Bi-weekly Update on the Current Situation in Myanmar
(16-10-2023 to 31-10-2023)
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 31 October 2023, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military has ruthlessly killed 4,162 people and arrested another 25,363 people. 19,639 people remain in detention and 163 people have been sentenced to death, including 120 post-coup death row prisoners and 119 people 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 again unlawfully extended the so-called state of emergency on 31 July 2023, aiming to prolong military rule in Myanmar for another six months.
Serious crimes committed by the Military
Terrorizing Attacks in Sagaing
Myanmar junta troops reportedly conducted arson attacks in two districts of Sagaing Region following resistance attacks on 25 and 26 October 2023, burning down businesses, a bus station, and homes. In Taze Town, around 100 troops and Pyu Saw Htee militia arrested five male civilians after a stun grenade exploded near Myoma Market. The troops burned down several establishments, and residents remain in fear due to the presence of approximately 180 soldiers from neighboring Kantbalu Township. Pyu Saw Htee militias also detained Taze residents, including women. In Salingyi Township, junta troops responded to a resistance attack by burning houses in Nyaung Pin Gyi village, which the residents had already fled due to previous fighting. Over 1,000 houses in 17 Salingyi villages, including Nyaung Pin Gyi, have been incinerated in junta raids. Data for Myanmar reported that as of July, junta forces had torched at least 57,503 houses in Sagaing Region.
Irrawaddy News reported that junta troops have intensified attacks on resistance strongholds in Sagaing Region, resulting in the deaths of at least seven civilians and five fighters in Ayadaw, Khin-U, and Yinmabin townships. In Yinmabin Township, on 16 October 2023, residents found six bodies showing signs of blunt force trauma after a junta raid on the previous day, with three victims being minors. Junta forces clashed with resistance fighters near Yamar Creek, resulting in the reported death of 12 junta troops. Additionally, one resistance member was decapitated, and several People's Defense Force (PDF) members were killed during raids in Ayadaw Township. Junta troops also displaced over 5,000 people in Khin-U Township, leading to significant unrest and loss of life among residents and resistance forces in the area. These attacks are part of the junta's ongoing efforts to weaken the resistance and create a humanitarian crisis in Sagaing Region.
Bombing Site of Kachin State Massacre
On 16 October 2023, Myanmar's junta reportedly bombed A’Nang Pa Village in Kachin State, the same village it attacked last year during a concert marking the founding of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). The bombing, carried out by two jets from the Myitkyina airbase, occurred near the Kachin Independence Army's (KIA) Brigade 9 headquarters. A KIA source confirmed casualties. Clashes between KIA and regime forces have been ongoing in several townships. In a separate incident, on 9 October 2023, the junta bombed a displacement camp at Mung Lai Hkyet Village, killing at least 29 people, including 13 children, and injuring another 57.
Torching Villages in Magwe
Myanmar junta troops attacked villages in Yesagyo Township, Magwe Region, torching at least four villages over four days. The attacks on 13 October 2023 on Yay Lae Kyun, an island at the confluence of the Ayeyarwady and Chindwin rivers, displaced more than 10,000 residents. On 14 October 2023, the junta soldiers split into three columns, burning down the villages of Kyun Nyo, Nan Oo, Ku Ni, and Nga Tayout. A 50-year-old woman was killed in Kyun Nyo village, and a 51-year-old man died of a heart attack while fleeing the junta raid. Local resistance forces clashed with regime troops, with reports of casualties on both sides. The area has faced repeated attacks, forcing villagers to abandon their homes amid the ongoing junta onslaught.
Mutilating Bodies of Civilians
Irrawaddy News reported that, on 29 October 2023, following a series of attacks over 10 days in Depayin Township, Sagaing Region, junta troops killed at least 12 residents, leaving seven decapitated and disemboweled, according to residents and resistance members. The attacks, conducted by a column of around 130 troops known as the "Ogre Column," displaced thousands of residents from several villages in the township. The troops also seized at least 21 villagers, whose whereabouts remain unknown. The same column had previously carried out similar raids in other townships, killing nearly 50 civilians and resistance fighters and torching houses and barns.
According to Irrawaddy News, in Magwe Region, at least five civilians, including a child, were killed and five others were injured in shelling by a pro-junta militia from West Hpone Kan Village on 29 October 2023. The shelling occurred in southern Myaing Township, where a five-year-old girl died, her parents were injured, and another woman was killed. Several villages were targeted, leading to displacement and the abandonment of at least three villages due to ongoing shelling. Additionally, shells hit a village monastery, killing two novice monks and injuring five displaced people. In northern Myaing Township, junta infantry raids have emptied at least six villages, and a member of the People's Defense Force (PDF) was killed in a separate shelling incident. Resistance forces reported that more than 10 villagers were killed by junta troops in Myaing Township in September.
