Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (17 July 2022)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
Over 17 months ago, on 1 February 2021, the Myanmar military attempted an illegal coup, toppled the civilian government, and unlawfully and unjustly 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 15 July 2022, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 2,088 people have been ruthlessly killed by the military, whereas 14,695 people have been arrested and a total of 115 individuals have been sentenced to death, of which 74 (including 2 children) are detained and 41 in absentia since 1 February 2021, when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians.
Atrocities committed by the military
Killing innocent civilians
According to the news, during the raid in Gway Gone Village of Yesagyo Township, Magway Region on 4 July 2022, at around 7 pm, junta soldiers fatally shot a local villager called Win Naing Tun.
In the evening of 9 July 2022, Moung Sung Kai, living in Chan Myae Aung Si Ward, Kale Township, Sagaing Region, was shot in his back by Junta soldiers near Seik Kan Thar Market while he was on a motorbike, giving a ride for his friends. Although he was sent to the hospital, he died at 3 am on the following day, 10 July 2022.
On 9 July 2022, Aung Chan Min, aged 5 and living in Hlay Tan Kyun Gyi Village, Kyaukkyi Township, Bago Region was seriously injured after stepping on a landmine that had been planted by the junta military troops in Kyun Gyi Port. He died on 10 July 2022 while receiving medical treatment at Ka Nyin Kyoe Hospital.
According to the news, the leader of a resistance group in Myaing Township, Magway Region said that junta troops active in the area have killed six civilians and set fire to around 100 oil wells in recent periods. Those dead bodies of civilians were found in Su Win Village on 8 July 2022 and according to the witness, that injuries on the victims’ bodies suggested that their heads and faces had been beaten with military helmets. He also said that four houses in Su Win Village had been set on fire. According to local residents, thousands of villagers living in the area have fled since 2 July 2022 amid fears of raids by the military forces. It was reported that since second week of July 2022, Junta soldiers targeted and destroyed many businesses in the region with a reason to cut off funding for resistance groups. Among those businesses, around 100 of the hand-dug oil wells: the business of most residents of the region, have reportedly been torched.
Abducting, torturing and killing the local villagers
According to the local news, on 10 July 2022, seven villagers from a local village in Myaing Township were tied with ropes around their necks and being pulled behind the truck of the junta troops. Besides the three young men who were able to keep up with the truck, at least four villagers are believed to have died since they couldn’t run fast enough, fell on their faces, and died. The victims were from two villages located near Myaing’s border with Pauk Township. Five, including three elderly men and a 16-year-old boy, were from Kabar Phyu, while the other two were from the neighbouring village of Taung Yoe. According to the local sources, the military column of around 80 troops that tortured the villagers also torched a number of homes and at least 30 motorcycles in Kabar Phyu.
Arbitrary arrests of Lawyers representing political prisoners
According to the credible news, lawyers representing political prisoners have been targeted by the inhumane junta. On 29 June 2022, three lawyers were arrested after meeting their clients at Obo Prison. It was not clear at the time what charges had been laid against them. During May 2022, Ms. Ywet Nu Aung, prominent lawyer from Mandalay who represents a number of high-profile political figures, including Mandalay Region’s ousted chief minister Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, was detained on suspicions of financially supporting anti-military armed groups. Earlier in April, Mr. Si Thu, another Mandalay-based lawyer known for his work with farmers engaged in land disputes with the military, was beaten in front of his family before being taken into custody.
Heavy artillery fired at civilian locations
On 10 July 2022, Ni Lone, a 35-year-old farmer from Sai Naing Lay Village, Wetlet Township, Sagaing Region, died on the spot when the Infantry Battalion 42 fired heavy artillery at Sai Naing Lay Village in an indiscriminate manner. Among the two other villagers who were severely injured by the shelling, one 35-year-old villager named Kyauk Doe was said to be in a critical condition. According to the local residents, around 30 junta troops had fired multiple rounds of artillery towards the southern end of the village from a position to its north. And as a result, a number of houses were destroyed and several cows were killed. The attack began after a junta military vehicle had been hit by a mine near Sai Naing Lay Village.
In the afternoon of 14 July 2022, during the Junta’s shelling at Set Lal Village in Kyaukkyi Township, Bago Region, a local villager Saw Shee May was killed, and his two children named Naw Htee Hser Khu, aged 12, and Saw Htee Phoe Klo, aged 6 months, got injured.
Actions taken against the CDM staff and High Officials of the NLD Government
On 6 July 2022, a detained CDM teacher Cho Yamin Han in Mandalay’s Obo Prison, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment under Section 50(j) of the Counter-Terrorism Law by the special court in Obo Prison. She lived in ZayetKwin Village, Thabeikkyin Township, Mandalay Region and was arrested at her home on 15 December 2021.
