Bi-Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (1 May 2022)
Bi-Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
Over 15 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 with inhumane and disproportionate actions.
As of 29 April 2022, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 1,803 people were ruthlessly killed by the military, whereas 13,496 people have been arrested, 10,449 people remain in detention, and 1,977 people have been issued with warrants since 1 February 2021, when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians.
The Military depopulating the villages in Sagaing Region
Myanmar Now news reported that since 21 April 2022, the military column consisting of 100 military forces began their attacks on the villages located between the towns of Sagaing and Myinmu in Sagaing Region. The military forces depopulated these villages, which the military believed were supporting the resistance fighters.
About 3,000 houses in the villages of Thazilay, PhayarHla, Thazin, Nyaung Bin Shae, Ta Laing Kyun, Mutha, Magyikone, San Thit, Taung Myo, Depayin Kwe and Taung Kyar were destroyed. Of these villages, 250 homes in Thazilay Village, 300 houses in Nyaung Bin Shae Village and 30 houses in PhayarHla Village were burned down by the military forces.
It was reported that all the local villagers had to flee, leaving everything behind. Some villagers crossed the Muu River, and some fled to Mandalay and Sagaing. During the last week of April 2022, more than 10,000 people have fled 11 villages in Sagaing Region amidst the atrocities and inhuman acts of the military forces, in which several civilians and resistance fights have been killed.
The Military torching the villages in Sagaing Region
Irrawaddy News reported that the military troops torched the villages in Kawlin and Wuntho in Sagaing Region. It was reported that on 23 April 2022, the military troops from Light Infantry Battalion 111, based in Wuntho, arrived nearby place of Sein Lel Village and clashed with local resistance groups. According to the local residents, five military troops were killed in the fighting, and the military troops raided several villages nearby, fired heavy weapons and torched houses. As the military forcibly raided and torched houses, the villagers had to flee their houses. A local resistance fighter said that a female villager died in one of the fires.
During the last week of April, the military troops torched nine villages and killed three civilians, including a Buddhist monk, who had urged the military forces not to burn down houses. The attacks resulted in the displacement of 10,000 villagers. It is reported that during the month of April, about 30,000 people from more than 40 villages in the townships of Kawlin and Wuntho of Sagaing Region have been displaced.
Khit Thit Media reported that on 29 April 2022, the military forces raided and torched houses in Yintway Village and Lat Tee Village in Depayin Township of Sagaing Region. Local residents said that 14 houses from Yintway Village and three houses from Lat Tee Village were burned down.
The Military murdering civilians in Mandalay
Mizzima news reported that on 24 April 2022, the bodies of three family members who own Sein Win Win Teashop in Mandalay and who are well-known supporters of National League for Democracy (NLD), were found by the side of the road after they had been arrested. It was reported that the military forces arrested a civilian named Khin Maung Win from the Sein Win Win Teashop together with his wife and his brother. After being arrested, two of them were murdered and another is in a critical condition. It was reported that all of them were left by the side of the road.
According to Mizzima news, the dead body of a civilian named U Moe Gyi (aka) Bhone Myint Moe was found near Thingaza Creek in Maha Aungmye Township of Mandalay on 27 April 2022. A local resident said that the military forces arrested U Moe Gyi (aka) Bhone Myint Moe, who is the brother of Zaw Zaw Aung, the Pyithu Hluttaw Member of Parliament (MP), and later dumped his body next to the creek. It was reported that the military forces dressed in civilian clothes had arrested him at a local pub on 25 April 2022, and his death body was found on the morning of 27 April 2022.
The Military arresting and detaining civilians
Myanmar Now News reported that the military forces arrested and detained U Chit Khine, who is the 74-years-old president of the Eden Group conglomerate and is also one of Myanmar’s richest tycoons, after having accused him of involvement in graft with several former ministers of the democratic civilian government. According to a credible source, he was arrested on 22 April 2022 in Nay Pyi Taw shortly after he had returned from a trip abroad. The military’s anti-corruption commission claimed later that U Chit Khine committed corruption between 2018 and 2021, while he ran a coal-fired power station in Tigyit, southern Shan State, as part of a joint venture with a state-owned enterprise.
