Bi-Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (04-09-2023 to 17-09-2023)
Bi-weekly Update on the Current Situation in Myanmar
(04-09-2023 to 17-09-2023)
More than 32 months 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 September 2023, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military has ruthlessly killed 4,078 people and arrested another 24,777 people. 19,465 people remain in detention and 150 people have been sentenced to death, including 107 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.
The illegal military junta extended again the so-called state of emergency on 31 July 2023, aiming to prolong military rule for another six months in Myanmar.
Serious crimes committed by the Military
Number of people killed by the junta
According to AAPP, the junta’s artillery strikes across the country killed 434 people in total during the period from February 2021 to 8 September 2023, including 23 people in 2021, 212 people in 2022, and 199 people in 2023. Sagaing Region has the highest number of deaths with 138 people.
During that period, the junta’s airstrikes across the country killed 368 people in total, including 21 people in 2021, 78 people in 2022, and 269 people in 2023. Sagaing Region has the highest number of deaths with 246 people.
According to AAPP, the junta’s gunshots across the country killed 1,304 people in total during the period from February 2021 to 15 September 2023, including 712 people in 2021, 343 people in 2022, and 249 people from January to 15 September 2023. It was reported that Sagaing Region has the highest number of deaths with 471 people.
Firing artillery shells in Palaw Township
It was reported that on 1 September 2023, the junta forces launched artillery shells from the Police Station of Pala Town in Palaw Township of Tanintharyi Region, injuring six civilians in the town– including a 14-year-old student – and destroying a house.
Using civilians as human shields and killing them
Radio Free Asia reported that on 30 August 2023, around 250 military troops raided Au Htan Yang village, Moemauk Township in Kachin State. They arrested two men who were entering the village on a motorbike and killed one of them during interrogation. According to the residents, 10 people from the village were abducted and used as human shields when the military headed to the headquarters of the Kachin Independence Army. One man in his 40s was reportedly killed on the way and the other nine hostages were later released on 31 August 2023. The local news reported that an estimated 100 people from villages near the township left their homes and fled to a church and another safe zone while the clashes between the military troops and the KIA were stormed.
Killing a civilian and abducting civilians in Tigyaing Township and Wetlet Township
On 28 August 2023, AAPP reported that Myanmar military forces raided Zee Phyu Kyin Village in Tigyaing Township in Sagaing Region firing artillery shells and guns. During the raid, a 60-year-old man was shot dead while attempting to escape from the gunshots. On the same day, the military forces reportedly raided Hla Taw Village in Wetlet Township, Sagaing Region, and on 30 August 2023, 5 locals identified as Chit Oo, Phoe Ni Toe, Phoe Aung, Zaw Min Htet and Nga Net from Hla Taw Village, and Maung Thant from Yae Htwet Village were abducted as hostages, and taken to Yae Htwet Village.
Killing a civilian at a Sagaing Region checkpoint
AAPP reported that on 4 September 2023, the junta forces shot at a motorcyclist who was trying to flee a Sagaing Region checkpoint, located on the south side of Shwebo Town, Sagaing Region. In doing so, the junta accidentally hit a parked express bus nearby, killing a civilian named Paw Tun (60) inside.
According to Myanmar Now News, the victim was a resident of Pin Hla Village in Kawlin Township of Sagaing Region. The news agency reported that he suffered from lung disease and had been returning from Mandalay City after receiving medical treatment when he was hit by a stray bullet and died.
Conducting a drone attack in Katha Township
It was reported that in the early morning of 5 September 2023, junta forces launched a drone attack at Pyin Htaung Lay Village in Katha Township of Sagaing Region, dropping bombs on the area and forcing the residents of the village to flee their homes.
According to the Katha Township People’s Administration Team, this pre-dawn assault was conducted by junta troops stationed in Nga Oe Town, located on the other side of the Shweli River in Mabein Township of Shan State.
