Myanmar Spring Chronicle – January 25 Scenes
MoeMaKa, January 26 2023
Fighting reaching Kyondoe Township of Karen State; Rice prices rose again in the new crop season
Fighting has been going on in some villages in Kyondoe Township for the past few days, led by the Karen armed group, which was recently re-established under the name Kaw Thoo Lei Army, led by General Nerdah Mya. It is taking place around the big villages, such as Kanni and Kawt Bein. Kanni and Kawt Bein are large villages included in the administrative boundaries of Karen State, and ethnically, they are large villages where the Mon ethnic people live. Though they are called villages, they do not differ from cities because they are villages where locals have traded goods across the Thai-Myanmar border since the days of the Thai-Myanmar border smuggling trade, and by looking at the buildings and houses in those villages.
It is also reported in the news that the fighting broke out because of the blocking of the military council convoy from the Kyainseikgyi to give reinforcements to the Payathonzu by the Kaw Thoo Lei Army. Administratively, it is Karen State, and ethnically, most of the villages are inhabited by Mon ethnic people, so it may not be expected that these villages will be involved in the fighting between the military council and the Karen armed forces. As for Mon State, there are some PDF forces only in Kyaikto, Thaton and Ye Townships, and there are hardly any PDF armed forces in townships such as Mawlamyine, Mudon, Thanbyuzayat, Chaungzon, Kyaikmaraw, and Paung townships. The party representing the Mon ethnic people, the New Mon State Party (NMSP), is an organization that has been assigned to the NCA and also maintains a policy of interacting with the military council.
It remains to be seen how the New Mon Party will negotiate in a situation where fighting has erupted in the villages of Kyondoe Township, where the majority of Mon ethnic people live, with houses being burned down and villagers fleeing to other villages, taking whatever they can with them. The spread of war in the areas where the majority of the Mon ethnic people live might be a stimulus for the officials of the New Mon State Party to do something.
In another piece of news for today, a report released by the United Nations organization, the HNO and HRP stated that more than 17 million people, which is 1/3 of Myanmar’s population, are in need of humanitarian assistance.
It also said that the population increased by 1 million more than last year. Compared to the beginning of 2022, due to widespread battle areas and intensified battles throughout the year, the local people are unable to carry out their main livelihood activities, with houses and properties being burned and looted, resulting in an increased need for humanitarian assistance.
A topic related to this news is the sudden rise in rice prices during this year’s rice season. The price of 100 tins of rice has reached a maximum of 1,600,000 kyats due to the fact that the value of the Myanmar Kyat has decreased in the past year and rice cultivation has decreased in areas of armed conflict. It is an unprecedented price, and large companies that export rice abroad, are buying rice at a high price according to the dollar exchange rate and due to the fact that food prices are rising globally. However, on the other hand, rising rice prices will have an impact on the majority of people living in the country, who do not receive a significant wage. In Sagaing Division and the upper part of Magway, the farmers who planted crops have to sell rice to big traders as soon as the crops are harvested since the previous season.
It is no longer a situation to store food in a barn with the intention of selling it when you need it or selling it when you get a good price. It is in a situation where houses and food are being destroyed by fire, so crops that can be harvested are being sold to buyers at available prices, and people are forced to live in uncertain conditions as their lives and possessions are being destroyed day and night.