Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (21 August 2022)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
Nineteen 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 19 August 2022, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 2,227 people have been ruthlessly killed by the military, whereas 15,161 people have been arrested and a total of 129 individuals have been sentenced to death since 1 February 2021, when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians. Among those 129 individuals, 83 (including 2 children) were detained, 42 were sentenced in absentia, and four pro-democracy activists were detained and executed on 25 July 2022.
Atrocities committed by the military
Raiding, Torching, Abducting and Killing local villagers in Sagaing Region
On 11 August 2022, the regime troops besieged Yin Paung Taing Village, Yinmabin Township, Sagaing Region. The attack started with the launch of airstrikes and continued as a ground offensive. It was reported that locals and resistance fighters who returned to the village after the troops had left initially found the bodies of 12 slain civilians, all of whom were identifiable. On 15 August 2022, six more people were found dead whose identities were not confirmed as of the time of reporting. According to one of the villagers in the search team, nine of the first 12 bodies had wounds that appeared to have been caused by light and heavy weaponry. Among the 18 victims were two children: one 10-year-old girl and one 17-year-old boy. According to the locals, six of those victims, including the 10-year-old girl, had suffered burns, whereas two other elderly women, both aged 85, are believed to have died of starvation as they hid in the village during the raid. It was also reported that one of the victims, a 67-year-old man, died from respiratory issues while fleeing the junta attack. At least 15 motorcycles and one truck, as well as two vehicle repair garages, were also destroyed. Those who remained trapped in Yin Paung Taing during the raid were among the community’s most vulnerable residents, including the sick and elderly, many of whom were injured in the siege and held hostage by the military. When the junta soldiers left Yin Paung Taing at around 6am on Sunday, they released the women and elderly residents who they had held captive, but took 24 men with them as hostages. According to members of local defence forces, the junta troops, who were accompanied by some 70 pro-junta militia members, headed west and a fighter jet fired at villages in their path to “clear” the area in preparation for the military column’s departure. Following those actions, hundreds of residents reportedly fled from the communities of Pu Htoe Thar and Mon Thwin, both located along the road travelled by the junta forces.
On 16 August 2022, a military column raided and set fire to the Urban Guerrilla Camp near Lay Eain Su Village in Kale Township, Sagaing Region. They shot two farmers, who were farming near the camp at the time, to death.
After a three-day rampage by junta forces in Mu Kan Gyi Village, Depayin Township, Sagaing Region, had ended on 17 August 2022, the local residents said that some building were still burning until 19 August 2022, and much of the village was reduced to ashes and was largely in ruins. According to the residents, around 100 junta soldiers carried out the arson attacks and mainly targeted the larger homes and businesses in the prosperous village. According to local defence forces, the junta troops that carried out the arson attacks on Mu Kan Gyi are from Light Infantry Battalion 376, stationed in Kyauk Taw Village. Mu Kan Gyi was previously raided on 24 June 2022, when some 200 houses were destroyed by fire and one member of a resistance group was killed.
On 17 August 2022, a 62-year-old local from Zee Taw Village in Kale Township, Sagaing Region, was killed when the junta fired artillery shells into the village.
Raiding, torching, abducting and killings in the villages of Magway Region
On 12 August 2022, Ye Win Naing, a local villager, was tortured to death by Junta soldiers who had raided and set fire to Shar Say Chat Village in Pauk Township, Magway Region. His injuries included a severely beaten head, broken fingers, and pierced eyes.
According to the news, during the third week of August, junta troops carried out a series of raids in villages of Yesagyo Township, Magway Region. During those raids, junta troops killed at least three people, including two elderly villagers. It was reported that the military column of around 50 soldiers stationing in Min Village began their attacks on two nearby villages on 15 August 2022. Hlaykhoke Village was targeted first and was subjected to three days of arson attacks that left more than a quarter of its 560 homes in ruins. According to the local news, several dozen villagers were unable to escape the raid and were held at a local monastery until the soldiers left on 17 August 2022. Two local elderly people with disabilities, a 90-year-old blind man and an 83-year-old paraplegic woman were burned to death after their homes were set on fire. A third victim was from neighbouring village of Chan Yar and was shot dead as the soldiers were leaving the village on Wednesday morning. After leaving Hlaykhoke, the junta column proceeded to Nga Ta Yaw village of Magway Township. Although no civilian casualties have been reported in Nga Ta Yaw, a Yesagyo PDF spokesperson said that the regime soldiers had set fire to almost the entire village.