Raiding and Killing in Mandalay
On 25 October 2023, junta troops reportedly attacked six riverside villages in Mandalay's Madaya and Singu Townships, resulting in the deaths of five civilians. The bodies of three men were found near Tha Hpan Daunt Village in Madaya, and two others were discovered near Kyet Tu Yway Village in Singu; one victim was identified as U Kyaw Win, a resident of Thea Inn village. The victims had been beaten to death, and signs of torture were evident on their bodies. On the same day, the junta troops, numbering around 150, raided villages, burning houses, a monastery, and a clinic in Kyet Tu Yway Village. This attack marked the second time in October that these villages were targeted by the same junta column. Singu's Kyet Tu Yway Village has been repeatedly torched by junta infantry since the 2021 military coup. Data For Myanmar reported that junta troops have burned down nearly 1,350 houses across Mandalay Region as of July 31.
Drone and Arson Attacks on Civilians
Myanmar junta troops reportedly launched drone and arson attacks in Singu and Wetlet Townships, Sagaing Region, on 30 October 2023, seriously injuring two children. Around 150 soldiers attacked Wetlet's Pal Thu Gyi Village, looting property and torching nearly a dozen houses. Thousands of villagers have been displaced due to the regime troops’ raids. Junta forces also used a drone bomb on the monastery at nearby Maw Oo village on 28 October 2023. The locals said that the junta has used drones to bomb residents of five Yoar Thar Yar tract villages, namely Kan Phyu, Maw Oo, Yay La Maw, Tha Yat Pin Su and Nga Bat Chaung. The junta continues to conduct drone attacks on villages even in the absence of clashes with resistance forces, causing significant harm to residents.
Using Human Shields
On 24 October 2023, Myanmar junta forces reportedly raided a village in Wetlet Township, Sagaing Region, capturing four small children, six women, and seven men while returning to their base. The hostages, including infants and toddlers, were taken early in the morning and released around noon after being subjected to questioning. The soldiers did not harm the children but detained the adults, keeping them captive until they reached their base in Thar Laing village. The regime had deployed troops to Wetlet Township to enhance security during the repair and reopening of the Myitkyina-Mandalay railway line, leading to the displacement of thousands of residents. The soldiers' presence in the area has resulted in civilian casualties and tensions, with locals facing ongoing security threats.
Revoking Passports of Myanmar Expats in Singapore
Myanmar Now reported that several Myanmar citizens residing in Singapore, have had their passports invalidated by the Myanmar junta between August and October, including individuals with permanent residency (PR) status, which allows them to live in Singapore indefinitely but requires a valid passport from their country of origin for international travel. The cancellation, without a clear explanation, was discovered by individuals at immigration checkpoints when attempting to travel abroad; the passport holders were informed of the invalidation at the airport, with officials citing potential opposition to the Myanmar military council as the reason for the cancellation. The Myanmar embassy in Singapore has not provided any statements on the matter. The cancellations have raised concerns among Myanmar nationals in Singapore, creating uncertainties about their status and safety.
Denial of Prison Visits
Myanmar's junta has resumed in-person prison visits, allowing families to meet detainees for the first time in over three years. However, prisoners serving life sentences or facing the death penalty, including many political prisoners, will not be allowed visitors. Families gathered outside of prisons, but some were turned away, causing outrage. Inmates at Insein Prison in Yangon, which holds political prisoners, have not yet been allowed visits. Visitation is limited to 120 visitors per day, with each visit lasting only 20 minutes. Families face hardships in meeting documentation requirements, and the International Committee of the Red Cross offers travel assistance to some families.
Activities of the National Unity Government of Myanmar
On 16 October 2023, the Myanmar Delegation led by H.E. Zin Mar Aung, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, and H.E. Aung Myo Min, Union Minister for Human Rights, attended the Forum 2000 Conference held in Prague, Czech Republic. During the delegation’s visit to Prague, the Foreign Minister met with the President of the Czech Republic and presented the “Prague Appeal” to the European Union Member States and the EU. During the meeting, cooperation between the two countries and the human rights situation in Myanmar were discussed. The delegation also met with the members of the Senate of the Czech Republic, Mr. Jiří Oberfalzer and Mr. Pavel Fisher. During the meeting, they shared views on cooperation between the two countries, and the Union Minister urged the Czech Republic to support more humanitarian assistance to people in Myanmar.
On 17 October 2023, the National Unity Government (NUG) of Myanmar released a statement on human trafficking, scams, fraud, and transnational crime. It stated that the NUG has acknowledged international efforts to combat transnational criminal activities within the country, particularly in areas controlled by the Myanmar army’s Border Guard Forces (BGFs). The NUG revealed that around 120,000 individuals in Myanmar are forced to participate in online scams, with many trafficked into the country and subsequently becoming victims of forced criminality, torture, or modern slavery. These scams, conducted through advanced technology, target vulnerable people worldwide, causing significant financial losses and psychological harm. The NUG claimed that the Myanmar army’s involvement in these criminal activities has escalated due to weakened law enforcement capacities following the destruction of the Myanmar Police Force. The NUG condemned the Myanmar army as the key enabler of transnational crime and established a taskforce to assess and combat these crimes. Additionally, the NUG asserted that it views the victims of these criminal organizations as victims of human trafficking and supports international efforts to ensure their safety and security.