Raping and killing people in Wetlet Township
On 26 August 2023, around 100 military troops raided Kyee Kan (North) Village in Wetlet Township in Sagaing Region according to the AAPP report. They arrested 6 civilians, 3 women and 3 men of which, 4 family members were seeking refuge at the monastery nearby. It is reported that the military forces transferred the victims to a building for investigation. While two women were reportedly captive in the building, the junta took a woman and three men. The taken woman named Shwe Mahn Thu was reportedly raped and her throat was slit. The other abducted three men, Tin Hsann (father of Shwe Mahn Thu, Han Swe, and Naing Linn were later found with their throats slit. AAPP reported that a 400 ml Royal-D soft drink bottle was found inserted in Shwe Mahn Thu’s genitalia.
Beating and torturing the political prisoners in Obo Prison in Mandalay
Myanmar Now News reported that the authorities beat, tortured, and abused political prisoners after the prisoners were moved to Obo Prison in Mandalay.
According to a statement from the Political Prisoners Network (PPN) of Myanmar issued on 5 September 2023, 90 male and 11 female prisoners were transferred from Monywa Prison to Obo Prison in Mandalay, where the prison authorities beat and tortured them.
The source said that the political prisoners were beaten when they arrived at the entrance of the Obo Prison. Prison authorities allegedly kicked them in the face with their army boots, shocked them with tasers, and beat them with batons.
Torturing civilians in Kale Township
According to AAPP, two women from Pyi Taw Thar Village in Kale Township – a woman named Do Deih Huai (aka HuaiBoih) and her friend– were stopped and arrested by the junta when they were traveling to Kale Township of Sagaing Region on 27 August 2023. The junta forces inspected them and then beat and brutally tortured them, causing them to bleed. The junta forces then seized their motorcycle, phones and purses, and released them.
The source said that on the following day, the woman named Do Deih Huai was bleeding from her ears and lost consciousness. It was reported that she was taken to the Kale Town hospital and died on 5 September 2023 as a result of her injuries.
Attacking and torching the villages in Kanbalu Township
On 30 August 2023, around 150 military forces from LIB-361 reportedly attacked the villages in the southern part of Kanbalu Township in Sagaing Region. The assault resulted in approximately 8,000 residents from 14 villages, including Taunt Te Kone, Koe Myo, Nyaung Zin Gyi, Hpa Lon Chaing, Tha Yet Gaung, Thoe Boe, Ngar Yar Ne, Min Bar and Let Khoke Kone Villages fleeing for safety.
According to a credible news source, a junta column consisting of 100 troops and paramilitary members of a Pyu Saw Htee group raided and attacked villages located in Kanbalu Township of Sagaing Region on 9 September 2023. The junta forces set fire to civilian areas and houses in the region, forcing the local residents to flee their homes for safety.
In total, it was reported that over 6,000 local residents from 12 villages had to flee for safety. These villages included Taunt Te Kone, Thoe Boe, Koe Myot, Hpa Lan Chaing, Nyaung Zin Gyi, Tha Yet Gaung, Min Kone, Su Poke Kone, Bo Te Kone, Bo Kone and Pay Lel.
Raiding a village and murdering a civilian in Myaing Township
News sources reported that on 10 September 2023, a junta column consisting of 170 troops raided Kan Gyi Yoe Village in Myaing Township, Magway Region, and abducted a local resident named Thein Lwin from Wet Kyone Village.
According to the sources, when the junta forces arrived Nyaung Nyo Taw Village in Myaing Township, they shot the local resident and killed him.
Raiding and attacking the villages in Pale Township
Mizzima News reported that on the morning of 11 September 2023, the junta forces attacked the villages located in the south of Pale Township of Sagaing Region, displacing over 10,000 local residents. It was said that the local residents were afraid, since the junta forces fired heavy artilleries during night time.
