Myanmar: Ongoing Updates


3 Feb 2023
First, please do listen to that shared podcast @vermes82 just posted. (Incidentally I’m having issues with this in Opera but got it to play in another browser)

I owe much gratitude to Aung Kyaw Moe, occasionally riding sidecar with him as he points out the obstacles he’s been helping others, including me, steer clear of. He is a remarkable human navigator and human being.

Another source doing humanitarian work has just been at Cox’s Bazar and describes it as hell. :frowning:

No Faith in Elections
[edited] Per Radio Free Asia:

Myanmar’s junta has said it plans to hold new elections in August, but U.S. officials have cast doubts on the legitimacy of any vote.

State Department counselor Derek Chollet told the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June that he believed there was “no chance it could be free and fair” and would likely just be an “attempt to just manipulate the region, the international community.”

No US Ambassador ≠ No Compass
I may have previously reported about US Ambassador Tom Vajda’s time in the embassy coming to a close a couple of months ago. Vajda was a solid Trump-era nominee from summer 2020, and it wasn’t until just before the coup (the one in Myanmar) that he was sworn in to serve there. As reported in the same article from which I quoted above, there are some good reasons not to replace Vajda with someone of the same rank or title:

Scot Marciel, who preceded Vajda as ambassador and served from 2016 to 2020, told Radio Free Asia there were a few reasons why the United States would not immediately name a replacement.

“I would think that one reason would be that they would not want the new ambassador to present his credentials … and in doing so, create the appearance of giving legitimacy to the junta,” Marciel said, adding that such a situation could be considered a downgrade of relations.

“If it’s true that they don’t intend to nominate a new ambassador, then, yes, that would be a downgrade,” he said.

It’s kind of neat that we can get this said from outside of the current State Dept. While Chollet rejects anything close to endorsing a Min Aung Hlaing election, those in the consul side are also careful to portray this as what it also is, a sort of routine changing of the guard. Having it characterized different ways from different depts is a kind of good cop bad cop deal, but it’s also in consul’s interest to go at it in a less politically charged manner. Consul does a ton of work in many different areas. With other visa approvals not renewed or new ones being dragged out by the regime’s ministries, the result is a bare-bones, overworked team. Some of the sharpest people deployed globally are in Yangon. So compare what the former ambassador said above to these:

There will be no immediate replacement for the U.S. ambassador to Myanmar, Thomas Vajda, when he leaves his post this month, with his deputy instead taking over as chargé d’affaires “ad interim.”

The arrangement will allow the United States to maintain a mission in Yangon but avoid having a new ambassador hand credentials to the military junta that seized power in the February 2021 coup, a move that would be viewed as legitimizing the regime.

But a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said in an email that Vajda’s departure was “a normal staffing change” and did not represent a change in policy from the U.S. government.

“Our current Deputy Chief of Mission Deborah Lynn will serve as Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim…"

The situation – with a mission led by a chargé d’affaires – will be a return to the manner in which the United States was represented in Myanmar between the 1988 coup and 2012, when democratic elections were held and were swept by the National League for Democracy, which the military removed from power last year.

Another State Department spokesperson said Vajda’s departure was “long planned” and that the embassy would remain open as usual.


4 Feb 2023
Anatomy of a rigged election
Irrawaddy explains:

The military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) on Feb. 1 re-registered as a political party with the junta-appointed Union Election Commission, as required by the new Political Parties Registration Law recently signed into effect by junta boss Min Aung Hlaing.

The new law effectively makes the junta-proposed election a one-horse race in favor of the party led by ex-generals.

Under the new law, political parties contesting at the Union level need to recruit a minimum 100,000 members within 90 days of registering, and open offices in more than 160 townships, or half of the country’s total, within 180 days. They are also required to contest in over 600 constituencies.

Sanctions, Rallies & A Downed Helicopter
The pre-anniversary spate of new US sanctions were coordinated with other nations. Iran is also targeted. Australia story here.

Rallies around the world today (as it’s Saturday Feb 4) for the anniversary of the coup.

On increasing worries that the regime is upgrading it’s air force, shifting (for example) from Chinese K-8’s to the Russian Yak-130’s and Sukhoi-30s (this is really worth a quick look):

(tl;dr: K-8s are basic jet trainers, Yak-130’s fancier jet trainers. Sukhoi-30’s have the massive bomb payload capacity. "Between October, 2021 and the end of September, 2022, [the regime] launched 190 attacks on civilian targets.)

…There’s a rumor I haven’t seen substantiated that the CDM / PDF has shot down a Russian made helicopter this week. I will poke around. Back in May 2021 the Kachin Independence Army shot down a Russian-made Phoenix Mi-35 attack helicopter using FN-6 Man-Portable Air-Defense System (MANPADS). These helicopter gunships have proven vulnerable to the same/similar gear in Ukraine.


The analyst I asked was not confident yet. Photos they’ve seen attributed to it were from the previous confirmed shootdown.


6 Feb 2023

NUG Updates
The NUG is doing a series of briefings to the Myanmar community in Burmese but you can see the agendas here.

