Last week in the East Asia Pacific region, several children were killed by military airstrikes and shelling in Myanmar. Fighting continued between the military and the United League of Arakan/Arakan Army (ULA/AA) in Rakhine and Chin states, and between the military and local defense forces in southern Shan state. In the Philippines, state forces clashed with both Islamist and communist rebels in several regions. In Indonesia, the separatist West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) opened fire at a construction site and destroyed equipment of a government-linked construction company in Papua province. Meanwhile, the Indonesian government’s decision to increase fuel prices continues to trigger demonstrations across the country. In South Korea, conservative and anti-Japanese activists clashed at a site commemorating victims of sexual slavery during the Japanese occupation of Korea.
In Myanmar, the military continued to attack civilians last week. In Sagaing region, the military launched airstrikes with two Mi-35 helicopters at a monastic school in Tabayin township on 16 September, claiming that there were resistance fighters at the school (Irrawaddy, 19 September 2022). Military ground troops also fired at the monastery compound after the air attack. At least seven children and six adults were killed in the attack, while another nine students and three teachers were injured and were taken by the military (AP News, 21 September 2022).
Fighting continued between the ULA/AA and the military last week, as the ethnic armed group captured military bases in Rakhine and Chin states. In Rakhine state, the group captured two military bases in Maungdaw township. On 10 September, the ULA/AA also attacked and took control of the military’s stronghold base on the Gopi-Kyein Chaung road on 10 September, inflicting heavy military casualties (Narinjara, 12 September 2022). In response to the attack, the military carried out multiple airstrikes across two days, targeting villages in the surrounding area (Myanmar Now, 12 September 2022). On 15 September, the ULA/AA captured the Mee Taik base near Milestone 37 on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, after exchanging intense fire with the military. On the next day, the military fired two mortar shells which killed an 18-year-old Rohingya refugee and injured several others in a no-man’s land refugee camp on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border (Benar News, 16 September 2022). These trends contribute to the 550% increase in weekly violent events in Rakhine state in the past month relative to the weekly average for the preceding year flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Threat Tracker. The Subnational Tracker also warned of increased violence in Rakhine state during the preceding four weeks. In Chin state, the ULA/AA captured another military hilltop base, known as the Thea Ma Wa base, in Paletwa township on 15 September. The military bombed the hill with a jet and helicopter after the attack (Irrawaddy, 16 September 2022).
In southern Shan state, a combined force of the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF), the Pekhon People’s Defense Force (PDF), the Urban Revolution Front, and other local defense forces engaged in a four-day battle with the military from 8 to 11 September in Moebye town (Myanmar Now, 13 September 2022). Following a further battle on 16 September, the military fired artillery rounds into the town, killing four displaced civilians, including two children, who were sheltering in a temple (Irrawaddy, 16 September 2022).
In the Philippines, state forces clashed with Islamist militants in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) last week, amid ongoing clashes with communist rebels. In BARMM, alleged Abu Sayyaf militants attacked a military detachment in Barangay Magcawa, Al-Barka, Basilan on 15 September, killing three soldiers. Fighting between state forces and communist rebels was reported in Bicol, Central Visayas, and Davao regions. Five New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed during clashes in Davao region. Meanwhile, more demonstrations were held in Quezon City, where left-leaning political and civil society groups gathered to demand higher state spending for social services and criticize the planned increase in military spending (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 15 September 2022).
In Indonesia, the TPNPB opened fire at a construction site and burned equipment belonging to a road construction company in Mangabib village, Oksebang district, Pegunungan Bintang regency, Papua province. There were no casualties. The rebels often target government-contracted construction workers, identifying them as an extension of the government (Reuters, 4 March 2022).
Meanwhile, demonstrations against the government’s decision to raise fuel prices continued across the country last week. While the majority of the protests remained peaceful, some demonstrators clashed with police, threw rocks, and burned tires. This violence contributed to the 331% increase in weekly violent events in Indonesia in the past month relative to the weekly average for the preceding year. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map also warned of increased violence in the country during the preceding four weeks.
In South Korea, a right-wing and anti-Japanese activists clashed during a rally at the Statue of Peace in Seoul, which commemorates women victims of sexual enslavement during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea. On 11 September, members of the conservative New Freedom Solidarity rallied at the statue, demanding its removal and the disbandment of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (the Korean Council), the main organizer of the weekly ‘comfort women’ demonstrations (Korea Times, 12 September 2022). Members of Action Against Japan confronted them and guarded the statue, leading to clashes between rival activists. Consistent counter-protests near the statue began in June 2020, soon after the Korean Council faced financial corruption allegations (JoongAng Ilbo, 15 September 2022). ACLED records 52 counter-protests from 244 protests staged by the Korean Council since December 2019 (for more, see this ACLED analysis on the ‘Comfort Women’ protest movement).
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.