Bi-Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (18-09-2023 to 30-09-2023)
Bi-weekly Update on the Current Situation in Myanmar
(18-09-2023 to 30-09-2023)
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.
The illegal military junta again unlawfully extended the so-called state of emergency on 31 July 2023, aiming to prolong military rule for another six months in Myanmar.
Number of People Killed by the Junta
As of 29 September 2023, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military has ruthlessly killed 4,131 people and arrested 24,858 people. 19,286 people remain in detention, and 150 people have been sentenced to death, including 110 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.
Between February 1, 2021, and September 29, 2023, a total of 1,443 individuals lost their lives after being detained by the junta across the country. In 2021, 324 people were killed, followed by 649 deaths in 2022. From January to September 29, 2023, 470 more lives were taken. Notably, Sagaing Region has witnessed the highest number of fatalities, with 832 lives lost among the recorded deaths.
Higher Greater Number of Arrests and Sentences in September 2023
In the month of September 2023, a total of 95 individuals, including 29 women and 66 men, were arrested by the junta across the country. Yangon Region experienced the highest number of arrests, with 26 people detained by the authorities. 110 individuals, including 23 women and 87 men, have been sentenced under false charges across the country. Out of the 106 verdicts, four individuals received life imprisonment, and seven individuals were handed the death penalty. Notably, 85 people from Sagaing Region faced imprisonment, recording the most sentences of any region or state.
On 20 September 2023, junta forces arrested Wai Phyo, the owner of "Hello Mobile," a phone shop situated on Market Street in Poe Tan Ward, Sagaing Town, Sagaing Region. He was allegedly apprehended for evading arrest while facing charges under the Counter-Terrorism Law. His phone shop was confiscated the same day of his arrest.
Furthermore, on 21 September, junta forces also detained Htar Htar Oo, one of the founders of "Yin Thway Yadanar" Private High School in Thar Si Ward, Sein Kone Rural Area, Sagaing Town, Sagaing Region. She was accused of inciting people to participate in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) and teaching at Sagaing Federal School, established by the National Unity Government (NUG). On 22 September, the authorities seized her private school.
On the night of 24 September 2023, AAPP reported that a group comprising about 25 junta personnel and Pyu Saw Htee militiamen violently assaulted and apprehended Hla Pe and his son, Thein Swe Oo. Thein Swe Oo was a member of the CDM and worked for the Department of Agriculture in Na Bu Ai Village, situated in Myingyan Township, Mandalay Region. On the following morning at approximately 7 a.m., their lifeless bodies showing signs of torture were discovered at a Zayat (a visitor hall in monasteries) in front of Pauk Sann Street in Myingyan Township.
On 25 September 2023, junta forces arrested five individuals at Khin Su Su Hlaing's residence in Dagon Myothit (South) Township, Yangon Region. Among those detained was Khin Su Su Hlaing (also known as Mar Su), a former political prisoner who had previously been released from Tharyarwady Prison on 3 May 2023. She had been sentenced to a three-year prison term under Section 505A of the Penal Code in 2021 and was transferred from Insein Prison to Tharyarwady Prison prior to her release. The junta forces also arrested Maw Chay Min, Ei Shwe Sin, Nilar Sein, and Daywa during the operation.
On 25 September 2023, the Kale Township Court issued a verdict extending the prison sentences of four members of the Kale Main Strike Group: Than Soe Oo, Cing Deih Kim, Hnin San, and Myo Ko Win. They were each condemned to an additional 10 years behind bars under Sections 50(j), 50(h), and 52(a) of the Counter-Terrorism Law. This decision followed their prior sentencing to two years of imprisonment under Section 505A of the Penal Code on May 10. Consequently, each member now faces a total of 12 years in prison. Their arrests occurred on 16 April 2023 when they were peacefully protesting the military dictatorship on Bogyoke Road in Tat U Thi Dar Ward, Kale Town, Sagaing Region.
More Artillery Attacks Against Civilians in September 2023
The military junta has been consistently engaging in egregious acts, such as launching artillery shells at civilian areas, including schools, hospitals, IDP camps and religious sites, since the coup took place. In September 2023, the junta continued to commit artillery attacks across various regions and states, causing immense suffering. A total of 130 individuals, comprising 17 women and 113 men, have tragically lost their lives due to the junta's actions across the country. Among these victims, the junta’s artillery strikes killed 35 individuals, making this the highest and most deadly form of attack.
