Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
More than twenty-eight 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 16 June 2023, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military ruthlessly killed 3,663 people, arrested 23,361 people, and 19,021 people remain in detention, whereas 157 people have been sentenced to death, including 115 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
Highest Fatalities in Sagaing Region
According to AAPP, the repressive and violent actions of the junta have killed 753 people across the country from January 2023 until 16 June 2023, and Sagaing Region has the highest number of fatalities with 443 people who were killed by the military. It was reported that among those 443 victims in Sagaing Region, 40 people were taken as hostages before being killed, while 35 people were captured and used as human shields before getting killed.
AAPP also reported the number of women who were murdered by the military. The repressive and illegitimate junta have killed 536 women across the country, including 106 women killed between February 2021 and December 2021; 238 women killed in 2022; and 192 women killed from January 2023 to the second week of June 2023. Among those 536 women victims across the country, it was reported that 147 women were killed due to artillery attacks, and 99 women were killed by airstrikes. Sagaing Region has accounted for the highest number of deaths, totaling 250 women victims.
According to news sources, on 9 June 2023, the junta forces fired artillery shells at Yay Le Oo Village in Kale Township of Sagaing Region, and consequently the locals fled into nearby jungles to seek refuge. While they were fleeing, a civilian named Mee Hla has died instantly, as artillery shrapnel stuck her in the stomach.
On 10 June 2023, the junta forces and members of paramilitary group of Pyu Saw Htee raided Pi Tauk Pin Village in Kanbalu Township of Sagaing Region. During the attack, a local resident named Thein Win was shot and killed.
Displacing a number of Civilians in Maese Town
According to reliable sources, the junta forces shelled Maese Town in Karenni (Kayah) State on 13 June 2023, following the intense clashes between the junta troops and the resistance forces consisting of Karenni Army, Karenni Nationalities Defence Force and People’s Defence Force (PDF).
Due to this artillery shelling of the junta troops, more than 3,000 residents of Maese Town fled to Mae Hong Son Province in northwest Thailand. According to the aid volunteers, those who have fled are currently in need of food.
Raiding and attacking the villages within Sagaing Township
According to Myanmar Now News, a junta military column consisting of 100 forces raided several villages around Sadaung Town in Sagaing from 13 to 15 June 2023. The credible source said that the military troops from Light Infantry Division 33 attacked the villages in the area and torched hundreds of houses.
Moreover, the junta forces destroyed 600 houses in Thar Zin Village, located about 5 km west of Sadaung Town on 13 June 2023. A woman in her 60s was killed and around 40 residents who were trapped in the village were taken hostage. On 14 June 2023, the junta forces attacked two other villages namely Inn Sa and Aing Dan Ma Villages located southwest of Sadaung Town, and several houses were destroyed. On 15 June 2023, the junta forces raided Pauk Ma Village, located about 10km northwest of Sadaung Town, and torched the entire northern part of the Village.
Attacking a village within Myaung Township
Myanmar Now News reported that on 15 June 2023, the junta forces entered Na Nwin Kaing Village, 16 miles southwest of Myaung Township of Sagaing Region, while a funeral of a 70-year-old woman who has died of natural causes was being held.
It was reported that the junta troops shot repeatedly at nine young men at the funeral until the bullets were running out. As a result, a civilian named Thein Kyaw a 30-year-old father of two children was killed. He was helping with the funeral preparations.
Raiding the villages and displacing the people in Tanintharyi Region
According to the Irrawaddy News, the military forces raided Ya Nge Village and Wae Yit Village within Thayetchaung Township of Tanintharyi Region on 16 June 2023, burning the houses and arresting at least seven people.
The source said that around 6,000 residents were displaced. As the roads were blocked, the aid volunteers and the people fled via waterways. According to the aid volunteers, the residents who left their homes are currently in need of food, medicine and clothes.
Raiding the villages in Khin-U Township and displacing the civilians
According to the news, the junta forces raided and attacked eight villages within Khin-U Township of Sagaing Region including Yartaw Village and Thayetpinsu Village on 18 June 2023. As the junta forces fired heavy artillery, over 4,000 residents have fled.
