soccer team warm up ahead of their May 28 World Cup qualifier match against Japan at the Fukuda Denshi Arena in Chiba, near Tokyo, on May 27.
¡¡¡¡Air passengers departing country need 10-day prior booking
¡¡¡¡12:30 p.m. The U.S. embassy informs Americans in Myanmar that the junta requires all international air travelers — both citizens and foreign nationals — to book flights at least 10 days in advance of departure. Airlines and travel agents are already implementing the requirement. The embassy also advises people to share the content of the notice on its website with “all U.S. citizens” still in the country and with their neighbors.
¡¡¡¡People leaving Myanmar by plane must now book their flight 10 days prior to departure.
¡¡¡¡10:00 a.m. Energy companies Total of France and Chevron of the U.S. suspend some payments to Myanmar’s junta from a joint gas business in a bid to ease pressure from human rights groups and the international community to stop financing the junta.
¡¡¡¡But some social media influencers are not satisfied; they point out the joint venture is only one of Total’s businesses in the country and the move does not necessarily mean the French oil and gas group has completely halted its financial support to the Myanmar military.
¡¡¡¡2:30 a.m. “Japan must position itself as a bridge between the Tatmadaw and the United States and other democratic countries rather than blindly aligning itself with the Western policy of regime change,” argues Yusuke Watanabe, secretary-general of the Japan Myanmar Association.
¡¡¡¡Watanabe argues in The Diplomat that, given the two countries’ background, “Japan’s cordial relationship with Myanmar’s government under the ongoing national emergency is not at all antithetical to the Western desire for the country’s democratic future.”
¡¡¡¡”Rather, they complement each other,” he says.
¡¡¡¡The Japan Myanmar Association describes itself as promoting a wide range of bilateral exchanges, particularly trade, investment and technological cooperation.
¡¡¡¡Wednesday, May 26
¡¡¡¡10:30 p.m. Japan is poised to allow Myanmar citizens to legally stay in the country even after their visas have expired, in response to deteriorating conditions in the Southeast Asian nation following its February coup.
¡¡¡¡The exemption would apply to Myanmar students and technical interns who could face trouble returning home. If they wish, they will be able to study or work here for another six or 12 months, under plans outlined by Japan’s Immigration Services Agency on Wednesday to ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers.
¡¡¡¡8:00 p.m. Myanmar’s National Unity Government, a parallel government set up by lawmakers elected in November’s general election, has had to adopt a more realistic approach to the way companies like Norway’s Telenor and the investment community conduct business.
¡¡¡¡”The military has been using various means to threaten and extort money,” Tu Hkawng, the NUG’s environment and natural resources minister, tells Nikkei Asia in an interview from an undisclosed location. “Companies such as Telenor have no choice but to follow these instructions due to security concerns.” Read the full article here.
¡¡¡¡Yangon to suffer ‘more explosions,’ say sources
¡¡¡¡4:00 p.m. Yangon, the largest city and commercial hub of Myanmar, will face more bomb attacks in the coming days and weeks, sources told Nikkei Asia.
¡¡¡¡There were at least five incidents on Tuesday alone, with one at a wedding in Thingangyun Township where four people, including the bride, were reportedly killed by a bomb hidden in a present for the couple. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Unconfirmed reports on social media suggest the couple or some of the wedding attendees were close to the junta.
¡¡¡¡A protester holding a National League for Democracy flag in Yangon, where there were five bomb attacks on Tuesday.
¡¡¡¡Sources told Nikkei that Yangon’s administrative offices and schools, where security forces can be targeted, are likely to see more attacks.
¡¡¡¡Fighting is also ongoing between the military and the People’s Defence Force — a resistance group against the junta — in Kayah State bordering Thailand, after days of battle in Mindat, the city of Chin State by India.
¡¡¡¡Nation faces its ‘darkest hour,’ opposition minister says
¡¡¡¡Tuesday, May 25
¡¡¡¡9:30 p.m. Myanmar faces “the darkest hour in our history,” Dr. Sasa, minister of international cooperation for the junta opposition National Unity Government, tells the U.K. Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee in a video meeting.
¡¡¡¡Sasa outlines four goals for the unity government, beginning with the “total eradication of military dictatorship once and for all.” He adds that the government is “inviting everyone to come together under that umbrella.”
¡¡¡¡People in Yangon gather for a candlelight vigil on Feb. 21, in an early protest against the Myanmar military’s takeover of power. Nearly four months have passed since the Feb. 1 coup.
