Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (20 November 2022)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
Over twenty-one 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 18 November 2022, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 2,519 people have been ruthlessly killed by the military, whereas 16,275 people have been arrested and a total of 128 individuals have been sentenced to death, of which 86 (including two children) are detained 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 given to death sentence were executed by the military junta in July 2022.
Atrocities committed by the military
Raiding, Looting, Abducting, Killing and Torching in Sagaing Region
On 7 November 2022, during a military offensive operation approaching Wet Pyit Village, Ayadaw Township, Sagaing Region, the junta forces took two villagers, Phoe La Pyae and Sein Thant as hostages. According to the news, the bodies of these two villagers were found near Kywe Chan village on Ayadaw-War Taw Ma road with their hands tied. They were believed to be shot dead in the head at close range.
According to the news, on 7 November 2022, junta soldiers, reportedly disguised as resistance fighters seeking medical assistance, arrived unannounced in Pa Lon Twi Village, Mindat Township, Chin State. They occupied the village until the early hours of 10 November 2022, after which charred human remains were found by members of the Chin Defence Force (CDF). Fragments of human skulls and other bones were discovered amongst ashes when they cleared the area. A member of the CDF said that the junta troops burned the bodies and crushed the bones so that no one would figure out the exact number of victims. Following the attack, nine people went missing from the area, including three local men from the village and six internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the neighbouring Yaw Region, which comprises Gangaw, Htilin and Saw Townships in Magway. Following junta raids on Yaw villages, many IDPs had sought refuge in Pa Lon Twi. The junta forces reportedly took 40 villagers, including women and children, as hostages. The troops released the women and children but continued to hold seven men: one local and six IDPs from Yaw. According to a statement released by the CDF-Mindat, those hostages were last seen with their hands tied behind their backs on 8 November 2022.
On 7 November 2022, the junta forces launched arson attacks on at least eight villages in Myaung Township, Sagaing Region. The attacks were launched one day after the local guerrilla fighters ambushed and seized a junta vessel, loaded with military rations, travelling upstream along the Chindwin River. According to a representative of CDSOM, members of the resistance alliance later distributed the confiscated rice to locals. The next day, around 300 Myanmar army troops based in Yesagyo Township launched raids onto villages near the confluence. Each of those villages has around 400 to 600 households. In Na Nwin Kaing Village, the soldiers torched some 300 homes, and a woman in her 60s was reportedly killed. Residents of the area fled and have since been sheltering in monasteries in other nearby communities.
According to the news, Myanmar junta troops began raids and attacks to the villages of Wetlet, Ye-U and Budalin Townships of Sagaing Region on 9 November 2022. During those raids and attacks, they killed at least 14 people, including a 14-year-old boy. News reported that, according to the local defence team, on 13 November 2022, around 60 junta soldiers raided Htan Gyi Village of Wetlet Township. The junta forces reportedly initiated the raid from the area near the train station, firing on the village with heavy artillery before entering it and beginning their arson attacks. They killed at least five people and torched around 300 homes. According to the leader of the local defence team, the bodies of the deceased were found in two houses that had been set on fire by the junta forces. One victim was a 50-year-old resident who was ill and unable to flee the village when the soldiers arrived.
On 11 November 2022, around 60 junta soldiers launched an offensive in villages near Si Thar Myay village. During those attacks, they reportedly beat to death a man over 50-years-old from Pan Kone Village, and a man from Kan Pauk Village.
Killing innocent civilians
On 5 November 2022, Hein Min Kyaw, a worker from Yuzana palm oil factory in Bodar Village, Bokpyin township in Tanintharyi Region, was arrested by the junta soldiers while he was using a phone at the entrance of Bodar Village. Four days later, on 9 November 2022, Hein Min Kyaw’s body, with a shot in the head, was found near Bodar Village. His belongings at the time of arrest - two phones, a gold ring, and some money were all taken by the soldiers.
Arbitrary arrests and torture
News reported that the junta forces have imposed hefty fines on the relatives of four administrators who fled their village in Pauk Township, Magway Region to avoid joining a military-backed militia. These four 10-household administrators in their 30s, left Yar Gyi Pyin Village in early November when they heard that the military was planning to recruit them as members of the pro-junta Pyu Saw Htee militia. In the first week of November, the junta troops arrived to Yar Gyi Pyin Village to provide training to new recruits. According to the villager, the parents and grandparents of those administrators who stayed behind in the village were asked to pay 500,000 kyat [$240] each month. According to the Yar Gyi Pyin resident, around 30 families have left the village since the military arrived. Most of those who remain are junta supporters. The junta soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee leaders have looted the homes of those who fled.