The source said that the military’s attack on 18 June was the second time of raiding by the military. The junta forces had attacked the villages from 1 to 14 June 2023, in which six villages were torched, a resident was killed, and two elderly died while seeking refuge.
Due to the military’s assault on Nyaung Pin Gyi Village in Salingyi Township of Sagaing Region on 9 June 2023, over 5,000 villagers became displaced, and they are facing difficulties and in need of food.
Sentencing a civilian in Pyin Oo Lwin Township
On 9 June 2023, a district court in Pyin Oo Lwin Township of Mandalay Region sentenced a civilian named Po Pyae Thu, who is a philanthropist, to serve an additional 15 years in prison under Section 50(j) of the Counter-Terrorism Law. It was reported that she has to serve over 43 years in prison due to the additional charges imposed on her. She owned Maymyo Eain Restaurant in Pyin Oo Lwin, and her restaurant was also seized. The source said that she was arrested by the military in October 2021 for allegedly supporting the PDFs.
Displacement in South-East of Myanmar
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) released a displacement overview on 15 June 2023, stating that in the South-East of Myanmar, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) increased sharply from 446,800 to 452,100 at the time of releasing the report.
The overview highlighted the displacement situations as of 12 June 2023, particularly in Bago Region (East), Mon State, Karenni (Kayah) State and Shan State (South).
In Bago Region (East), fighting and airstrikes of the junta forces in the area displaced about 3,300 people. Those displaced were from four villages in Kyaukkyi Township within the same township and towards Phyu Township, and among them 255 IDPs people displaced secondarily. In Mon State, 1,200 IDPs were verified in Bilin, Thaton, and Kyaikmaraw Townships, following their displacement caused by increased fighting and insecurity near their villages. In Karenni (Kayah) State, due to the fighting, and airstrikes and shelling of the junta forces on 3 June near Bawlakhe Town in Bawlakhe Township, 120 people were displaced to Loikaw Town. In Shan State (South), 1,000 people from Moe Bye Town in Pekon Township, were displaced to Pekon Town due to fighting, airstrikes, and shelling of the junta forces on 5 June.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 13 June 2023, Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to the United Nations delivered a statement at the General Debate of the Annual session of the UNICEF Executive Board. The Permanent Representative highlighted that children in Myanmar have no choice but to resort to learning in makeshift camps or bunkers in conflict-affected areas to hide from unabated aerial attacks from the junta, and since the illegal coup, 3.7 million children remained out of school. He added that the military continues to commit grave violations of children’s rights by torturing, arbitrarily detaining and using children as human shields, and its disproportionate attacks on civilians have caused more than 3,600 civilian casualties, including over 400 children. He informed the members of UNICEF that more than 1.5 million people have been displaced and 5.8 million children are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. The Permanent Representative stated that the rights of children in Myanmar remain grim as the military continues to hold their future hostage, and their safe access to education, right to learning and basic health care services have been constrained by the military’s “four cuts” strategy. The Permanent Representative stressed that urgent, principled and coordinated actions from the international community are needed to protect the children of Myanmar, hold the military accountable for its violence against children and to end its pervasive culture of impunity.
On 15 June 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government of Myanmar issued a Notification for Myanmar nationals who take refuge in India due to security concerns. The Notification asked the Myanmar nations who are temporarily sheltering in India for security reasons and social organizations founded by these Myanmar nationals to respectfully comply with the points, as well as Myanmar parliamentarians and social organizations to disseminate this notification to refugee camps and related communities.
The points included among others:
(a) To refrain from any acts that are prejudicial to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of India.
(b) To be cautious and avoid unnecessary involvement in political and administrative matters (e.g. political parties' election campaigns and ethnic-based conflicts) of the State where the nationals are taking refuge.
(c) Not to get involved in illegal trafficking of drugs and wild animals, and related matters.
(d) To live in harmony and appropriately with host communities and follow the religious and social rules regulated in the wards or villages that the nationals are residing.
(e) To contact, inform and consult with the nearest Myanmar Parliamentarians and responsible persons from the social organizations in case of Myanmar nationals encounter social problems and difficulties, and communicate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs if necessary.
