Last week in the East Asia Pacific region, fighting broke out between the military and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) in Kachin, Rakhine, and Chin states. The Myanmar military also continued to carry out arrests and attacks on civilians across multiple regions, including in Yangon, Mandalay, and Sagaing regions. In Thailand, suspected Muslim Malay separatists set off explosives in Narathiwat and Pattani provinces. In Papua New Guinea, mass riots erupted at a vote counting center during counting last week for the national election that ended on 22 July. In the Philippines, state forces clashed with both communist and Islamist rebels in several regions. In Taiwan, peaceful demonstrations were held both in support of and against the visit of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on 2 and 3 August.
In Myanmar, fighting between the military and EAOs was reported in Kachin, Rakhine, and Chin states, among others. In Kachin state, the Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA) attacked and occupied the military’s In Wan Yang (N’Wan Yang Mare) base in Waingmaw township on 2 August. They seized weapons and ammunition and torched the base. The KIO/KIA also deployed landmines against military reinforcements that were sent to the area, inflicting heavy casualties (Myanmar Now, 4 August 2022).
Elsewhere, fighting continued between the United League of Arakan/Arakan Army (ULA/AA) and the military in Rakhine and Chin states last week. On 2 August, the ULA/AA attacked two military outposts near the No. 40 border checkpoint in Maungdaw township, Rakhine state. Following the attack, the military sent reinforcements to the area, sparking further clashes between the two sides. Both sides suffered casualties in the fighting (DVB, 4 August 2022). These trends contribute to the 133% increase in violence in Rakhine state in the past week relative to the past month flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Threat Tracker. The Subnational Tracker first warned of increased violence to come in Rakhine in the past month. In Chin state, fighting broke out between the ULA/AA and the military near Hna Ma Dar village of Paletwa township, with the military firing artillery rounds from Paletwa township to support their ground troops. A boat carrying school staff and seven schoolchildren from the Tone Ma Wa sub-high school along the Hna Ma Dar creek was also fired upon and two children were killed. Locals claim that the military is responsible for the attack, alleging that the shooting came from the military compound in Hna Ma Dar village, but the military denies responsibility (Development Media Group, 4 August 2022).
In Sagaing region, the military continued to attack civilians last week. In Myinmu township, the military conducted airstrikes and raided Let Pa Kyin village, leading to the deaths of eight civilians. They also detained over 160 villagers, including teachers and schoolchildren, before releasing them the following day (Myanmar Now, 8 August 2022). In Tabayin township, the military raided Hpa Yar Htwet village and abducted 14 villagers as hostages, one of whom was severely injured while being tortured (Myanmar Now, 4 August 2022). Further, a photojournalist who photographed anti-coup demonstrations in Sagaing region was arrested by the military on 30 July and tortured to death while in military custody.
In Yangon region, the military arrested three people, including a Japanese documentary filmmaker, after a peaceful protest in South Dagon township on 30 July. The filmmaker is the second Japanese citizen to be arrested since the coup (Myanmar Now, 5 August 2022). Several people were also arrested on 31 July for banging pots and honking car horns as part of a campaign called by the National Unity Government and other resistance groups to pledge allegiance to the anti-coup revolution (Myanmar Now, 2 August 2022).
In the Deep South of Thailand, violence and destructive activity escalated last week, coinciding with the separatist Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu Patani (BRN) group’s commemoration of Soldier’s Day on 1 August. Suspected Malay Muslim separatists detonated roadside bombs in Narathiwat and Pattani provinces, targeting local security forces and causing severe injuries to two village security team members in Pattani province. In Yala province, BRN set fire to tires and spray-painted “Patani Merdeka” (Independence Pattani) on roads in at least 11 locations as part of Soldier’s Day commemorations (Isranews Agency, 3 August 2022). Every year, BRN engages in such violent and destructive activity before and after 1 August to demonstrate their demands for independence.
In Papua New Guinea, mass riots erupted during the general election’s vote-counting process last week. Rival election candidates and their supporters clashed for two days and damaged a vote counting center in Walium, Madang province, amid disputes in the counting process. Police dispersed the rioters and arrested hundreds of people, including three candidates (The National, 5 August 2022). Voting in the general election began on 4 July and ended on 22 July, but vote counting was extended until 8 August due to violence and reports of disruptions and security issues (Reuters, 9 August 2022). The latest violence follows multiple election-related violent clashes and attacks reported during the voting period. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map first warned of increased violence to come in Papua New Guinea in the past month.
In the Philippines, communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and the military engaged in firefights in Soccsksargen, Bicol, Mimaropa, and Calabarzon last week, leading to at least six NPA fatalities. The NPA also torched heavy equipment belonging to a private company in Butuan, Caraga (Philippine News Agency, 2 August 2022). Meanwhile, fighting between the Islamic State-inspired Dawlah Islamiyah – Hassan Group and the military led to the death of one militant in Ampatuan, Maguindanao province, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map first warned of increased violence to come in the Philippines in the past month. Amid the fighting, the Philippines government secured the surrender of 50 individuals identified as NPA members and 100 Abu Sayyaf militants last week (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 5 August 2022). The reported former communist and Islamist rebels pledged allegiance to the government and were, in turn, promised aid and reintegration into society (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 5 August 2022; Philippine Star, 30 July 2022).
In Taiwan, pro-unification groups — which favor a Chinese nationalist identity over a distinct Taiwanese identity — and pro-Taiwan groups demonstrated during the visit of US House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi. Pelosi’s visit marks the highest-level US official visit in 25 years (Taipei Times, 3 August 2022). In response to her visit, China began a four-day large-scale military exercise on 4 August, sending multiple warships and aircraft into the Taiwan Strait, many of which crossed the median line — the unofficial division marking Taiwanese-claimed waters (Taiwan News, 5 August 2022). China also fired a series of ballistic missiles, some of which flew over Taiwan and landed within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, marking a significant escalation in tensions (BBC, 5 August 2022).
In Japan, demonstrations were staged across the country following the cabinet’s approval to hold a state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated on 8 July. Protesters question the usage of the national budget for the funeral, opposing what they claim is the current administration’s efforts to glorify Abe and to end the debate over his divisive legacy, including his security policy (Tokyo Shimbun, 3 August 2022). Recent polls show that around half of the Japanese public opposes a state funeral for the former prime minister (Nikkei Asia, 3 August 2022).
Note: This dashboard automatically updates to cover the latest four weeks of data released by ACLED. Use the date filters to view data for the one-week period covered by this Regional Overview.