Myanmar: Ongoing Updates

14 March

Regarding the monks, the International Crisis Group has issued a thorough retrospective here:

There is a great deal of frustration with the monks in the US. Most are not lifting a finger. But some monasteries are serving as gathering places for events and/or fundraisers such as when the NUG Human Rights Minister Aung Myo Min addressed the Burmese community in Southern California.



16 March 2023

I’m going over my notes re Pencilo. I’m not sure if I re-stated what happened in those opening days and the first even warrants. I’ll expand or delete this comment in a few hours.


What justice options are there for people who have been tortured in Myanmar?

Not as many as there could have been had the country signed the international conventions. Here’s a view from the summer before the coup into how the NLD, many of whose members were themselves tortured, had handled prevented it.



30 March 2023
I am in a bit of a funk and haven’t gotten back to BB but this piece by USIP is very important.

National Armed Services day came and went, they did the big parade and it was ridiculous as ever, and the world laughed. However, some ASEAN leaders shamelessly attended.

New sanctions are kinda weird, they target the MOGE ministers (finally) but not MOGE itself. Chevron’s stake is being bought up by a Canadian company and the Blood Money Campaign is predictably pissed at the Canadians now. But there are other sanctions statements around the jet fuel, finally.

Some of these issues here:


31 March 2023
Days after Min Aung Hlaing got to hang out with a bunch of ASEAN sycophants for his big brass parade, he has formally screwed the peacock and any hope of an election that could pass as legit. Dated March 30 '23:


IIRC this is what the Thai army does after each coup. They dissolve all existing parties and ban their leaders from politics, then after a few years they allow the formation of new parties that accept military rule as legitimate and are willing to work within the limits set by the military regime.

Anyway, perhaps (but probably not) this move might shift foreign governments’ attitudes to “engagement” with the junta.


15 April 2023 (too wordy & kinda rough - I will try to get back and trim this)

I have put off tax filing so there’s that.

Myanmar and the perception of it are an absolute shitshow.

The NUG funded a new office in Pa Za Gyi village, Sagaing Division. The grand opening was cut short by helicopters and a jet firebombing the whole event and really the whole village. >100 killed including many women and children.

A foothold that includes a NUG office is a symbolic but important threat. It was the right move by NUG. NUG must swing the “levers to recognition.” They must hold land, and prove they have administrative capacity where it is otherwise not present. Pa Zaw Gyi was also a great choice:

75 miles as the crow flies from Mandalay but on the PDF-held Sagaing side of the river, it is on a road that dead ends at the same river - there is no road bridge over to the military controlled side and to attack with ground forces would require a trip through numerous layers of ambush country already held and by the PDF where coup troops have suffered loss after loss, or perhaps via the river where there is so much activity, I suspect neither side can count on doing much in the way of secure ops at least as far as “land invasion” from there.

Being in that location, the office creates no direct military threat. But MAH saw a need to obliterate the symbol and everyone within sight of it. This response shows a regime that is decidedly not in control, and totally insecure. I will never condemn NUG for trying to do this.

ASEAN’s condemnation amounted to “all violence must stop and we must return to our wonderful 5 point consensus plan.” The word “consensus” must be called out as a whitewash. I remind the reader, the elected reps and NUG were excluded from it. Even those points to which ASEAN believed MAH had agreed in a face to face talk have seen no progress.

Time Magazine Wants You to Think Min Aung Hlaing is an “Influencer”
Click-baity headline? Yeah, well.

Somehow Time Magazine chose this moment to celebrate Min Aung Hlaing as one of the 100 most influential people of 2023. For anyone with a passion project, seeing a key person highlighted in Time is always disappointing - it isn’t just the broad brushstrokes but the profound way in which they solidly miss the mark like your LinkedIn contacts who boast about something they put 15 minutes into and have no idea what they’re talking about. I’m triggered in this case by Time Correspondent Charlie Campbell’s calling the PDF troops “pro-democracy rebels.” These aren’t insurgents - they’re coordinating with the NUG which was created by (and of) the elected people. Campbell cites for the “influential” designation that Myanmar is “the world’s second most authoritarian regime, per the Economist Intelligence Unit…”.

“Authoritarian” does not equal “influential.” Everywhere MAH has turned to gain influence, he has lost all the momentum he personally had gained before the coup. Yes DASSK was gaining as well, but the world had situated their fates together and now he’s very much alone.

Time could do a list of pariahs around the world and MAH would fit right in there.

I of course have gripes about there not being more copy from Time on Myanmar. To Time’s credit, though, a piece that is so thorough I’m sure it was lined up by writer Amy Gunia and integrated the coup events was published immediately following the coup (dateline was still Jan 31 in the US) was also swiftly updated.

It features a video interview of Rohingya activist Wai Wai Nu (who later co-designed the genocide exhibit in DC). Thus, Time was (I believe) the highest profile platform to present a broad statement of Rohingya opposition to the coup right from the start. Wai Wai presents as both down to earth and very well informed in Time’s interview:

Revisiting R2P
These recent events and same old actionless word play have me thinking again about all the hard work done by Myanmar people around the world pleading for activation of the provisions of the UN’s “Responsibility To Protect” doctrine. They aren’t going to do it. Captain Paul Watson understood this long before he founded Sea Shepherd Society and he created it for that very reason. A hired or deeply inspired armed forces might stand out from the usual mercenaries by invoking this, and it could also potentially be leveraged if they are caught in neighboring countries to further highlight the problem and keep them individually out of trouble.

Here’s how Sea Shepherd sees it.


17 April 2023
Death toll from Sagaing firebombing now reported per local PDF at over 200, including over 40 children, toddlers and a pregnant woman.

More on dissolving the political parties from a couple of weeks ago:


Regime: “oh, you don’t think the NUG are terrorists? Let us firebomb you until you reconsider.”


There is a “we must do SOMETHING” aspect combined with “Oh they are self isolating but they’ll talk to ME” which loses a very established thread: both of these concepts have been exploited by the military there for 35 years now. You’re not dealing with Anwar Sadat here.


25 April 2023
Meant to post earlier. This wasn’t in the news yet: Regime firebombed a hospital in Karenni State today. NUG especially wants it known to people like Ban Ki Moon that this is what happens when you think you are influencing the military regime there.

The coup team may be right - no matter how much violence they mete out, there will always be someone at their doorstep to help things along when they decide to appear to play nice for foreign $$. But more companies are bowing out as a result of these attacks.