Murdering a civilian in Palaw Township
AAPP reported that on 11 September 2023, a junta column consisting of 30 troops clashed with the People’s Defence Force of No. 1 Myeik District in Pi Tat Village in Palaw Township of Tanintharyi Region. The report said that while the junta forces were searching and destroying the houses in the town, they shot and murdered a civilian named Yote Hsoe.
Firing heavy artillery in Gangaw Township
News reported that in the early morning on 13 September 2023, the junta forces fired heavy artillery from the Police Station of Min Village in Gangaw Township within the Yaw Region of Magway Region, targeting civilian areas in the village.
According to the local residents, the explosion of heavy artillery injured a 60-year-old man and his wife, 56, and destroyed two houses. It was reported that the victims were receiving medical treatment when they were severely injured by the explosion.
Firing heavy artillery in Tanintharyi Township
News reported that the junta forces fired heavy artilleries on 13 September 2023, targeting the villages located in Tanintharyi Township of Tanintharyi Region. According to the local residents, an artillery explosion damaged a building in the monastery situated in Maw Tone Village (West).
Illegitimately sentencing civilians
According to AAPP, a military tribunal in Indaw Township sentenced four civilians – Zaw Myo Naing, Tin Maung Win, Thidar Win and Kyaw Thet – to life imprisonment and other long-term prison sentences on 2 September 2023. They had been arrested in Indaw Town of Sagaing Region in July 2023. It was reported that Zaw Myo Naing was sentenced to life imprisonment under Section 50(j) and 52(a) of the Counter-Terrorism Law, and Tin Maung Win was sentenced to life imprisonment under Section 50(j) of the Counter-Terrorism Law and 124 (c) of the Penal Code. The source said that Thidar Win and Kyaw Thet were each sentenced to seven years in prison under Section 52 (a) and 52 (b) of the Counter-Terrorism Law.
According to Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), a military court in Sittwe Township sentenced two local residents– namely Ba Thein (57) and Saw Lein (aka Maung Maung Khin) (50) – on 11 September 2023. Both were sentenced to two-year imprisonment under section 505(a). It was reported that they were accused and sentenced for having a connection with the Arakan Army, which is based in Rakhine State.
Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) reported that on 12 September 2023, a military court of Pyar Pone District charged four civilians in their 20s – Zaw Win Tun, Naing Wai Lin, Min Thu Aung, and Pyae Sone Phyo – to death sentences. After they were sentenced, they were sent to Pathein Prison. It was reported that these four civilians are from Bo Ka Lay Town in Ayeyarwady Region, and they were arrested for their participation in the Spring Revolution of Myanmar.
Displacement in South-East of Myanmar
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) released a displacement overview on 15 September 2023, which found that in south eastern Myanmar the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has increased from 518,700 to 523,900 as of the date of the report.
The overview highlighted the displacement situation as of 11 September 2023, particularly in Bago Region (East), Kayin State, Mon State, and across the border in Thailand.
In Bago (East) Region, 5,400 IDPs from Phyu Township were displaced within their communities due to ongoing fighting. Among them, 1,600 IDPs were displaced to Kyauktaga Township, and 3,800 IDPs were displaced within Phyu Township.
In Kayin State, 25 IDPs from Hpapun Township were displaced within the same township due to intensified fighting in the area.
In Mon State, the ongoing conflict led to the displacement of over 200 IDPs for the second time in Kyaikto Township. However, during the reporting period, some 200 IDPs returned to their place of origin in Billin Township.
Across the border, about 8,400 people from Myanmar remain displaced in Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand.
Activities of the National Unity Government
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government of Myanmar released a statement dated 28 August 2023 on the military junta's expulsion of the Chargé 'Affaires of the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste in Myanmar. The Ministry strongly condemned the expulsion of Timor-Leste's envoy by the military council. It stated that the military council does not have the authority to make decisions related to international diplomatic relations since the council does not legitimately represent Myanmar. The statement also expressed the deep gratitude of the National Unity Government and the people of Myanmar to Timor-Leste for its unwavering support to the people of Myanmar. It also appealed to the governments of the international community to stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar, like Timor-Lest.
