Myanmar Mission To UN
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (16 April 2023)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
More than twenty-six 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 with inhumane and disproportionate actions.
As of 12 April 2023, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military ruthlessly killed 3,240 people, arrested 21,348 people, and 17,460 people remain in detention, whereas 151 people have been sentenced to death, including 109 post-coup death row prisoners and 42 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.
Serious crimes committed by the Military
Barbaric aerial attacks on Pazigyi Village in Kantbalu Township
According to the news, using the fighter jet and military helicopters, the military launched barbaric aerial attacks on the Village of Pazigyi in Kantbalu Township of Sagaing Region on 11 April 2023, directly targeting the gathering of around 180 people. It was reported that the military’s jet dropped two bombs on the crowd, and Mi-35 helicopters opened fire on the people, maiming and killing a large number of civilians, including women, children and the elderly and injuring the people.
According to the information, the military’s air strikes on Pazigyi Village killed at least 97 people including 34 children, and of those, a six-month-old infant was killed. The source said that some 200 people from all of Village’s households had gathered in the place that has been attacked, and every family lost between two and four people in the bombardment.
According to the National Unity Government and local sources, the number of casualties in Pazigyi Village reached to the deaths of 168 civilians, including 6 children who are under the age of 5. It was reported that many of the bodies found after the attack were crushed, dismembered or burnt beyond recognition. The victims could not be identified, as heads were separated from bodies and the limbs of the children were severed, as well as small pieces of flesh were spread around. According to the sources, it had taken three days to retrieve the dead bodies as the military continued to send aircraft over the area, threatening further strikes.
Airstrike in Falam Township
News reported that the military conducted an airstrike on a small town in Falam Township in northern part of Chin State on 10 April 2023, in which the military’s jet dropped two bombs on a high school in Webula, a high-elevation town located in a mountainous area in Chin State and bordering with Sagaing Region. It was reported that the military’s aerial attack killed the principal of the school and his wife, as well as seven other civilians, and an unknown number of people were also injured.
According to the news, the town which was attacked by the military’s aerial attack is under the control of the Chin National Defence Force (CNDF), and the CNDF stated that none of its members were stationed at the school.
Attacks in Myawaddy Township
News reported on 11 April 2023 that amid the airstrikes of the military, the clash broke out between the military forces and the members from the Karen National Liberation (KNLA) and its resistance allies in Mekanel Village in Myawaddy Township of Karen State.
According to the news, the villagers fled to Myawaddy town about 10 days ago and the fighting was intensifying. It was reported that the military’s two jet fighters bombarded the village.
Killing and arresting the civilians
According to the AAPP, the military forces raided and set fire to Yone Lay Kone Village in Budalin Township of Sagaing Region. It was reported that the military arrested a student named Min Myat Naing, who is a Grade 11 student and he was killed after he had been tortured.
According to the AAPP, the military forces arrested a civilian named Nay Chi Aung at her house in Nam Yin Ward in Mogaung Town of Kachin State on 7 April 2023. It was reported that she is a staff member of the General Administration Department who took part in the Civil Disobedience Movement.
On 9 April 2023, the military forces arrested a civilian named Min Aung. It was reported that he is a tea shop owner in MhawWun Ward in Hpakant Township of Kachin State, and also the chairman of Myit Tar Shin Charity Association.
Anti-military Protests on the eve of the Myanmar New Year
News reported that resistance groups and student activists have called on the public to boycott Thingyan, and flash mob protests have taken place across the country to urge locals not to participate in any military-sponsored Thingyan festivity.
It was reported that the members of Kyopinkauk Township Students Union Federation held an anti-military protest on the eve of the Myanmar Water Festival (Thingyan Festival for Myanmar New Year) on 11 April 2023, hanging banners in Paypinkon village in Kyopinkauk Township of Bago Region. It was reported that the aim of this protest is to give the message to the public not to participate in the water festival entertainment organized by the Military Council, and to condemn the military’s airstrikes on Pazigyi Village in Kantbalu Township on 11 April.
