Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (13 February 2022)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
One year 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 the people suffer with inhumane and disproportionate actions.
As of 11 February 2022, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 1,547 people were ruthlessly killed by the military, whereas 12,098 people have been arrested and 1,974 people have been issued with warrants since 1 February 2021, when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians.
Atrocities committed by the military
Raiding, Looting and Torching in Min Taing Pin, Kaing Twin and Hlaw Kar
According to Myanmar Now News’ report, about 100 members of the military forces and Pyu Saw Htee groups entered Min Taing Pin Village of Pale Township in Sagaing Region on 3 February 2022. They killed four captives who were brought with them when they entered the village and burned the bodies before they left the village. They later raided homes and detained around 100 people. While they were raiding the houses and shops, they looted the private properties including food supplies. A villager said that the military forces looted around 700 million kyats (USD 393,000) worth of cash and gold from the jewelry stores, 45 million kyats in cash, and top-up cards for mobile phones. In addition, the villagers said that five women in their early 20s were detained by the military forces and believed to be raped by them.
On the following day, 4 February 2022, the military forces went to Kaing Twin and Hlaw Kar villages. They reportedly robbed houses and shops in Kaing Twin and carried the looted properties with ten military vehicles to In Pin Htee village. A villager said almost the entire village of Kaing Twin was lost. Similarly, the military forces marched to Hlaw Kar village on 5 February 2022. It is reported that they started torching the houses in the village at 1:30 AM on that day and the village burned the whole night. When the villagers went back to the village after the military left, three houses were reportedly still burning.
Raiding and Torching in Taze and Min Kin Townships
Since 6 February 2022 until 11 February 2022, the military troops have raided, destroyed and have been torching four villages in Taze township of Sagaing Region. On 6 February 2022, the troops raided and torched the houses in Padee village, and afterwards they forcibly entered and torched the houses in the nearby villages: Htan Kone Gyi village on 8 February, Pay Chaung village on 9 February and Khayutaw village on 10 February. It was reported that many villagers have fled for their lives since the troops entered those villages.
According to news reports, at midnight on 9 February 2022, the military forces used heavy artilleries and entered Mote Thar village and Mauk Tet village of Min Kin township in Sagaing Region. As the military junta entered and torched houses in those villages, thousands of local villagers had to flee for their safety.
Abduction and killing of civilians
In Maubin township of Ayeyarwaddy Region, the military forces regularly opened fire during the night of each weekend. On 5 February 2022, at around 11 pm, the military forces and their informers raided Ward No. 6 and arrested an unidentified number of local people, accusing them of having contact with a local PDF. The military forces also forcibly abducted local citizens during the night time for sharing anti-dictatorship posts on social media.
On 8 February 2022, the military junta blocked and searched Than Lyat Maw West Ward of Mahar Aung Myay township, Mandalay, where they arrested more than 10 local civilians. According to the locals, the junta started the searching before dawn and in some cases arrested the family members of warranted PDF members.
On 8 and 9 February 2022, the military forces and the police forces under the SAC searched the office of Mahar Charity Organization and arrested eight persons including the Vice-Chair of the Organization. In addition to those arrests, the Chair and other members were also under investigation. So that, on 9 February, the Organization announced that all charity and welfare work of the organization will be unconditionally postposed.
According to Delta News Agency, a 45-years old disabled person from Sai Pha Yar village, Hpa Kant township, Kachin State was shot dead in the head by the military junta. The locals told the News Agency that the victim was disappeared on 3 February 2022 while fleeing from the armed conflicts near his farmhouse. The local villagers said that since the victim could not run due to his disability, he was caught and murdered by the military forces. On 9 February, his body was found buried near the village and his fellow villagers buried him properly.
In the evening of 9 February 2022, the military junta raided a house in Mahar Aung Myay township, Mandalay and forcibly arrested two protest leaders and two citizen journalists. They are Thura Aung, Phoe Lone @ Ye Zin Tun, Soe Lin Aung and Hla Myo Aung. During the arrests, the military personnel seriously attacked, hit and tortured the victims in public.
Committing Crimes Against Humanity in Myinmu Township
Local residents and resistance sources told Myanmar Now News that at least 24 people were killed in two separate raids carried out by the military forces in Myinmu Township in Sagaing Region during the first week of February. After the military helicopter attacks happened in Pa Dat Taing Village of Myinmu on 31 January 2022, on 3 February 2022, charred and dismembered bodies were reportedly discovered in a field. The leader of a local resistance group said that at least 20 people were assaulted; they collected the parts piece by piece and they could identify the remains of 10 people.
On 3 February 2022, another raid happened in a village east of Myinmu, and at least four civilians were killed. It is reported that they were three brothers from Nyaung Pin Wun village, and one could not be identified. The brothers from the village of Nyaung Pin Wun and the fourth man who could not be identified were found dead Thursday night after being arrested by regime soldiers near the village of Ma Gyi Kan earlier in the day. The three brothers ran into the military forces on their way to buy a motorcycle. According to a local resident, two of them had their throats slit and one had been shot in the head.