On 18 October 2023, H.E. Aung Kyaw Moe, Deputy Minister for Human Rights met with the Ambassador of Canada and Deputy Permanent Representative at the Canadian Embassy in New York and discussed the human rights situation in Myanmar, humanitarian aid situation, and the current situation of the Rohingya. In addition, they exchanged views on the issues of accountability for the atrocities that continue to be inflicted on the people, including the aerial attack by the terrorist military group on the IDP camp in Laiza.
On 25 October 2023, H.E. Dr. Zaw Wai Soe, Union Minister of the Ministry of Health of the NUG, met with Mr. Pascal Allizard, Member of the Senate of France. During the meeting, they discussed the current situation in Myanmar, and the Union Minister encouraged France to provide concrete support to the people of Myanmar.
On 25 October 2023, the delegation led by H.E. Aung Myo Min , Union Minister for Human Rights, met with members of Parliamentary Friends of a Democratic Burma and other parliamentarians who are interested in the situation in Myanmar. During the meeting, the Union Minister highlighted that to prevent the crimes committed by the current terrorist military group as soon as possible, international action is paramount. He added that the embargo of military aid and the active demand for action under international law are of particular importance and encouraged the government of Canada to increase cooperation in humanitarian aid and practical support for the NUG, NUCC, and CRPH in Myanmar.
On 27 October 2023, H.E. Aung Myo Min, Union Minister for Human Rights, and the delegation met with Canada's Deputy Foreign Minister H.E. David Morrison. During the meeting, the Union Minister expressed his gratitude on behalf of the people of Myanmar to the Canadian government for its efforts to support justice and the Myanmar Spring Revolution. He urged them to continue to oppose the military dictatorship and to support the establishment of a future federal union, as well as to provide the necessary technical assistance.
The NUG issued a policy statement regarding the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) on 31 October 2023. The statement emphasizes the following key points:
The NCA is an agreement signed between the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and ethnic armed revolutionary organizations and not with the Myanmar Military Council.
The terrorist Myanmar Military Council, attempting an illegal coup, lacks international recognition as a legitimate government.
The NUG represents the official government of Myanmar and its people.
The Myanmar Military Council has no authority to implement the NCA.
Political dialogue and negotiations with the military junta have been suspended by ethnic armed revolutionary organizations that signed the NCA.
The 2008 Constitution, a basis for political dialogue under the NCA, has been abolished.
Political dialogue mechanisms developed under the NCA, such as JICM, UPDJC, and JMC, have ceased to function after the coup.
The Federal Democracy Charter outlines fundamental political principles for building a federal democratic union, serving as a basis for political and peace processes.
The Myanmar Military Council's attempts to use the NCA for political purposes and humanitarian aid delivery will not be recognized.
The NUG's roadmap includes eliminating the military council, forming transitional governments, drafting a Federal Union Constitution, enforcing civilian supremacy, implementing transitional justice, and conducting security sector reforms with international support.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in Response to the Military Coup d’état
ASEAN denounced the reported bombardment of a camp for displaced people in Myanmar’s Kachin State in a statement released on 17 October 2023. It stated that the attack committed ten days prior had purportedly resulted in the deaths of 28 civilians, including at least 12 children. It said, “We, the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), are deeply concerned over and condemn the reported bombing that impacted an internally displaced persons camp in the Munglai Hkyet, Kachin State, on October 9, which claimed the lives of many civilians, including children.” ASEAN reiterated its urgent plea for an immediate end to all forms of violence, especially those that affect civilians, and for the exercise of the utmost restraint necessary to foster an open discussion leading to a comprehensive resolution of the situation in Myanmar.
Mr. Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, delivered his remarks to the General Assembly’s Third Committee in New York on 24 October 2023. He urged UN Member States to strengthen coordinated actions against the military junta in Myanmar, highlighting the junta's attacks on civilians, including mass killings, torture, and sexual violence. Mr. Andrews praised sanctions targeting financial institutions and jet fuel, emphasizing the need for a global coalition to support human rights in Myanmar. He also condemned countries supplying arms to the junta and called for sustained efforts to push Myanmar back toward democracy. Finally, he emphasized the urgency of international action to alleviate the suffering of the people in Myanmar.
The UK, US, and Canada announced new sanctions targeting arms dealers and financiers associated with the Myanmar military regime on 31 October 2023. The new measures are a part of international efforts to restrict arms sales and financing in response to ongoing aerial attacks by the Myanmar military, which have resulted in significant civilian casualties and displacement. The UK newly sanctioned five individuals and one entity. The US newly sanctioned five individuals, three entities, and limited targeted sanctions on MOGE. Canada newly sanctioned 39 individuals and 22 entities.
Date: 31 October 2023
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York