According to the news on 7 July 2022, Mr. Hla Thein, Chairman of Union Election Commission (UEC), Secretary Mr. Myint Naing, and member Mr. Than Htay, were sentenced to three years in prison under Section 130-a of the Penal Code by the special court inside Nay Pyi Taw Prison. The charge is related to the alleged violations of electoral laws during the 2020 general election, which the military claimed was marred by massive voter fraud. They have been in regime custody since the military seized power in a coup on February 1 of last year. Despite the military’s claims of widespread voter fraud, the military-appointed UEC revealed in early 2022 that it had discovered just over 3,200 instances of double voting and other irregularities, representing barely more than 0.1% of the votes cast in 2020. The junta has also imprisoned and fined a total of 2,173 local election workers for allegedly failing to ensure that votes were cast and counted correctly.
On 11 July 2022, Mon State Chief Minister Dr. Aye Zan, who is already sentenced to 23 years imprisonment, was sentenced two more years under 130-a of the Penal Code by the Mawlamyine Township Court for alleged violations of the electoral laws. According to the news, Dr. Aye Zan is currently detained at the Kyaikmaraw Prison.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 11 July 2022, the National Unity Government issued a Weekly Newsletter No. 11/2022. The newsletter published articles relating to the NUG’s activities including the Statement of NUG on 7thLanceng-Mekong Cooperation Forum, call by President DuwaLashi La on all parties to reject the SAC’s election, commemoration of 7th July Uprising by the NUG, the NUG MOFA’s Statement on the visit of the ASEAN Special Envoy to Myanmar, Statement on the killing of two Indian citizens in Tamu Town, etc.
On 8 July 2022, the Ministry of Human Rights of the NUG has released a statement regarding the adoption of the resolution on the Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar. In the statement, the Ministry of Human Rights welcomed the UN HRC’s resolution to call for the SAC to be held to account, noting the authority of UNSC to refer the situation in Myanmar to the ICC. The NUG also supported the resolution’s strong condemnation of the gross human rights violations and abuses against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities, acknowledging that historic exclusionary and discriminatory policies, practices and rhetoric laid the ground for atrocities. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, the atrocities committed by the SAC include probable crimes against humanity and war crimes. The resolution does not express its ‘unequivocal support for the people of Myanmar and their democratic aspirations.
On 14 July 2022, the President Office of the NUG released an Announcement No. (14/2022) regarding the virtual meeting between the Acting President of Myanmar and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights H.E. Michelle Bachelet. The Acting President thanked the High Commissioner for her abiding commitment to the democratic aspirations and human rights of the people of Myanmar and for her call on the international community to directly engage with the NUG. The Acing President also pledged the country’s commitment to its international human rights obligations and requested OHCHR technical assistance to this end.
On 14 July 2022, the Ministry of Education made a statement regarding the arrests of teachers from “Kaung for You Education” by the military terrorists. The ministry announced that they will cooperate with international human rights mechanisms on this matter. The SAC targeted the students and teachers in order to undermine faith in the NUG’s education system, and to punish those who work in or attend CDM education. The ministry mentioned that this recent security breach is not only a violation of the right to privacy, but also places in harm’s way anyone seeking legitimate education which is itself a protected human rights the SAC has yet again violated.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
On 10 July 2022, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken made remarks on Myanmar during the press conference held on at Anantara Siam Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. In his remarks, he explained that The United States is working with Thailand, and all of ASEAN, to push Myanmar’s junta to fulfill the five-point consensus, end its brutal violence, and put Myanmar back on the path to democracy. He expressed that he had an opportunity to meet with some young leaders from Myanmar, who are committed as ever to building a democratic future. More than 91,000 displaced people from Myanmar are currently in Thailand, part of the nation’s proud tradition of welcoming refugees. He recalled the United States’s support for those efforts here in Thailand for decades, including $45 million in humanitarian assistance in 2022 alone.
At the press conference, questions relating to current situation in Myanmar, including the five-point consensus, the sanctions posed by the U.S., the possible approach the U.S. could use to help restore democracy in Myanmar, China’s efforts helping or hindering the diplomacy that ASEAN and the United States are doing on Myanmar, and call for the U.S. to formally recognize the NUG as a legitimate government of Myanmar. In his response, Secretary Blinken explained that it’s unfortunately safe to say that no positive movement has been seen. And on the contrary, the repression of the Myanmar people, violence perpetrated on them by the junta, the entire opposition in jail or in exile, and a terrible humanitarian situation, exacerbated by the fact that the junta is not delivering what’s necessary for the people have been continued. He mentioned that more possibilities could be done to make sure that humanitarian organizations have access to people along the border to make sure they’re getting the assistance they need. One possibility is that all countries have to continue to speak clearly about what the military junta is doing in its ongoing repression and brutality. He mentioned that regional support for the military junta’s adherence to the five-point consensus developed by ASEAN is also critical. Since that has not happened, he highlighted that all the ASEAN countries need to hold the junta accountable for that, to continue to demand an immediate cessation of violence, the release of political prisoners, and a restoration of Burma’s democratic path. Since no positive movement in that direction had been seen, he added that they will continue to look for ways that they can – and other countries can effectively put pressure on the military to move back to the democratic path. He underscored that even though a lot of time has been spent on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the U.S. has not lost sight of Myanmar and its people. He mentioned that he had an opportunity earlier that day to sit down with some remarkable young people from Myanmar to talk about what they see as its democratic future. He stated that the U.S. has been working with young people, with the National Unity Government, with other genuine representatives of the Myanmar people, and will continue to do that, including supporting the work of the NUG.