According to the Democratic Voice of Burma, a group called “Anti-junta Forces Coordination Committee – Mandalay” staged a protest on 11 April 2023, holding a lot of banners that read: “Boycott military businesses,” and “Revolutionary Thingyan is the voice of the people.” Other protests were held in Kalay, Yinmabin and Salingyi townships of Sagaing Region, and in Hpakant Township in Kachin State.
It was reported that the military is forcing the staff at ministries in Naypyidaw to join Thingyan events along with locals in some areas, in order to portray an image of normalcy across the country.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 11 April 2023, the National Unity Government of Myanmar issued a Press Release relating to the military’s barbaric air strikes on Pazigyi Village in Kantbalu Township of Sagaing Region in Myanmar at 07:45 am on 11 April. The Press Release stated that the military intentionally conducted an atrocious, indiscriminate air raid on a gathering of villagers in Pazigyi Village, in which the military first bombed with jet fighters followed by numerous air raids with MI-35 helicopters killing, injuring, and maiming a large number of innocent villagers. The Press Release said that the National Unity Government makes a solemn pledge to take actions on the terrorist military council for its mass murder of innocent citizens, crimes against humanity, and war crimes against the citizens.
Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations, delivered remarks on the military junta’s barbaric air attacks on Pazigyi Village at the Media Stakeout at the United Nations in New York on 13 April 2023. The Permanent Representative stressed that 11 April 2023 was another darkest day in Myanmar, in which the inhumane military junta conducted the aerial bombings and MI-35 helicopter gunship on villagers at the gathering in Pazigyi Village in an indiscriminate and disproportionate manner. It was said that according to the information, the military’s barbaric air attacks killed 168 villagers, including 35 children as young as 6-month-old baby and 27 women. He underlined that these attacks showcase the junta’s escalating terror campaign against the Myanmar people, despite the repeated calls by the international community including the United Nations Security Council, and it clearly violated the UN Security Council Resolution 2669 (2022) which demands an immediate end to all forms of violence throughout the country. On behalf of the Myanmar people, the Permanent Representative again called for the international community especially the UN Security Council to take decisive actions to save lives of the people of Myanmar, to end the military impunity and to prevent further destabilization of the region.
On 14 April 2023, the Ministry of Human Rights of the National Unity Government of Myanmar issued a Press Release on the Junta’s aerial attacks on Pazigyi Village in Kantbalu Township, stressing that the Kantbalu massacre also bears a striking resemblance to the military’s airstrikes in A Nang Pa Village of Hpakant Township on 23 October 2022. The Press Release stated that the military junta has not only rejected the repeated demands of the UN and ASEAN, and it has answered them with escalating acts of terror that have reached a new peak in the Kantbalu massacre. It was said that the National Unity Government welcomes the United Kingdom’s request for an urgent Security Council meeting on the Kantbalu massacre. The Release said that punitive measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter must follow, including a global ban on the sale and transfer of arms, munitions, dual-use items and aviation fuel to the junta, the targeting of junta financial interests, and a referral of the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court, and the UN Secretary-General, acting under Article 99 of the Charter, must give full support to this effort.
On 16 April 2023, the National Unity Government of Myanmar issued a Press Release relating to the numbers of deaths in Pazigyi Village due to the military’s air attacks on 11 April. According to the Press Release, those killed in the atrocity included 168 innocent civilians, including 31 civilians who are adults; 97 civilians who are above the age of 18; 10 civilians whose ages cannot be confirmed; 5 civilians whose ages are between 14 and 18; 19 children whose ages are between 5 and 14; and 6 children who are under the age of 5. It stated that 16 affected civilians including one 8-year-old children are currently in critical conditions.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
In response to the barbarous aerial attacks against the people in Pazigyi Village in Kanbalu Township of Sagaing Region in Myanmar on 11 April 2023, states, the UN Secretary-General, international actors and organizations delivered the remarks.