Airstrikes and heavy artillery targeting civilian areas
On 11 November 2022, two villagers, Aye Soe Thein and Kyar Chay, from Di Par Yone Village, Ponnagyun Township in Rakhine State, were killed by the junta’s artillery shell. They were on their way back to the village from releasing cows when an artillery shell exploded close to them. According to the news report, Aye Soe Thien was fatally injured in the head at the time of the explosion, and Kyar Chay was seriously injured and died on the way to the hospital.
According to the news report, on 15 November 2022, an artillery shell fired by junta forces landed and exploded on a nursery school in Demoso Township, Kayah State. As a result, a five-year-old girl was killed and her eight family members were injured. The girl and her family had been sheltering at the kindergarten since fleeing their home in Kone Thar Village five months ago. At the time of reporting, most of the family members of the girl suffered only minor injuries, but her 10-month-old brother was said to be in critical condition from an injury to his back. According to the Demoso Township People’s Defence Force (PDF), junta troops from Infantry Battalion (IB) 102 based in Ngwe Taung Village fired 120mm artillery shells at least 10 times. According to a report by the local news agency Karenni’s Voice, a total of 24 civilians were injured by Myanmar military shelling in the first half of November in Karenni State’s Loikaw and Demoso Townships and Pekon Township in southern Shan State.
On the night of 15 November 2022, an artillery shell fired by the junta forces landed and exploded in front of Moe Hein Drinking Water Business building, in Kyaw Bote Ward, Hakha Town, Chin State. This shelling instantly killed 14-year-old Shalom Van and seriously injured two men.
On 16 November 2022, four children and eleven locals died, and at least 24 were injured, when the artillery weapons fired from No.24 Kyein Chaung Inspection Gate and No.7 Border Guard Police Division in Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State, exploded onto Gyake Chaung Village, Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State. According to the locals, many of the casualties were attending a religious ceremony at a house in the village when it was hit by one of the shells.
On the same day, the junta troops based in Kan Sout Village, Kyauktaw Township, Rakhine State fired a heavy weaponry into the Chaung Tu Village with around 270 households. Due to this shelling and its explosion in the village, three locals died instantly, and at least three more were injured. The three locals killed are Khin Maung, Aung Kyi Maung and Phyu Thar Tun. Most of the victims were older people who were sitting outside drinking tea when the shelling began, said one local woman. According to the residents of both Maungdaw and Kyauktaw Township, the reason for the attacks is unknown since there had been no fighting between the military and the Arakan Army (AA) in recent days.
Also on 16 November 2022, two military aircraft bombed a mine in Kyainseikgyi Township, Karen (Kayin) State. According to the Karen National Union (KNU), the attack targeted a lead mine in Thapyu Village, located about 35km north of the Thai-Myanmar border town of Payathonzu, and it killed three workers and injured six others. According to news reports, the area attacked (Dooplaya District) is within territory controlled by Brigade 6 of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), an armed wing of the KNU. The bombing damaged two residential buildings, a garage, a dining hall and several vehicles.
Critical health situation of anti-military activists in prison
According to news, Wutyi Aung, executive of Dagon University Students’ Union, has been in critical health condition. She was arrested on 14 September 2021, and detained in Insein Prison. She was sentenced to serve three years in prison, on the charge of Penal Code Section 505(a), and she is still facing charges under Counter-Terrorism Law Section 52(a). Within three months of her detainment, she suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack (minor stroke) and sought treatment at a prison hospital. Due to injuries sustained during interrogation, a possible brain tumor was discovered. Although her family sent an application for her to receive a medical checkup, the request was denied. She was transported to Daik-U Prison on 24 April 2022 and moved back to Insein Prison on 24 October 2022. Reportedly, her health remains in critical condition, frequently suffering long periods of unconsciousness.
Death of CDM healthcare worker in prison
According to the news, Poe Thandar Aung, a midwife who was arrested during a crackdown on healthcare workers in Mandalay on 29 October 2022, has died in junta custody on 14 November 2022. She had worked at the Central Women’s Hospital in Mandalay and was arrested along with others accused of sending medical supplies to anti-junta forces. At the time of reporting, reports of her death were not able to be confirmed with her relatives.
