Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (15 August 2021)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
As the period of an illegal coup entered six and a half months, the Myanmar military has continuously destroyed the well-being of the people and the country to the lowest position. It is true to this date that the terrorist military remains inconsiderate of fulfilling the will of its people despite witnessing their sufferings. Rather than that, the military’s atrocities only increase in reflection of the accelerating pro-democracy demands and movements around the globe.
Deaths and Arbitrary Arrests
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 971 people have been confirmed killed as of 14 August 2021. Moreover, 5,604 people are under detention, whereas 255 amongst them have been sentenced, and the number of people who have been issued warrants remains steady at 1,984, the same as last week. Although these numbers make a note of the terrorist junta’s ruthless murder and targeted attacks against innocent people in Myanmar, the military shows no intention of putting a stop to its violent acts since staging an illegal coup for 196 days.
Protest chants from Obo Prison
On 9 August at 9 pm, political prisoners in Obo Prison, Mandalay, staged a protest chant to remark the anniversary of the 8888 uprisings. But the inmates’ movement was short-lasting for about 30 minutes since the military forces arrived at the scene and opened fire in prison. Residents living nearby the prison told media that they heard sounds of gun fires after the military forces arrived. Some members of the Mandalay University Students’ Union answered in an interview that many prisoners were beaten up, and some were put into solitary confinement. However, the authorities from the Obo Prison denied the claims and only expressed that they have been trying to identify the person who led the protest. Because of the news, several groups of young people in Monywa, Sagaing, quickly staged a protest near the Monywa prison and demanded the release of political prisoners and an end to the military dictatorship.
This movement remarks the political prisoners made the second time protest chants. In late July, political prisoners initiated a protest from Insein Prison due to the high risk and uncontrollable spread of Coronavirus and insufficient treatment in prison. Yet, the junta’s controlled this past incident simply through violent means.
44th Street incident
On 10 August, the murderous security forces chased Maung Kaung Min Thant, presumably a member of PDFs, in Yangon downtown 44th street. As the troops stormed into the streets and opened fire along with the chase, the young man and four other people, including a woman, ran up to the rooftop of a building. But at last, Maung Kaung Min Thant jumped off the 3-story building to escape from the shootings of the junta’s forces, and the rest of the youths followed after him as there were no other routes left. It was recorded that a young lady died on the spot, the rest 3 were heavily injured from the jump, and fortunately, Maung Kaung Min Thant had made it to the liberated areas. Nevertheless, the forces of the inhumane military still abducted those alive regardless of their severe injury conditions. News media reported that the body of the death was cremated at Shwe Pyi Thar cremation center on 11 August by the military led State Administrative Council (SAC) without the consent of the family members. At the same time, family members of the deceased could not collect the ashes of their beloved ones nor take photos at the scene. The incident illustrates the fact that the people, especially, the young people of Myanmar, would like to die rather than living under the murderous military.
Abductions and killings continue
On 9 August in Myine Township, Magway Region, the military and security forces attempted arresting protest leader Maung San. As he evaded the abduction, the security forces continued to open fire in the village, and an innocent civilian got shot and died on the scene. Locals reported that the forces of the junta received information from an informant (Dalan) and entered and searched for Maung San. But as he runs away from arrest, the forces arrested four other youths at the COVID-19 checking points and beat them while questioning. When one boy tried to escape from the security forces, the latter opened fire at the target and eventually killed him.
While the peaceful protests demanding the end of the military regime have been occurring across the country since 1 February, Sanga (Monks), particularly in Mandalay,is also walking to the streets to express their spirit and stance with the people. As the demonstrations of the monks in Mandalay became more empowered, the security forces of the junta initiated arresting the monks by shooting at the crowd.