At around 5:30 a.m. on 23 September 2023, Artillery Hill, under the command of the junta's No.12 Operations Control Command, fired 120 mm artillery shells at Naung Ta Lar Village in Kyondoe Town, Kawkareik Township, Kayin State. One of these shells hit a house in the village, causing the death of Saw Kay Tunt due to shrapnel that struck the left side of his neck.
On 27 September 2023, the forces of LIB-102, which are affiliated with the junta and stationed in Wuntho Town, fired three shells from a 155 mm Howitzer at Gyoe Taung Village in Wuntho Township, Sagaing Region. Irrawaddy News documented that the indiscriminate shelling struck a monastic school in the village, injuring 19 children and a teacher. Most of the injured children were between the ages of five and eight. Six of the individuals sustained severe injuries. The incident occurred despite no fighting in the township on that day. Resistance forces accused the junta of deliberately targeting civilians in response to attacks on their outposts. Schools in areas controlled by the resistance are frequently targeted by bombings and raids. This incident adds to the toll of child casualties in Myanmar, including more than 400 children killed by the junta since the 2021 coup.
On 27 September 2023, in Kale Township, Sagaing Region, clashes between Myanmar's junta forces and resistance groups, including the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) and Kalay People’s Defense Force, resulted in the death of at least five civilians over two days according to Irrawaddy News. Junta shelling in Shar Hpo Village killed four men, while a woman who witnessed the incident died of a heart attack. The shells were reportedly fired from nearby Kyan Thar Village. The clashes intensified when junta troops and pro-junta allies advanced into Aung Thar Yar Village, a resistance stronghold, leading to casualties on both sides. Additional skirmishes occurred near Man Taw Village. Thousands of residents have fled their homes due to the incident.
Continued Assaults and Killings by the Myanmar Military
On 17 September 2023, junta naval vessels en route to Bhamo Town in Kachin State were attacked near Tote Gyi Village in Katha Township, Sagaing Region. Subsequently, the junta forces carried out aggressive raids in the village, resulting in the destruction of 45 houses. Seven men lost their lives during the raid. The bodies of four of these individuals were discovered in Tote Gyi Village. Reportedly, Ye Maung and Nyan Tun (Kite Kite) were fatally shot, while Aung Linn and Khin Maung Htay were set on fire while still alive.
On 20 September 2023, amid intense fighting with the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in northern Shan State and neighboring Mandalay Region since 18 September, Myanmar junta bombardments killed at least three civilians, including a child, and injured five others, according to Irrawaddy News. Indiscriminate shelling in Nyaung Kone Village, Mogoke Township, Mandalay Region, killed a five-year-old boy. Two villagers also died in junta bombardments, and two others were injured. Additionally, junta shelling in Muse Township near the Chinese border injured two Zheng Hsar Villagers, including a monk. As a result of the ongoing clashes, several villages in Mogoke Township have emptied, with residents seeking refuge in monasteries and other safe locations.
On 22 September 2023, Myanmar junta troops surrounded and attacked resistance fighters from the Chay Yar Taw People’s Defense Force (PDF) and other PDFs in Sagaing Region. The incident occurred as the PDF fighters were moving from Myinmu Township to Myaung. Troops at the entrance of Myaung Township trapped the resistance fighters, leading to the deaths of 24 fighters and two civilian administrators from Myinmu Township Administration. The fighters, lacking sufficient ammunition and automatic rifles, surrendered to the surrounding forces.
On 23 September 2023, the Irrawaddy reported that in Ye-U and Taze Townships in Sagaing Region, indiscriminate shelling and an airstrike by Myanmar's junta resulted in the deaths of two children and injuries to seven others over two days. On 23 September, junta forces fired over 20 shells in villages as they moved from Ye-U to Taze Township, causing casualties. Approximately 3,000 residents in southern Ye-U fled their homes. In Taze Town, tensions escalated after resistance forces attacked junta outposts, allegedly killing over 20 troops. Junta troops reportedly retaliated with a Mi-35 combat helicopter, injuring civilians. Junta troops are stationed at various locations in Taze Town, and they arrested around 30 people following resistance attacks on junta outposts.
Activities of the National Unity Government of Myanmar
On 18 September 2023, the Deputy Minister for Human Rights of the National Unity Government H.E. Aung Kyaw Moe attended a US Congressional Briefing and delivered an opening speech. The Deputy Minister shared that the Myanmar military has committed serious human rights violations in Myanmar targeting minority religions, religious leaders, and their religious buildings. He demanded that the actions taken by the Myanmar military be denounced as Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes.
