Beyond the Headlines: Australian bank announces plans to withdraw from Myanmar 


Two Myanmar journalists were handed two-year prison sentences by regime-controlled courts in Yangon while two others from military-friendly media outlets were reportedly arrested after a press conference in Naypyitaw last week.

A junta-appointed judge sentenced freelance reporter Thuzar to two years in prison on November 22 in a closed court inside Insein Prison where she has been detained since early October of last year. She was arrested by regime troops in September and spent a month in interrogation before she was charged with incitement by the East Dagon Township Court and transferred to the prison. Thuzar had a warrant issued for her arrest in May, and escaped a military raid on her house during the same month. Junta troops arrested her husband Ye Ko Ko when they were unable to find her, holding him in an interrogation centre until he was released on bail four days later. 

Thuzar was a member of the Myanmar Press Council formed during the National League for Democracy (NLD) government’s tenure, and had previously worked as a reporter for RFA, Modern Journal, The Irrawaddy, 7Day News, and Friday Times News Journal. Following the February 1 coup and until May, Thuzar worked as a freelance reporter at the Friday Times and Myanmar Pressphoto Agency.

Freelance journalist Thuzar

Meanwhile, detained journalist and columnist Sithu Aung Myint was also handed the same prison sentence by the Bahan Township Court on November 24 for his second incitement case under Section 505a of the Penal Code. He has now been sentenced to a total of five years in prison after being convicted of another incitement charge filed at Pazundaung Township court on October 7. He still faces a sedition charge under Section 124a of the Penal Code, filed in Yangon’s eastern district court. 

The prominent columnist was arrested in Yangon on August 15 along with another journalist, Htet Htet Khine. He has been an outspoken critic of military rule and regularly contributed to media outlets such as Frontier Myanmar and Voice of America’s (VOA) Burmese service. After his arrest, regime mouthpiece Global New Light of Myanmar said Sithu Aung Myint had supported “terrorist groups,” encouraged people to join the Civil Disobedience Movement, and spread “fake news” about a junta-controlled lottery scheme. 

Columnist Sithu Aung Myint

Two media personnel from pro-junta news outlets were arrested after they raised a question at a military press conference on November 18 about the possibility of detained State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other journalists being released. They were reportedly taken into custody by the junta’s home affairs authorities after the event. No further details on their arrests were available at the time of reporting.

According to local group Detained Journalists Information Myanmar, which has been monitoring the conditions faced by media under the junta, a total of 151 journalists have been arrested since the February 2021 coup, 95 of whom have been released. A total of 16 news organisations have had their publishing licences revoked by the military authorities, including Myanmar Now. 

Economy and investment

The Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) announced in a statement on November 22 that it plans to withdraw from Myanmar by next year citing increasing “operational complexity” over the past several months. The bank said the end of its operations would be “subject to local regulatory approval.” It has a team of around two dozen local staff in the country.

“The decision follows careful consideration of the local operating conditions,” Simon Ireland, ANZ’s international managing director, said.

The move came after activist group Justice For Myanmar urged ANZ, Singapore’s UOB and Vietnam’s BIDV to stop dealing with Myanmar military-owned Innwa Bank earlier this month, citing leaked transaction files of payments between the banks. The group said at the time that continued international engagement with Innwa Bank illustrated “a failure of governments to take a coordinated approach to isolated military conglomerates and cutting off the junta’s sources of revenue.”

People walk past an ANZ branch in downtown Singapore in 2011 (EPA/EFE)

Armed resistance

Five members of Yangon-based urban guerrilla force Wi Moutti were arrested on November 22 in Yangon, according to a spokesperson for the group. The junta authorities tracked them down after their national identification cards, along with explosives and ammunition, were allegedly seized in a raid earlier this month. The regime announced the next day that four men and a woman who were members of an anti-regime guerrilla group were captured at two separate locations in Yangon. In its statement, the military accused them of stealing 20m kyat (nearly US$9,500) from a ticket counter at the train station in Pazundaung Township on November 1, which the spokesperson of Wi Moutti rejected as untrue. Myanmar Now is unable to verify either parties’ claims independently.


Two regime-appointed local administrators were shot dead by gunmen in Yangon’s Dagon Seikkan Township on the morning of November 28, according to a source within the police force.

Ward administrator Kyaw Than and 100-household administrator San Win Hlaing sustained injuries in their abdomen and thighs and died en route to the hospital, said the source. Pro-military media channels reported that the two men were at a Buddhist community hall in Dagon Seikkan’s 81st Ward when the two gunmen arrived, initially saying they wanted to report guest registration before opening fire. A driver named Aung Naing Thu was also injured in the shooting but survived the attack. No Yangon-based urban guerrilla group has claimed responsibility for the shooting so far.


Ousted Rakhine State chief minister Nyi Pu, who is currently being held in Sittwe Prison, is losing more of his eyesight as his cataracts progress and he is denied a medical intervention, a relative told Myanmar Now. Kyi Kyi Oo, his daughter, said that he developed the eye condition prior to the coup and that it had worsened since he was imprisoned in February 2021. She said that the family has not been able to see him in person, despite visiting the detention centre on multiple occasions. 

Nyi Pu has been handed a sentence of more than 11 years for various criminal charges filed by the military, including incitement, corruption and voter fraud. He was arrested in Gwa on February 1 as the coup unfolded, along with other chief ministers appointed by the elected NLD government. He was initially released the following day and placed under house arrest, but was again imprisoned on February 10. 

Nyi Pu is seen with Aung San Suu Kyi at the Sittwe Airport in November 2017 (EPA/EFE)

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