Military’s Air Assaults on civilian areas in Ye-U
The Myanmar military reportedly carried out air strikes over villages in Ye-U township of Sagaing Region on 6 and 7 February 2022. According to the local communities, Taung Pyin Nge, Palu Zawa, Auk Yae Twin and Aung Thuka were the targeted villages. Three helicopters came to Taung Pyin Nge village on 6 February and two of them dropped the soldiers while the other one opened fire. The military carried out the airstrikes again on the following day and reportedly opened fire the whole day.
It is reported that about 10,000 villagers from Taung Pyin Nge village fled to nearby villages and forests. When the military fighter jets launched attacks near the villages of Zin Kalae, Laung Pyae, Khat Lon and Than Pauk, another 7,000 people fled to safe places. A local resident said the military also detained 70 people. On 8 February, bodies of two civilians were reportedly found in Taung Pyin Nge village. One was identified as an 80-year-old man, who was discovered collapsed in front of his house and the other one was a woman who had suffered from severe kidney disease.
Firing Artillery indiscriminately
When the military forces fired artillery into Tin Thar village of Kalay Township in Sagaing Region on 6 February 2022, eight civilians including three children were injured. A shell hit a home and wounded two 2-year-old boys, one 12-year-old girl and five adults. According to a victim, around 15 shells were reportedly fired towards the village.
On the same day, following the short combat between the military forces and the KNLA in Kawt Kareik township, the military troops randomly fired heavy artillery around the area. Due to those heavy artilleries, one pregnant woman, a 4-years old child with Polio and a 14-years old boy from Ywar Ka Lay village were injured and three houses were destroyed. Since the pregnant woman was seriously injured, she was immediately sent to the nearby hospital.
The military’s torture and inhumane treatment in prisons
A group of prison inmates sent out a written message to share with international organizations and relevant local organizations regarding what they have seen and experienced inside the prisons. The message described the situations of three prisoners who required medical treatment and had requested permission for treatment outside the prison and yet received none. One of them has been suffering from hemorrhagic stroke but neither attention nor treatment from the prison hospital has been given to him while he has been waiting for the approval to get treatment outside. Another two persons who were arrested and experienced tortured during the interrogations have been suffering serious health problems. One’s spinal cord was seriously injured and he has been frequently fainting, but no treatment nor medicine was given to him every time he was sent to prison hospital. Another one received severe injuries on the nerves of his skull as a result of being tortured and hit by a police baton. This has led to headaches and nosebleeds that required proper treatment. It was highlighted that those situations proved the lack of responsibility and accountability of the military junta and the prison authorities. Considering the possibility of similar incidents, which both political prisoners and the prisoners under criminal cases might experience, international organizations and relevant local organizations were requested to provide assistance and support regarding the suitable medical treatment, medicines and facilities for all prisoners.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 7 February 2022, H.E. Daw Zin Mar Aung, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs virtually met with Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on Myanmar. During the meeting, the Special Envoy explained about the misunderstanding caused by the recent interview, about the importance and her focus on the voice of Myanmar people, about her mandate to communicate with all stakeholders and her intention to support Myanmar. The Special Envoy further discussed that she is willing to observe more on the evolving situation in Myanmar including providing humanitarian assistance. The Foreign Minister explained the consequences of the attempted coup and the human rights violations as well as the urgent requirement to provide humanitarian assistance for the Myanmar people. The Minister further explained the inhumane atrocities of the military including the torture and violent activities including the intentional shooting of a 17-years old student in the downtown area of Yangon, and airstrikes, resistant groups unitedly fighting against the military junta, and the coordination of the NUG with relevant stakeholders.
On 10 February 2022, the NUG’s Acting President Duwa Lashi La wrote a letter to Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, with regard to the Telenor Group’s plan to sell Telenor Myanmar to Investcom, a military linked business firm. In the letter, the Acting President, on behalf of the Myanmar people, thanked Norway for its support for democracy, human rights and peace in Myanmar. The letter further explained the situation in Myanmar following the attempted coup by the military on 1 February 2021, including the atrocities, human rights violations, displacements and attacks with heavy artillery. It was mentioned that the NUG values Norway’s ethical business investments in Myanmar, in particular, Telenor, and that according to the latest news Telenor is planning to sell Telenor Myanmar to Investcom. The majority shares of the Investcom were owned by “Shwe Byain Phyu” – a military link business, whose Managing Director is a major shareholder in the EU-sanctioned Forest Joint Venture Cooperation. The NUG cabinet members have decided that the sale of the Telenor Group is not acceptable and should not be approved, considering that Telenor data contains sensitive data, and a sale would constitute a risk to the security and lives of 18.3 million faithful customers in Myanmar. Thus, through the letter, the NUG requested the Royal Norwegian Government to use its majority position in Telenor to place a request to ignore any decisions made by the illegitimate military regime and to reverse or defer the decision of selling its Myanmar unit.