On 21 September 2023 in New York, the Union Minister of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government of Myanmar H.E. Zin Mar Aung, Deputy Foreign Minister H.E. Moe Zaw Oo, Union Minister of Communications, Information and Technology H.E. Htin Linn Aung, Deputy Minister of the Human Rights H.E. Aung Kyaw Moe, and Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Myanmar H.E. Kyaw Moe Tun met with the President of Timor-Leste H.E. Jose Ramos-Horta. During the meeting, they exchanged views on cooperation between the two countries on the journey of the Spring Revolution led by the National Unity Government. In his address to the High-Level meeting of the General Assembly, the President also urged the international community to pay attention to the Myanmar crisis and lend support to the people of Myanmar.
The Union Minister of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government of Myanmar H.E. Zin Mar Aung, Deputy Foreign Minister H.E. Moe Zaw Oo, Union Minister of Communications, Information and Technology H.E. Htin Linn Aung, Deputy Minister of the Human Rights H.E. Aung Kyaw Moe and Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Myanmar H.E. Kyaw Moe Tun met with the US Deputy Foreign Minister of the Asia-Pacific Region on 21 September 2023 in New York. During the meeting, they discussed bilateral cooperation between the two countries on the restoration of democracy in Myanmar and constructive ways to hold the Myanmar military accountable for its crimes.
The Union Minister of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government of Myanmar H.E. Zin Mar Aung , Deputy Foreign Minister H.E. Moe Zaw Oo, Union Minister of Health H.E. Dr. Zaw Wai Soe and Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Myanmar H.E. Kyaw Moe Tun met with H.E. Mary Robinson, the Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, former President of Mongolia H.E. Elbegdorj Tsakhia and former President of Columbia H.E. Juan Manuel Santos on 21 September 2023 in New York. During the meeting, they exchanged views on the current situation in Myanmar.
On 22 September 2023 in New York, the Union Minister of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government of Myanmar H.E. Zin Mar Aung, Deputy Foreign Minister H.E. Moe Zaw Oo, and Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Myanmar H.E. Kyaw Moe Tun met with the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, H.E. Gabrielius Landsbergis. During the meeting, the Union Minister explained how the struggle against the military council in Myanmar is connected to the global crisis of democracy since the military council is a threat to regional stability and sustainable development in Asia.
The Union Minister of Health of the National Unity Government H.E. Dr. Zaw Wai Soe participated in the meeting on Universal Health Care organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 22 September 2023 and the launch of a WHO report on 19 September 2023 during the General Assembly held in New York.
The Deputy Minister for Human Rights H.E. Aung Kyaw Moe participated in the UN General Assembly-related meeting on the Promotion of the Role of Civil Societies jointly convened by the UNDP, IOC, and IDB in New York. During the meeting, the Deputy Minister met with the Assistant Secretary-General and Officials from the IDB and discussed providing assistance to Myanmar’s democracy movement including for the rights of Rohingya.
On 26 September 2023, the Union Minister of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government H.E. Zin Mar Aung met with H.E. Barbara Woodward, the Permanent Representative of the UK to the United Nations in New York. During the meeting, they discussed ways to impose sanctions against the Myanmar military on the imports of arms and jet fuel, and the Union Minister stressed that the role of the UK was of paramount importance in the decision of the UNSC Resolution 2669.
On 26 September 2023, the Union Minister of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government H.E. Zin Mar Aung met with H.E. Bob Rae, the Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in New York. During the meeting, they discussed how to take measures against the Myanmar military regime for its crimes against humanity.
On 26 September 2023 in Brussels, the Union Minister of Human Rights of the National Unity Government H.E. Aung Myo Min met with Mr. Bernard Guetta, Vice Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the European Parliament. They discussed making European Parliament resolutions on Myanmar more effective and addressing international crimes committed by the Myanmar military group. On the same day, the Union Minister met with the EU Special Representative for Human Rights Mr. Eamon Gilmore in Brussels. During the meeting, they discussed how to provide humanitarian support to the people of Myanmar and the human rights and labour rights situations in Myanmar.
