Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (20 February 2022)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
One year 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 the people suffer with inhumane and disproportionate actions.
As of 18 February 2022, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 1,560 people were ruthlessly killed by the military, whereas 12,228 people have been arrested, 9,215 people remain in detention, and 1,973 people have been issued with warrants since 1 February 2021, when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians.
The Military killing Local Resistance Members in Sagaing Region
According to Myanmar Now News, military forces in plainclothes attacked the resistance group near the village of Myo Thit in Khin-U Township of Sagaing Region on 17 February 2022. Due to this attack, some 14 members of the local resistance force were killed, and five more members were also injured.
Local residents said that the military group consisting of 80 soldiers and pro-military members of the network named “Pyu Saw Htee” arrived at Myo Thit in four cars and eight motorcycles on the day of attack, and they were not dressed in uniforms. It is reported that when the local resistance members checked their arrival, they were outgunned and attacked. A local resident who witnessed the incident said that the bullets used by the military forces could go further than the typical 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm bullets.
Intense Fighting in Southern Shan State Town of Moebye
Myanmar Now news reported that the fighting between a coalition of local resistance groups and the military forces has been fierce in Moebye Town located in the southern Shan State during the third week of February 2022, after it broke out when the military forces consisting of 300 soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 66 arrived in the town with two tanks on 15 February 2022. According to the resistance fighters from People’s Defence force (PDF), the battles were still raging on 18 February 2022, and as a result, at least 15 civilian fighters have been killed amid intense fighting and at least seven civilians, including a child, were injured due to the heavy weaponry fired by the military.
It is reported that the military has bombarded the town with airstrikes and tank munitions, and the military’s two jets dropped bombs on the town seven times, while the resistance forces fought back by using old or handmade rifles. In addition, the military used heavy weapons, conducting shelling and aerial bombings. A Moebye PDF spokesperson said that the resistance fighters suffered heavier casualties than usual due to the use of heavy weaponry and airstrikes by the military. According to the Progressive Karenni People Force, 40 trucks full of soldiers were sent by the military as reinforcements from Taunggyi to Moebye on 18 February 2022.
The Military Sentencing Civilians to Imprisonment
According to AAPP, Myawaddy Township Court sentenced a 16-year-old civilian named Ei Sandar Kyaw to five years imprisonment under Section 50(i) of the Counter-terrorism Law on 15 February 2022. She was arrested on April 25, 2021.
AAPP news reported on 17 February 2022, the special court in Dawei Prison sentenced two civilians – Ei Chue Chue Maw, first-year student majoring in English in Tanintharyi Region’s Dawei University, and Lin Let Kyi, first-year student of Nationalities Youth Resource Development Degree College in Sagaing – to seven years imprisonment with hard labour under Section 52(b) of the Counter-terrorism Law. It is reported that they were arrested at their homes in Heindra Pyin Village and Heindra Village in Myitta Subtownship of Tanintharyi Region on 5 November 2021, for donating 5,000 Kyat each for IDPs through KBZ Pay around June 2021.
The Military Arresting Civilians in Mandalay Region
According to credible local news, the military forces raided Na Nwin Taw Bo, located in Natogyi Township of Mandalay Region, and arrested 24 people on 15 February 2022. Locals said that the military group with 50 troops stormed the community one day after the local resistance members from the People’s Defence Force (PDF) attacked 13 military troops who were guarding an off-take station along major Chinese oil and gas pipelines, located 15 miles from the Village.
A local eyewitness said that when the military forces raided the village, they had a list of targeted people, and accused them of belonging to or funding the PDF. In addition, the military forces committed brutal acts of breaking the front doors of houses, starting from those on the eastern edge of the village, taking the civilians included on the target list, and only targeting the houses with the supporters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
According to local villagers, those detained were taken to the community hall in the centre of the community. At night, the military let them return home to pick up their clothes, water and medications, and then the detainees were taken away in a military truck.
The Military Confiscating the Property of Citizens
Credible news reports stated that the military is increasingly confiscating houses and properties of the celebrities, social influencers, and citizens who support the anti-coup movement.