The Ministry of Labour of the National Unity Government of Myanmar announced on 3 September 2023 that employment agencies that have yet to register with the Ministry should contact and register at the Ministry before 15 October 2023. The Ministry of Labour has urged foreign employment agencies to participate in the democratic movement and follow the relevant rules and regulations that were announced last year in announcement No. (4/2022). The Ministry also stated that when public administration resumes, registered agencies will be issued licenses and allowed to operate only after being investigated for existing laws and ethics violations. The Ministry has systematically listed the ethical violations of some agencies and labour recruitment brokers and agencies that cooperate with the military council and has warned that legal action will be taken in the implementation of interim justice.
On 6 September 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government of Myanmar issued a statement on the G20 Summit, noting the focus of the Group of 20 meeting under the Presidency of India as “inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth,” and welcoming the efforts of India to advance progress towards these objectives during the summit to be held in New Delhi from 9 to 10 September 2023.
The statement said that ahead of the Summit, the National Unity Government humbly asks the members of the G20 to consider the following points with respect to the situation in Myanmar:
1. It has now been more than 29 months since the illegitimate military junta staged the military coup and began perpetrating mass atrocities against the people of Myanmar.
2. Global security threats emanating from Myanmar caused by the illegal military coup now threaten a global population.
3. The Myanmar crisis has undermined the regional security order in Southeast Asia, deeply harming ASEAN’s reputation as Southeast Asian states struggle to identify a workable solution to the crisis.
4. The crisis in Myanmar directly threatens progress towards the very objectives of this year’s G20 summit.
5. Over the past 29 months since the coup, the National Unity Government of Myanmar, the country’s ethnic nationalities organizations, civil society, political parties and other members of the National Unity Consultative Council have made significant progress not only in ridding Myanmar of the genocidal military council, but have also advanced critical progress towards a future federal democracy.
6. As one of the world’s most important and inclusive governance bodies, the G20 has a responsibility to contribute to addressing the above challenges.
7. The National Unity Government of Myanmar asks the G20 to give careful consideration to addressing the crisis in Myanmar once and for all by taking steps, including: (1) to demand that the Myanmar army end all violence against the people of Myanmar immediately, (2) to end the sale and supply of arms and jet fuel to the Myanmar army, (3) to cut the revenue of the terrorist army and entities, and (4) to provide technical support and capacity building to the National Unity Government and its partners in addressing transnational crime.
On 7 September 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government of Myanmar issued a statement welcoming ASEAN’s review of the five-point consensus and expressing appreciation for its steadfast commitment to seeking a peaceful and durable solution to the ongoing crisis in Myanmar. The statement said that the National Unity Government especially welcomes ASEAN’s call to halt the indiscriminate attacks by the terrorist military junta on civilians and their properties, as well as the position of ASEAN to uphold the decision with regard to Myanmar’s non-political representation at ASEAN Summits and the ASEAN Foreign Minister’s Meeting. The statement underlined that the National Unity Government urged ASEAN to reconsider the participation of the terrorist military junta in ASEAN sideline meetings, activities, and ceremonies, as their participation severely undermines ASEAN’s public image and dignity. The statement also said that while expressing regret, the National Unity Government fully understands the decision of ASEAN to skip Myanmar’s chairmanship to avoid legitimizing the terrorist military junta. According to the statement, the National Unity Government expresses its gratitude to ASEAN, international partners, and the United Nations for their support in seeking just and lasting peace for the democracy-loving peoples of Myanmar, and said that the international community must take up ASEAN Leaders’ call for more support. The statement stressed that the upcoming G20 Summit in India is an opportunity for world leaders to address Myanmar’s spiralling crises in their Leaders’ Declaration.
The 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly is being held at the headquarters of United Nations in New York, starting on 5 September 2023. The Myanmar delegation led by Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations, participated at the closing of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly and the opening of the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly held on 5 September 2023.