In the Atrocity Alert No. 308: Myanmar (Burma) (Myanmar’s Military Using Surveillance Technology To Maintain Power) by the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P), it was explained that Myanmar’s (Burma) military – the Tatmadaw – is planning to install surveillance camera systems with facial recognition capabilities in cities across all of the country’s seven states and seven regions, according to an 11 July report by Reuters. The military claims the projects will help maintain security and foster civil peace. However, recent reporting indicates that the military will increasingly rely upon surveillance technology in an attempt to strengthen its hold on power and oppose resistance efforts. Local authorities have initiated new camera surveillance projects in at least five cities around Myanmar, including Mawlamyine, Taunggyi, and Myitkyina. The surveillance cameras are part of a wider effort to monitor the activities of populations in Myanmar.
Last month four UN experts condemned the military’s attempts to establish a “digital dictatorship” in Myanmar with tactics like sweeping internet blackouts, digital censorship and surveillance. According to the experts, tele-communications providers have been pressured to activate surveillance technology and hand over user data to police and military officials. Since August 2021, at least 31 townships in seven states and regions across Myanmar have reportedly experienced internet shutdowns, and an additional 23 townships have faced severely slowed internet speeds. The internet shutdowns have targeted areas where the military faces strong resistance from opposition groups. The UN experts said, “online access to information is a matter of life and death for many people in Myanmar, including those seeking safety from indiscriminate attacks by the military.” The UN experts also noted that “internet restrictions are being used by the junta as a cloak to hide its ongoing atrocities.” The barriers to internet access and lack of connectivity in many parts of the country are hindering the collection of evidence of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by human rights monitors and journalists. The military in Myanmar must respect the population’s right to privacy. Member states should support civil society’s efforts to combat censorship and surveillance, and impose sanctions to restrict the sale or supply of dual-use surveillance technology.
On 6 July 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) published Highlights of Myanmar Emergency Update. In that highlight, it was presented that armed clashes across Myanmar continued to trigger displacement and affect civilians. As of 4 July, an estimated 1,116,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were reported. Of them, 769,000 people have been displaced within Myanmar since 1 February 2021. In the North-West, ongoing fighting continued to undermine the safety and security of civilians with sporadic clashes reported in Chin State, Magway and Sagaing Regions. In the South-East, armed clashes generated some displacement largely due to the deteriorating security situation in Mon State, Bago (East) and Tanintharyi Regions. Humanitarian access remained challenging although new displacement and IDP returns to areas of origin continues to be monitored. In protracted situations, many IDPs face acute food and supply shortages, which have been exacerbated by a shortage of essential goods and services in the host community. In Kachin and Shan (North) States, IDPs’ limited access to financial services continued to undermine their capacity to engage in sustainable livelihoods. Access to education was another challenge, particularly in Kachin and Shan (North) States as a result of school closures in response to COVID-19 and security-related measures. Other challenges facing children and adolescents include forced recruitment and child marriage. In Rakhine State, simmering tensions spilled over into clashes in Chin State’s Paletwa Township on 27 June 2022. The abduction of two teachers in Maungdaw (North) Township also heightened existing anxieties within communities. The evolving situation stands to impact the already limited freedom of movement for the Rohyinga communities, further impeding access to services and social cohesion.
In the UNHCR’s “Myanmar Situation - Inter-Agency Operational Update - 05 July 2022”, it was stated that the volatile situation in Myanmar following the 01 February 2021 coup has increased armed conflict and subsequent population displacement within and across borders, including in Thailand. As of 4 July 2022, the Royal Thai Government (RTG) reports that there are 802 refugees remaining on the Thai side of the border. Since February 2021, the RTG estimates that over 21,000 Myanmar refugees have sought temporary safety in Thailand. Refugees are sheltered in temporary safety areas (TSA), which are placed under the general jurisdiction of the Royal Thai Army by the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) established by the RTG in March 2021.
Date: 17 July 2022
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York