¡¡¡¡The second goal is “the complete nullification of the 2008 constitution created by the military generals, for the military generals,” Sasa says. It also seeks to abolish the 1982 citizenship law, which has been blamed for providing a basis for the discrimination against Rohingya Muslims.
¡¡¡¡The third goal involves “building a federal democratic union of Myanmar for all people of Myanmar, including our Rohingya brothers and sisters,” he says, while the fourth calls for imagining a “people’s government.”
¡¡¡¡Dr. Sasa, minister of international cooperation for Myanmar’s National Unity Government, speaks at an online meeting of the U.K. parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. (Screenshot taken from parliament.tv)
¡¡¡¡6:15 p.m. Nikkei Asia has obtained internet whitelists distributed by the junta to telecommunications companies. From Tinder to WhatsApp to CNN, over 1,200 sites and services are allowed. But Facebook and Twitter — both widely used by protesters — have been left off. Read the full story.
¡¡¡¡1:30 a.m. The United Nations General Assembly is expected to vote this week on a resolution that includes a call for an international arms embargo on Myanmar.
¡¡¡¡The vote was postponed last week.
¡¡¡¡Police officers are seen outside a courthouse in Yangon in March.
¡¡¡¡Monday, May 24
¡¡¡¡11:50 p.m. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand says it is “deeply concerned” about the arrest of Frontier Myanmar managing editor Danny Fenster.
¡¡¡¡”Before joining Frontier just before last November’s general election, Fenster worked for the independent news organization Myanmar Now,” the FCCT says in a statement posted on social media. “Both Frontier and Myanmar Now have produced courageous original reporting of exceptional quality in recent years.”
¡¡¡¡Separately, CNN reports that Danny Fenster’s brother, Bryan Fenster, said the journalist was flying home to the U.S. to see his parents when he was arrested.
¡¡¡¡American journalist detained in latest media arrest
¡¡¡¡7:00 p.m. Local media outlet Frontier Myanmar says its managing editor, Danny Fenster, has been arrested.
¡¡¡¡Fenster was “detained at Yangon International Airport this morning shortly before he was due to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur,” according to a Frontier Myanmar social media statement.
¡¡¡¡He is believed to have been transferred to Insein Prison in Yangon, the statement says, adding that Frontier Myanmar has no information on the reasons for his arrest and has been unable to contact him since this morning.
¡¡¡¡Fenster is said to hold U.S. citizenship, according to a source who spoke with Nikkei Asia. He ranks in the second-highest position in the editorial team.
¡¡¡¡3:00 p.m. Despite junta restrictions on media and internet access, ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi knows the current situation her country is in, to some extent, from conversations with police officers, said Khin Maung Zaw, one of her lawyers who met her at the special court on Monday.
¡¡¡¡Khin Maung Zaw, right, and Min Min Soe, the lawyers picked by the National League for Democracy to represent deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, speak to journalists in Naypyitaw on May 24 after a court hearing.
¡¡¡¡She is familiar with the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw and the National Unity Government, from speaking with the police, according to the lawyer. The committee and the unity government were set up after Suu Kyi’s arrest.
¡¡¡¡However, she did not offer any opinions as “she doesn’t have any broad and exact picture,” the lawyer said. In the meeting, Suu Kyi said “our party grew out of the people, so it will exist as long as people support it.”
¡¡¡¡Ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, former President Win Myint and Dr. Myo Aung appear at a court in Naypyitaw on May 24, 2021, in this still image taken from a video.
¡¡¡¡It is unclear if she knows that the junta-appointed election commission last week suggested the possibility of dissolving her National League for Democracy.
¡¡¡¡Where Suu Kyi is now held has been kept a secret, even from her. Her lawyers told reporters that she does not know where she is being holed up now. Until Sunday, she was held at her house in Naypyitaw but was moved to another location a day ahead of the court hearing, according to the lawyers. Whether she has been taken back to her own house or kept in a different place is unknown.
¡¡¡¡1:32 p.m. Hundreds of thousands of students, including those in university, along with their teachers are set to boycott classes as the academic year begins on June 1. Their move is seen as a way to back up their slogan, “No need military slave education.” Read more.
¡¡¡¡12:00 p.m. Military spokesperson Zaw Min Tun tells Nikkei Asia that ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s court hearing took place today at a “special court” set up near her house in the capital Naypyitaw from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. It was the first time she has appeared in court since she was put under house arrest after the coup on Feb. 1. Suu Kyi’s lawyer confirmed the court appearance. Five lawyers met Suu Kyi, ousted President Win Myint and Myo Aung, the detained chairman of the Naypyidaw Council, for 30 minutes each. “She looks healthy,” the lawyer said of Suu Kyi.