Release of some political prisoners
On 17 November 2022, military junta released a total of 5,744 prisoners, including a limited number of political detainees and prominent foreigners, as part of a general amnesty. Among those released were the detainees arrested under Section 505(a) of the Penal Code, Sean Turnell, an Australian economist who has been detained since the regime seized power in February 2021; Vicky Bowman, a former British ambassador to Myanmar who was arrested in August 2022; and Toru Kubota, Japanese filmmaker. All the foreigners included in the amnesty were then deported. The junta has also dropped charges against 11 Myanmar celebrities convicted in absentia for their role in opposing the military takeover, the reports added. Among the prisoners released were Veteran democracy activist Mya Aye, National League for Democracy spokesperson Dr. Myo Nyunt, NLD legal advisor Kyaw Ho, Satirist Maung Thar Cho, and junta critic Ven. Pyinya Thiha, also known as Shwe Nya Wah Sayadaw.
Regardless of the junta’s vicious suppressions, the anti-military protests and strikes have been continued in different areas of Myanmar. On 13 November 2022, despite the tight security in Yangon, members of the anti-regime resistance group Yangon Revolution Force (YRF) staged flash mob-style solo protests across the city by briefly displaying anti-dictatorship slogans printed in paint on the inside layer of their folded longyis. In a statement issued by the YRF later that day, those “performances” reflected the sentiments of the general public who are prohibited from expressing opposition to the junta. The performances of the youths, which were photographed and distributed on the social media, attracted attention because of the creativity and risk involved as the military continues to respond to dissent with violence.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 13 November 2022, the Ministry of Justice launched a reporting mechanism for SAC’s crimes. It is an initiative to encourage and empower citizens to record and report any loss of life or property as a result of terrorism and violence. It invites the citizens to participate the mechanism by sending evidence of losses due to the SAC’s and armed forces’ terrorism and violence which happened in their areas either via emails or through mobile applications, such as Signal, Telegram, and Viber.
On 14 November 2022, the National Unity Government issued Weekly Newsletter No. 29/2022, which contained articles relating to the NUG’s activities. Those articles included the NUG seeking ASEAN’s support on the serious roadmap for the future Myanmar prepared in the interest of the entire region, the NUG urging ASEAN leaders to take Six Actions, the NUG welcoming EU and US sanctions against the military junta and its cronies, the NUG Foreign Minister’s remarks at the Global Townhall 2022 event, and the Statement by the NUG Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation “NUG in partnership with ethnic revolutionary actors make efforts to climate change mitigation, and natural resources utilization and conservation”.
On 16 November 2022, H.E. Mr. Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations, delivered two statements: general statement and explanation of vote after the vote, during the consideration of the draft resolution A/C.3/77/L.33: “Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar” at the Third Committee of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly. In his statement, he reiterated that Myanmar will act on the recommendations of the resolution, while expressing the continued implementation of the commitments outlined in the policy position on Rohingya issued by the National Unity Government of Myanmar in June 2021. He stressed that this resolution has been supported with the belief to put all the efforts to protect the human rights of all people in Myanmar, including the Rohingyas and other minorities; to ensure the humanitarian access is reached to the affected communities without any restrictions; and to guarantee safe, dignified and voluntary repatriation process for those forcibly displaced inside and outside Myanmar. He underlined that it is important to note that all the efforts in protection of the rights of all people in Myanmar, including Rohingyas, would be in vain if the root causes are not well-addressed and the military, who is main perpetrators behind all those problems, not held accountable. He suggested that the General Assembly should therefore complement the adopted resolution with another one, run concurrently, that more fully addresses the scale, gravity and impact of the junta’s actions on all of Myanmar’s peoples and on the region. He added that this new text should also direct stronger demands to the international community aimed at protecting all communities, advancing the people’s democratic will, and dismantling the criminal junta. He called upon all member states and the UN for an immediate and decisive action to end the military dictatorship and all of its atrocities and to bring back democracy to all people in Myanmar.