It was reported that on the same day, U Ohn Win, the former Minister of Natural Resources, and U Win Khaing, the former Minister of Energy, were also arrested. They were accused of graft, as the former Deputy Minister of Energy named U Tun Naing was also accused. It was reported that three of them are already in detention.
Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) reported that the military forces arrested two men and two women in Pakokku Township and Yasagyo Township of Magway Region on 25 and 26 April 2022. A local resident said that on 25 April 2022, the military forces arrested Thae Nu Aung from No 12 Quarter of Pakokku Township and took her phone. It is said that Thae Nu Aung is working at an electronic devices shop, and she has no involvement in the anti-military movement. Local residents said that on 26 April 2022, the military forces and the members of the Pyu Saw Htee paramilitary group arrested a civilian named Phyo Zin Win from Kan Htauk Village of Yesagyo Township after he was accused of being a PDF resistance fighter. His parents were also arrested. A PDF member of Kan Htauk Village said that Phyo Zin Win is not related to the activities of PDF fighters.
Myanmar Now News reported that the military forces arrested two women, Nu Nu Aung and Khet Khet in Hpa-an, in the capital of Kayin (Karen) State on 26 April 2022, and the adult son of Khet Khet was also arrested. The two women are from a political organization formed by veterans of the 1988 pro-democracy movement. Nu Nu Aung belongs to the Farmers’ Welfare Department and Khet Khet is a member of Women and Children Affairs Department. It was reported that when they were taken into custody, Nu Nu Aung was in Hpa-An to receive medical treatment. Their colleagues said that nothing has been heard from them since they have been arrested.
According to Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), on 27 April 2022, the military forces arrested Lawyer Daw Ywet Nu Aung, who is representing the members of National League for Democracy (NLD), including the Chief Minister of Mandalay Region U Zaw Myint Maung. She was arrested, when she returned home from her office, and another lawyer alongside her was also arrested. According to Irrawady News, the military’s spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun said that Daw Ywet Nu Aung was charged under Section 50(j) of the Counter-Terrorism Law, as she allegedly financed PDF resistance fighters.
The Military arresting civilians to use as hostages
According to AAPP, the military arrested a civilian named Ohn, who is a teacher involved in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), on 22 April 2022. She was arrested as a hostage at her home in Min Tatar Ward of Mogoke Township in Mandalay Region, when the military forces could not find her niece named Htet Htet Naing, who is accused of supporting PDF members. It was reported that Ohn was later released, when Htet Htet Naing voluntarily went to the East Mogoke Police Station to be arrested.
On 23 April 2022, as the military forces could not find a civilian named Thet Paing Soe, who is the Regional Member of Parliament (MP) of Ngapudaw Township in Ayeyarwady Region, they arrested his wife, his 10-months-old daughter, his uncle, the 13-years-old daughter of his uncle, and the neighbours as hostages. All those arrested as hostages are living in Ka Nyin Chaung Village of Ngapudaw Township.
The Military sentencing Myanmar State Counsellor to imprisonment
On 27 April 2022, a special court in Nay Pyi Taw sentenced the State Counsellor of Myanmar H.E. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who was already sentenced to six years of imprisonment, to five more years under section 55 of the Anti-Corruption Law, based on allegations that the State Counsellor accepted seven gold bars (roughly 11.4kg) and $600,000 offered by the Chief Minister of Yangon Region, U Phyo Min Thein.
The Military sentencing civilians into imprisonment
Credible news reported that on 20 April 2022, the high court of Mandalay Region sentenced Dr. Htar Htar Lin, director of the Department of Public Health in the Ministry of Health, and Dr. Soe Oo, the Director-General, to imprisonment. The former was charged under the Anti-Corruption Law Section-56 and handed a sentence of three years in prison with hard labor, while the latter was charged with the Anti-Corruption Law Section-56/63 and handed a sentence of two years in jail with hard labor. It was reported that both of them were charged with alleged mismanagement of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign budget.
Myanmar Now News reported that in the last week of April 2022, a court in Insein Prison sentenced a freelance journalist named Soe Yarzar Tun to up to seven years imprisonment under section 52(a) of the Counter-Terrorism Law. It is reported that he was detained in Thone Sel Township of Bago Region on 10 March 2022, after the military raided a monastery in Bago and arrested him where he was practicing as a monk. A family member said that he was held at the Phayar Lay Interrogation Center in Hlegu Township of Yangon Region, and it was likely that he was tortured under interrogation. His relative speculated that the military filed a terrorism charge based on information on his phone.