¡¡¡¡Protesters hold an impromptu demonstration in Yangon on May 24.
¡¡¡¡11:30 a.m. More than a hundred pro-democracy protesters stage a flash protest in Yangon, raising the flags of Palestine and Columbia in a show of solidarity to people in those countries as well as Rohingya, who for years have been oppressed in Myanmar, with many fleeing to neighboring countries.
¡¡¡¡Sunday, May 23
¡¡¡¡Clashes intensify in anti-junta conflicts
¡¡¡¡10:00 p.m. Fighters opposed to Myanmar’s military junta clash with troops in the east of the country, claiming to have killed more than 13 members of the security forces.
¡¡¡¡Members of the People’s Defense Force, set up since the coup, told the Irrawaddy news service that they had killed the security force members when they overran a police station near the town of Mobye.
¡¡¡¡Thick columns of black smoke rise from Hkamti, Sagaing, in northwestern Myanmar on May 22. (Photo from News Ambassador via Reuters)
¡¡¡¡An alliance of four ethnic armed groups which are also against the coup battled early Sunday with security forces in Muse, one of the main crossings to China, according to Myanmar media.
¡¡¡¡3:30 a.m. Myanmar’s national soccer team is in Japan for World Cup qualifiers.
¡¡¡¡The team arrived Saturday, according to the Japan Football Association. They will play against Japan next Friday in Chiba, in a match originally scheduled for March but delayed because of the coup and other reasons.
¡¡¡¡Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, now Myanmar’s junta leader, gazes through binoculars during a 2018 military exercise.
¡¡¡¡Saturday, May 22
¡¡¡¡11:00 p.m. Myanmar aims to create a “federal state based on multi-party democracy,” if possible “within a year,” junta leader Min Aung Hlaing tells a Hong Kong-based, Chinese-language broadcaster in an interview, according to media reports based on interview excerpts which aired today.
¡¡¡¡In the Phoenix Television interview, the general also says Suu Kyi is in good health and will appear in court in a few days.
¡¡¡¡Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy is accused by the junta of engaging in voter fraud during last year’s general election — allegations Min Aung Hlaing reiterates in the interview excerpt. This accusation is disputed in a recent report by The Asian Network for Free Elections.
¡¡¡¡The National Unity Government, formed in opposition to the coup, has put forward its own proposal for a federal democracy.
¡¡¡¡People displaced by fighting from Myanmar’s northwestern town of Mindat are pictured in Chin State on May 20.
¡¡¡¡Friday, May 21
¡¡¡¡10:45 p.m. The United Nations says it is alarmed at the violence in Chin State, in the country’s northwest, after reports of indiscriminate attacks by security forces leading to the deaths of civilians and the displacement of thousands.
¡¡¡¡Heavy fighting in the town of Mindat since May 12 has forced nearly 4,000 to flee their homes, the U.N. in Myanmar says.
¡¡¡¡”The United Nations calls on security forces to urgently take all necessary measures and precautions to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to adhere to the fundamental principles of distinction, necessity, proportionality and protection,” it says in a statement.
¡¡¡¡10:30 p.m. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks out on the Myanmar crisis on the second day of Nikkei’s Future of Asia conference.
¡¡¡¡”They see some instability in the country and think, by taking over power from the people, they can solve problems,” Mahathir said of military regimes like Myanmar’s. “Of course, that’s a wrong assumption. Once they take power, power corrupts.”
¡¡¡¡Read more of Nikkei Asia’s coverage of the meeting here.
¡¡¡¡4:00 p.m. The junta-appointed head of the Myanmar’s election commission suggests that Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy might be dissolved, news outlet Myanmar Now reports.
¡¡¡¡Commission chair Thein Soe reportedly tells a meeting in the capital Naypyitaw: “How shall we take action on the NLD party for their intentionally committed unlawful acts? Shall we dissolve the party? Shall we take action on the people who committed these acts of betraying the state?” He added that “we shall consider and carry out” any actions.
¡¡¡¡The junta has accused the NLD of fraud in the November election, which Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide. The military has yet to provide evidence of any wrongdoing and the election commission at the time of the vote rejected the allegation.
¡¡¡¡Thein Soe spoke at the commission meeting attended by political party representatives. Among more than 90 parties registered, 59 parties attended. The NLD did not.