Undisciplined acts of the militia group
Right after the military extended arms to its militia group named “Pyu Saw Htee,” this local pro-military armed group has continuously acted unruly against the unarmed civilians, especially those most vulnerable in the villages. On 12 August in Mandalay Region, members of “Pyu Saw Htee” opened fire in Myingyan Township without any discipline and caused the death of a child and injured the child’s parents. According to the locals, the group was shooting at a motorcycle but accidentally hit a house nearby, and the child in the house died because the bullets cracked open his head. The locals residing in Myingyan also added that this militia group has acted unruly since receiving arms from the terrorist junta. As they freely move around the city holding arms, they are frequently disturbing houses as they wish.
Using artillery weapons in small villages
According to reliable sources, it was found that the security forces of the military led SAC used heavy artillery weapons in small villages located within Phalan Township in Chin State on 9 and 10 August. The terrorist act of the military killed a woman and caused injuries to two local villagers. Moreover, they have also arrested some villagers without any reasonable grounds.
Clashes also took place in Hpruso Township of Kayah State between Karenni Army (KnA) and Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) and the forces of the military on 12 August. While the fight was short-lasting, the junta’s unit 102 battalion randomly shelled artillery into the battle zone and caused another shootout on the same day on Demoso-Hpruso road. But the latter incident mainly harmed the civilians, and therefore, KNDF warned residents in the area to expect additional fights and prepare with extra cautions.
Again on 13 August, it was founded that the terrorist junta’s forces have resumed their offensive acts near Mindat Township in Chin State. A representative of the Chin Defense Force (CDF) said that the regime’s forces used rockets and RPGs and performed lootings, raiding, and used civilians as porters every day. The military has no regard for the safety of civilians from the fallout of such heavy bombing.
After the establishment of anti-regime resistant forces and the tensions and fights between these forces and security forces of the terrorist junta continue to grow across Myanmar, Depayin has been one of the townships consistently targeted by the security forces of the junta. On 8 August, the military and security forces raided Nyaung Hla village in Depayin Township, Sagaing Region, and set fire on the village. Their violence caused serious damage to the houses, properties, and businesses of the local villagers.
Banning the commemoration of the 71st Anniversary of Karen Martyr’s Day
This year 12 August, remarks the 71st Anniversary of Karen Martyr’s Day, remembering the death of Karen national leader Saw Ba U Gyi and others who have fought for Karen independence. While successive Myanmar governments had banned commemoration of the day, the previous civilian government was the first to allow the ceremony. However, this year’s anniversary planned to host in Be Ga Yet Village, Ayeyarwady Region, was again banned under the military junta's order, which holds onto illegitimate power. The military, with the collaborated effort of the police forces, forbid people to salute the fallen heroes, lay wreaths and pay any kind of respect. This SAC suppressed freedom of speech, assembly, and most importantly, denied the dignity of the Karen ethnic minority.
The Currency Exchange rate reached a record high
On 13 August, the Governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar appointed by the junta admitted that the bank has been printing new banknotes by Wazi through the help of Russia. As a consequence, the exchange rate for USD to MMK has risen to 1,720 MMK, the highest record after the illegitimate coup. In fact, the economy of Myanmar has significantly collapsed due to the coup. Not only are businesses facing challenges, but ordinary people without savings and who earn their income daily are typically suffering from the high cost of commodities and medical expenses at large. Now that inflation is foreseeable, the rise of commodity prices would also come as expected. Rising extreme poverty and economic hardships are coming specifically to working-class people of urban centers such as Yangon and Mandalay.
The latest situation of Covid-19
According to the World Health Organization, there are 348,186 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 12,879 deaths in Myanmar as of 13 August. As of 9 August, the latest data posted on the official page of WHO showed that confirmed cases for a single day were 18,670 with 1,103 deaths.
But with reference to the information stated in The Star Newspaper in Malaysia, which studied the impact of COVID-19 in ASEAN, it shows that Myanmar ranked fifth place in terms of new cases, total cases, new deaths, and total deaths related to COVID-19. As of 13 August, it was identified that there were more than 3,400 new cases and 212 new deaths in Myanmar due to the deadly disease.
