Bi-Weekly Updates on the Current Situation in Myanmar (17-07-2023 to 31-07-2023)
Bi-Weekly Updates on the Current Situation in Myanmar
(17-07-2023 to 31-07-2023)
More than twenty-nine 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 inhumane and disproportionate actions.
As of 31 July 2023, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military ruthlessly killed 3,857 people and arrested 24,123 people. Among the arrested, 19,733 people remain in detention, whereas 158 people have been sentenced to death, including 115 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. In July 2023, AAPP reported that 101 people across Myanmar have been murdered and of which 40 people were killed in detainment, while 28 people were killed by gunshot.
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. The state of emergency was initially declared in February 2021 following the military ousted the democratically elected civilian government.
Atrocities and violent crimes committed by the Military
Military’s Artillery Attacks on Villages
Since the Myanmar military forces have increasingly assaulted civilian areas throughout the country, including using artillery strikes in recent weeks, residents had to flee for their safety.
On 17 July 2023, around 300 military forces shot guns and artillery shells in Mu Mandalay Village in Myinmu Township, Sagaing Region before raiding the village and setting fire to it. More than 80 houses were destroyed, and locals from over 20 villages around were forced to flee during the same night. According to AAPP, Mu Mandalay, Ma Gyi Koe Pin, Hmway Hla, Htein Kan, Shwe Kyaung Kan, Inn Ma, Ma Gyi Taw, Nyaung Myit, Ma Gyi Kan and Na Be Kyu Villages are among the 20 villages.
On 18 July 2023, there have been clashes between military forces and Chinland Defence Forces near Masartwi Village in Kanpetlet Township of Chin State. Following the clashes, military forces conducted aerial attacks on the village. As a result, around 1,000 locals were forced to flee, and several houses were destroyed.
On 25 July 2023, two villagers were reportedly killed by the military’s shelling attack in Hseng Hkwang village, Muse Township, Shan State. The military also conducted a bombshell in Kutkai Township in northern Shan State killing a female villager and another two injured. According to a villager, the military forces have been firing artillery shells at villages in the area although there were no clashes in the area at the time of the attack.
On 26 July 2023, Myanmar military forces and Pyu Saw Htee militia fired artillery shells and raided villages of Than Bo, Yay Aye Kone, Kyee Kan, Pauk Taw, In Kyin Pin and Saw Gyi in Khin-U Township, Sagaing Region. Around 5,000 local people from those villages fled for safe areas. On 24 and 25 of July 2023, the military column LIB-530 carried out heavy weaponry attack on Wan Kone and Pein Chit Villages in Loilen Lay Town of Kayah State. It is reported that there were no clashes in those areas before and due to the assault, 5 people, including a pregnant woman were severely injured.
Air Attack on a Village in Chin State
According to the Chinland Defence Force (CDF), the military junta bombed and fired heavy weapons, by using four jet fighters, on Masartwi Village in Kanpetlet Township in Chin State on 18 July 2023 following clashes between local resistance groups and the military forces.. A church and several houses were destroyed.
Shooting Civilians to ensure the smooth passage of military supplies
It is reported that Thein Lin in his 50s, a resident of the Nyaung Oke village, Mandalay region was shot dead on 23 July 2023 while the military forces attempting to get their troops, weapons, and food passaged by boats in the Ayeyarwady River to their bases in upper Myanmar. The military shot the victims while they were working at a fishery located a few miles east of the river. The shootings killed the father and injured three people including the daughter. On 25 July 2023, nine junta boats reportedly sailed out of Mandalay’s riverport on Ayeyarwaddy River with troops, weapons, and supplies. Following arrival in Madaya Township, it is reported that the troops on the boats started shooting randomly toward river banks, injuring civilians including a 6-year-old boy in Sein Pan Kone village. Many people view that due to the increase of stronghold areas controlled by the resistance forces in many parts of Myanmar, the military forces keep trying to maintain their strategic supply routes through the Ayeyarwaddy River.
Killing Sagaing Student Activists
On 28 July 2023, around 50 military troops raided the All Burma Federation of Student Unions Office in Nyaung Kan village, Budalin Township in Sagaing Region. It was an unprovoked attack and there was no time to escape of people inside. According to reliable sources, the troops murdered 18-year-old Kyaw Win Thant, President of Budalin Township Students’ Union, 19-year-old Kyal Sin Nyein Chan, Vice-president, and 19-year-old Thuta Nay, Spokesperson of the Union. It is also learnt that the victims had their tongues cut out and were stabbed to death. The military troops torched the Union’s office, a school, and houses in other villages nearby.
Seizing Villagers in Mandalay
The military forces, according to local sources, killed six villagers and burned almost 200 houses in the east of the Mandalay Region on 15 July 2023. It is reported that they detained 20 villagers in Nyaung Oke’s monastery where the troops were stationed. On 14 July, 5 villagers from Nyaung Oke were detained. Four days later the bodies of three detainees were retrieved from the Myaung River, and only one detainee was released. Around 700 military troops were mobilized in eastern Madaya and they were reportedly conducting raids and looting homes. At least 12 villages in the east of the township have been raided in July which resulting displaced thousands of civilians.