¡¡¡¡12:56 p.m. News outlet Myanmar Now says on Twitter that the country’s junta-appointed election commission will dissolve Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party because of what it called electoral fraud.
¡¡¡¡12:20 a.m. Japan will consider cutting off all official development assistance to Myanmar, even for ongoing projects, if the situation there does not improve, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi tells Nikkei in an interview.
¡¡¡¡”We don’t want to do that at all, but we have to state firmly that it will be difficult to continue under these circumstances,” Motegi says. “As a country that supported Myanmar’s democratization in various ways, and as a friend, we must represent the international community and convey that clearly.” Read more.
¡¡¡¡Thursday, May 20
¡¡¡¡10:45 p.m. “The path back to normalcy in Myanmar will be long and difficult” despite last month’s special Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, Heng Swee Keat, Singapore’s deputy prime minister, tells Nikkei’s Future of Asia conference on Thursday
¡¡¡¡”ASEAN member states have consistently stressed that engagement, rather than isolation, will go further in resolving the current crisis,” says Heng, who is seen as a contender to become Singapore’s next prime minister.
¡¡¡¡Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says a carrot-and-stick approach is needed from the international community to improve the situation in Myanmar.
¡¡¡¡Meanwhile, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha does not comment on the Myanmar coup — the region’s most pressing matter — in his first appearance at the annual conference.
¡¡¡¡10:30 p.m. PetroChina International Singapore supplied jet fuel to Myanmar in April, Reuters reports, citing government import data.
¡¡¡¡7:30 p.m. As fighting intensifies between local armed forces and the military in Myanmar’s western state of Chin, at least 3,000 people living in towns have escaped to the jungle. Water supply interruptions and the military’s occupation of residential areas are said to be factors of these evacuations.
¡¡¡¡6:00 p.m. The Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank is offering farmers loans from May 26 to Sept. 30 for the coming monsoon season, according to an official advertisement in Thursday’s edition of Global New Light of Myanmar, the state-owned newspaper.
¡¡¡¡It advises farmers to contact bank branches “as soon as possible in order to pay off old loans and get new loans.” The advertisement comes ahead of the rice planting season.
¡¡¡¡Myanmar’s economy has been struggling since the Feb. 1 coup, particularly with less cash available in banks and in general circulation. Though there are doubts over whether MADB is able to disperse those loans should farmers take up the offer, the ad is seen as the junta’s way of shoring up confidence in food supplies.
¡¡¡¡The United Nations World Food Program recently warned that, over the next six months, up to 3.4 million more people in Myanmar will suffer from hunger, especially in cities, because of the coup.
¡¡¡¡In the same edition of the newspaper, there was another official ad warning owners of restaurants and eateries that they were “responsible for collecting commercial tax from their customers.” Many restaurants and coffee shops have not collected the tax as a way of showing support for protesters.
¡¡¡¡3:30 p.m. Local media outlet Irrawaddy reports that the age limit of 65 years for the posts of commander-in-chief and deputy commander-in-chief have been lifted, paving the way for incumbent military chief Min Aung Hlaing to remain in his position. His term was expected to end in July when he will turn 65. The report says the change was implemented by the Defense Department Council just days after the military coup on Feb. 1.
¡¡¡¡2:45 a.m. Myanmar will send a military delegation on a visit to Moscow on Thursday, led by Air Force chief Maung Maung Kyaw, The Moscow Times reports, citing a Myanmar Embassy representative.
¡¡¡¡Maung Maung Kyaw is the target of Western sanctions over his involvement in the Feb. 1 coup.
¡¡¡¡1:30 a.m. Two diplomats at Myanmar’s Embassy in Tokyo were dismissed by the junta after they joined a boycott in opposition to the military takeover, Kyodo reports, citing diplomatic sources.
¡¡¡¡If confirmed, this would mark the latest reprisal by the junta against members of the diplomatic corps who have voiced support for ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Myanmar’s ambassadors to the United Nations and to the U.K. have already run afoul of the junta.
¡¡¡¡Myanmar’s junta-controlled foreign ministry revoked the two diplomats’ passports and access to the embassy compound where they had been living until early March, Kyodo reports.
¡¡¡¡Wednesday, May 19
¡¡¡¡10:50 p.m. UNICEF says it is aware of media reports that soap bars and cloth masks supplied by the United Nations children’s aid agency have allegedly been used by local militias to recruit civilians in Myanmar’s Kachin state.
¡¡¡¡UNICEF supplies are “distributed for the express purpose of promoting the health and well-being of children and the use of these supplies for any other purpose is unacceptable,” according to a statement.
