Last week in the East Asia Pacific region, a combined force of the Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA) and People’s Defense Force (PDF) seized a military camp and a checkpoint on the border of Myanmar’s Kachin state and Sagaing region. Fighting broke out between the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army (KNU/KNLA) and the military in eastern Bago region. Meanwhile, anti-coup protesters marked the 34th anniversary of the Four Eights democracy uprisings on 8 August. In Papua New Guinea, state forces killed five protesters during a demonstration against election results. In the Philippines, fighting between the communist New People’s Army (NPA) and the military continued. Meanwhile, police arrested a renowned Filipino scholar and former vice presidential candidate over statements he made linking a former political aide to illegal drugs during the election campaign. In South Korea, protests were held nationwide against the government’s proposal to lower the elementary school entry age to five. Separately, Korean farmers took to the streets to oppose the government’s tariff-free policy on imported meats aimed at curbing food price inflation. Lastly, anti-nuclear protests were seen across the region, coinciding with the anniversaries of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1944, respectively.
In Myanmar, a combined force of the KIO/KIA and PDF attacked and seized the Se Zin military camp and a checkpoint run by the Shanni Nationalities Army (SNA) at the border of Hpakant township, Kachin state, and Homalin township, Sagaing region, on 8 August. The SNA is a military junta-aligned ethnic armed group that has reportedly been fighting alongside the military in the area. The combined KIO/KIA and PDF force seized two cars full of weapons and ammunition from the camps and captured five military soldiers (Myanmar Now, 10 August 2022).1ACLED data are current as of 12 August 2022. ACLED data will be updated to reflect these newly reported developments after the ACLED data pause ends on 12 September 2022. The combined force also attempted to occupy the Se Zin police station, but failed as the military responded to the attack with airstrikes, heavy weapons, and arson attacks on Se Zin village. Five villagers were killed in the airstrikes, with more villagers believed to have been shot while fleeing (Irrawaddy, 10 August 2022).
In Sagaing region, the military conducted airstrikes with combat helicopters targeting local defense forces in Yin Paung Taing village, Yinmarbin township, on 11 August, killing a member of the local defense forces and two civilians (Radio Free Asia, 12 August 2022). The military also carried out an airborne raid on the village, detaining locals. Locals found 18 dead bodies, including a 10-year-old girl, after the military deserted the village on 14 August, nine of which had wounds caused by light and heavy rounds (Myanmar Now, 16 August 2022). While women and elderly captives were released on 14 August, an additional 24 men were abducted as hostages. Due to the ongoing conflict in the area, around 7,000 to 8,000 people have fled their homes (Irrawaddy, 12 August 2022).
In eastern Bago region, fighting broke out between the KNU/KNLA and the military between Lein Pin and Pe Thaung villages in Kyaukkyi township on 7 August. The military deployed heavy artillery during the fighting, injuring a civilian in Lein Pin village (Karen Information Center, 8 August 2022). The military also carried out airstrikes in the area on 8 August, forcing civilians from seven nearby villages to flee. ACLED’s Subnational Threat Tracker warned of increased violence in eastern Bago region during the preceding four weeks.
Meanwhile, local resistance groups carried out attacks against ward and village administrators and staff members of the military junta in Yangon and Mandalay regions last week. In Yangon, the Special Task Agency of Burma (STA) shot two staff members of the township immigration office in Thingangyun township, with a video of the event spreading online, killing one (Khit Thit Media, 12 August 2022; Myanmar Now, 12 August 2022). In Mandalay region, the Mahar Revolution Force (MRF) shot three village administrators in Madaya township, killing one (Myanmar Now, 11 August 2022). ACLED’s Emerging Actor Tracker flagged the MRF as an emerging actor over the past month in Myanmar; the presence of emerging actors indicates a change in the conflict environment, with civilians often bearing the burden of such shifts.
Last week, anti-coup protests were reported in Yangon, Mandalay, Sagaing, and Tanintharyi regions, and Kachin state, marking the 34th anniversary of the Four Eights democracy uprising on 8 August 1988. The student-led uprising against the previous military regime was violently repressed, leading to many deaths.
In Papua New Guinea, post-election violence continued last week, as incumbent Prime Minister James Marape was sworn in for a second term on 9 August, having secured the support of a majority of elected members of parliament (AFP, 9 August 2022). In Jiwaka province, state forces opened fire on protesters demonstrating against the result and the conduct of the election in the Anglimp-South Waghi electorate last week. Five people were shot dead, and 15 others were injured. Meanwhile, Kabwum and Sepik settlers — who supported rival election candidates — engaged in a two-day armed clash in Lae, Morobe province. The Kabwum militiamen also looted and torched houses, displacing over 40 Sepik villagers (Post Courier, 12 August 2022). ACLED’s Conflict Change Map previously warned of increased violence in Papua New Guinea during the past month.
In the Philippines, NPA rebels and the military engaged in firefights in Western Visayas, Cagayan Valley, and Northern Mindanao last week, leading to three NPA fatalities. These trends contribute to a 220% increase in violent events in Western Visayas over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker. The NPA also carried out two attacks against civilians accused of being military assets in Barangay Marcelo, Calatrava municipality, Negros Occidental province.
Meanwhile, police arrested Walden Bello, the chairperson of the Laban ng Masa socialist coalition and a former vice presidential candidate, at his residence in Quezon City on 8 August. Bello was arrested in connection to a libel complaint filed against him by a former aide of Vice President Sara Duterte over statements he made during the election season linking the aide to illegal drugs (Rappler, 8 August 2022). Bello was released on bail the next day (GMA News, 10 August 2022). Activist groups have called for the decriminalization of libel, given the rampant use of the law to silence dissenting voices (HRW, 9 August 2022; Al Jazeera, 11 August 2022).
In South Korea, Education Minister Park Soon-ae resigned following backlash over her plan to lower the school entry age to five, which brought a series of nationwide protests throughout last week. Following Park’s resignation, protesters urged the government to formalize the plan’s withdrawal (Hankook Ilbo, 8 August 2022). Meanwhile, thousands of domestic livestock farmers took to the streets to oppose the government’s tariff-free policy on imported meats (News1, 11 August 2022). The demonstrations followed the government’s decision to remove tariffs on imported meats until the end of the year to stabilize food prices (Korea Herald, 8 July 2022). Conflicts between the government and farmers are likely to continue amid plans to lower tariffs on other agricultural imports, such as vegetables and fruits, ahead of the Chuseok holidays in September (The Korea Times, 8 August 2022).
Lastly, anti-nuclear demonstrations were reported across the region, including in Japan, Taiwan, and Australia, coinciding with the 77th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1944, respectively.
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.