Killing innocent civilians
On 8 August 2022, at around 7 PM, a local youth named Linn Linn Naing (aka Nge Lay) from Kale Township, Sagaing Region was fatally shot by the junta forces stationed at No.8 High School’s yard in San Myot Ward, Kale Township. It was reported that he was on his way by motorbike to his relative’s house for a sleepover with his friend when he was seen and shot.
In the morning of 9 August 2022, Thoe Reh, a 60-year-old villager from Dawse Village, Loikaw Township, Kayah State, was killed when the clinic he was visiting for medical treatment in Daw Par Pa Village, east of Loilen Lay Town, was hit by a military airstrike.
On 14 August 2022, during the raid by junta forces at Haing Hmarl Village, Tedim Township, Chin State, the forces fired into the village with various weaponry, set eight households on fire and captured two siblings, 17-year-old Lal Nun Puii and 15-year-old Lal Ruat Mawia at their house. It was reported that the two young victims were shot dead somewhere between Haing Hmarl and Ri Kaw Darl Town. Their bodies were discovered on 16 August 2022.
In the morning of 14 August 2022, Myo Kyaw, State Hluttaw Representative from Hopin Town, Kachin State, and Sai Maung, a strike leader from Hpakant Township, were arrested at 21 Mile Checkpoint, Myitkyina Township. They were stopped at the checkpoint while going to Mandalay from Myitkyina, and were arrested after junta forces checked Sai Maung’s phone and bag and found information related to the National Unity Government (NUG).
On 20 August 2022, a member of Umbrella Strike on 8 August and a photographer who recorded the activities of the strike were brutally arrested by the junta.
Arbitrary arrests of CDM staff and their family members
On 13 August 2022, Sabae Aung Aung, a CDM teacher, and her husband Wai Paing Phyo, were arrested at their house in Kanyin Ngu Village in Myanaung Township, Ayeyarwady Region.
Actions taken against the imprisoned student leaders
According to a spokesperson for the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), on 17 August 2022, a 26-year-old student leader Naung Htet Aung, the former chairman of the Yangon University of Education Students’ Union, was handed an additional three years sentence without trial for staging a hunger strike in the prison. Together with him, Naing Thiha Kyaw, a member of the Basic Education General Strike Committee (BEGSC) was also sentenced in absentia. The hunger strike was begun on 1 August 2022 to protest the execution of prominent regime opponents Phyo Zayar Thaw and Ko Jimmy (@Kyaw Min Yu), and two other prisoners in late July. It was reported that Naung Htet Aung and the other hunger strikers sustained serious injuries in the crackdown and on 16 August 2022, a day before the sentence, Naung Htet Aung was brutally beaten, including with slingshots and tasers. He was placed in solitary confinement when he received the sentence. Another 15 political prisoners were also put in solitary confinement. Naung Htet Aung was arrested in Mandalay in November 2021.
Protests and strikes against the terrorist military junta have continued all over the country with the participation of 100 groups of diverse groups of people. During the week of 15 to 21 August 2022, protests and strikes were mainly held in Myaing Township, Sagaing Region and Yangon Region.
On 16 August 2022 and on 18 August 2022, in Myaing Township, strikes supporting the Hunger Strikes in prisons were held by the Strike Committee and the local people. During the strikes, people held banners which wrote that “We don’t accept the killings and violence in prisons”.
On 18 August 2022, in downtown Yangon, anti-military protests were held by the youth protestors. According to the news, the protest was held both to express opposition to the terrorist military and to deliver a message to the international community. The message to the international community, including the United Nations and ASEAN, stated that the people of Myanmar are very concerned about the actions and responses of the international community regarding the situation in Myanmar; while the international community is busy and occupied with the statements, announcements, visits and meetings which concerned and condemned the situation of Myanmar, several lives were killed and properties destroyed; if the international community really sympathizes with the lives of Myanmar people and respects the revolutionary spirit of the people, please take more severe actions against the terrorist military and provide greater and practical support to the National Unity Government and defence forces; Myanmar people want the junta military and perpetrators of crimes held responsible for all the crimes they have committed as they are not in the position to hold political dialogue with any stakeholders.
On 19 August 2022, a protest that emphasized and encouraged unity among the people in Myanmar was held in a crowded area of Yangon. It was led by Student Union of Pyin Nyar Nandaw Private School and supported by a group of alliances, including Burma Youth Network and Yangon Democrative Youth Strike (YDYS).