Regarding the 54th session of the Human Rights Council, the Ministry of Human Rights issued the response of the National Unity Government on 12 September 2023, welcoming an interactive dialogue with the Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) and the Mechanism’s latest report to the Human Rights Council. It stated that the Mechanism’s report describes the junta’s atrocity crimes as “increasingly brazen,” “more frequent,” and “audacious,” and it catalogues the junta’s indiscriminate attacks on civilians in aerial bombing, its mass executions, its large-scale and intentional burning and destruction of entire villages, and its torture and use of sexual violence against detainees. The response underlined that the National Unity Government strongly supports the Mechanism’s standing commitment to holding the Myanmar military accountable for its atrocity campaigns against the Rohingya people, and Myanmar is encouraged by the Mechanism’s contributions to ongoing proceedings at the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, and in Argentina. It was stressed that Myanmar will continue to partner with the Mechanism by identifying witnesses who can provide testimony in safe and secure ways, and stand ready to explore the Mechanism’s access to Myanmar’s territory to facilitate on-the-ground investigations.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
On 31 August 2023, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) condemned the new use of cluster munitions by the Myanmar military. The CMC called for an immediate end to the use of this prohibited weapon. A new report by the CMC’s monitoring wing documented that the military junta have used a domestically produced cluster bomb in attacks in several parts of the country since 2021, including as recently as early June 2023. Dr. Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, Cluster Munition Monitor Researcher said “Myanmar’s production and use of cluster bombs is gravely concerning as these indiscriminate weapons primarily kill and injure civilians. There can be no justification for using them, and “all governments should condemn this use of an internationally-banned weapon.” Cluster Munition Monitor has reviewed photographs showing the remnants of cluster bombs used in attacks by the junta’s Air Force in Chin, Kayah, Kayin, and Shan states over the past 13 months including the recent cluster bomb attack by the junta’s Air Force damaged a school in Kedong village tract in Kawkareik township, Karen state on 6 June 2023, and another attack in Mindat township, Chin state in April 2023.
The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) released a joint open letter signed by 551 Myanmar regional and international organizations and allies on 29 August 2023 urging ASEAN and Dialogue Partner defense ministers to cancel ‘counter-terrorism’ training to be hosted by Myanmar military junta and Russia. The letter urged the ASEAN governments tocancel the upcoming ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Counter Terrorism (ADMM-Plus EWG) training exercises under the co-chairmanship of the Myanmar military junta and Russia, to exclude Myanmar military junta members from all ADMM-Plus meetings and activities, and to publicly refuse to attend all ADMM-Plus activities with the Myanmar military.
The 149 human rights groups including the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Kachin Women's Association Thailand, Karen Human Rights Group, and Shan Women's Action Network co-signed a letter on 31 August 2023 to call on governments to end Myanmar military’s access to jet fuel and weapons. The letter urged; a joint call from ASEAN and its dialogue partners calling for the UNSC to support ASEAN’s five-point consensus, an announcement of the ASEAN governments on preventing the junta from procuring aviation fuel, a joint commitment from ASEAN members to further restrict the military junta’s access to funding and the international banking system, etc.
On 4 September 2023, Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi’s press statement after attending the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) held in Jakarta noted that Indonesia had carried out more than 145 engagements during the past nine months of its ASEAN chairmanship. The Indonesian Foreign Minister also remarked that in communicating with various parties in Myanmar, Indonesia refers to the Five-Point Consensus (5PC) as the main guideline for resolving the crisis in the country. Furthermore, she explained that Indonesia has approached various parties in Myanmar, including the National Unity Government (NUG), the State Administration Council (SAC), ethnic resistance organizations (EROs), and Myanmar civil society to start an inclusive dialogue.
