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Bi-weekly Update on the Current Situation in Myanmar (1-03-2024 to 15-03-2024)


Bi-weekly Update on the Current Situation in Myanmar


(1-03-2024 to 15-03-2024)


Over three years ago, on 1 February, 2021, the Myanmar military attempted an illegal coup, toppled the civilian government, and unlawfully detained State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint, and other senior members of the civilian government, parliamentarians and activists. Since then, the Myanmar military has ignored the will of the people of Myanmar, placed the country in turmoil, and made people suffer as a result of its inhumane and disproportionate acts.


As of 15 March 2024, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military has ruthlessly killed 4,700 people and arrested another 26,244 people. 20,112 people remain in detention and 164 people have been sentenced to death, including 119 post-coup death row prisoners and 43 in absentia since 1 February 2021, when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians. Four democracy activists who were sentenced to death were executed by the military junta in July 2022.


Crimes committed Across Myanmar by the Junta Troops and its military wings


Crimes perpetrated by the junta troops and its associates, militias across Myanmar include extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, sexual violence, enforced disappearances, and the targeting of civilians, including children. These atrocities have led to widespread displacement, destruction of civilian properties, and a climate of fear and insecurity among the civilian population. The junta's brutal widespread and systematic tactics are aimed at suppressing dissent and maintaining its grip on power, regardless of the human cost and violations of international law.


Indiscriminate Airstrike and artillery shelling on Civilian Properties


Indiscriminate shelling kills mothers, and children in Kachin state’s Bhamo township


According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), five civilians were killed due to the military junta’s artillery assault in northern Myanmar, as reported by residents on 6 March 2024. Among the victims were two women in their 30s and three children in the Bhamo Township of Kachin State. On 7 March 2024, Kachin Independence Army seized 14 junta camps in northern Myanmar along the Chinese border. The Bhamo airport's operations have been suspended indefinitely due to the damage of runway from short-range missiles. Following their six-day offensive in the first week of March, the Kachin Independence Army informed RFA of their intention to reopen the Myitkyina-Bhamo road, which they had not controlled since 2011, as it runs alongside the seized camps. On 12 March 2024,  artillery shelling from the junta's No. 21 Operation Command Headquarters hit Kan Ni village in Bhamo Township.  According to local residents, it killed five villagers instantly.


Junta Forces' Indiscriminate Attack on Displaced Myanmar Villagers


On 11 March 2024, according to the AAPP, locals from Tar Li Village, who were seeking refuge in Nan Ei Village in Bhamo Township, Kachin State, altered their route upon encountering a military column of Junta upon reaching Man Nawng Village. Subsequently, the junta forces in Nawng Kawn Village fired heavy weaponry on them indiscriminately. It resulted in killing of three people, Lan Yin and Kein Swam, both 15 year-old and Law Maing of 19 year-old.


Fatal Artillery Strike by Junta Forces in Hpakant, Kachin State


As reported by AAPP, Junta forces stationed on Division Hill in Hpakant Township, Kachin State, unleashed heavy weaponry fire during the evening of March 10. Subsequently, an artillery explosion occurred in Nant Hmaw Village, Hpakant Township, caused the death of Khin Mar Lwin and 5-year-old Phoo Pwint Wai from artillery shrapnel injuries.


Deadly Junta Attacks Leave Civilians in Fear across Multiple Regions


According to AAPP, on 7 March, a student, and a teacher from Kyan Khin Village in Kyaukhtu Town, Saw Township, Magway Region, were killed by artillery shrapnel fired by the junta. On 8 March, the junta carried out airstrikes on Mindat Township, Chin State, and in Kyauk Ka Hsar Village, Hopong Township, Shan State, without having any clashes with resistance groups. It resulted in killing one civilian and injuring two civilians, including an 8-year-old girl. On 10 March, due to the aerial bombing and heavy weaponry shelling of the junta forces at a school in Nan Chaung Village, Kale Township, Sagaing Region, local villagers had to flee for safety.


Murders and Extrajudicial Killings of Civilians


Murder of Junta Forces in Monywa Township, Sagaing Region


According to AAPP, On the morning of 29 February, around 50 junta troops from Thar Si Village, Monywa Township, Sagaing Region, raided Kan Pyar and Te Gyi Kone Villages, in Monywa Township. They set fire to the houses in the villages and killed a local woman, Tin Shwe from Kan Pyar Village, who could not flee.


