Southeast Asia End of the Month Report – October 15th – 31st
The second half of October has not seen any more major fighting between Rohingya Muslims and the Myanmar Army which had flared up in August. The fighting has caused 600,000 Rohingya to flee across the border from Rakhine State into Bangladesh. Towards the end of the month, both Myanmar and Bangladesh discussed the repatriation of Rohingya back to Myanmar. Myanmar has said that any Rohingya who can prove they were a resident of Myanmar before the fighting will be able to come back. Despite this, there continues to be movement of Rohingya towards Bangladesh, with several more killed attempting to cross the Naf river into Bangladesh and drowning. Even with the possibility of coming back to Myanmar, Rohingya refugees would most likely come back to burnt villages and continued animosity from Burmese locals. This is supported with the recent demonstrations by Buddhist monks and nationalists who have rallied in Sittwe against the repatriation of Rohingya refugees, as well as incidents of blocking of aid workers from entering IDP camps. While fighting may have subsided, tension remains high.
Incidents in Myanmar â October 15th â 31st. (Full incident details are available to subscribers)
Elsewhere in Myanmar, there have been several skirmishes recorded in the second half of the month in Shan State between the TNLA and the Myanmar Army, as well as between the Shan State Army and the Myanmar Army. The clashes have been primarily concentrated around Kutkai and Kyaukme townships.
Other significant incidents recorded in the second half of October have been regarding weapons and drug trafficking. Regarding weapons trafficking, the son of a former sports minister was arrested at the Nay Pyi Taw airport with two other men in possession of several firearms and ammunition. A continued investigation led to the arrest of 9 other individuals. There are reports that the men had possession of all these weapons to start a private security company, something that is illegal in the country, as only the countryâs security forces can carry weapons. A full investigation is still underway. As for drug trafficking, three significant seizures were made in the second half of the month. 2.8 billion Kyats worth of methamphetamine pills were seized in Maungdaw township in Rakhine State; 2.3 billion Kyats worth of methamphetamine pills were seized in Hpakan township in Kachin State; while 250kg of crystal methamphetamine worth $4.6 million was seized from a man in Shan State. The country continues to be a significant exporter of drugs towards the rest of the region through its porous border with Thailand.
Most incidents in Cambodia continue to be reported in its capital, Phnom Penh. Thefts continue to be one of the most common crimes in the capital, with cellphones and motorbikes the primary targets. Crimes outside the capital primarily involve but not limited to drug users and drug dealing, illegal logging, and gambling.
Incidents in Cambodia â October 15th- 31st.
(Full incident details are available to subscribers)
Besides common crime, the country has continued to see incidents in connection to the ruling partyâs continued crackdown on opposition parties and NGOs, as well as continued anti-United States rhetoric. On the 15th of the month, the Cambodian Defense Minister blamed the U.S. for sowing unrest across the world, and vowed to crush any âcolor revolutionâ the U.S. may try to start in the country. A couple days later, a senior Ministry of Defense official claimed that a housing right NGO received funding from the U.S. to start a âcolor revolutionâ in Cambodia; a claim that was rejected by the organisation. Other incidents regarding NGOs, involved a student group being suspended for violating the Law on Associations and NGOs after calling for peaceful demonstrations if the CNRP is dissolved. NGOs have also been blamed by a commune chief for being behind a protest of 700 people against a mining company over accusations of land grabbing. The environment in the country remains quite tense for NGOs, particularly as the focus from a few months ago has shifted from U.S. funded and democracy focused NGOs, to now any sort of organisation.
As for the CPP led governmentâs crackdown on opposition parties, a former Deputy Prime Minister and ex-Funcipec official fled for Thailand on October 23rd after the Funcipec party and Prime Minister Hun Sen vowed to file lawsuits against him for comments that were leaked on an anti-opposition Facebook page where he is heard insulting the King and accused Funcipec of taking bribes from Prime Minister Hun Sen. Two days later, during a speech to factory workers, the Prime Minister called the CNRP, the main opposition, a terrorist network, and vowed to dismantle it. This was on the same day that the King signed off on the amendments the CPP wanted to make to the electoral votes to ensure that if/when the CNRP is dissolved, they would be able to take their commune seats. The CNRP continues to be at the center of the crackdown, with Kem Sokha, its leader, remaining in prison and the Supreme Court reaffirming the legality of his arrest in a hearing held at the end of the month. Prime Minister Hun Sen offered an invitation to CNRP commune officials to keep their jobs if they change their allegiance to the CPP, and 7 officials took up the offer on October 27th, bringing the total to 23 CNRP officials changing parties.
Incidents in Phnom Penh â October 15th â 31st.
(Full incident details are available to subscribers)
Besides the CNRP, the Khmer National Liberation Front party was also in the crosshairs of the government in the second half of October. 5 of its members were arrested in Tuol Sangke commune on charges of incitement, after they were arrested in possession of leaflets calling for public protests and the release of political prisoners, including CNRP leader Kem Sokha. And finally, the Supreme Court, on the 30th of the month, dissolved nine minor political parties for violating the Law on Political Parties where their activities and financials must be disclosed. The parties had not participated in the communal elections this year.