On 20 August 2022, a protest against the violence and torture in prison was held in Myaing Township. On the same day, in front of Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon there was a strike which sang the song “Bella Ciao”, encouraging everyone that revolution is the only way for Myanmar and urging the NUG and NUCC to implement the revolutionary actions more intensely. It was organized by a collaboration of groups, including Yangon Revolution Force-YRF, Yangon’s Rebels Strike Committee, Revolution Force, Yankin Protests, Student Unions from Thingangyun Township, Hlaing Thar Yar Townsbup and Dewai Township, and the Pazuntaung-Botahtaung Youth Strike Committee.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 15 August 2022, the National Unity Government issued a Weekly Newsletter No. 16/2022. In the newsletter, articles relating to the NUG’s activities were published. Those articles included the statement delivered by Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun at the General Debate of the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the NUG seeking international support to hold the SAC accountable for human rights violations and war crimes, the NUG President rallying resistance during commemoration of 8888 Democracy Uprising, and the NUG continuing to consult with ASEAN.
On 19 August 2022, the National Unity Government issued a statement (19/2022) responding to the Statement of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Myanmar. In the statement, the NUG expressed its deep disappointment in the visit of the UN Special Envoy Noeleen Heyzer. It mentioned that the UN has announced the visit with the aims of ceasing the SAC’s terrorist activities, meeting with people from all backgrounds to better understand the crisis, and urging support for those who are most in need as a result of ongoing conflict. While recognizing that the Special Envoy is bound by her position and official responsibilities, the NUG expressed its extreme disappointment in the Special Envoy’s statement dated 17 August 2022 and her meeting with Min Aung Hlaing and his cohort. The NUG underlined that while acknowledging that the Special Envoy has gone on record stating that her meeting with the junta leader did not “in any way confer legitimacy”, it was undeniable that the meeting is a powerful propaganda tool for the military and is already being used to build legitimacy. Although the NUG appreciates the Special Envoy’s calls for an end to aerial bombardments and incineration of civilian homes in her statement, the NUG noted that such calls must be followed up with specific and impactful consequences. The NUG stated that Ms. Heyzer’s statement is in many ways just a restatement of calls for cessation of violence, respect of human rights and humanitarian access to all those in need. The statement emphasized that in order to recover the people’s trusts, the Special Envoy must publicly strengthen partnership with the National Unity Government, Ethnic Resistance Organizations, and civil society groups, and truly listened to and respect the aspirations of Myanmar people.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
In the United Nations’ daily press briefing on 16 August 2022, Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, said that the UN issued a press statement for the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer, travelled to Myanmar on 15 August 2022. He mentioned that following up on the latest call from the Security Council for an immediate cessation of all forms of violence and unimpeded humanitarian access to all those in need. He added that she will focus on addressing the deteriorating situation and immediate concerns, as well as other priority areas of her mandate. He further mentioned that the Special Envoy’s visit follows her extensive consultations with people from across the political spectrum, civil society as well as communities impacted by the ongoing conflict.
On 17 August 2022, the United Nations issued a press release regarding the visit of Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer to Myanmar. In the statement, it was mentioned that Special Envoy Heyzer met with State Administration Council (SAC) Chairman Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Nay Pyi Taw on 17 August 2022 and stated the steps State Administration Council must take to de-escalate conflict and reduce suffering of Myanmar people. The Special Envoy said that the United Nations Secretary-General is extremely concerned about the gravity of the humanitarian, security, economic and political crisis. She also mentioned that her visit is to convey the concern of the United Nations and propose concrete steps needed to reduce the conflict and suffering of the people. UN engagement does not in any way confer legitimacy. The people of Myanmar have the right to democracy and self-determination free from fear and want, which will only be possible by the good will and efforts of all stakeholders in an inclusive process. She added that the United Nations was focused on providing support to women in Myanmar, the protection and empowerment of whom is key to achieving peace and any economic and social transformation. Following the recent death sentences carried out against pro-democracy activists that the United Nations has strongly condemned, the Special Envoy directly urged the Senior General to impose a moratorium on all future executions. She also reiterated the United Nations Secretary-General’s call for the release of all political prisoners. She also conveyed a specific request from the Australian Government that has asked for the release of Australian economist Sean Turnell. Personally, she called for the release of all children who are being detained in prisons or other facilities. The Special Envoy amplified the latest call from the Security Council for an immediate cessation of all forms of violence, full respect for human rights and the rule of law, and full, safe and unfettered humanitarian access to all those in need. She called for immediate and specific de-escalation steps including ending aerial bombing and the burning of civilian houses and infrastructure. The Special Envoy stated her deep concern about civilian displacement across communities and the need for greater space for humanitarian actors to reach those affected with lifesaving support. She underlined that all parties must facilitate the unimpeded and immediate delivery of humanitarian assistance to all people in need without discrimination and free from instrumentalization. She highlighted the importance of delivery through all channels and raised the issue of an inclusive forum for humanitarian engagement, which several key ethnic armed organizations and other actors have asked her to establish, focusing on the emergency that is a direct result of the political crisis. The Special Envoy raised her request for a meeting with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi following her latest sentencing.
