Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (2 July 2023)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
More than twenty-nine 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 30 June 2023, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military ruthlessly killed 3,736 people, arrested 23,651 people, and 19,295 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
Dropping Bombs on civilian areas
According to reliable reports, the junta forces have been increasingly conducting airstrikes on civilian areas across the country in the month of June 2023. It was reported that on 23 June 2023, the junta forces dropped bombs from an aircraft on Lu Hku Pa Ra and Do Raw Villages in the western Hpruso Township of Karenni (Kayah) State, killing a local resident from Do Raw Village named Lwee Zi and injuring two other residents.
The AAPP reported that the junta forces dropped bombs from Tada-U Air Force’s Aircraft on Nyaung Kone Village in Pale Township of Sagaing Region on 27 June 2023, killing 9 local residents and a monk. It was reported that one of those victims injured in the attack before that one died. Furthermore, a monastery and 13 houses in the area were also destroyed.
Torching the villages in Salingyi Township
News reported that on 24 June 2023, the junta forces set fire to Shwe Inn Lay Village and Thein Taw Village in Nyaung Pin Gyi Village Tract in Salingyi Township of Sagaing Region. It was reported that there has been no clash in the area.
Conducting Airstrikes on Villages within Wetlet Township
Myanmar Now News reported that the junta forces carried out airstrikes on 29 June 2023, targeting the villages within Wetlet Township of Sagaing Region. Due to these airstrikes, multiple buildings and a monastery within Wetlet Township were destroyed. The source said that the junta forces’ airstrikes passed over the Wetlet Town three times and dropped three large bombs, firing randomly at the edges of the town, and these attacks started 20 minutes after the resistance forces used drones to attack the fire station of Wetlet Township.
It was reported that the junta’s airstrikes damaged three villages within Wetlet township, including Khaw Taw Village (5km south of Wetlet), Myin Taw Village (2km to the east) and Tha Khut Taw Village (4km to the north).
Attacking a village in Sagaing Township
According to the local news, a junta column consisting of 70 troops attacked Sa Moon Village in Sagaing Township of Sagaing Region at 5 am of 29 June 2023. Due to the attack, the local residents were fleeing in the early morning, and the junta forces fired indiscriminately at those who were trying to flee.
It was reported that the indiscriminate shooting of the junta forces killed a woman and injuring the other woman and a child. A woman named Khin Ma Ma (50) died after being shot in her forehead. Another woman named Nu Nu Win (45) was shot in her arm, and a six-year-old boy named Myo Naing Win was shot in the head. The source said that the local residents, who were unable to flee at the time of the junta’s attack, were detained by the junta troops.
Arresting civilians and murdering one civilian in Ywar Ngan Township
According to the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), the junta forces raided Lwa Sin Village and Nan Khon Village in Ywar Ngan Township at the south of Shan State at the midnight of 29 June 2023. It was reported that the junta troops arrested 10 civilians at their respective houses, including 5 women and 4 men from Lwa Sin Village and a man from Nan Khon Village.
The source said that of those arrested, a individual was killed by the junta forces within hours following the arrest. The families are worried about the other arrested civilians.
Charging and Sentencing Civilians
AAPP reported that the junta forces raided Nat Maw Village and Kaing Taw Kwin Village within Hinthada Township of Ayeyarwady Region on 22 June 2023, to arrest two civilians namely Nwe Nwe Oo from Nat Maw Village who is CDM teacher and Kyaw from Kaing Taw Kwin Village who is a former NLD Ward and Village Administration member. The source said that they are currently detained at Hinthada Myoma Police Station, and on 24 June 2023, they were charged under Section 52 (a) of the Counter-Terrorism Law and Section 505 (a) of the Penal Code.
According to the AAPP report, the junta forces sentenced a civilian named Wutyi Aung who is an executive member of Dagon University Students’ Union, to serve an additional 4 years in prison under Section 52 (a) of the Counter-Terrorism Law on 27 June 2023. It was reported that as she has been sentenced to serve 3 years in prison under Section 505 (a) of the Penal Code on 10 March 2022, the additional imprisonment made her to serve 7 years in prison. The source said that she was arrested together with 6 other students from Dagon University at Kyauktada Township of Yangon Region on 14 September 2021.
According to the Irrawaddy News, a court under the control of junta sentenced the Irrawaddy’s former publisher named Thaung Win to serve 5 years in prison for sedition on 28 June 2023. The source said that he was arrested at his home in Yangon on 29 September 2022 and charged with violating the Publishing and Distribution Act by reporting news that “negatively affected national security, rule of law and public peace”. It was reported that he has been detained at Insein prison following the arrest.
Surrender by Junta Troops in Maese Township
According to the news, the junta battalion 430 consisting of about 100 troops from the military outposts (BP 13) in Maese Township of Karenni (Kayah) State surrendered with weapons on 24 June 2023, after the allied Karenni resistance forces have seized the junta outposts. It was reported that the resistance forces seized the Maese Myoma police station and junta outposts (BP 14, BP 15 and BP 16) in Maese Township on 13 June 2023.
Local news reported that the entire battalion 430 including the Battalion Commander Zarni Aung and the deputy Battalion Commander Kyaw Thu Soe surrendered. The junta forces led by the Battalion Commander and the deputy Battalion Commander firstly surrendered outside the military outpost, which was followed by the surrender of other forces within the outpost. Over 100 weapons have been received from this incident.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 26 June 2023, Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to the United Nations delivered remarks at the Presentation of the 2023 UNODC World Drug Report. The Permanent Representative underlined that the increase in opium production, methamphetamine, heroin supply and its illicit trafficking are one of the many ramifications of the illegal military coup in Myanmar. He said that the long-term solution is the restoration of democracy and rule of law in line with the aspiration of the people of Myanmar.