The second half of October has seen a continuation of arrests of drug traffickers, particularly on the island of Sumatra in areas accessible from Malaysia. Methamphetamine and marijuana continue to be the primary drugs smuggled into the country.
Incidents in Indonesia â October 15th â 31st. (Full incident details are available to subscribers)
Of significance in the incidents recorded at the tail end of the month has been the surge in shooting incidents around the PT Freeport Indonesia mine in Tembagapura, Mimika District, Papua. Between October 21st and 25th, Intelligence Fusion has recorded 6 shooting incidents in the area. On October 21st, two contractorsâ cars were shot at while near the mine. One of the drivers was wounded from the broken windshield, and the other was unharmed. On the same day, two officers from the Mobile Brigade Unit were shot while on patrol, and one later died in the hospital. The next day another police officer was killed near the Utikini Bridge, which led to 4 more officers being wounded the next day when they tried to retrieve their colleagueâs body. On the 24th of October, a vehicle of the Tembagapura hospital was shot at while transporting a post-natal patient. The patient suffered a gunshot wound in the incident, and police launched pursuit operations immediately afterwards which led to the capture of several camps the gunmen were using in the hills. Finally, on the 25th, another patrol vehicle was shot in the area, but no one was reported wounded. Authorities say they have identified the gunmen as members of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), and the armed forces are said to be ready to deploy to the area when Papua Police request for backup. The alert level was raised on the 29th after a group of gunmen fired at the Mobile Brigade Police station.
Incidents in Jakarta â October 15th â 31st. (Full incident details are available to subscribers)
Indonesia continues to pursue and arrest suspected terrorist across the country particularly after recent successful and foiled attempts have been made, particularly in Jakarta and Bandung. Since the 20th, the countryâs anti-terror unit, Densus 88, has made several arrests. 2 men were arrested in Labuhan Batu regency for being suspects Islamic State sympathizers; a man was arrested in Ponorogo, East Java for supporting terrorist activities through social media and helping prepare a would-be female suicide bomber; 2 men were arrested in Kendal and Sukoharjo, Central Java for funding the group involved in the January 2016 Jakarta attack; 4 suspected Jamaâah Anshar Daulah members were arrested in three raids in Riau, planning to attack police outposts and the Riau police headquarters in Pekanbaru; a man was arrested for his suspected involvement in a 2012 bomb attack against the former Governor of South Sulawesi; and finally, on October 30th, 2 suspected members of Mujahidin Indonesia Timur were killed in a shootout with authorities in Bima district, East Nusa Tenggara, and police are looking for two suspects who were able to flee.
Incidents regarding terrorism in Indonesia â October 15th-31st. (Full incident details are available to subscribers)
Regarding incidents related to natural hazards, the alert status for the Mount Agung volcano on Bali was lowered from level four to level three at the end of the month. Level four reflect a âDangerâ status, while level three reflects âAlertâ status. The status was downgraded as activity at the site has slowed. The status change also allows those villagers living 6km from the crater an opportunity to go back home. The authorities will continue to maintain watch on the volcano if activity picks up once again. Elsewhere, a drought has been plaguing several districts of Wonogiri, Central Java affecting 10,780 people who face food shortages. A tornado damaged several homes in Bekasi, while forest fires in northern Sumatra has created haze, but which has been managed thus far. The most significant incident concerning a hazard in October, however, has been a fire at a fireworks factory in northern Tangerang, west of Jakarta. The fire on October 26th has led to the deaths of 49 people and wounded dozens more. A few days later, an illegal fireworks factory was raided by police in southern Tangerang after locals informed police, most likely a reaction to the devastation of the fire on the other factory.
The second half of October has continued to see a concentration of incidents located in Manila. Since the Presidentâs drug war has been handed over from the Philippine National Police to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, there has been a reduction in police shootings against drug suspects. However, the rate of shootings by motorcycle-riding gunmen has stayed steady despite it being the new mission of the PNP to reduce such shootings. During the second half of the month, a high number of these shootings took place in Tondo.
Shootings in Manila â October 15th â 31st. (Full incident details are available to subscribers)
The situation in Marawi City took a turn on October 16th after the Emir of the Islamic State in southeast Asia Isnilon Hapilon, and the leader of the Maute Group, Omar Maute, were killed in a firefight with government forces. A day later, President Duterte declared the city liberated from terrorists, while it took a few more days for Defense Secretary Lorenzana to announce an end to combat operations. Since then, there have sporadic explosions and gunshots heard from the remaining stragglers and clearing operations. While the siege of the city is over, the threat of the Islamic State in the Philippines is not. President Duterte has ordered 10 new Infantry Battalions to be created to fight against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Elsewhere, the New Peopleâs Army continues its campaign against government forces and corporations. The group was responsible for a couple of arson attacks against agricultural firms in Mindanao, while a concentration of skirmishes was recorded around Butuan City after security forces launched pursuit operations after NPA rebels who set fire to construction equipment. President Duterte has said he supports Davao City Mayorâs localized peace talks, but there has been no resumption of peace talks between the government and rebels at a national level.