On 11 April 2023, the United States Department of State issued a press statement. In the statement, the Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said that the military airstrikes in the Sagaing region and the air strikes in Chin State on 10 April underscore the military’s disregard for human life and its responsibility for the dire political humanitarian crisis in the country following the military coup. It was said that the United States calls on the military to cease the horrific violence, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and to respect the genuine and inclusive democratic aspirations of the people of Burma. It stated that the military regime must abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law, including rules on the protection of civilians, and the United States will continue to work with the international community to hold the military accountable for violations and abuses committed in Myanmar.
On the same day, Switzerland condemned the military airstrikes, calling for an immediate de-escalation of violence and urging the injured to receive medical treatment.
France also condemned in the strongest terms the Myanmar military’s abominable attack on the village of Pazigyi, which caused several dozen deaths and injuries, including children. It was said that this new massacre of civilians is part of a strategy of indiscriminate violence that the Myanmar military has been subjecting for more than two years to the Myanmar people, who reject their illegitimate seizure of power, and France will continue to stand with the people of Myanmar.
Canada condemned the military’s repeated, deliberate, widespread, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against civilians, and the deliberate targeting of civilians is a violation of international humanitarian law. Canada reiterated the calls for the military to immediately cease its violence, and continued to urge all countries to support the people of Myanmar by immediately stopping the sale or transfer of arms, military equipment, dual-use equipment, and technical assistance to the military of Myanmar.
The Secretary-General strongly condemned the Myanmar military’s air strikes on Pazigyi Village, calling for those responsible to be held accountable, and for those injured to be allowed urgent medical treatment and access to assistance. The Secretary-General condemned all forms of violence and reaffirmed the primacy of protection of civilians, in accordance with international humanitarian law. He reiterated his call for the military to end the campaign of violence against the Myanmar population throughout the country, in line with Security Council resolution 2669.
The UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk called on all parties to take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population that is under their control from the effects of attacks, including by avoiding locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas. The UN Human Rights Chief said that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the military and its affiliated militias are responsible for an extremely broad range of human rights violations and abuses since 1 February 2021. It was added, the UN Human Rights Chief firmly believe that the international justice processes now underway will one day hold the military leadership accountable for such crimes.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situations of human rights in Myanmar Thomas H. Andrews remarked that the Myanmar military’s attacks against the innocent people, including the recent airstrike in Sagaing Region, is enabled by world indifference and those supplying them with weapons. He said, “how many Myanmar children need to die before world leaders take strong, coordinated action to stop this carnage?”
Amnesty International’s Business and Human Rights Researcher Montse Ferrer said, “while some meaningful action has been taken, the international community can and must do more to stop attacks on civilians in Myanmar.” It was added that ASEAN must step up and play a leading role in resolving the human rights catastrophe in the country, and the United Nations Security Council must find ways to push through effective active actions to the military of Myanmar accountable, including by referring the situation to the International Criminal Court.
On 12 April 2023, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said that all forms of violence including attacks on civilians in Myanmar must end, international humanitarian law respected, and those responsible held accountable, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2669.
According to the statement of ASEAN’s Chair issued on 13 April 2023, ASEAN strongly condemns the reported recent airstrikes carried out by the Myanmar military in Pazigyi Village. The statement outlined that all forms of violence must end immediately, particularly the use of force against civilians, and this would be the only way to create a conducive environment for an inclusive national dialogue to find a sustainable peaceful solution in Myanmar. It reiterated ASEAN’s commitment to continue assisting Myanmar in seeking a workable and durable solution to the ongoing crisis through promoting the full implementation of the Five-Point Consensus.
On 14 April 2023, the Justice for Myanmar outlined that the arms and equipment used in the military’s war crimes and crimes against humanity are sourced by a network of private companies, and many of which are registered in Myanmar and Singapore. It said that although a few have been sanctioned, the vast majority of arms brokers are conducting business as usual with impunity. Justice for Myanmar stressed that the military’s international crimes must be met with international action, and words of concern are not enough.
Date: 16 April 2023
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York