Last week in the East Asia Pacific region, fighting continued between the Myanmar military and the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army (KNU/KNLA) at a military camp in Kayin state. Meanwhile, a resistance group killed a retired brigadier general in Yangon region, while another resistance group attacked a prison vehicle in Mandalay region in an attempt to free political prisoners. North Korea carried out a series of missile tests. In Indonesia, the separatist West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) shot dead four non-Papuan workers in West Papua, while Indonesian farmers held demonstrations to demand a resolution to land disputes, coinciding with National Farmer Day on 24 September. In Papua New Guinea, armed militants shot dead four workers in Tonolei Harbour, the autonomous region of Bougainville. In China, demonstrations against COVID-19 lockdowns erupted. Meanwhile, demonstrations triggered by the death-in-custody of an Iranian woman detained for allegedly violating the country’s hijab laws were reported across the region.
In Myanmar, the military clashed with ethnic armed organizations and local resistance groups in Kayin, Chin, Kachin, and Rakhine states, as well as in Magway, Tanintharyi, and Sagaing regions last week. In Kayin state, the KNU/KNLA attacked and occupied the Hpayar Taung military camp in Kyainseikgyi township on 28 September. Thirteen military soldiers, including a deputy battalion commander, reportedly died in the attack (Karen Information Center News, 28 September 2022). This is the eleventh military camp occupied by the KNU/KNLA in Kayin state since the military coup (Myanmar Now, 28 September 2022). Violence in Kayin state 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 Inya Urban Force shot dead a retired brigadier general from the Myanmar military in Hlaing township on 24 September. The victim was reportedly a mentor to deputy junta chief Soe Win and had also served as an ambassador (The Diplomat, 26 September 2022). His son-in-law, a retired captain, also died in the attack. The ex-brigadier general is the second high-ranking officer to be assassinated in Yangon since the military coup (Myanmar Now, 26 September 2022). Following the assassination, the military imposed a curfew in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, where many retired generals have reportedly moved from Yangon (Irrawaddy, 28 September 2022).
In Mandalay region, the Amarapura People’s Defense Force and its allies attacked a prison vehicle carrying eight political prisoners to Obo prison on 29 September, killing two policemen and freeing the prisoners, six of whom were later rearrested (Myanmar Now, 29 September 2022). Meanwhile, two student leaders were reportedly beaten and denied medical treatment in Myingyan prison for refusing to follow orders from prison authorities (Myanmar Now, 27 September 2022).
North Korea test-fired five short-range ballistic missiles toward the ocean off the country’s east coast last week. The first missile was fired on 25 September, ahead of planned military drills by South Korea and the United States (AP, 25 September 2022). North Korea launched two more short-range ballistic missiles on 28 September and another two missiles the next day. The missile launches came either side of US Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit to South Korea (AP, 29 September 2022). So far this year, North Korea has test-fired 19 ballistic missiles and two cruise missiles (VOA, 29 September 2022).
Last week in Indonesia, the TPNPB killed four non-Papuan construction workers in Meyerga village, Teluk Bintuni regency, West Papua province. The rebels claimed that the victims, who were working on a local government road construction project, were Indonesian soldiers dressed in civilian clothes (Reuters, 30 September 2022). This follows the TPNPB killing of eight non-Papuan technicians in March and 19 construction workers in 2018. The TPNPB has stated its opposition to state infrastructure projects, accusing the Indonesian government of using them to expand its influence in the region (The Diplomat, 24 December 2018).
Meanwhile, demonstrations demanding a resolution to agrarian inequality and land disputes were held across the country, coinciding with National Farmer Day on 24 September. Farmers oppose the government’s agrarian reform plan which focuses on asset legalization and land certification to resolve disputes between farmers and other parties, including private corporations and state-owned companies. They claim that the government’s plan puts farmers at a disadvantage and suggest that the process should be guided by land redistribution instead (Agrarian Resources Center, 27 September 2022). There are millions of landless farmers in Indonesia and thousands of structural agrarian disputes (IDN Times, 27 September 2022). Reports suggest that many land disputes are worsened by ‘land mafia,’ organized syndicates which have taken land ownership through document falsification and bribery (KBR, 28 September 2022; Jakarta Post, 29 April 2021). Disputes triggered by land grievances periodically escalate into clashes in the country.
In Papua New Guinea, around 50 armed militants raided a logging camp for a major agricultural project at Tonolei Harbour in the autonomous region of Bougainville last week. The raid resulted in the deaths of four people, including one expatriate worker, while a further six people are missing. While Bougainville police attempted to resolve the situation without central government security forces’ involvement, in accordance with the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement (Post Courier, 30 September 2022), the militants have maintained control of the campsite since 28 September. The agricultural project is a significant project promoted by the local authorities to support the development of the region’s economy following the 2019 independence referendum (Post Courier, 22 December 2020).
In China, demonstrations against COVID-19 lockdowns erupted in Guangdong, Henan, and Xinjiang provinces last week. In Guangdong, around a thousand residents hurled water bottles at police and tried to break through their neighborhood gate in Shenzhen city (Ming Pao, 28 September 2022). Hundreds of police officers beat and arrested protesters. Elsewhere, students rallied at universities in Zhengzhou city in Henan against campus lockdowns. Police intervened and detained some demonstrators due to alleged ‘foreign infiltration’ (Radio Free Asia, 30 September 2022). Month-long lockdowns have been implemented repeatedly in districts across the country, often leading to localized outbreaks of demonstration activity.
Finally, demonstrations triggered by the death-in-custody of Mahsa Amini, an Iranian woman detained for allegedly not complying with the country’s hijab regulations, were recorded in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and South Korea.
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.