According to the Chairman’s Statement of the 43rd ASEAN Summit held on 5 September 2023 under the Chairmanship of the Republic of Indonesia, the member states discussed developments in Myanmar, particularly the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus (5PC), and strongly condemned the continued escalation of violence that causes prolonged suffering for the people of Myanmar, a humanitarian crisis, the destruction of houses and public facilities, and adverse impacts on regional stability, particularly along the border regions. The Statement said that the member states reiterated their position that the 5PC remains ASEAN’s main reference to address the political crisis in Myanmar, and they were gravely concerned by the lack of substantial progress on its implementation by the Authority in Myanmar, despite their commitment to the 5PC in April 2021. It was said that they reaffirmed their commitment to ASEAN’s sustainable ongoing strategies and approach to help the people of Myanmar find peaceful, comprehensive, and durable solutions.
At the United Nations daily press briefing on 7 September 2023, the Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq said that the Secretary-General will be leaving Jakarta shortly to head to the G20 summit in New Delhi. According to the Deputy Spokesperson, the Secretary-General said that brutal violence, worsening poverty, and systematic repression are crushing hopes for a return to democracy, and also reiterated his call on the military authorities of Myanmar to free all detained leaders and political prisoners and open the door towards the full restoration of democratic rule.
Regarding the upcoming ASEAN Air Chiefs’ Conference (AACC), Justice For Myanmar called on other ASEAN members on 8 September 2023to follow Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines in refusing to attend the upcoming AACC, heeding the outcry from Myanmar and international civil society. The organization said that the Myanmar junta’s air force head is the chair of AACC and is currently commanding an indiscriminate campaign of aerial terror, slaughtering men, women and children, and destroying homes, schools, places of worship and whole villages. Justice For Myanmar called on ASEAN members to bar the illegal junta of Myanmar from all ASEAN defence activities, and failing that, to refuse to attend activities in which the junta participates.
At the interactive dialogue on the report of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) held at the 54th session of the Human Rights Council on 11 September 2023, Nicholas Koumjian, Head of the Mechanism, said that last year he reported an increase in serious international crimes committed in Myanmar to the Council. He stated that the frequency and intensity of war crimes and crimes against humanity had only increased in recent months, with more brazen aerial bombings and indiscriminate shelling, resulting in the deaths of innocent civilians, including children; increased executions of captured combatants and civilians; and intentional burnings of homes and villages. It was said that the Mechanism was currently sharing information and evidence with three ongoing proceedings focused on crimes committed against the Rohingya at the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, and in Argentina. He also added that the people of Myanmar were suffering deeply from the effects of these ongoing horrific crimes, and the Mechanism was committed to pursuing justice for them, as well as focusing all its efforts to ensure that the perpetrators would one day be held to account.
In response to the interactive dialogue at the 54th session of the Human Rights Council, the UK Human Rights Ambassador Rita French delivered a statement, welcoming the Mechanism’s continued work to facilitate justice and accountability in Myanmar. The statement underlined that accountability is the only way to end the culture of impunity in Myanmar, and the UK is committed to supporting this goal by providing £500,000 to the IIMM, establishing the Myanmar Witness programme, and leading efforts to secure the first ever UN Security Council Resolution on the situation in Myanmar, urging all parties to respect human rights and end violence. The UK Human Rights Ambassador said that to successfully collect evidence and continue to meet its mandate, the Mechanism relies on the cooperation of all UN and international partners, and without the cooperation of all UN entities, the Mechanism would not be able to undertake vital activities to hold the Myanmar military to account.
On 12 September 2023, the Delegation of the European Union to Myanmar issued a statement, welcoming the release of workers and labour rights defenders arrested with them in June and July 2023. The statement called for the release of all other trade unionists and labour rights defenders who have been detained for their activities in support of Myanmar workers.
On 13 September 2023, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situations of Human Rights in Myanmar Thomas H. Andrews called on the United States to further tighten sanctions on the military rulers in Myanmar to include their main revenue source: the state oil and gas enterprise. He said that Washington has imposed sanctions on the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank and Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank in June, but more needs to be done.
Date: 17 September 2023
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York