Last week in the East Asia Pacific region, fighting broke out between the Myanmar military and the Cobra Column in Kayin state, and between the military and the Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA) in Kachin state. Operation Nan Htike Aung, under the National Unity Government (NUG), resumed in some parts of Yangon and Tanintharyi regions. Meanwhile, the military continued to carry out arrests, assaults, and killings of civilians. In Papua New Guinea, election-related violence persisted during the second week of the national election, which began on 4 July. In Indonesia, ethnic Papuans continued to demonstrate against the creation of new provinces in Papua. In China, thousands of people protesting a months-long suspected bank scam scandal were met with violence by state authorities. Lastly, in South Korea, unionized workers of a shipbuilder staged a large rally against a month-long strike held by its subcontracted workers.
In Myanmar, fighting broke out between the military and the Cobra Column — a combined force of the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army (KNU/KNLA), the Karen National Defence Organization (KNDO), and the People’s Defense Force (PDF) — in Kayin state last week. The clashes came as the Cobra Column intercepted military reinforcements in Myawaddy township on 12 and 13 July. The military has been sending reinforcements to Lay Kay Kaw and Waw Lay towns in Myawaddy township to maintain control over U Ka Yit Hta outpost. During the battle, the military suffered a considerable number of casualties (Myanmar Now, 13 July 2022). The Cobra Column also seized a large number of weapons and ammunition. ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker first warned of increased violence to come in Kayin in the past month.
In Kachin state, the military and a Lisu ethnic militia attacked temporary frontline bases of the KIO/KIA near Nang Zaw Yang village in Waingmaw township last week. The military used artillery, drones, and helicopters on the battlefield between 10 and 12 July. After the pro-military Lisu militia captured and killed a KIO/KIA officer in June, tensions between the militia and the KIO/KIA have increased. The military has been sending reinforcements to the area since the KIO/KIA publicly went against the military coup last year (Myanmar Now, 13 July 2022).
Elsewhere, the NUG’s ‘Nan Htike Aung’ military operation resumed in some parts of Tanintharyi and Yangon regions last week. In Tanintharyi region, local resistance groups bombed a military intelligence office in Yebyu township on 13 July. A combined force of the KNU/KNLA, KNDO, and PDF also attacked military soldiers stationed in Pa Wut Kone village, Palaw township. Both sides suffered casualties in the clash (Democratic Voice of Burma, 14 July 2022). Violence in Tanintharyi is both common and highly volatile; it is considered an area of ‘extreme risk’ by ACLED’s Volatility and Risk Predictability Index.
In Yangon region, the PDF attacked police in North Dagon Myothit and Thaketa townships under operation ‘Nan Htike Aung’ last week. Local resistance groups also carried out a bomb attack in Mayangone township on 11 July, targeting the house of an elder sister of coup leader Min Aung Hlaing (Irrawaddy, 13 July 2022). Six other blasts by unidentified armed groups occurred in the Yangon region on the same day. Two more explosions occurred in Sanchaung and Hlaingtharya townships the next day, injuring at least 10 civilians. No groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Meanwhile, the military continued arrests and attacks on civilians last week. In Magway region, the military raided Kan Bar Hpyu and Taung Yoe villages at the border of Pauk and Myaing townships and detained seven civilians. The Myaing PDF claims that the villagers were dragged by a military truck with a rope tied to their necks, leaving at least four dead (Myanmar Now, 13 July 2022). The military also arrested at least 10 teachers from Mandalay and Tanintharyi regions and southern Shan and Kachin states last week. The teachers were arrested for participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) and the Kaung For You online school, which is endorsed by the NUG for primary, middle, and high school students (Myanmar Now, 15 July 2022).
In Papua New Guinea, election-related violence continued last week during the second week of the national election, which began on 4 July and is scheduled to finish on 22 July. On 11 July, police fired bullets to disperse a crowd of voters in Port Moresby, killing one woman, after voters threw rocks at the authorities in response to a long wait to cast their votes (AP, 15 July 2022). In Enga province, supporters of election candidates vandalized the home and vehicles of a district administrator in Porgera on 12 July, while unidentified assailants shot a projectile at a helicopter that was extracting ballot boxes in Kompiam. The violence prompted increased military and police deployments in Enga province (Papua New Guinea Today, 16 July 2022). The security situation in Enga province has become increasingly volatile, resulting in a shift from a place of ‘low risk’ to being considered an area of ‘growing risk’ by ACLED’s Volatility and Risk Predictability Index.
In Indonesia, ethnic Papuans continued to demonstrate last week against the revised Papua Special Autonomy Law and the creation of new administrative provinces in Papua, demanding a referendum on Papuan independence. In West Papua province, demonstrations were reported in Sorong and Manokwari. In Papua province, state forces dispersed crowds at several gathering points in Jayapura to prevent them from organizing a larger demonstration. According to the police, around 2,000 state forces personnel were called to provide security at the demonstration (Antara News, 14 July 2022).
In China, unidentified personnel working for the police violently dispersed a large demonstration against a suspected bank scam last week. On 10 July, up to 3,000 bank depositors held a demonstration outside the state’s central bank in Zhengzhou, demanding access to their savings (SCMP, 13 July 2022). Police called in plain-clothed assailants to beat protesters and dragged them down the stairs of the bank, all while local police looked on (SCMP, 11 July 2022). Hundreds of people were arrested (Radio Free Asia, 11 July 2022). The alleged bank scam has led to the freezing of bank accounts since April (Radio Free Asia, 11 July 2022). Authorities have agreed to repay most of the clients following the demonstrations (Bloomberg, 12 July 2022).
In South Korea, about 120 Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DMSE) subcontracted workers continued a sit-in protest that began on 2 June (Korea Times, 13 July 2022), occupying the firm’s shipyard in Geoje, South Gyeongsang province. Demonstrators demand a wage increase for subcontract workers. In response to the ongoing demonstration, around 5,000 DMSE unionized full-time workers staged a counter-protest and filed a request for a police investigation, demanding an end to what they claim to be an illegal strike (Chosun Ilbo, 14 July 2022). The month-long strike has developed into a conflict between full-time and subcontracted workers, with local civic and labor groups calling on the government to solve the labor dispute over concerns that it may negatively affect the local economy (Hankook Ilbo, 15 July 2022).
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