On the same day on 10 February 2022, NUG Acting President Duwa Lashi La released Announcement No. (3/2022) calling for Humanitarian and Health Assistance in Myanmar. In the statement, the NUG welcomed and thanked the international aid agencies which are providing support to the people of Myanmar. It was explained in the statement that the combination of the illegal coup on 1 February 2021 and the impact of COVID-19 has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. Now, due to the threat of the COVID-19 fourth wave, the people of Myanmar are in desperate need of the full range of public health and humanitarian services. The statement explained that the military, as part of its strategy, has targeted healthcare workers through extra-judicial execution, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and unlawful detention. The military has also continuously devised various obstacles to deter the delivery of essential health care and humanitarian assistance including medicines and medical supplies intended for Myanmar people, particularly those suffering in the conflict affected areas. Through the statement, the NUG urged the international community, including the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, to work together with the NUG to develop and implement more effective strategies, including supporting cross-border aid, to provide urgent and much-needed health and humanitarian aid for the people of Myanmar.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
In the United Nations daily press briefing on 7 February 2022, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General mentioned the UN Children’s Fund’s deep concern over a growing wave of violence against children in Myanmar that since the military takeover last 1 February, at least 114 children between the ages of 3 and 17 have been killed by security forces, including at least 18 children in January alone. Countless others have been injured or maimed. He further added that “UNICEF reminds everyone of their obligations to uphold children’s rights as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Myanmar is a signatory, and the Myanmar Child Rights Law, which was enacted in 2019”.
On 8 February 2022, the Government of the United Kingdom released a Financial Sanctions Notice in order to issue a correction to two listings in the new version of the consolidated list bringing the entries in line with the UK Sanctions List. It presented the Notice Summary of two entries which have been amended and are still subject to an asset freeze. It also explained steps which one must take by following the details in the Annex to the Notice. According to the Notice, where a relevant institution has already reported details of accounts, other funds or economic resources held frozen for designated persons, they are not required to report those details again. And failure to comply with financial sanctions legislation or to seek to circumvent its provisions is a criminal offence.
During the daily press briefing of the UN on 10 February 2022, the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric referred to the UN team members on the ground regarding their continued concerns about the freedom of expression in Myanmar after a clampdown on independent media outlets following the military takeover on 1 February 2021. He added that according to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), during 2021 at least 146 journalists have been arrested, while some 52 journalists, including 12 women, remain under detention as of 9 February 2022. Among them, at least three reporters are known to have died in detention. He further mentioned that the UN team in Myanmar urged the military to release all people detained arbitrarily, including journalists. Finally, he highlighted that freedom of expression and freedom of the press are cornerstones of democracy and are fundamental human rights underpinning all civil liberties and that they must be protected.
UNOCHA Myanmar has issued humanitarian update No. 15 covering the humanitarian developments in Myanmar from 1 to 31 January 2022. In the update, it was reported that the security and humanitarian situations across Myanmar have further deteriorated during January with intensified conflict in multiple states and regions, particularly in northwest and southeast Myanmar, resulting in additional loss of life, destruction of civilian property and increasing internal and cross-border displacement. As of 31 January, an estimated 441,500 people remained internally displaced across Myanmar due to clashes and insecurity since 1 February 2021. This is in addition to the 370,400 people living in protracted displacement before February 2021. Humanitarian actors have continued providing critical life-saving assistance to displaced people and host communities wherever they can, including through local partners amid serious access challenges. Preparedness efforts to contain the fourth wave of COVID-19 are ongoing. These include surveillance, case management, infection prevention and control, and Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE). An outbreak of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) has been reported in displacement sites hosting those affected by Arakan Army (AA)—Myanmar Armed Forces (MAF) conflict and in Rohingya IDP camps in three townships in Rakhine State. Humanitarian partners have collectively intervened to contain the outbreak and continue monitoring the situation. In January, UNOCHA released the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), which requests US$826 million to reach 6.2 million people in need of life-saving humanitarian support.
On 11 February 2022, during the interview with journalists in Geneva, UNHCR spokesperson Matthew Saltmarsh said the agency was stepping up aid for the displaced as security is deteriorating rapidly across the country and conflict intensifies with no signs of abating. Since February 2021, following the brutal military coup, a total of some 440,000 people has been newly displaced as an addition to an existing 370,000 who had fled their homes previously. According to UNHCR, more than half of those newly displaced were from Kayin, Kayah, Mon and Shan (South) states as well as Bago (East) and Tanintharyi regions. Another conflict-affected area with pressing humanitarian needs is the northwest, where about 190,000 people remain displaced in Chin State, Magway Region and Sagaing Region. He added that “humanitarian access in many parts remains restricted due to insecurity, roadblocks and challenges in obtaining access approvals”, resulting in host communities and local responders continuing to play a leading role in providing assistance, showing solidarity with each other by donating what they can. UNHCR forecasts that the trend of displacement will accelerate, with more displacements in the coming weeks and months.
Date: 13 February 2022
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York