It was also reported that a total of 115 journalists have been detained since the military coup, and 39 of them are still in prison. Another three journalists named Sai Win Aung, Pu Tuidim and Soe Naing have been killed by military forces since December, according to the International Federation of Journalists.
Humanitarian Situation in Myanmar
According to the humanitarian update of Myanmar as of 19 April 2022 prepared by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 912,700 men, women and children remain displaced across Myanmar as of 11 April 2022, including 566,100 people who were displaced following the military coup in February last year. The report underlined that for the first time, displacement in the northwest of Myanmar has exceeded 300,000 people.
This update highlighted that humanitarian assistance has been provided in the form of critical life-saving assistance to displaced people through local partners, and there are reportedly increasing challenges, including roadblocks and checkpoints, transportation of supplies and incomplete coverage by local partners in several conflict areas. It underlined that despite the challenges, food security partners have reached 1.4 million people with life-saving assistance – a quarter of the Cluster’s target for 2022.
The humanitarian update reported that funding for the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), which requests US$826 million to reach 6.2 million people in need of life-saving support, is critical. It stressed that only 5 per cent ($37.2 million) of required funds have been received at the end of the first quarter of 2022 (FTS). All clusters are underfunded, which impedes their ability to respond to the growing needs and gaps in response.
Activities of the National Unity Government
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government (NUG) issued a Newsletter (Annual Special Issue) as of 21 April 2022, which is available at https://assets-mofa.nugmyanmar.org/images/2022/04/MOFA-special-issue-April-21-2022.pdf.
The Newsletter mentioned the annual remarks of Union Minister and Deputy Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, Myanmar Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and Ambassador to ASEAN, as well as the remarks of the NUG Representatives to the Commonwealth of Australia, the French Republic, Japan, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Korea, the Kingdom of Norway, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
H.E. Zin Mar Aung, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, remarked, “Our ministry here makes a pledge to the people that with all our hearts and minds, we shall continue to be the voice of the people on the international stage.”
H.E. Moe Zaw Oo, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, remarked, “Allow me to express my deepest respect to the people of Myanmar for their perseverance and valiant determination. The path to victory is no longer far from achieved due to the collective strength demonstrated by the people, all the ethnic groups, all the generations, and people from all walks of life. However, it is not yet finished. We will need to strive more. We need continuous support and cooperation. Thank you all.”
H.E. Kyaw Moe Tun, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the UN, remarked, “Restoration of democracy matters rest of the region and the world. Support of the international community plays an important role. However, strength is within. Unity within the country is vital. We, together, with our unity and with our strength, can definitely end the military dictatorship and restore democracy in Myanmar. Democracy and justice prevail. We will win.”
H.E. Bo Hla Tint, Ambassador to ASEAN remarked, “It is evident that NUG was capable of achieving some considerable improvement in matters such as penetrating into the UN and the international family to get effective international assistance, imposing comprehensive sanctions on the military, establishing internal unity comprising all ethnicity, and institutionalization of formal People Defense Forces. Despite this, there is still military dictatorship on the one hand and of course some dissatisfaction from our own fellow citizens. I strongly suggest that NUG should make a more practical and clear-guided policy agenda in light of the global and regional political settings in its second year for the sake of annihilating the evil militant rulers.”
In its annual report to the public, the newsletter underlined the activities and performances during the first half-yearly period from 16 April 2021 to 20 October 2021, during which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has strived to make the Interim National Unity Government be officially recognized by the international community in cooperation with international governments, international organizations including the United Nations; not to recognize the military by the international community; to implement effective sanctions and prosecutions in international courts and to sign of international treaties that protect the State and its citizens under international law.
International Remarks in response to the military’s sentencing of the Myanmar State Counsellor
In the United Nations daily press briefing on 27 April 2022, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq responded to questions on the sentencing of the State Counsellor in Myanmar. The Deputy Spokesperson said that the United Nations reiterates the Secretary-General’s condemnation of the military takeover on 1st February 2021, repeating the call for an immediate end to violence and repression, for the respect for human rights and for the immediate release of all those detained in Myanmar.