On 15 June 2023, Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to the United Nations delivered a statement at the General Debate of the 16th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Permanent Representative said that COVID 19 pandemic created huge challenges for vulnerable groups of people including persons with disabilities, and these challenges have been exacerbated by the illegal military coup in February 2021 and the military’s atrocities, resulting in the increase of number of people with disabilities. The Permanent Representative reiterated that timely and decisive action of the international community is immediately needed to address the issue of Myanmar, and the continued concrete support of the international community is urgently much required to bring Myanmar return to democracy and establish a Federal Democratic Union in line with aspiration of Myanmar people.
On 17 June 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government of Myanmar issued a Statement on the Invitation extended to the illegitimate Junta to attend Informal Discussion on Myanmar that was issued by Thailand’s caretaker government. Through the statement, the National Unity Government expressed disappointment at the decision of the caretaker government to invite the Foreign Minister of the illegitimate junta for an informal discussion on Myanmar issue, scheduled to be held between 18 and 19 June 2023 in Thailand. The statement said that the invitation to the illegitimate junta will not contribute to the restoration of Myanmar’s political crisis, and instead it will undermine the struggles of the people for human rights, justice and democracy, further complicating the problem. The statement appealed to Thailand’s caretaker government to engage with all relevant stakeholders including the NUG and Ethnic Resistance Organizations which genuinely uphold the will of Myanmar people and have actively pursued the restoration of democratic values in Myanmar. It was stated that such engagements will help foster cooperation in border security, promote stability and peace, and enhance bilateral relations between the two countries.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
On 12 June 2023, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a Press Release, stating that one month after Cyclone Mocha, the military has suspended humanitarian access in Rakhine State, crippling life-saving aid distributions to affected communities. It was said that following the cyclone, humanitarians have had extensive discussions to scale up assistance in Rakhine and other cyclone-affected areas. After significant engagement, initial approval for distribution and transportation plans and additional travel authorization was received. It was also said that this has since been rescinded, pending further clearances, and similar plans for distribution and transportation in Chin also remain pending. The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator a.i Ramanathan Balakrishnan said that the denial of access unnecessarily prolongs the suffering of those without food to eat or a roof over their head, increasing the risk of food insecurity and water-borne disease. He urged the military to urgently reconsider this decision and re-instate the initial approval that was granted for distributions which will allow aid that is ready and waiting to flow to people who desperately need it.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a Humanitarian Update on Myanmar on 13 June 2023. The update said that the devastating impact of Cyclone Mocha and the ongoing armed conflict have compounded the suffering of people in Myanmar and the needs become enormous. It was underlined that more than 1.8 million people are currently displaced in Myanmar, with 1.5 million already displaced due to the conflict and insecurity since the 2021 military coup. The report updated that in the cyclone-affected zone especially in Rakhine, Northwest and Kachin, humanitarian organizations have been delivering assistance where they have stocks and approval, but more supplies, wider access and increased funding are urgently needed to deliver at-scale and meet needs across all communities. It stressed that restrictions on humanitarian operations and bureaucratic hurdles are impeding assistance efforts, also on the cyclone response. According to the Humanitarian Update, generous funding is vital to alleviate human suffering and support the humanitarian response in Myanmar, and the US$ 764 million Humanitarian Response Plan, plus an additional $122 million for new activities outlined in Cyclone Mocha Flash Appeal, is crucial for recovery and relief efforts.
On 16 June 2023, Office to monitor and combat trafficking in persons of the United States released a 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report on Myanmar, stating that Myanmar does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and fails to make significant efforts to do so. According to the report, the military continued a policy or pattern of use of children and adults for forced labor. It was said that the military did not identify any trafficking victims or adequately screen for trafficking among at-risk populations, leading that it inappropriately penalized victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The military prevented civil society organizations from providing essential services to trafficking victims, and also enforced policies that discriminated against its political opposition, Rohingya communities, and other religious and ethnic minorities, which further increased their vulnerability to trafficking.
Date: 18 June 2023
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York