On 18 November 2022, the NUG released a statement on the release of political prisoners arbitrarily detained by terrorist military. In the statement, it was highlighted that the freedom of some political prisoners from arbitrary detention on 17 November 2022 was a symbol of the people’s victory after nearly two years of nationwide struggle by people of all ethnicities combined with the sustained international pressure. While appreciating the release of some political prisoners, the NUG offered a reminder that those people freed were unjustly detained in the first place and that thousands of political activists remain in detention and several of them lost their lives or have been killed during the interrogations and in prison. The NUG thanked the revolution forces of different ethnic regions, strike groups and allied ethnic revolution organizations. It also appreciated the international community for not recognizing the terrorist military and for standing with the Myanmar people. The NUG reiterated its commitment to continue to fight together with all ethnic allied organizations until the ultimate common goal of a federal democratic union is achieved.
On 20 November 2022, the Ministry of Human Rights and the Ministry of Women, Youths and Children Affairs released a joint statement (1/2022) regarding the death of the children and villagers due to the heavy weaponry fired by the junta forces onto the Gyate Chaung Village, Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State. In the statement, it was stated that the heavy weaponry fired by the junta troops onto Gyate Chaung Village on 16 November 2022 killed four children and eleven civilians while injured 27 villagers. It also informed that on the same day, the artillery weapons of the military junta fired onto Chaungtu Village, Kyauktaw Township, Rakhine State, killing four men and injuring two women. It stated that the terrorist junta’s attacks with the heavy artilleries onto the civilian area across Myanmar is committing crimes against humanity and thus violating the provisions of the Geneva Conventions. By referring to the UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/54/263, the NUG appealed the United Nations, ASEAN and international organizations to condemn those targeting and attacking the children in the armed conflicts, and to compose sanction against the companies which import or trade arms to the terrorist junta. Underlining that ignoring the criminal acts of the junta is indirectly supporting the junta to continue committing those acts, the NUG urged the UN and international community to avoid any acts that favor or support the acts of the terrorist junta. The NUG further requested to urgently cooperate with the NUG to stop the junta’s crimes and to bring justice for Myanmar.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
On 12 November 2022, at a press conference during the ASEAN Summit in Phenom Penh, Cambodia, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on Myanmar’s junta to return the country to a democracy. Guterres said that the current crisis in Myanmar is an unending nightmare for the people as well as undermining peace and stability in the region. He called for the generals to release all political prisoners and return to democracy.
During an interview with reporters on 13 November 2022 in Cambodia, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. of the Philippines said that calls have been made to remove Myanmar from ASEAN after it failed to observe the five-point consensus laid out in 2021. Marcos said that his stand was to allow space for discussions first with locals, those in power in Myanmar and anyone who is interested to talk things out. Marcos explained there were different positions on whether Myanmar should be removed from ASEAN and whether how much of an engagement or leeway would be given. However, he mentioned that none of the member-states wanted to engage with the generals of the military junta.
Malaysia Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah said that Malaysia does not support the elections to be held in Myanmar next year as promised by the country’s military junta. During a press conference via the social media Facebook Live, he said this was because the military junta amended some election rules that were seen as biased and not approved by other stakeholders. Malaysia is committed to ensuring that Myanmar returns as a democratic country, to be more stable in the future. He added that it is not morally right for the junta government to talk about the elections because the previous elections held in Myanmar were recognised as being largely free and fair by international observers. The pro-democracy group that won the previous election won big, but before they could convene Parliament the junta took over power. Therefore, it is completely illogical for Malaysia and ASEAN to support the election. Underlining that there are many NGOs that want to channel humanitarian aid, but refuse to cooperate with the Myanmar junta, he said that Malaysia supports the NUG’s proposal that a forum consisting of various countries be set up.
On 17 November 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation of Cambodia issued a Statement of the Special Envoy of the Chair of ASEAN on the Recent Mass Release of Prisoners in Myanmar. In the statement, the Special Envoy welcomed the recent prisoner release, including Mr. Kyaw Tint Swe, former Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor; Mr. Mya Aye, 8888 generation for pro-democracy activist; Dr. Myo Nyunt, member of the central executive committee and spokesperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD); U Thein Oo, NLD central executive committee member; U Kyaw Ho, NLD legal advisor; Mrs. Vicky Bowman, United Kingdom’s former Ambassador to Myanmar, and her spouse; Professor Sean Turnell; Mr. Toru Kubota, Japanese journalist and film producer; and Mr. Kyaw Htay Oo, a U.S. Citizen. It was stated that the Special Envoy considered this mass release as an important gesture in the right direction to create a conductive environment for the commencement of a dialogue process among all concerned parties in Myanmar. It is a sign of good will in pursuing a peaceful solution to the current crisis, and a positive development in line with the spirit and aspiration of the Five-Point Consensus reached at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting on 24 April 2021. It is hoped that more progress can be achieved on the three priorities of the Five-Point Consensus, namely ending violence, facilitation of humanitarian assistance delivery and building trust and confidence for an inclusive peace dialogue.
