Last week in the East Asia Pacific region, fighting continued between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA), and between the military and the Chinland Defense Force (CDF). Civilians were targeted by the military and pro-military militias across the country, while two anti-coup armed groups targeted teachers in Tanintharyi region. In the Philippines, inter-clan violence turned deadly in Maguindanao, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). In Indonesia, police shot and wounded an ethnic Papuan protester during a demonstration commemorating the death of a Papuan activist in Jayapura. In Papua New Guinea, Australian military personnel were deployed to the country to assist in the upcoming national elections to be held between 2 and 22 July. In South Korea, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) ended their weeklong strike demanding a guaranteed minimum wage for truck drivers, while rival political supporters held rallies near the residences of incumbent President Yoon Suk-yeol and former President Moon Jae-in. In Thailand, anti-government demonstrations broke out in major cities to demand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha‘s resignation, turning violent in Bangkok.
In Myanmar, fighting was reported between the military and the KIO/KIA in Kachin and northern Shan states and in Sagaing region last week. Fighting broke out in Kachin state when the military intruded on KIO/KIA-controlled territories in Sumprabum and Mohnyin townships on 12 June (Network Media Group, 13 June 2022). In Sagaing region, KIO/KIA and the Tigyaing People’s Defense Force (PDF) combined forces used mines to attack a military convoy traveling from Indaw to Tigyaing township at four locations, inflicting military casualties (Kachinland News, 16 June 2022). Fighting between the military and the KIO/KIA also occurred In Kutkai township, northern Shan state.
In Chin state, local CDF groups attacked military forces stationed in township administration offices, police stations, and schools in Kanpetlet, Mindat, and Tedim towns between 12 and 14 June. The attacks come after the military seized a CDF base camp near Chin Let Mun village in Kanpetlet township on 10 June, and may be an attempt by the CDF to prevent the military from reinforcing troops at the base. Separately, shelling by the military killed three civilians near Moei Twei village in Mindat (Irrawaddy, 16 June 2022). These trends contribute to the 153% increase in violence in Chin state over the past week relative to the past month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker. Violence in Chin state is both common and highly volatile; it is considered an area of ‘extreme risk’ by ACLED’s Volatility and Risk Predictability Index.
Meanwhile, the military and pro-military militias continued to attack civilians across the country last week, as video emerged of soldiers bragging about killing civilians earlier in the year (Radio Free Asia, 17 June 2022). In Sagaing region, the military and the Pyu Saw Htee militia abducted eight Ta Ohn villagers on 10 June; the latter were used as human shields before being shot dead by the military (Democratic Voice of Burma, 16 June 2022). In Magway region, the military abducted, tortured, killed, and burned five civilians, including a school principal, a pregnant teacher, a nurse participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), and two members of the Northern Yesagyo Guerrilla Force in Yesagyo township (Irrawaddy, 15 June 2022). In Tanintharyi region, Sun Ye Tatphwe (Kite Force), a pro-military militia, detained and killed two villagers on 15 June near Wet Chaung village, Yebyu township. Like Chin state, violence in both Magway and Tanintharyi regions is both common and highly volatile; they are both considered areas of ‘extreme risk’ by ACLED’s Volatility and Risk Predictability Index, along with five other states and regions of the country.
Mass arrests by the military also continued last week. In Yangon region, the military arrested more than 40 anti-coup protesters and their relatives between 12 and 13 June. Military intelligence operations targeting anti-coup protesters have increased in recent weeks, along with the checking of overnight guest lists. Overnight guest lists are kept in the ward administrator’s office and include all guests that are not registered to the ward that are staying in the ward overnight (Irrawaddy, 15 June 2022). The practice of keeping overnight guest lists was abolished under the National League for Democracy administration but was reimplemented following the military coup. The lists are used to prevent people from sheltering activists as they face fines or imprisonment if caught (Nikkei Asia, 14 February 2021).