On 25 September 2023, the Union Minister of Human Rights of the National Unity Government H.E. Aung Myo Min met with Vice President of the European Parliament Mrs. Heidi Hautala and members of the European Parliament. During the call, they exchanged their views on the deteriorating situation of the military regime in Myanmar, including its politics, economics, and administration. The Union Minister urged the European Parliament Officials to double efforts to halt the export of jet fuel to Myanmar and find a way to provide trans-border humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar.
The Ministry of Human Rights of the National Unity Government released a statement dated 27 September 2023 regarding the Interactive Dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Myanmar presented at the 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. It stated that the new report addresses the junta’s increasingly horrific slaughter during its ground operations, murderous use of airstrikes, mass killings of civilians, and razing of villages. It urged the UN in Myanmar and the international community to wake up to the grave risk of being instrumentalized by the junta and co-opted into its crimes.
Human Rights Commitment of the National Unity Government
The National Unity Government released a statement dated 18 September 2023 on its human rights commitment for the 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. The highlights are as follows:
Commit to formally abolishing the death penalty, ratifying all international human rights treaties and their optional protocols, cooperating with the International Court of Justice in The Gambia v. Myanmar case, and increasing women’s political representation and decision-making at all levels
Commit to delivering justice to survivors of historic and continuing military atrocities
Pledge cooperation with international, regional, and national accountability mechanisms, particularly countries exercising universal jurisdiction, which is built on its Article 12(3) declaration to the International Criminal Court in 2021, which accepted the Court’s jurisdiction in Myanmar going back to 1 July 2002
Continue to partner with the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM), submitting information and identifying witnesses to provide testimony in safe and secure ways
Support the IIMM’s efforts to hold the military accountable for its atrocity campaigns against the Rohingya, and be prepared to explore the IIMM’s access to Myanmar to facilitate on-the-ground investigations into the military junta’s widespread crimes
Act on its ‘Policy Position on the Rohingya’, committing to creating the conditions needed to bring the Rohingya and other displaced communities home in voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable ways
Work on the replacement of the Citizenship Law of 1982 with a new law that bases citizenship on birth in Myanmar or birth anywhere as a child of Myanmar citizens, the abolition of the National Verification Card process, and the repeal of the Race and Religion Protection Laws of 2015
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in Response to the Military Coup d’état
The Sun Daily reported on 20 September 2023 that Malaysia has called on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to collaborate with ASEAN to resolve the Rohingya humanitarian crisis. The Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir told the press conference: “Both organizations must coordinate humanitarian assistance without discrimination, including in areas not controlled by the military.” Dr Zambry said he made the remark during the OIC Contact Group on Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar meeting held on the sideline of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly and added that The Gambia’s legal case at the ICJ against Myanmar needs more funding.
The United States announced on 21 September 2023 it would provide more than $116 million in additional humanitarian assistance to support vulnerable populations in Burma, Bangladesh, and the region, including more than $74 million to support Rohingya refugees and their host communities. The funding will provide life-sustaining support to nearly one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, many of them survivors of a campaign of genocide, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing, and 540,000 members of Bangladeshi communities that generously host Rohingya refugees. Safe drinking water, health care, protection, education, shelter, and psychosocial support will be incorporated into the funding.
The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner published the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Myanmar on 19 September 2023. The report documented incidents affecting the civilian population with a particular focus on military airstrikes, ground operations, and arson, and also covered acts of violence by anti-military armed groups. It further addressed the human rights concerns of the Rohingya community. It included recommendations made to the military, the National Unity Government, and the international community.
On 26 September 2023 in the 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mr. Volker Turk remarked on the dire humanitarian situation in Myanmar. He stressed that three specific military tactics have been systematically directed against the civilian population in Myanmar: airstrikes, mass killings, and the burning of villages. He called for “new thinking” in order to “bring this unspeakable tragedy to an end,” and repeated his previous call for the UN Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court. In his latest report and speech, the High Commissioner laid out the scale of the crisis in Myanmar, which too many policymakers and journalists have ignored for too long. He concluded that “we have no reason to believe that the military will radically change and break the cycle of impunity that has characterized its operations for decades” and urged the international community to protect the civilians of Myanmar as soon as possible.
At a daily press briefing on 28 September 2023, the spokesperson for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric said he was asked earlier about the reports of shelling of a school in the Sagaing region of Myanmar, and stated, “We condemn all forms of violence and reiterate the Secretary-General’s call for the military to end the campaign of violence against the Myanmar population throughout the country, in line with Security Council resolution 2669.”
Date: 30 September 2023
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York