Junta Forces Conduct Inhumane and Degrading Killings in Monywa Township


According to AAPP’s report, in the early morning of 2 March, junta forces from Northwestern Command Headquarters in Monywa Town, Sagaing Region, stationed in Min Te Village, Monywa Township. On 2 and 3 March, they raided Son Kone Village in Monywa Township and set fire to the houses. Then, they arrested two locals, identified as Min Thu and Tun Hla Aung, without any apparent reasons and killed them by burning them alive.


Junta Forces Conduct Deadly Raid in Taung Su (West) Village, Bago Region


On 1 March, junta forces raided Taung Su (West) Village in Kyaukkyi Township, Bago Region. Following their departure on 2 March, the body of Saw Kaw Lar Wah, who was from Ta Mar Khaw Village in Kyaukkyi Township, was discovered. He was shot dead by junta forces.


Seven civilians died in a week due to the military junta's attack in Moan


According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), during 4 – 8 March, military junta troops unleashed heavy weaponry and drones targeting the civilian populace in Mone Township, Nyaunglebin District, Bago Region. As a result, seven civilians were killed; 14 civilians injured; seven homes and a school destroyed. They arbitrarily arrested 11 individuals.


Human Rights Abuses


Military Junta forces Rohingyas to take part in anti-AA protests


According to the Myanmar Now media, Rohingyas residing in the Buthidaung and Maungdaw Township of northern Rakhine State were being forced to participate in the demonstrations against the Arakan Army (AA). Videos depicting an anti-AA protest in Buthidaung surfaced on pro-military social media platforms on Tuesday. These videos featured individuals holding placards with slogans such as "No Need for AA," "Protect Buthidaung", and "No need for armed clashes". A post regarding the protest by junta supporters alleges that while the AA previously maintained friendly relations with the Rohingya community, they have now turned to oppressing the Muslim minority group. Approximately 100 individuals participated in the event, with a notable portion of the sign holders being young people.


Junta's Ongoing Arrests of Civilians at Yangon Airport and Their Detainment in Shwepyithar Interrogation Center


At Yangon Airport, the military junta has been continuously apprehending civilians returning home to Rakhine State. The number of detained youths reached hundreds within last few days. Among the captives, only some of the elderlies have been released, while youths and adults, including women, were arbitrarily arrested and detained in Shwepyithar Interrogation Center, according to their family members. On 8 March, at the Yangon Airport, junta’s forces including police forces apprehended at least twenty local youths from Rathedaung Township, Rakhine State, who were travelling to Sittwe Airport.


Tragic Deaths of Political Prisoners Expose Horrors within Daik-U Prison


According to RFA reports, since May 2023, at least 15 political detainees have lost their lives at Daik-U Prison, situated in a remote area of Bago Region. Aid workers and former inmates have highlighted the prison's grim reputation for mistreatment and abandonment.


Among the deceased are two individuals who passed away in early February this year, as per sources connected to their families. These individuals, 64-year-old Khin Soe and 68-year-old Aye Win, were serving lengthy sentences and reported of being lack of access to adequate healthcare within the prison premises, according Radio Free Asia.


Aye Win died on 9 February. The circumstances surrounding his death remain undisclosed. He had been serving an eight-year sentence, which included a conviction under Section 505 (a), a provision added to the penal code following the military coup on February 1, 2021, aimed at penalising remarks or insinuations questioning the legitimacy of the coup or the military junta.


Khin Soe was apprehended by the military junta after they failed to apprehend his son, as mentioned by a family associate. His health had been deteriorating in the months leading up to his death on 6 March, according to reports from a friend of the family.


Nearly 30 Junta Administrators Resign in Rakhine State over coercive conscription effort


According to Myanmar Now, more than two dozen junta-appointed administrators resigned in Rakhine State’s Thandwe Township over the past week over junta efforts to force civilians into mandatory military service, according to local sources. They decided to step down “because they feared for their lives,” said a local community leader who spoke to Myanmar Now on condition of anonymity. Thandwe is one of the few townships in Rakhine State that is still under junta’s control. It is known as the gateway to the state’s famed Ngapali beach and is less than 100 miles south of Ramree, a town that was captured by the Arakan Army.