The Irrawaddy news agency reported that on 13 February 2022 the military confiscated the home of Ko Thalun Zaung Htet, who is the editor-in-chief of Khit Thit Media and who also faces several harsh charges. The home of a celebrity couple, Lynn Lynn and Chit Thu Wai, located in Thingangyun Township in Yangon, was been sealed off by the military on 15 February 2022. The couple has joined the anti-coup movement following the military coup and has been issued with warrants for alleged incitement related to their anti-coup activities.
It is further reported that the military raided and sealed off all the properties of the Mahar Rescue Group which is providing free health care to those who suffer from COVID-19 in Mandalay, because this group is associating with People’s Defense Forces, and during the military’s raid at least eight members of the group were detained.
According to BBC Burmese news, the military confiscated the house of Vocalist Chan Chan on 19 February 2022, and the vocalist has been charged under the Counter-terrorism Law. It is also reported that the house of Presenter Maung Maung Aye was sealed off.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 15 February 2022, the National Unity Government issued Announcement of the Legal Counsel for the Gambia-Myanmar case at the International Court of Justice. It announces the new legal team to work with Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun and the National Unity Government to take forward Myanmar’s case. This team consists of:
- Professor Jean-Marc Thouvenin, Secretary-General of The Hague Academy of International Law, Associate Member of the Institut de Droit International, and Professor at the University Paris Nanterre. He is Member of the Board of the French Society for International Law and of the Editorial Board of the Annuaire Français de Droit International. He is a Partner of the Paris Law Firm Sygna Partners, and since 1992 has acted and acts as counsel and advocate before the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and the European Court of Justice.
- Steven Powles QC, a specialist criminal lawyer in international courts with particular expertise in human rights, false imprisonment and war crimes. He has appeared before the European Court of Human Rights and other international tribunals, and is the author of a leading practitioner text on international law.
The announcement stated that the National Unity Government continues to gather and submit evidence of human rights abuses. It has granted jurisdiction to the International Criminal Court for all crimes covered by the Rome Statute since 2002, and it seeks the support of all those who care about human rights and justice to work with it for the good of the people of Myanmar.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
In the United Nation daily press briefing on 16 February 2022, the Spokesman for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric said that the UN Country Team in Myanmar remains concerned over the deteriorating security, humanitarian and human rights situations due to heightened conflict, and the situation in the country had led to further loss of civilian lives and the destruction of homes and livelihoods, resulting in a surge in internal and cross-border displacement. The Spokesman added that according to UNHCR, the total number of men, women and children, who remain displaced due to conflict and insecurity following the military coup, stands at 438,800, and this amount is in addition to 370,000 people who were already internally displaced due to conflict before the military coup. He stressed the humanitarian community in Myanmar continues to reiterate their call for safe and unhindered humanitarian access to those in need, and the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan aims to reach a record 6.2 million people, which the UN needs $826 million to achieve.
On 15 February 2022, the human rights organization Fortify Rights published a flash report on “Ongoing War Crimes in Karenni (Kayah) State, Myanmar: May 2021 to January 2022”, which documented the military’s massacre and other atrocities against civilians, and the military’s attacks on churches, homes, camps for displaced people. Regional Director of Fortify Rights Ismail Wolff said, “The Myanmar military is murdering people with weapons procured on the global market, and that must stop.” Fortify Rights recommends that the member states of ASEAN support the establishment of a global arms embargo mandated by the UN Security Council, which prohibits the sale of weapons and dual-use technology to the Myanmar military.
On 18 February 2022, the Chairman of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat (AMM) issued a Press Statement on Myanmar, reaffirming the continued support, commitment and readiness of ASEAN to help Myanmar in accordance with the will of the people of Myanmar on the basis of the five-point consensus and the ASEAN Charter. The statement called for the immediate cessation of violence in the country and constructive dialogue to seek a peaceful solution. It is also mentioned that ASEAN supported the progress in the effective delivery of ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance, including through the AHA Centre, to those in need in Myanmar. The member States of ASEAN welcomed the endorsement of H.E. PRAK Sokhonn as the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar, and they called on the authorities in Myanmar to facilitate the missions of the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair, beginning with the first visit to Myanmar as soon as possible in order to move forward the implementation of the five-point consensus.
Date: 20 February 2022
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York