¡¡¡¡Exports from US plunged 60% after coup, data shows
¡¡¡¡7:00 p.m. Unsurprisingly, Myanmar’s international trade started shrinking in the month of February, preliminary trade data obtained by Nikkei Asia shows.
¡¡¡¡Myanmar industrial port terminal at the banks of the Hlaing river in Yangon in 2016.
¡¡¡¡Total exports to Myanmar from eight trading partners — including the U.S., Canada and New Zealand — fell 38% on the year in February, while their imports from Myanmar dipped 9%, according to trade statistics reported to the United Nations. These eight nations usually make up roughly one-tenth of Myanmar’s total trade.
¡¡¡¡Of the eight partners, the U.S. retreated the farthest. Its exports to Myanmar contracted 60% and its imports from there shrank 12%, owing to Washington’s relatively quick imposition of sanctions. With other countries following suit and the U.S. introducing additional sanctions in later weeks, trade figures for March and April are expected to show sharper contractions, reflecting further damage to the military-run economy.
¡¡¡¡6:00 p.m. App-based food delivery service provider Foodpanda remains committed to Myanmar despite the ongoing political unrest that has disrupted internet services in the country, the company’s chief executive tells Nikkei Asia. Read more.
¡¡¡¡Tuesday, May 18
¡¡¡¡7:30 p.m. A United Nations General Assembly vote on a draft resolution calling for the suspension of arms supplies to Myanmar has been postponed, according to a U.N. diplomat.
¡¡¡¡A spokesman for the General Assembly president had said on Monday that a vote on the draft resolution was due on Tuesday. Some diplomats said the vote had been delayed in a bid to win more support, according to Reuters.
¡¡¡¡Yangon official shot after mysterious bombings
¡¡¡¡3:00 p.m. Local media report that two bombs exploded this morning around 5:40 a.m. near a ward administrator’s office in downtown Yangon, injuring two security officers. The newly appointed ward administrator, who came to check the scene, was shot dead en route; his body was discovered with a gunshot wound to the head. It remains unclear who was responsible for the explosions and the shooting.
¡¡¡¡According to Yangon residents, there have been no major pro-democracy protests on streets in the past three days, while bombings are becoming more frequent. Though most say they still believe in peaceful demonstrations, youth sentiment in particular appears to be shifting toward at least considering armed rebellion as the only hope for ending the junta’s rule.
¡¡¡¡The military has killed over 800 people and arrested more than 5,200 since the Feb. 1 coup, according to the latest tally by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group.
¡¡¡¡Police officers in Yangon: Residents say sentiment among at least some youth protesters is shifting toward armed resistance.
¡¡¡¡1:00 a.m. The United Nations General Assembly will vote Tuesday on a draft resolution seeking an international arms embargo on Myanmar.
¡¡¡¡The resolution, to be put before all U.N. member states, “calls for an immediate suspension of the direct and indirect supply, sale or transfer of all weapons, munitions and other military-related equipment to Myanmar,” according to a draft published online.
¡¡¡¡The resolution, which does not use the word “coup,” calls on Myanmar’s armed forces “to respect the will of the people as freely expressed by the results of the general election of 8 November 2020, to end the state of emergency, to respect all human rights of all the people of Myanmar and to allow the sustained democratic transition of Myanmar.”
¡¡¡¡12:20 a.m. More on the 16 officials targeted in a new round of U.S. sanctions: Besides four members of the State Administrative Council — the junta government — the list includes key figures in carrying out Myanmar’s economic and monetary policy.
¡¡¡¡One of them is Than Nyein, who was installed by the junta as central bank governor after the Feb. 1 coup.
¡¡¡¡Commerce Minister Pwint San and Win Shein — the minister for planning, finance and industry — have been sanctioned as well, according to a Treasury Department statement.
¡¡¡¡The list also includes two adult children of State Administrative Council member Gen. Maung Maung Kyaw and one of Adm. Tin Aung San. These two junta figures were themselves blacklisted in February.
¡¡¡¡Monday, May 17
¡¡¡¡US sanctions junta itself in latest move with allies
¡¡¡¡10:30 p.m. The Biden administration has added Myanmar’s State Administrative Council — the body created by the junta to replace the ousted government — to a list of U.S. sanctions targets.
¡¡¡¡”Today, the United States is announcing new sanctions against Burma’s military regime in response to its continued violence and repression against the people of Burma, most recently in Mindat, Chin State, and its failure to take any steps to restore Burma’s democratic transition,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement.