Actions of Resistance Forces against the Junta


Myanmar’s Junta Loses Another Town to Arkan Army in Rakhine State


According to the Irrawaddy News, The Arakan Army (AA) took control of Rathedaung Town in Rakhine state after driving out the last troops from three junta battalions during the second week of March. They seized three separate infantry headquarters outside the town on evening of 17 March following two weeks of intense fighting. About 200 junta troops fled the riverside town by boat. The junta had deployed Rohingya soldiers recently forcefully recruited by the military junta. Despite junta attempts to prevent the takeover with bombings, the AA succeeded to capture the town and military bases. Bodies of junta soldiers, including recently recruited Rohingya men, were found along with abandoned weapons and ammunition. The AA also intensified efforts to seize the headquarters of junta Light Infantry Battalion 552 in nearby Buthidaung Township. Since launching a large-scale offensive on November 13 last year, the AA has seized more than half of Rakhine State, and been controlling six townships and capturing three towns, including Rathedaung. They also control Paletwa Township in neighboring Chin State and have captured about 180 military bases. The Arakan Army accuses the junta forces of attacking civilians and destroying infrastructure including schools, hospitals, religious buildings, and bridges in response to battlefield losses.


Military Junta Troops Flee to Thailand as War Escalates Near Border


According to The Irrawaddy News, nearly 50 junta soldiers sought refuge across the Moei River, fleeing from Karen State to Thailand’s Tak province on Tuesday, following an assault by joint resistance forces on a nearby junta base along the border.


The Karen National Union (KNU) disclosed that 48 junta troops escaped to Thailand from Karen State after the attack on their base near Mae Tha Raw Hta village in Kyaikdon Township. Colonel Saw Nal Dar Htoo of the KNU stated to The Irrawaddy that among the fleeing troops were 36 soldiers from the junta's Light Infantry Battalion 558, including its commander, along with 12 soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 557, all of whom crossed into Thailand with their weapons.


A resident from Paikhalan village in Tak province confirmed to The Irrawaddy that "junta soldiers fled across the Moei River and were apprehended by the Thai army in our village yesterday."


Myanmar Junta Battalion Headquarters Seized  


According to the Irrawaddy News report, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and its allies claim to have taken control of the Myanmar junta's Infantry Battalion 237 headquarters following a week-long series of assaults in Bhamo District. Colonel Naw Bu, the spokesperson for the KIA, stated that the base located near Dasai village in Momauk Township was captured on Thursday. He mentioned that more than 20 military outposts had been overrun in the past week. "We initially secured all the bunkers surrounding the base, then proceeded to occupy the headquarters. Our forces are currently clearing the area," Colonel Naw Bu explained. The KIA, Arakan Army, Kachin People’s Defense Force (PDF) and other groups were involved in the operation.


Military Junta Lose Another Lieutenant Colonel


According to the Irrawaddy News’s report, the military junta has lost another lieutenant colonel, who was among many junta forces killed as they attempted to flee the advancing Arakan Army (AA) in Minbya Township, Rakhine State on 8 March, the AA said. The AA warned all junta forces in Rakhine State to surrender or face death. It said its troops chased and attacked fleeing junta forces during its seizure of a military division headquarters in Kyauktaw Township and the junta’s 9th Central Military Training School in Minbya Township. It has also captured a number of fleeing junta forces. On 8 March, AA troops found the bodies of many killed junta forces including Lieutenant Colonel Ye Htut Win, the head of the 9th Military Training School’s administration department, after a clash with retreating soldiers. AA troops also rescued 20 villagers who had been taken hostage by the killed lieutenant colonel and his group.


People Defence Forces Successfully Defeat Enemy Troops in Tagaung Township


According to the report, the Ministry of Defence of the National Unity Government announced a successful operation targeting enemy troops in Tagaung Township, resulting in considerable losses for the terrorist military council. On 12 March, the People’s Defense Forces seized bases belonging to the terrorist military junta in Tagaung Town and Letpankone village, situated in the Mandalay region. As a result of the attack, 14 junta soldiers were killed and 4 were arrested. Alongside the toll on enemy forces, 18 different weapons and ammunition were confiscated.


Hpa’an-Myawaddy (Asia Highway) Road Have Been Controlled after Joint Operations


On 26 February, the Ministry of Defense of the National Unity Government announced significant progress, declaring that Hpa’an-Myawaddy (Asia Highway) and 60% of the city area are now under control. Since 1 December, 2023, joint operations conducted by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), People’s Defense Forces (PDF), and Special Operations Force (SOF) have targeted the terrorist Military junta’s base camps and gate camps in the KNU Brigade-6 area, Hpa’an-Myawaddy (Asia Highway), and Kawkareik Town. The series of operations commenced on 1 December 2023 with the targeting of Kaw Nwe Camp Hill and Hlaingwa Bridge Gate and Lotus Gate, followed by actions against the enemy stationed at No.3 Gate on the south side of Kawkareik on 4 December. Further engagements occurred on 6 December at the junta camp at the Kamainkone cemetery on the Hpa’an-Myawaddy (Asia Highway), and on 27 December at a junta camp at a school in Kawkareik Creek Hill District. Additional successful operations took place on 28 December at the Taung Kyar Inn police station, and on 2 February, when Military junta camps on the Hpa’an-Myawaddy (Asia Highway) and gas station checkpoints, were attacked and captured. These coordinated efforts have led to the assertion of control over the area by the National Unity Government.