For an English language update here’s the latest from the NUG’s Foreign Affairs Ministry:

Spring_revolution_2_year_special_issue_English.pdf (4.3 MB)

Adani Corruption Callout: Oh, The Humanity

A wonderful long form story below discusses the massive loss to shareholders (notably the largest one) of Adani, a company whose Myanmar port plan was eyed with much suspicion over payoffs, turning a blind eye to atrocities and potentially propping up the regime for years to come in a $290M deal for a port called “Terminal 2.” It appears at least $30M was already handed over. Adani stock has been shorted by a very diligent and aptly named hedge fund, Hindenberg Research.

A report by our friends at Justice for Myanmar, together with the Australian Center for International Justice, may helped deflate the Adani blimp.

Adani threw in the towel on Myanmar’s Terminal 2 at the end of October 2021. I believe this is now the same property over which NUG is claiming future control and has auctioned off a planned residential community there.


13 Feb 2023
Today is the 2nd anniversary of those shocking warrants that showed the regime to be in fear of social media influencers. It also would have been the 54th birthday of the executed Gen 88 activist Ko Jimmy.


15 Feb 2022
I’ve complained of burnout in the past. We got Kyaw Htay Oo back home and it feels like he’s a hostage to the healthcare labyrinth. Excited for what’s to come but what a fucking slog it’s been. Advice is to treat covid vax as a complete do over because the prisoners were given the Chinese 60% effective vaxes. Incidentally the prescribed roll out of those was 10 shots to a bottle. In Naypyidaw where all the prisoners were political and other high profile figures, that was the case. In other prisons, they’d distributed a 10 person bottle dose to about 12 people. Anywhoo it’s been quite some time even since those were given.

I signed up and checked the right boxes in the CVS signup, but when we arrived at the CVS they say they aren’t carrying the first jab shots any more. I get it, policywise - that being, you’re either vaxxed in California or you’ll be begging for it on your deathbed… but what about for young people who get to vaccination age? Anyway, the online enrollment fucked us and I’m hoping there’s a freezadore somewhere in southern california with a viable Moderna or Pfizer starter. Sometimes First World Problems = Third World Problems.

He’s in some talks and will be accompanying NUG foreign ministers who will be visiting California to continue these Burmese language “town hall” meetings. I may see them as well. If you have any questions that might represent differing viewpoint/perspective than the majority who are likely to attend these things, please message me and I’ll see what I can do to get them answered.


22 Feb 2023
EU added more sanctions.

This should be an interesting chat - 6 a.m. west coast on Friday

Late add. I tried that 2Dumb2Destroy IA chat recommended by @thomdunn and it really does solve everything:


2 March 2023
The medical support is such a slog. But we’re getting there.

In addition to the physical torture there was some psychological I won’t get into. Interviewed with an international broadcaster today.

I met Wayne Shorter in a square brick courtyard in DTLA. He took a stand in support of democracy in Burma and against corporate dealings with the regime, in the late 1990s, and I believe this was at the time of a shareholder meeting, but it may have been a vigil. His statement was his own and the text had the clear imprint of a jazz musician. He was rare among celebrities, as this was many years before the Hollywood campaign for the release of DASSK. RIP.

Edit 3/4:



Having worked and reported on this issue, expect a future evil workaround to be “label laundering” - ship teak to Malaysia or Indonesia and have it stamped with the mark of a local forestry operation there for export. Buyers will turn a blind eye.


The article says that India is importing teak from Myanmar, so perhaps the label laundering is happening there.


I did comment before reading the whole article. It’s really thorough!


Or it could be a form of indirect laundering or substitution, in which Indian dealers import Burmese teak for the domestic market so that they can export genuine Indian teak to Europe.

1 Like

6 March 2023
Fire In Rohingya Refugee Camp


Update: Fire is reportedly under control and there are miraculously no casualties. 3000 structures damaged and a health center burned to the ground. This is not arson but the result of living in close quarters with personal fires and not much firefighting equipment. It originated in one home and spread quickly.

This could have been much worse. Reuters:

The refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar are prone to such blazes. A massive fire in March 2021 killed at least 15 refugees and destroyed over 10,000 homes.

India / Refugee rundown
I’ve covered so little of this, but after an escapee from the regime died in custody, exiles around the world are calling for more focus on India’s handling of their people.

RFA, 30 Jan '23: Myanmar refugees arrested by Indian police in Manipur

Diplomat Jan 25 '22: Myanmar Refugee Numbers Swell in India’s Mizoram State and
26 Mar '21: India’s Dangerous Myanmar Policy

4 Mar 2021: Police not wanting to kill their own people ditched the coup, three near North Vanlaiphai (Al Jazeera) and nineteen in Champai and Serchhip (Reuters).
By March 19th there were 34 police and a firefighter - this piece quotes from interviews of them:

“We are all policemen working under the Myanmar government. We left our family in Myanmar. We do not know what is happening to our family, but they will face a lot of problems from the army. We came to Mizoram for shelter, we will die if we go back there,” he said.

India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 or its 1967 Protocol. The group India For Myanmar is appealing directly to the people:

India For Myanmar on Facebook (their website has some background info but is less active)

Sincere thanks to BB for this new “War Reporter” designation. It’s nice.

As I’m helping the returned detainee address his health needs with a better medical system than he had when he lived here before, I’m learning more about the treatment of prisoners going way back. It is a reminder/wake up call to press the doctors to look at the old injuries from previous “interrogations.”

I’m excited for a new opportunity to get Bamar and Rohingya together here. It’s for an event that will happen regardless but their involvement could add a lot to it. I’m only just onto this, but support/commitments seem to be positive already.


9 March 2023