Committing Massacre in Yinmabin, Sagaing
According to credible sources, the Myanmar military killed 11 civilians and three resistance fighters in Yinmabin Township in Sagaing Region on 21 July 2023. The Irrawaddy reported that the troops raided Sone Chaung village before dawn and beheaded 3 People’s Defense Force members and they later killed 11 villagers. According to a villager, the bodies of the three fighters were discovered in the village center, the other bodies were spread around, and Some bodies had been found tortured. Pro-military social media channels claimed that the victims were all resistance fighters. In March 2023, at least four civilians from Kone village, in Yinmabin Township, were brutally murdered by the military troops after they burnt down the village.
Deaths of political prisoners
The AAPP claimed that six of the 37 missing political prisoners from Bago Region’s Daik-U Prison have been killed by the military junta. The 37 political prisoners from the prison of Kyaiksakaw, have been missing since June 27. The families of the death of two of the political prisoners received letters from the prison authorities, and six more families received the same letters. In the letters, it said the prisoners tried to escape when a vehicle crashed during the transfer of prisoners from Insein Prison, and the prisoners were killed by security personnel attempting to recapture them. An AAPP spokesman argued that it was not possible and said “If it actually happened like they claimed there is no way that the accident and shooting of the prisoners would not be reported by residents and the prison would have informed them immediately. But now they concealed it and only informed after a long time. It is totally dishonest.” The families of the remaining prisoners have not received any information and the prison authorities did not agree to tell where the prisoners were. Two other political prisoners in Daik-U Prison reportedly died on the 16 and 17 of July 2023. The AAPP stressed that such incidents prove the military junta is murdering and disposing of the bodies of political activists during detention.
Hostage of civilians in Mandalay
Myanmar Now reported that a military column stationed in the monastery, located in Sezinkone village, Thabeikkyin Township in Mandalay Region and took the locals hostage on 26 July 2023. Around 100 civilians have reportedly been detained against their will by the military in a monastery in for nearly a week. The hostages were claimed to be the elderly, women, and children since young people and adults could flee when the troops arrived at the village. According to villagers, the military burnt down at least two houses. It is reported that a military unit stationed in Twin Nge village and have been raiding the area since 25 July 2023.
Activities of the National Unity Government
The Spring Development Bank, the crypto-based banking institution has announced a soft launch on 22 July by the National Unity Government. The bank’s target demographic is not just the people living in Myanmar, but also the Burmese diaspora who live and work outside of Myanmar. The governor of Myanmar’s interim central bank and Minister for Planning, Finance and Investment, U Tin Tun Naing, described the bank as a fundamentally “revolutionary” institution. He claimed the Spring Development Bank would help secure financial assets for citizens.
The Ministry of International Cooperation of the National Unity Government of Myanmar released a statement dated 22 July 2023 on condemnation of the Yinmabin Massacre by the Military Junta's Evil Forces in Myanmar. It called on the world to unite against the horrors unfolding in Sagaing, Myanmar. It stated that over the last 27 months alone, the military junta has callously killed more than 4000 innocent civilians, including several hundreds of children, and unjustly arrested nearly 24,000 civilians, including the democratically elected President of Myanmar, and Myanmar's State Counsellor. It also stressed that more than 800 children have lost their lives, and over 70,000 homes, including schools, hospitals, and places of worship, have been destroyed. It underscored that the Yinmabin massacre atrocity marked just one of 144 similar massacres committed by the murderous junta over the last 27 months. It recalled the UN reports revealing the genocidal junta in Myanmar has engaged in a deadly trade of weapons, amounting to a staggering 1 billion US dollars, with five countries over the past 27 months alone. It urged the international community to act decisively and called for concrete measures to cut off money, weapons, and legitimacy flow to the military junta in Myanmar.
The Ministry of International Cooperation of the National Unity Government of Myanmar released a welcome statement dated 21 July 2021 on the European Union's seventh round of sanctions against the military junta. It stated that all the current EU sanctions, which apply to a total of 99 individuals and 19 entities, send strong messages to the terrorist military junta in Myanmar. However, it stressed that the action was not enough. It highlighted that the strategic, greater, and concrete actions of the international community are absolutely required to end the crimes against humanity and to restore peace and democracy in Myanmar and the region. It called on all nations to show solidarity with the people of Myanmar by joining hands and taking decisive actions which can be achieved by cutting off the military junta's access to finance, weapons, and legitimacy through international channels and supporting Myanmar to establish federal democratic governances.
The Ministry of Human Rights of the National Unity Government released a statement dated 31 July 2023 regarding the intensified and widespread mass killings committed by the Myanmar military. It underscored that according to data collected by the National Unity Government's Ministry of Human Rights up to July 2023, at least 144 mass killings of more than five people occurred, 1595 innocent civilians were killed. 11 massacres in 2021, 85 in 2022, and 48 massacres until July 2023 were documented. It stressed that the last mass killing was committed in Sone Chaung Village, Yin Mar Pin Township in Sagaing Region on July 21, 2023, massacring 14 innocent civilians including 4 under the age of eighteen. It reassured that the Ministry of Human Rights will continue to make every effort in bringing justice for the documented evidence of terrorist military crimes and encouraged people to submit information and evidence of human rights violations and international crimes committed by the military.