On the same day, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation of Cambodia issued a press release regarding the Report of the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar to the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits. In the report, the two working visits of the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair (SEAC) to Myanmar including its activities, and the discussions were explained. It was mentioned in the report that the commencement of the political dialogue is the most difficult among the five points, and even Myanmar’s key actors themselves also thought that it is not yet the right time to bring everyone to the table. Based on the experiences and exchanges made during his tenure, the SEAC made 7-point suggestions for the purpose of facilitating and supporting the works of the incoming Special Envoy: (1) the 5PC should be accompanied by a concrete implementation plan, (2) conditions applied to the SAC should also be applied to all concerned parties, (3) ASEAN needs to press the SAC, the NUG and other parties to compromise on their preconditions, (4) concerned parties need to be clearly identified and defined, (5) restoring normal engagements with Myanmar should be based on the progress of the implementation of the 5PC, not on other factors that are outside this framework, (6) the roles of the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair in humanitarian assistance should be added to the 5PC or the implementation plan, and (7) the Secretary-General of ASEAN and the AHA Centre should be empowered with an appropriate degree of autonomy for a specific period of time.
The international community welcomed the amnesty and release of the prisoners on 17 November 2022 by issuing statements. Among them, the Canada Embassy in Myanmar posted on Social Media Facebook on 18 November 2022. In the statement, Canada welcomes reports of amnesty and release of close to 6,000 prisoners including more than 700 political prisoners, on 17 November in Myanmar, and hopes that the freed detainees will soon and safely be reunited with their loved ones. It also welcomes the release and safe return to their home countries of those foreigners who had been among those arbitrarily detained. It stressed that Canada continues to call for the release of all political prisoners and those who remain arbitrarily and unjustly detained in Myanmar.
On 17 November 2022, the U.S. Statement Department released a press statement by Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State regarding the release of U.S. Citizen Kyaw Htay Oo. In the statement, it said that the U.S. welcomes the release of U.S. citizen Kyaw Htay Oo from prison in Burma, where he was wrongfully detained for more than 14 months. The U.S. extends its deep appreciation to the allies and partners who joined in pressing Burma’s military regime to release him. The U.S. also welcomes the release of a number of political prisoners and other foreign detainees and continue to call for the release of the many thousands of political prisoners who remain in Burma.
On 17 November 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued the Weekly Highlights of Myanmar South East - Emergency Overview Map. In the highlights, it explained that in the South-East, the number of IDPs increased from 304,300 last week to 316,400 this week. Clashes and indiscriminate shelling were reported in Bago Region (East) and Tanintharyi Region, forcing people to flee into the jungle and nearby villages to seek safety. It informed that about 8,400 people fled from three tracts in Shwegyin Township, Bago Region (East) while about 5,500 people were displaced from two village tracts in Palaw Township, Tanintharyi Region. It underlined that the situation in Bago Region (East) and Tanintharyi Region continues to deteriorate and may lead to more displacement. It stated that in Kayin State’s Kawkareik and Myawaddy Townships, armed conflict has been affecting both areas since the last week of October. About 200 IDPs were verified in Kawkareik Township with many more yet to be verified. It also added that in Kayah State and Shan State (South), returns continue to be reported. In Pekon Township, Shan State (South), 350 IDPs returned to their place of origin in Loikaw Township, Kayah State. About 1,700 IDPs also returned to places of origin within Loikaw Township following several months of displacement in Loikaw town and nearby villages.
On 19 November 2022, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer called for the release of all children and political prisoners in Myanmar. Being encouraged by the announcement of the mass release of detainees in Myanmar, she reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for the immediate release of all of those who continue to be arbitrarily detained, including President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. She reinforced her call for the release of all children and political prisoners who are being detained in prisons or other facilities in Myanmar. In the statement, the Special Envoy also appreciated the continued support from Member States including in the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly that have echoed calls for the immediate release of all political detainees and strongly condemned arbitrary detention, arrest and politically motivated convictions, sentencing and executions, including of opposition activists.
Date: 20 November 2022
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York