¡¡¡¡Sixteen officials have also been added to the U.S. list. They include technocrats and civilians in charge of economic ministries and the central bank, according to a Treasury Department statement. All property and interests in property of those people named in the United States, or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked.
¡¡¡¡A U.S. analyst says it is “highly unusual to sanction the council as an entity but leave some names out including foreign minister.”
¡¡¡¡The U.S. move is part of coordinated new sanctions actions with the U.K. and Canada. The U.K. announces sanctions on Myanmar Gems Enterprise, a state-owned firm now under the junta’s control. Canada sanctioned 16 individuals and 10 entities.
¡¡¡¡9:30 p.m. The U.K. announces sanctions on Myanmar Gems Enterprise, a distributor of jade and other precious stones that has already been blacklisted by the U.S.
¡¡¡¡6:00 p.m. The 2020 Myanmar general election reflected “the true will of the electorate,” according to a final comprehensive report by The Asian Network for Free Elections, an international monitoring group, which counters the junta’s allegation of electoral fraud.
¡¡¡¡ANFREL says it hopes Myanmar will “soon return on the rightful path to an elected civilian government.”
¡¡¡¡The report, titled “The 2020 Myanmar General Elections: Democracy Under Attack,” is available in English and in Burmese.
¡¡¡¡3:30 p.m. The Mindat People’s Administration announces on Facebook that fighting between the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) — a newly formed ethnic militia — and the military is ongoing in the western state of Chin, bordering India. The administration is acting as the CDF’s political unit. It added in its post that seven locals had been killed during the recent fighting. The State Administration Council, as the junta is formally known, declared martial law in the northwestern town of Mindat on Thursday.
¡¡¡¡Miss Myanmar urges everyone to speak out
¡¡¡¡Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin appears onstage at the National Costume Show, part of Miss Universe 2021, on May 13 in Hollywood, Florida.
¡¡¡¡? Getty Images
¡¡¡¡10:30 a.m. Thuzar Wint Lwin, Myanmar’s Miss Universe contestant, who has made it to the finals, used the pageant on Sunday to urge the world to speak out against the military junta. “Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said in a video message for the competition in Hollywood, Florida, according to Reuters. “I would like to urge everyone to speak about Myanmar. As Miss Universe Myanmar since the coup, I have been speaking out as much as I can,” she said.
¡¡¡¡Sunday, May 16
¡¡¡¡10:10 a.m. During a special Mass for the Myanmar community in Italy, Pope Francis says the people of the country must not despair in the face of evil or allow themselves to be divided. “Your beloved country of Myanmar is experiencing violence, conflict and repression,” the pope said at St. Peter’s Basilica. He urged drawing inspiration from the final hours of Jesus Christ. Francis visited Myanmar in 2017 and has been outspoken against the junta since the Feb. 1 coup. The predominantly Buddhist country is home to fewer than 800,000 Roman Catholics.
¡¡¡¡Pope Francis celebrates Holy Mass for the community of the faithful of Myanmar resident in Rome, at the Vatican, on May 16.
¡¡¡¡People hold a banner in Saint Peter’s Square after Pope Francis held a mass for Myanmar residents of Italy in the Vatican on May 16.
¡¡¡¡3:20 a.m. A total of 63 people have been killed in recent attacks by junta opponents, according to junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun. “Terrorists are planting bombs in public areas and there are some injuries among the people,” he told a news conference, while asking for information on the attackers.
¡¡¡¡Saturday, May 15
¡¡¡¡11:45 p.m. Fighting breaks out between the army and local militia fighters in the northwestern town of Mindat, residents say, in some of the heaviest fighting since the military seized power three months ago.
¡¡¡¡The fighting underlines the growing chaos as the junta struggles to impose order in the face of daily protests, strikes and sabotage attacks after it overthrew Suu Kyi.
¡¡¡¡”We are running for our lives,” a resident tells Reuters from Mindat, a hill town just over 100 km from the border with India.
¡¡¡¡”There are around 20,000 people trapped in the town, most of them are kids, old people,” the resident says. “My friend’s three nieces were hit by shrapnel. They are not even teens.”
¡¡¡¡The junta imposed martial law in Mindat on Thursday and then stepped up attacks on what it called “armed terrorists.”
¡¡¡¡9:10 p.m. Sai Kan Nyunt, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, has been found dead with many stab wounds, according to local media reports.
¡¡¡¡To catch up on earlier developments, see the last edition of latest updates.