In the United Nations’ daily press briefing on 17 August 2022, Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, explained the meeting of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer with State Administration Council (SAC) Chairman Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Nay Pyi Taw on 17 August 2022. He mentioned about her in-person discussions on the pragmatic steps to de-escalate the violence, to address the multidimensional crisis and advance unfettered humanitarian assistance free of discrimination to all people in need. He added that her visit follows her extensive consultations with actors from across the political spectrum, civil society and communities affected by the conflict. In a statement, the Special Envoy said that her visit was to convey the concern of the United Nations and to propose concrete steps needed to reduce the conflict and suffering of the people. And she added that the United Nations’ engagement does not in any way confer legitimacy. Ms. Heyzer stated that any progress in Myanmar depended on an end to the violence and visible and significant improvements in the lives of people on the ground. Following the recent death sentences carried out against pro-democracy activists that the United Nations has strongly condemned, the Special Envoy directly urged the Senior General to impose a moratorium on all future executions. She also reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for the release of all political prisoners. The Special Envoy raised her request for a meeting with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi following her latest sentencing. She added that she was deeply concerned about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s health and well-being in her current situation and requests that she can return home soon. Regarding the question about Senior General’s reaction and Special Envoy’s meeting with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Haq said the trip of Special Envoy was actually ending and she was not able to meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi during this trip, although her request stands. She hopes both that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be released from her conditions of detention and that she will be able to see her at a future time. Regarding the reactions from the general, he replied that the United Nations doesn't speak for the other side, but there was a good discussion. The United Nations will see, in the future, whether key demands, including a moratorium on executions and the release of those who are politically detained will be carried out. He emphasized that these requests have been made for some time now, and the UN will continue to push on those points.
After the additional sentencing of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Saifuddin Abdullah, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, made remarks about Myanmar on his Facebook page. He stated that the additional sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi and the recent execution of four democracy activists proved that the junta repeatedly disregarded calls by ASEAN leaders for concrete and inclusive dialogue for national reconciliation in Myanmar and to fulfil the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus. He added that Malaysia stands with the people of Myanmar and supports the call for Aung San Suu Kyi's immediate release to begin the process of peaceful and inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders, including the National Unity Government (NUG) and the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC).
The office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar issued a Statement by Mr. Ramanathan Balakrishnan, Humanitarian Coordinator on the occasion of World Humanitarian Day. In his statement, he paid tribute to the dedicated aid workers of Myanmar who are risking their lives to deliver vital assistance to communities in need every day, and also remember those who have died or been injured in the course of their work. He called for an end to the unrelenting violence that is terrifying communities and making these brave humanitarian efforts necessary. He added that civilians should never be a target and humanitarian workers in Myanmar must be allowed to do their jobs free from restrictions and harassment, in line with all the protections afforded to them under international law. It takes a “humanitarian village” to help a community in crisis and the UN, International NGOs and the Red Cross family stand in solidarity with the growing network of local responders who have stepped up to help their own communities and are now the backbone of the Myanmar response. He applauded their tireless commitment to finding new ways of reducing suffering in the face of daily horrors. Never has this work been more important with conflict raging, 1.2 million people now displaced, and poverty and inflation surging. A massive national effort is underway to reach more than six million crisis-affected people with assistance before the end of the year and the UN is half-way to this annual goal despite severe access constraints. The humanitarian community has stayed and delivered, working with local partners to expand operations on an unprecedented scale. With generous funding from donors, local, national and international humanitarian organizations reached more than three million people with assistance in the first half of 2022, but there is still a long way to go. This effort will require improved access to people in need, relief from debilitating bureaucratic constraints and a dramatic scale-up in donor support. Expanded humanitarian access, especially to conflict-affected areas, is vital and negotiations to secure this access should never be politicized or made transactional. The 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan is just 17 per cent funded, 8 months into the year. More resources are desperately needed for us to continue life-saving work and avoid heart-wrenching decisions. On World Humanitarian Day, he urged the international donor community to again step-up in these difficult times and give generously in solidarity with the people of Myanmar, supporting the country’s “humanitarian village” to save lives and reduce suffering.
At the United Nations’ daily press briefing on 22 August 2022, Stéphane Dujarric, a Spokesperson for the Secretary-General said that the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer, arrived in Bangladesh on 22 August 2022 for a four-day visit. He mentioned that the Special Envoy will visit Cox’s Bazar to engage directly with Rohingya refugees, and she will also meet with the authorities in Dhaka.
Date: 21 August 2022
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York