On the Senate floor on 27 April 2022, U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered remarks with regard to the current situation in Myanmar, stressing that State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was handed another outrageous sham sentence by the military in Myanmar. The U.S. Senate Republican Leader said that the military has detained the leader of the democracy movement of Myanmar and the countless citizens, along with foreign nationals like the Australian economist Sean Turnell, and dozens of children under the age of fifteen are also held in detention. He also remarked that the military’s baseless prosecution of the State Counsellor illustrates how long the road ahead is for democracy in Myanmar.
On 27 April 2022, France condemned in the strongest possible terms in response to the military’s sentencing of the State Counsellor to a 5-year prison term at the end of arbitrary court proceedings, stating that with this decision, the military made a new attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democratically elected leader and the will of the people of Myanmar. As France and its EU partners have consistently emphasized that this crisis can be resolved only through a political dialogue with all stakeholders, France reiterates its call for the immediate, unconditional release of all those arbitrarily detained and an end to the acts of violence committed by the military.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar also said on Twitter, “The sentencing of the Myanmar State Counsellor is as outrageous as the continued detention of over 13,000 political prisoners. The junta passes these “verdict” in the theater of the absurd it calls “courts” because it wants what brutality and weapons cannot deliver — legitimacy.”
On 27 April 2022, the Spokesperson of the European Union said in a statement in response to the military’s sentencing of the State Counsellor of Myanmar to imprisonment, “It represents another step towards the dismantling of the rule of law and a further blatant violation of human rights in Myanmar and yet another major setback for democracy in Myanmar since the military coup on 1 February 2021.”
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
In the United Nations daily press briefing on 21 April 2022, the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric said that their colleagues on the ground remain alarmed by the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Myanmar, where the people continue to suffer due to the continued fighting in the north-west and south-east of Myanmar. The Spokesperson mentioned that of the Rohingya who are internally displaced and confined to camps across Rakhine State, many of them have lived in the camps for nearly a decade, and the forthcoming monsoon season is set to be a miserable one for those living in the open air or in these camps. He added that hundreds of buildings in the camps are in dire need of repair, leaving more than 28,000 displaced men, women and children living in perilous conditions, and he said that the U.N. needs to urgently bridge a funding gap of $4.7 million to repair those structures.
On 22 April 2022, Human Rights Watch said that the Southeast Asian governments should urgently restore their response to the military of Myanmar through coordination action with the international community, underlining the failure of ASEAN to take meaningful steps towards pressing the military to end its human rights violations in Myanmar. Elaine Pearson, the Acting Asia Director of Human Right Watch said, “Myanmar’s junta has spent the past year committing atrocities in utter disregard for its commitments to ASEAN.” Human Rights Watch also mentioned that ASEAN should signal its support for a UN Security Council resolution on a global arms embargo, referral of the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court, and imposing of targeted sanctions on the military and the military-owned companies.
On 22 April 2022 – one year after the adoption of ASEAN Five-Point Consensus, Amnesty International said that the activists of Myanmar are still pursuing peaceful protests despite grave danger and numerous challenges, and the organization called on the military to exercise restraint, to abide by international law, and to resume the law enforcement duties. Emerlynne Gil, Deputy Regional Director for Research of Amnesty International, said, “the Myanmar activists urgently need the support of the international community in the form of a global arms embargo to stop the Myanmar military from using weapons of warfare to kill peaceful protesters.” Amnesty International also urged ASEAN to call on the Myanmar military authorities to immediately stop all violence against peaceful protestors in line with the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus.
On 24 April 2022, the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) issued an open letter to underline their disappointment over ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus. APHR noted in the letter that the military leader has failed to implement any of the Five-Point Consensus, and it is time for ASEAN to move on to sanctioning him for the continued suffering of the people and his blatant disregard for his regional partners. In order to stop the military’s atrocities, hold the perpetrators accountable, and initiate a real process towards peace and democratization, APHR proposed three steps. The first step is to make the position of the Special Envoy to Myanmar more effective by being appointed on a long-term basis and being responsible to ASEAN as a whole, rather than based on the rotating ASEAN Chair position. Second, there has to be a timeframe and enforcement mechanisms for implementation of ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus. Third, ASEAN should immediately and publicly meet with the National Unity Government (NUG) and the representatives of Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) in dialogue to ensure that all voices are heard.
Date: 1 May 2022
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York