Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (19 Mar 2023)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
More than two years 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 17 March 2023, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 3,142 people have been ruthlessly killed by the military, whereas 20,440 people have been arrested and a total of 145 individuals have been sentenced to death, of which 103 (including two children) are detained since 1 February 2021, when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians. Four democracy activists who were given death sentences were executed by the military junta in July 2022.
Serious Crimes against the people of Myanmar
Escalating atrocities against civilians
Myanmar junta troops massacred 22 civilians including three Buddhist monks during a raid on Nam Nhane Village in Pinlaung Township, Shan State on 11 March according to the Irrawaddy News. The troops raided the village after having occupied a hill nearby on 9 March. Following the raid, 22 bodies were found, including 3 monks, who had been shot dead at the village monastery. Dr. Ye Zaw, a doctor in charge of Kayah State’s medics during an online press conference held by the Ministry of Human Rights of the National Unity Government of Myanmar, on 16 March, said that he had seen the bodies of victims and that most of the victims had been shot multiple times while some of the victims had broken limbs and head injuries.
The junta escalated its violence and atrocities against civilians. During a series of raids from 23 February to 15 March, it is reported that the junta’s special task force killed and beheaded 20 members of resistance forces and massacred 16 civilian detainees, including three woman who were raped before being killed, in Ayadaw, Myinmu and Sagaing townships in Sagaing Region. On 13 March, in Khin-U Township in Sagaing Region, a detained resistance force member was shot dead while another was beheaded.
Detaining displaced persons and using human shields in Kayah State
According to the Irrawaddy News of 15 March that Myanmar military junta troops killed civilians and detained internally displaced persons as human shields as clashes between junta troops and a combined force of Karenni Army and Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) took place in Karenni (Kayah) State. According to the KNDF, the military junta troops detained eight civilians from the IDP camp in Ku Yin Village-tract on 12 March. They also burned two elderly detainees and shot 15-year-old boy dead. The rest were reportedly still detained. The Karenni Human Rights Group (KnHRG) said the junta troops are specifically advancing towards the areas of IDP communities. They launched an air strike on an IDP camp in eastern Demoso in Karenni (Kayah) State while civilian medical teams were evacuating the IDPs. Arresting local residents and used them as human shields are the usual practice of the junta forces in their atrocities against the civilians. On 8 March, in Daw Ta Ma Gyi Village in Karenni (Kayah) State, 12 civilians were arrested. A mother and a child were later released but the rest were still detained and used as human shields. In addition, on 12 March, the military junta’s Division 66 reportedly raided a refugee camp on a hill near LelTun Village in Pekon Township, Shan State. Then, they killed an elderly couple, Hla Nyein, 78, and Mu Luu, 81, by burning them alive along with their tent, and two residents were also shot dead.
Raiding and burning villages
On 15 March, the Myanmar Now reported that three elderly civilians were killed in a fire set by the junta troops in Monywa, Sagaing Region village. The troops raided a base of the anonymous resistance force which was three miles away of Monywa, and 12 members of the resistance forces were arrested during the raid. The junta troops later raided Hta Naung Taw Village and burned some households. Monywa’s People’s Defence Force confirmed the deaths of the elderly civilians and said that the junta troops looted homes in Hta Naung Taw Village before burning them down.
Enhancing Counterterrorism Law to bloc resistance funding
The military junta reportedly enhanced the 2014 Counterterrorism law on 10 March. Under the rules, the junta can demand data of consumers from telecommunications providers, allowing the military junta to intercept and cut the communications of those allegedly linked to revolutionary forces. The junta can now intercept and cut off communications for up to 60 days with an extension if approved by its counterterrorism working committee. Activists advocating for digital privacy said the rule is not designed to protect the people from terrorism but intended to launch a crackdown on the revolution and anyone supporting it. The junta has been targeting people over social media posts who criticized the regime since the coup in 2021.
Activities of the National Unity Government of Myanmar
Dr. Sasa, Union Minister for International Cooperation released a statement on 13 March condemning the brutal massacre of civilians in Nam Nhane Village in Shan State. It highlighted that the news of the brutal and horrific massacre of 30 innocent civilians, including 3 monks, in Nam Nhane village in Shan State by the genocidal military junta was deeply concerning and totally unacceptable and condemned in the strongest possible terms of all crimes against humanity committed by the genocidal military junta in Myanmar. It also stated that the continued crimes against humanity against the innocent people of Myanmar by the genocidal military junta forces are in direct violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2669 on the situation in Myanmar, in direct violations of the International humanitarian and human rights laws and the ASEAN’s five points consensus on Myanmar. It called for an end to the violence and urged the international community to take swift and decisive action to bring those responsible to justice, and implement further targeted sanctions and other measures, and urged the international community to work hand in hand with the National Unity Government (NUG) of Myanmar to deliver aide to the millions in dire need.