Meanwhile, in Tanintharyi region, members of the Launglon PDF and Dawei Guerrilla Revolutionary Force (DGRF), both anti-coup armed groups, shot dead a lecturer at Dawei University and a General Administration Department clerk in Launglon township on 12 June. They were accused by the groups of being military informants, an accusation which some locals refute (DVB, 14 June 2022). The Launglon PDF also sent threatening letters and bullets to four teachers, warning them against pressuring students and parents participating in the CDM to resume attending school. One of the teachers who was targeted denies pressuring students to attend school, noting that teachers who do not join the CDM movement may have economic reasons rather than political ones for their decision (Democratic Voice of Burma, 16 June 2022). The attacks and warning letters come as the new school year began in early June. ACLED’s Subnational Threat Tracker first warned of increased violence to come in Tanintharyi region in the past month.
Last week in the Philippines, at least nine people were killed during an inter-clan clash in Maguindanao province, BARMM, that has been linked to the results of local elections on 9 May and a longstanding rido — a traditional clan feud. While the clash was linked to tensions between the winning and losing mayoral candidates in General Salipada K. Pendatun town, one of the candidates has said that the fighting was primarily caused by a longstanding rido (Rappler, 15 June 2022). Rido violence is common in the southern Philippines, particularly in the BARMM region, where it manifests as attacks or ‘vendetta killings’ by one clan on another (The Diplomat, 6 July 2017). Rido persists as an intergenerational conflict that often intersects with other conflicts, such as longstanding land disputes, the Moro separatist insurgency, Islamist fundamentalist movements, and electoral competition (The Diplomat, 6 July 2017; Crisis Group, 18 February 2022). ACLED’s Subnational Threat Tracker first warned of increased violence to come in BARMM in the past month.
In Indonesia, police opened fire on ethnic Papuan protesters during commemorations on the anniversary of the death of Papuan independence activist Mako Tabuni on 14 June in Jayapura city, Papua province. Four protesters were arrested, and six were injured, including one who sustained a gunshot wound. Indonesian police shot and killed Tabuni in 2012, claiming that he was killed while resisting arrest (New York Times, 15 June 2012). Papuan activists, however, claim he was unarmed and shot in the back of the head by police (BBC, 14 June 2012).
In Papua New Guinea, 130 Australian military personnel arrived in Port Moresby last week to provide support to local authorities, military, and police ahead of the upcoming national elections scheduled for 2 to 22 July (Australian Department of Defence, 16 June 2022). The deployment follows the outbreak of election-related violence in recent weeks. It also comes amid growing geostrategic tensions between China and Australia and its allies over influence in the region. This competition has become one of the key issues in election campaigns (Jakarta Post, 3 June 2022).
In South Korea, striking unionized cargo truckers under the KCTU ended an eight-day strike on 14 June, after reaching a provisional agreement with the transportation ministry regarding a possible extension of the freight rate system (Korea JoongAng Daily, 15 June 2022). Despite ending the strike, the union continues to demand the permanent institutionalization of the system and its expansion to reach all cargo workers beyond the current benefit restriction (Maeil Business News Korea, 15 June 2022).
In addition, progressive activists staged a series of rallies last week in front of President Yoon’s private residence, in response to ongoing demonstrations by conservative activists outside former President Moon’s house in Yangsan. Anti-Moon conservative demonstrators have been holding demonstrations outside Moon’s residence since his arrival in Yangsan on 11 May after his retirement, to criticize the former administration. Progressive activists condemn the current administration for not taking any measures against the anti-Moon demonstrations. They vow to continue their rallies in front of President Yoon’s residence until the end of the protests in Yangsan (Munhwa Ilbo, 15 June 2022).
In Thailand, anti-government demonstrations increased in Bangkok and Chiang Mai last week. After a long pause of disruptive demonstrations, demonstrators led by Thalugaz took to the streets in Bangkok three times last week to call for Prime Minister Prayut’s resignation and the release on bail of the anti-government protesters. On 11 June, Thalugaz members threw objects and firecrackers at police at the Din Daeng intersection, causing two injuries. Members of Thalugaz returned to the Din Daeng intersection on 14 June and set fire to car tires on the road.
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