Activities of the National Unity Government


Acting President Urges Vigilance against Military Junta’s Recovery Efforts


In recent days, it has been seen that the terrorist Military Junta is attempting to take time to recuperate to which Acting President of the National Unity Government, Duwa Lashi La, urged at a cabinet meeting on March 12 not to give them a breadth of respite. “We must strike hard while the iron is hot,” said the Acting President. He continued, “The waves of the resistance and military revolution of the Spring Revolution and the waves of the ethnic liberation revolution have reached a state where they can be directly connected. The spring revolution and the ethnic liberation revolution have developed as one. In such a situation, we need to be careful and refrain from talking and doing things without political caution,” the Acting President said.


National Unity Government Vows Action Against Military Council’s Forced Recruitment in Rakhine State


The National Unity Government declared on 3 March its intent to take decisive measures against the terrorist Military Council’s coerced recruitment of soldiers in Rakhine State. Presently, the military junta intends to utilize the illegitimate People’s Military Service Law to forcibly conscript Rohingya individuals in Rakhine State. The NUG emphasized that any individuals or entities aiding in the enforcement of unlawful forced recruitment by the terrorist military junta will face severe and robust prosecution as enemies of the people, and be accountable for committing war crimes.


NUG Minister and French Senator Discuss Myanmar Situation


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government stated that Union Minister Daw Zin Mar Aung met French Senator Mr. Pascal Allizard on 28 February 2024 to discuss the Myanmar issue. During the discussion, Union Minister Daw Zin Mar Aung   advocated for practical assistance from the French government to support Myanmar’s revolution and its progress, emphasizing cooperation on pertinent Myanmar issues, including ground conditions. In response, Mr. Pascal Allizard reiterated his commitment to standing alongside the Burmese people and providing continued support, while deliberating on ongoing processes. Mr. Pascal Allizard, a member of the French Parliament, notably spearheaded the submission to the French government for recognition of the National Unity Government in the French Senate in 2021.


Myanmar’s UN Ambassador Calls for Security Council Action to Halt Conscription


Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations Mr. Kyaw Moe Tun has urged the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to take concrete action to stop the forced recruitment of Myanmar youths by the military junta.


During the UNSC Open Debate on Promoting Conflict Prevention – Empowering All Actors Including Women and Youth held on 13 March, the Permanent Representative said Myanmar youth are now at extreme risk due to the unlawful military conscription being forced on the people by the illegal junta. “Now they [the military dictators] are forcing Myanmar youth into mandatory military service, not to defend the country, but to use them as human shields and porters against the growing anti-coup revolutionary forces,” the Ambassador told the UNSC. “This military draft together with the worsening humanitarian crisis is creating a serious regional problem.” He said that the military dictatorship’s brutal actions are a constant threat to the lives of Myanmar people.


Since early February, the people of Myanmar and the civilian National Unity Government have called for the international community to take necessary action to stop forced conscription by the military junta, he said, adding that he now reiterated that call.


 NUG Human Rights Minister attends CEEasia Forum


The Union Minister for Human Rights of the NUG, U Aung Myo Min, attended the European-ASEAN Relations Policy Meeting of the CEEasia Forum, held on 15 March in Bratislava, Slovakia.


In the meeting, the Union Minister presented and discussed the current situation in Myanmar and explored the best approach to using the policies adopted by the European Union regarding Myanmar. Along with the Union Minister, (2) Myanmar activists also participated in the discussion. In parallel with the talks, the Union Minister also held talks with Slovakia's government officials, parliamentarians and human rights activists.


NUG Human Rights Minister and French Ambassador Meet in Geneva to Address Human Rights Violations


The National Unity Government’s Union Minister for Human Rights, U Aung Myo Min, met with the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, Ambassador Jerome Bonnafont, in Geneva on 5 March, and they discussed primarily on the on-going human rights violations committed by the Military Council in Myanmar, with particular focus on the illegal implementation of the People’s Military Service Law, which poses threats to youth and regional stability. Discussions also explored the stance, actions, and efforts of the National Unity Government in addressing these challenges.