The Myanmar delegation led by Dr. Win Myat Aye, Union Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management attended the 146th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly which was held from 13 to 15 March 2023 in Manama, Bahrain. The Union Minister delivered a statement during the meeting highlighting the atrocities which violated human rights, committed by the Myanmar military against civilians and parliamentarians. The delegation also met with the President of the IPU, parliamentarians from different countries including Denmark, UK, Indonesia, Lao PDR, and Timor-Leste and discussed the situation in Myanmar.
On 13 March, U Htin Lin Aung, Union Minister for Information, Technology Communication and U Moe Zaw Oo, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs welcomed Mr. Derek Chollet, Counsellor of the United States Department of State at the Office of the National Unity Government in Washington DC and exchanged the views on the current situation in Myanmar. The officials of the NUG highlighted the need of assistance for people in Myanmar.
On 16 March, U Kyaw Moe Tun, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Myanmar delivered a statement during the informal meeting of the UN General Assembly on the Briefing by the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on Myanmar. He highlighted the inhumane atrocities committed by the Myanmar military during two years’ time since the coup in 2021. He stressed that the situation in Myanmar is not a typical political conflict. It is the brutal military dictatorship versus the absolute opposition of the whole people who refuse to go back to military rule. He said only the military junta’s blatant disregard for the rule of law and inhumane brutalities left people of Myanmar no choice but to defend themselves. He stated that the conflict in Myanmar has vividly become a matter that will threaten the peace and security of the region, especially neighbouring countries.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
The Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement on 13 March calling for social media companies to stand up to the Myanmar junta’s online terror campaign. The statement quoted the UN experts’ claims “online rhetoric has spilled into real world terror, with military supporters using social media to harass and incite violence against pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders’’. According to the UN experts, it stated pro-junta accounts regularly used hateful, sexualized, and discriminatory rhetoric in an attempt to discredit women activists and human rights defenders. The UN experts urged Telegram and other social media platforms to meet their responsibilities to identify, prevent, and mitigate human rights abuses.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on 15 March that Indonesia is in ongoing discussions with various parties in Myanmar behind the scenes in hopes of helping to resolve the crisis in its fellow ASEAN member countries. He also stressed that ASEAN will strive to continue being a peaceful region and avoid becoming a proxy for any global power, especially in a time when geopolitical tensions are running high between superpowers. He noted that Myanmar issue has become “complicated” and will take some time to be resolved. He stressed that the priority for Indonesia and ASEAN is to implement the peace plan that Myanmar had agreed to.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on 16 March that the city-state would work with Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries, as well as the United Nations, to push Myanmar’s military rulers to implement a stalled peace plan. He said the leaders regretted the lack of progress on a peace plan led by the ASEAN on Myanmar, and reaffirmed that Singapore will continue working with Indonesia and ASEAN members, and the UN for the full implementation of the five-point consensus.
UN special rapporteur Tom Andrews told the Guardian on 15 March that Myanmar is a “failing state” and the crisis is getting exponentially worse, and claimed the same types of weapons that are killing Ukrainians are killing people in Myanmar. He urged countries to adopt the same unified resolve that followed the invasion of Ukraine. He reiterated that the international response to Myanmar has been inadequate and some countries are continuing to enable the junta’s atrocities.
UN Special Envoy for Myanmar Ms. Noeleen Heyzer told the General Assembly on 16 March that the prospect for a political settlement to that country’s military takeover is not likely, and “with both sides intent on prevailing by force, there is no prospect for a negotiated settlement”. She urged the international community to send a strong signal that violence must end and that those seeking a way forward to a peaceful future must be supported. Moreover, the Special Envoy told reporters that while all agree that ASEAN will take the lead in resolving the crisis, she had made it clear that the five-point consensus must have concrete steps that need to be implemented with a timeline, and that there should be greater accountability if that’s not done. She said ASEAN cannot do this all alone and there needs to be a wider regional approach as well as “stronger, coherent, strategic and coordinated international action.
The UK representative Fergus Eckersley in the General Assembly on 16 March condemned the massacre of at least 28 people in Pinlaung Township that happened on 11 March. The UK’s representative said “The military regime is using increasingly brutal tactics to sow fear and repress any form of opposition. Indiscriminate air strikes are increasing. As are reports of military atrocities, conflict related sexual violence, and mass burning of villages”, he called for more countries to impose targeted sanctions on Myanmar, and reiterated that no country should sell arms to Myanmar. The statement also affirmed that conditions are not in place for the safe, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingya.
Date: 19 March 2023
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York