Nowadays, not only are ordinary people getting infected from the new Coronavirus variant, but prisoners unlawfully detained in prisons based on their political beliefs have been heavily and seriously suffering from the disease. Without being considerate of the prisoners’ health conditions, the SAC, from the very beginning, fails to provide appropriate and sufficient healthcare and treatment to the victims of COVID-19. The forces of the junta always ignore a prisoner who got infected from the disease and wait until the condition turned severe. It chooses to send the patients to hospitals at the very last minute, resulting in the failure to save peoples’ lives in time. One good example here is the Obo prison, where numerous political prisoners were detained. According to reliable sources, COVID-19 cases in the prison started spiking since June, yet prison visits and meetings with lawyers are restricted. Because of such mismanagement and recklessness of the SAC, Dr. Maung Maung NyeinTun, a well-respected surgeon and lecturer of Mandalay Medicine University, passed away with Covid-19 inside the Obo prison.
Nationwide people to people movement
On the morning of 9 August, ordinary citizens in Kunchankone Township, Yangon, donated essential goods to grassroots households typically suffering during the revolutionary period. Similar movements also took place in Magway Region. Based on the unreliable and irresponsible junta which only looks after its interests, people in Myanmar have no other option but to take care of one another by themselves. Also, at a time when the National Unity Government is seeking international recognition to promote its legitimacy as the only legitimate government of Myanmar, the ‘People to People’ movement is one of the policies laid down by the NUG, the Ministry of Health, in particular, to overcome the humanitarian crisis that Myanmar people has been encountering.
However, the terrorist junta has frequently been hindering these movements. On 15 August in Hlaing Thar Yar Township, the forces of the murderous junta arrested people selling basic commodities at the lowest cost to the people.
Protests remarking the 33rd Anniversary of the 8888 uprising
As the political situation in Myanmar remains unstable, Myanmar people all over the world walked to the streets on 7 and 8 August not only to remark the 33rd Anniversary of the 8888 uprisings but also to call for international recognition of the National Unity Government and the continuity seat for the Myanmar Permanent Representative at the United Nations, New York. Myanmar nationals living across all continents raised their voices in unity and demanded the return of democracy and the end of the illegitimate military regime in Myanmar. Such movements in the US, Germany, Japan, London, Norway, and Israel were overwhelming.
At the same time, peaceful domestic protests are not loosening their momentum. Although peaceful demonstrations cannot be held in the crowd as they did in the earlier days of the coup due to the tight security laid by the military, they have been taking place in a guerrilla way at multiple sites ranging from cities to small villages across the country. And the motive of these peaceful protests has been to show Myanmar people’s support towards the National Unity Government and resistance against the military rule.
Progresses of NUG
Due to the persistent efforts and concrete desire of Myanmar nationals, the government of New Zealand had received a petition letter that contains signatures of more than 524,000 people regarding their demand to officially recognize the National Unity Government as the legitimate government of Myanmar. On 9 August, Labour Party MP Ms. Vanushi Walters accepted the petition letter with an occasion. On the one hand, Dr. Tun Aung Shwe, the representative of the NUG to Australia, attended a virtual meeting with the Australia Parliament members on 13 August and discussed the current situation in Myanmar. On the other hand, U Tin Tun Naing, Union Minister for the Ministry of Planning, Finance, and Investment under the NUG announced on 12 August regarding the NUG’s plan to launch the “Spring Lottery, Toward Victory” on 15 August through the enacted “Law Amending the Gambling Law (First Amendment)”. The Union Minister explained and introduced that the ultimate aim of launching this Spring Lottery is to provide necessary assistance and support to the civil servants who have participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM).
On 10 August, the United States made an announcement regarding its measure to provide more than 50 million US dollars for humanitarian assistance use in Myanmar. And on 12 August, Ambassador Linda-Thomas Greenfield from the US Permanent Mission to the United Nations also met with international organizations and NGOs working in Myanmar and Thailand to discuss the humanitarian needs, challenges, and opportunities for Myanmar people and ensure a safer region.
Date: 15 August 2021
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York