International Community Actions and Response to the Military Coup


Myanmar junta facing ‘existential threat’


Myanmar's junta is currently facing what the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar describes as an "existential threat", but there is hope that coordinated international sanctions could bring an end to its oppressive rule, as reported by Myanmar Now.


UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews highlighted the dwindling numbers of junta forces due to mass casualties, defections, surrenders, and recruitment challenges. According to the Special Rapporteur, this situation poses a significant risk to the Myanmar military's survival. He emphasized that those banking on the junta to restore order and stability in Myanmar have made a grave error, as the junta itself is the main driver of violence, instability, economic decline, and lawlessness in the country.


As a former US congressman, Andrews is known for his advocacy on human rights issues and serves as a key figure in monitoring and reporting on the situation in Myanmar.


US envoy 'deeply concerned' over Myanmar bombings during Ramadan


As per UCA News, Rashad Hussain, the United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, has expressed profound concern regarding the deaths of at least 20 Rohingyas, including children. The incident occurred earlier this week in Minbya Township, western Rakhine state, where twenty-three ethnic Rohingyas lost their lives after a junta warplane dropped two bombs on Thardar Village. Additionally, 33 individuals were wounded and are currently receiving medical attention from the Arakan Army.


Hussain conveyed his deep apprehension over reports indicating that over 20 Rohingya, including children, were killed during an assault on their village in Rakhine amidst intense combat and aerial bombings by the military. In an online statement, he emphasized, "After decades of repression and two years after our determination of genocide and crimes against humanity, Rohingya and other marginalized populations in Burma [Myanmar] must be safeguarded." He further remarked, "Even amidst Ramadan, Rohingya endure unimaginable hardships yet exhibit courage and grace in upholding their faith."


UN High Commissioner’s Encouragement to ASEAN and International Community to Engage with National Unity Government


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk stressed the importance of engaging with all civic groups in Myanmar, including the National Unity Government and ethnic groups, to find a solution to the Myanmar crisis. Furthermore, he advocated for the prohibition of the terrorist Military Council from accessing weapons, jet fuel, and foreign funds, citing their involvement in inhumane and brutal crimes against the Burmese people. Highlighting the severity of the situation, High Commissioner Volker Turk presented evidence indicating that over 4,600 civilians, including more than 600 women and over 500 children, have been killed by the military junta’s forces following the illegal military coup which has been in place for over 3 years.


Malaysia and UN Ponder Joint Peacekeeping Efforts in Myanmar and Palestine


In a recent development, Malaysia and the United Nations engaged in discussions concerning collaborative peacekeeping endeavours, particularly addressing the crises in Myanmar and Palestine. The talks, spearheaded by Bernama Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Mohamad Alamin and UN Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari, aimed at strategizing effective measures to alleviate ongoing conflicts.


During the dialogue, the Deputy Foreign Minister highlighted the challenges impeding the implementation of the ASEAN 5PC (ASEAN Five-Point Consensus) in Myanmar. He emphasized Malaysia's commitment to leveraging the Troika mechanism and advocated for inclusive engagement as imperative steps toward resolving the Myanmar crisis.


The discussions underscored the pressing need for concerted international efforts to promote stability and peace in both Palestine and Myanmar, signaling a potential collaboration between Malaysia and the UN to address these critical issues.


WFP Urges Stronger International Support as Myanmar's Humanitarian Crisis Worsens


In a recent press release by the World Food Programme (WFP), Carl Skau, WFP’s Director of External Relations, emphasized the urgent need for heightened international assistance as the humanitarian situation in Myanmar continues to deteriorate rapidly.


Skau highlighted the escalating conflict and increasingly constrained humanitarian access, coupled with insufficient funding, as significant challenges exacerbating the crisis. With over 2.8 million people displaced and one in every four individuals at risk of acute food insecurity, the situation demands immediate attention. Despite the adversities, WFP remains steadfast in its commitment to providing assistance to the affected population in Myanmar. Skau emphasized the dedication of WFP's national staff who are actively responding to the crisis on the ground, underscoring the importance of bolstered international leadership to support expanded aid efforts and advocacy initiatives.


WFP calls for stronger international engagement and UN support to address the pressing needs of the people of Myanmar. The organization pledges to continue advocating for unimpeded humanitarian access, raising awareness of the escalating needs, and lobbying for increased resources to alleviate the suffering of the affected population.



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Date: 15 March 2024

Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York

 

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