Detained supermodel Thinzar Wint Kyaw appeared in a court hearing in Yangon’s Mayangone Township on September 14, more than one month after her arrest in early August. The junta charged her and Nang Mwe San, another model, with violating Section 33a of the 2004 Electronic Transactions Law for publishing sexually revealing content on adult entertainment sites.
A junta statement at that time said that the models’ actions had harmed “Myanmar culture and Myanmar women’s dignity.” If convicted, they face up to 15 years in prison. Nang Mwe San was initially arrested at her residence in North Dagon Township—where the junta has instituted martial law—and has not been allowed legal representation at her military tribunal. Both Thinzar Wint Kyaw and Nang Mwe San are being detained at the notorious Insein Prison.
Amid escalating tension between the Arakan Army and the Myanmar military in Rakhine State, the government of neighbouring Bangladesh has said it will inform the UN if Myanmar does not cease its fire of weaponry near the country’s border, according to a September 17 report in the Dhaka Tribune. Citing the Bangladeshi home affairs minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, the report said that Bangladesh had repeatedly warned Myanmar about such border violations through the foreign affairs ministry but that the concerns had been ignored.
Amid recent Myanmar army shelling in the area, at least 10 Rohingya people had recently fled to two refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh: Kutupalong and Balukhali, the Dakha Tribune said. The report stated that six Rohingya people were injured and one killed in explosions caused by shells fired on September 17. As of Sunday, Bangladesh’s foreign ministry had reportedly summoned Myanmar junta-appointed ambassador Aung Kyaw Moe four times to discuss the issue, but a meeting had yet to take place.
Economy and investment
International fast fashion retailer Primark will stop sourcing apparel from Myanmar following the publication of an independent study by the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) exploring the human rights implications of continuing to do business in the country.
“The ETI report makes for very difficult reading. Its findings show there has been a significant deterioration in the situation in Myanmar which poses significant challenges to our ability to ensure the standards we require to protect the safety and rights of the people who make our clothes and products,” a Primark spokesperson was quoted as saying in clothing magazine Ecotextile on September 15.
Primark has a total of 899 supplier factories in 26 countries around the world, including 17 in Myanmar. In March of last year, the Guardian wrote that workers employed by GY Sun Factory, one of Primark’s Myanmar suppliers, were locked inside of their factory by supervisors who tried to prevent them from joining anti-coup protests.
Junta affairs and armed resistance
A leaked copy of an August speech by the Myanmar junta’s police chief revealed that between 20 and 26 members of the police had been killed monthly since the February 2021 coup. The document seen by Myanmar Now is part of a detailed transcript of Maj-Gen Zin Min Htet’s speech, which was delivered in the police’s Naypyitaw headquarters. He said that a total of 360 police had been killed as of July and that it had been difficult to recruit and retain new officers. In 2022, the police force had brought on 1,740 new members, but 849 had left their jobs halfway through the year. Desertion was a major contributor to the loss of personnel, the police chief—who is also deputy minister of home affairs—explained, with 238 police joining the resistance in June and July alone. A total of 1,142 police members had also been injured since the coup, he added. According to the shadow National Unity Government (NUG), more than 6,000 members of the junta’s police have defected since the coup, half of whom have had contact with the NUG’s own home affairs ministry.
Five members of the Pa-O National Liberation Army (PNLA) were murdered by the Pa-O National Organisation (PNO), a junta-allied militia group, in southern Shan State on September 14, according to the PNLA. The group said that its slain members were initially detained in the village of War Pyone in Pinlaung Township. It added that it condemned the incident but would resolve the matter through peaceful means. The PNLA is the armed wing of the Pa-O National Liberation Organisation, a signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement reached under former president Thein Sein in 2012.
Four people were injured after a handmade bomb went off outside the office of the municipal police in Yangon’s Kamayut Township at around 8:35am on September 16. The victims were two women and two men; according to a witness who spoke to Myanmar Now, one of the women was a passerby. Another explosive planted at the site was safely detonated by bomb disposal experts. A Yangon-based urban guerrilla group called the Special Task Agency of Burma claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said targeted Yangon’s junta-appointed mayor Bo Htay and other municipal officials. The group said in a statement that a police vehicle was damaged in the explosion, but made no mention of the injured bystander.
Also on September 16, a man accused of working as a military informant was shot dead in Yangon’s Thaketa Township. According to a police source, the victim, Kyaw Kyaw Lin, was talking with another man near a school when two gunmen on a bicycle opened fire on them, shooting a total of nine rounds. Kyaw Kyaw Lin sustained five bullet wounds to the head and died at the scene of the shooting, while the other man, Paing Hmu Khant, suffered an injury to his right thigh, according to the source. Local media outlets described Kyaw Kyaw Lin as a former soldier close to junta officials. Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify this information.
Both the junta-controlled health ministry and members of the Myanmar public have reported an increase in Covid-19 cases in urban areas across the country in recent weeks. According to the ministry’s data, there have been a total of 3,677 new cases of Covid-19 and eight more fatalities from the virus since September 1. Healthcare workers have urged the public to take extra precautions following the latest outbreak, even though the current infections have not been as severe as those caused by earlier strains. Viital medicines have become more costly due to restrictions on the import and retention of foreign currency and continued shortage of employees at hospitals in the wake of the coup.