The Ministry of Human Rights of the National Unity Government released a Statement dated 17 July 2023 on the adoption of the resolution on the situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar. It reiterated that the NUG recognizes the Rohingya people as an integral part of Myanmar and as nationals. It stated that the resolution failed to adequately address the persecution of minorities including Rohingya committed by the Myanmar military. It also highlighted that the resolution is dangerously encouraging Myanmar to “immediately commence” the repatriation of all forcibly displaced Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Bangladesh. It mentioned the resolution failed to acknowledge the assertation of the High Commissioner about Myanmar and the call of the Special Rapporteur on Bangladesh to suspend the repatriation pilot project. It underscored that refugees would face serious risks to their lives and liberty from the military if they were returned. It said the resolution missed an opportunity to uphold non-refoulment by requesting states to protect Myanmar nationals in their borders. It reiterated that the NUG supports the position of the High Commissioner regarding the safe return of refugees to their homes in Myanmar.
The Permanent Representative of Myanmar Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun urged the United Nations Security Council on the 25th Anniversary of the ratification of the treaty of Rome, on 18 July 2023 to ensure that the terrorist military is held accountable and brought to the International Criminal Court before even more lives are lost. He went on to say that Myanmar respects the authority of the UN and ICC and supports the further development of relations between them and Myanmar. The Ambassador also called on the international community to support the efforts of the Myanmar people in restoring democracy, building a federal democratic state, holding the terrorist military accountable for its crimes, and ultimately ending the military dictatorship, at the High-Level Political Forum 2023.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
The Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office of the UK published the UK-Myanmar development partnership summary on 17 July 2023. The UK government expressed its objectives to achieve in enhancing relations with Myanmar. They are (1) to work to deescalate the crisis and support ASEAN-led solutions, progressive stability, and an end to violence to create space for a political solution, (2) to sustain and support a plurality of voices in Myanmar to protect and build the foundations for peace and democracy and build an inclusive vision of the future, (3) to respond to urgent humanitarian needs, build human capital, increase resilience of vulnerable communities, particularly women and girls, to prevent more people relying on humanitarian aid and (4) to support progress towards criminal accountability and broader justice for human rights violations, particularly for the Rohingya and other at-risk minorities.
On 20 July 2023, the European Union imposed its seventh round of sanctions against six individuals and one entity in response to the continuing escalation of violence, grave human rights violations, and threats to the peace, security, and stability in Myanmar. The listings include three Union Ministers for immigration and population, labour, and health and sports, two members of the State Administration Council, the Quartermaster General, as well as No. 2 Mining Enterprise (ME 2), a state-owned enterprise that is controlled by and generates revenue for the Myanmar military forces. The EU’s restrictive measures currently apply to a total of 99 individuals and 19 entities. Those individuals and entities are subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban and EU persons and entities are prohibited to make funds available to those listed.
The International Labour Organization released a press dated 27 July 2023 addressing the fragility of the Myanmar labour market. It stated that the Myanmar labour market continues to suffer from the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, the 2021 military takeover and subsequent socio-economic turmoil. It mentioned the challenging conditions such as the failure to keep pace with population growth and recent recovery in employment numbers in some sectors, the decline of the quality of jobs pushing into the informal sector, the falling of labour productivity, and the decrease of women’s employment rate. Donglin Li, Liaison Officer to ILO Myanmar, said, “Employment conditions in Myanmar remain fragile and challenging with many workers facing a very uncertain future. The restoration of democracy remains critical to the prospects of Myanmar and its people and is a necessary pre-condition of social justice and decent work.”
The Parliamentarians from Southeast Asia expressed their concern on 28 July 2023 regarding ASEAN countries still scheduling to hold counter-terrorism military exercises with the Myanmar junta in August and September. The groups called on ASEAN to exclude the military junta from all joint military exercises held by the regional bloc. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) Chair and member of the Indonesian House of Representatives Mercy Barends said “It would be utterly absurd for ASEAN countries to join the Myanmar junta in military exercises when the junta has consistently shown a lack of political will or interest in abiding by the Five-Point Consensus, notably ‘the immediate cessation of violence’,” and he stressed that these exercises are purportedly for counter-terrorism purposes as the junta hasbranded the democratically-elected National Unity Government and the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, as well as the People’s Defense Forces and various other pro-democracy entities, as terrorists. He called on ASEAN to be unified in their condemnation of the escalating human rights situation and take concrete action. He said, “If ASEAN as a bloc refuses to do this, then we call on ASEAN and ADMM+ countries to follow the example of the United States, Australia and New Zealand and boycott the training.” The ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM+) Experts Working Group on Counter Terrorism is reportedly planning to hold a tabletop exercise in Myanmar in August and a field exercise in Russia in September.
Date: 31 July 2023
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York