A political prisoner and a driver were killed when the convoy that transferred political prisoners from Monywa Prison was detonated; Continuously declining value of the Myanmar kyat

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – August 16 Scenes

MoeMaKa, August 17, 2023

A political prisoner and a driver were killed when the convoy that transferred political prisoners from Monywa Prison was detonated; Continuously declining value of the Myanmar kyat


On the afternoon of August 15, the convoy transferring the prisoners from Monywa Prison to Mandalay Prison and Myingyan Prison was hit by a mine on the Monywa-Mandalay Highway, killing the driver and a person convicted of political crimes on the vehicle and seriously injuring another, according to reports.


The deceased political prisoner was Dr. Zaw Htoi Aung, who was arrested and sentenced by the military council in late 2021. Dr. Zaw Htoi Aung was one of the people who provided medical treatment to the war refugees and was arrested by the military council in September 2021 for having contact with the PDFs and sentenced to 10 years in prison.


Dr. Zaw Htoi Aung died at the scene of the detonation of the convoy, and Ko Arkar Nyein Chan, another political prisoner who was shackled with him, was seriously injured, according to news reports. It is known that the inmates transferred to the prison were not moved in a prison car like a police car but in a truck fenced by iron plates. Details of whether these cars were owned by the prison department or if they used civilian cars for a fee were not known.


According to reports, it has not yet been disclosed which of the PDF groups active on the Monywa-Mandalay road was related to this incident. It is not clear whether the mines were detonated without knowing who was in the vehicle, as it is related to the Ministry of Defense of the military council. This incident is similar to the incident that happened when a bomb was blown up at the reception counter of Yangon’s Insein Prison. The people killed were those who were arrested on political charges against the military council, and they unintentionally reached the result of attacking those on their own side.


One thing that can be concluded from this incident is that there is no single command system among the armed movement against the military council, i.e., among the general people’s defense forces in Sagaing Region, and there is a lack of communication, information exchange, and cooperation between a large number of organizations. There are various armed groups that have different opinions, such as village defense groups, armed groups that are not affiliated with the NUG, and armed groups that are affiliated with the NUG. There are groups that have good relationships with each other, and there are groups that have bad relationships and do not exchange information at all.


It is true that the armed movements in northern Sagaing and Magway are able to expand their territory, intercept and attack the military council troops, and do prevent the military council troops from dominating the territories. On the other hand, we hear that the people who live under the armed groups that are fragmented are having difficulties in living and moving under inconsistent governance and have to pay taxes collected by various organizations. I began to think that there was an urgent need for a political organization such as a co-operation between the armed organizations against the military council and a coherent administrative system.


NUG Defence Minister U Yee Mon commented while preparing an interview with Radio NUG in charge, “In guerrilla warfare, the LDFs on the ground are important, and in future strategic offensives, individual groups will not be able to do it. LDFs are also invited to participate in building a mass force. If they stand as MoD’s PDF, they should go according to MoD’s chain of command, and separate groups themselves are encouraged to improve their CoC within their group.”  Regarding the criticism of the relationship between the people’s defense forces and other local defense forces, he called it a partnership conflict. He said that friends and allies must watch out for those who torch each other’s relationships.


Another news item for today is that the Myanmar kyat continues to decline in value, the exchange rate against the US dollar has risen to about 3,700 kyat per dollar, and the exchange rate between the Thai baht and the Myanmar kyat is reaching around 101.5 kyat per Thai baht. The news that the military council will issue 20,000 kyat banknotes and the expansion of financial sanctions by the United States on the military council’s foreign trade banks pushed the value of the Myanmar kyat to drop, which has continued to decline in recent weeks. Those who understand the market and businessmen think that the current price is not what it should really be, but they think that the chaos of the military council government’s policy and the decline in economic confidence are fueling the further decline in the value of the kyat.


Economic downturns and inflation, increased restrictions on the flow of goods due to armed conflicts, increased risk of loss due to poor security conditions, and rising commodity prices have become a situation that the people of Myanmar are suffering.