On 30 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 United Nations General Assembly Plenary Meeting on the Annual Report of the United Nations Security Council. The Permanent Representative said that all ongoing efforts including those of ASEAN need to be backed by the Security Council with enforceable actions with a particular focus on ending ongoing violence against the civilians. He stated that Myanmar could not agree more with an argument that is frequently heard – “we should not make the situation worse”. He stressed that responding to stop atrocities against civilians and war crimes in Myanmar, holding perpetrators of international crimes accountable and ending military impunity will not make the situation worse, and in fact, doing so will largely contribute to creating an environment conducive towards an eventual resolution in accordance with the people’s aspiration. The Permanent Representative requested the UN Security Council to pay serious attention to the expectations and aspirations of the people of Myanmar and take follow-up enforcement actions on the implementation of the resolution 2669 in order to save lives of the people of Myanmar.
On 30 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 United Nations General Assembly Plenary Meeting on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the Prevention of Genocide, War Crimes, Ethnic Cleansing and Crimes Against Humanity. The Permanent Representative requested the UN Security Council, individual member states and the neighbouring countries to protect the civilians in Myanmar by utilizing available tools suggested by the Secretary-General in his annual reports on R2P. On behalf of the people of Myanmar, the Permanent Representative urged all member states not to equip the inhumane military with the weapons and technologies for further war crimes and crimes against humanity against the people, not to help fund the military’s brutal campaign of terror and not to encourage the military junta by legitimizing their illegal attempted coup, and most importantly, to help Myanmar end the military impunity in the country by holding perpetrators of serious international crimes accountable. He stressed that the situation in Myanmar is a stark reminder of the challenges in ensuring accountability and justice in the world.
On 1 July 2023, H.E. Daw Zin Mar Aung, the Union Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government of Myanmar (NUG), attended the swearing-in ceremony of the new Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste held in Dili. In the speech of the President of Timor-Leste José Ramos-Horta, he expressed participation of number of foreign dignitaries including H.E. Daw Zin Mar Aung, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the NUG, and U Lin Thant, the NUG Representative to Czech Republic. During her visit to Timor Leste, Minister Daw Zin Mar Aung had cordial meetings with the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament, the Foreign Minister of Timor Leste, separately.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
On 25 June 2023, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, announced, that the Australia will provide $10.5 million to support 1.6 million affected people and to meet urgent humanitarian needs in Myanmar following Tropical Cyclone Mocha, through the United Nations-led response plan. It was said that this assistance will be provided to UN agencies and humanitarian partners to ensure that it does not directly benefit or legitimize the military regime.
The World Bank issued a Press Release on 27 June 2023, stating that economic activity is slowly increasing in Myanmar, but from a low base. According to the World Bank’s semi-annual Myanmar Economic Monitor, while economic conditions in Myanmar stabilized in the first half of 2023, businesses continue to face multiple challenges, household incomes remain weak, and food security has become an increasing concern. The World Bank Country Director for Myanmar, Cambodia and the Lao Mariam Sherman said, “While Myanmar is again making economic progress, the growth is unequal and the poorest are being hit hard by consecutive shocks. The Press Release said that food security and nutrition appear to have worsened during the first half of 2023, with coping mechanisms becoming increasingly strained. According to the World Bank Survey on May 2023, 48% of farming households worry about not having enough food, up from about 26% in May 2022.
On 29 June 2023, Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar released a Bulletin Issue 8, stating that there has been a dramatic increase in violence in Myanmar and the Mechanism has collected credible evidence of an array of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed across the country, including murder, rape, torture, unlawful imprisonment and deportation or forcible transfer. It was said that while gathering and analyzing evidence of serious international crimes following the military coup, the Mechanism remain focused on investigating earlier crimes and sharing evidence, information and analytical reports with those working on ongoing cases concerning the Rohingya at the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice and in Argentina. According to the Bulletin, the Mechanism is focusing all its efforts to ensure that there will be justice for these heinous crimes and serious international crimes have no statute of limitations and the Mechanism is working to ensure that those responsible for these crimes will one day be held accountable.
At the United Nations Daily Press Briefing on 30 June 2023, the Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq expressed remarks on Myanmar. He said that according to the report published by the UN Human Rights Office on 30 June, the overall humanitarian and human rights situation of Myanmar has deteriorated to alarming levels, and the situation becomes worsened by the military’s strategy to prevent life-saving humanitarian aid from reaching those who desperately need it, including in the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha in May.
At the comprehensive human rights update for Myanmar held on 30 June 2023, the Spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) Ravina Shamdasani said that the military has operated as if those providing aid are helping those opposed to their rule, rather than respecting their need for protection and facilitating their access and assistance to the civilian population in a time of crisis. The Spokesperson underlined that the already dire situation on the ground has been compounded by the military’s restrictions on aid imposed in the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha in May, bringing further suffering and misery to wide swathes of the population in the west and northwest of the country. According to the Report published by the UN Human Rights Office, the Spokesperson stressed that the intentional obstruction or denial of humanitarian assistance may amount to gross violations of international human rights law, and serious violations of international humanitarian law.
On 30 June 2023, James Rodehaver, the Spokesperson of OHCHR Myanmar Team said that following the military coup, the military rulers have been instilling a “climate of fear” to subjugate the civilian population, restricting aid access and using “all means” at their disposal to clamp down on civil society. The Spokesperson stressed that the military conducted airstrikes, used heavy weaponry and landmines and committed the acts of burning the villages and houses, as well as imposed further restrictions on humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of deadly Cyclone Mocha in May.
Date: 2 July 2023
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York