Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (22 August 2021)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
After 200 days have passed since the coup, the Myanmar military group is still ignoring the will of the people, putting the country into turmoil with disproportionate actions when the people are facing the nationwide health crisis under the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deaths and Arbitrary Arrests
As of August 22, 2021, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a total of 7,401 people have been arrested, 5,787 people have still been detained, whereas 1,984 people have been issued with warrants, and 1,009 people were ruthlessly murdered by the military since February 1, 2021, when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians.
Contracting Covid-19 in Prisons continued
According to the World Health Organization, there are 365,759 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 13,945 deaths in Myanmar as of August 20, 2021. It is reported that the number of new deaths has been declining in Myanmar. However, daily new cases of Covid-19 are still surging.
Prisoners, including political prisoners, have not been left suffering from this fatal disease too. According to the credible sources, Mr. Nyunt Shwe, MP of Bago Region Hluttaw and executive committee chairman of the NLD in Bago Township, who had been charged under Section 505(a) of the Penal Code and detained in Bago Prison, contracted COVID-19 in prison. He later died on August 16 from Covid-19 while receiving medical treatment at Bago Hospital.
It is reported that Covid-19 cases in prisons have started spiking since June. Since the victims of the disease in prisons have not received proper healthcare, there was much heartbreaking news of losing lives due to Covid-19. The prisons are overcrowded with political prisoners. They are going through not only Covid-19 infections but are also going through starvation and other unsafe conditions.
Brutal Tortures during Detention
Since the coup, there have been many reports of Myanmar security forces committing tortures against the civilians during interrogation and detention.
It is reported that Mr. Than Sein, a villager from Kyauk Sauk Kalay Village in Kyauksei Township, was arrested by the security forces in the morning on August 15. He then died on the morning of August 16 due to severe beatings. In accordance with the reliable sources, he was forced to switch his mobile phone’s lock on. When he did not listen to them, he was beaten by wire and bamboo sticks. Mr. Than Sein was actively involved in anti-military coup movements, and he was hiding from the arrest.
According to the information received, Mr. Thet Naing Oo from Kyauk Kan Village Myingyan Township was arrested by the terrorist junta’s troops at night on August 18, 2021, and died in the morning on August 19, 2021. Mr. Thet Naing Oo was reportedly beaten and tortured the whole night. He was arrested while he was returning home, where the security forces had set up camp.
Arrests of the Media-Personnel
Mr. Sithu Aung Myint, a political columnist, was reportedly arrested on August 15, 2021, from an apartment where he was hiding in Yangon. Ms. Htet Htet Khine, presenter on a BBC Media Action programme were also reported along with Mr. Sithu Aung Myint. According to the lawyer of Mr. Sithu Aung Myint, he was immediately taken to the interrogation centre. Mr. Sithu Aung Myint had been charged under Section 505 (A) since April 2021. The military has reportedly arrested more than 100 journalists, including foreign journalists, many news outlets were blacklisted, and their publishing licences were revoked since the coup.
Brutal Action against the Anti-Coup Protestors
On August 16, 2021, Mr. Kyaw Thiha, a protest leader with the Mandalay Boycott Forces Column, was reportedly hit by a private car driven by the security forces wearing plain clothes while Mr. Kyaw Thiha was driving a motorbike. This shows clearly that the military led State Administrative Council (SAC) has no respect for human life. They are willing to use any method to oppress people’s opposition to them. Democracy activists are suffering under extreme repression, and the will of the people of Myanmar has been neglected. Not to mention other grave violations of human rights and international law, their voices have been silenced and neglected.
Irrational actions against the Innocent Civilians
In Hlaing Thayar Township in Yangon Region, Mr. Han Zaw Tun, a.k.a Toke Pye, who has a mental illness, was reportedly beaten by the SAC’s appointed night guards and died on the spot. The incident happened in front of the Ward (20) administrator’s office in Hlaing Thayar Township in Yangon Region at 2:30 am on August 13, 2021, while Han Zaw Tun, a.k.a Toke Pye, was returning from his mother’s home.
On August 14, 2021, in Paya Gyi in Bago Township, an opened fire into the house by the security forces was reportedly occurred, and Mr. Ye Htet Ko was shot dead due to the incident. The patrolling soldiers shot into the house while a young man was running into the house and closing the door.
On August 17, 2021, the soldiers reportedly shot Mr. Zaw Myo Myint, sitting on the pavement chewing betel nut. His body was taken away in Mingin Township in Sagaing Region. According to the witnesses, while Mr. Zaw Myo Myint was sitting on the pavement at the Chindwin Riverport, those soldiers questioned him about not wearing a mask, and later they shot him in the head. It is also reported that a stray bullet hit a woman who was sitting on the pavement nearby.
On August 18, 2021, it is reported that the military raided Hnan Khar Village in Gantgaw Township of Magway Region. Due to the incident, 72 years old Mr. Kan Htaunt was punched and kicked continuously by the military troops. He later died on August 21, 2021, from that torturous assault.
On August 20, 2021, in Muse Township in Shan State, Mr. Tun Win, who contracted COVID-19, was arrested at his home by the military troops as they did not find his son.
Raiding the residences
On August 19, 2021, in Hlaing Thayar Township of Yangon Region, over 20 soldiers wearing plain clothes raided the house of Mrs. Khaing Lwin was arrested at home and accused of being a PDF member. According to the daughter of Ms. Khaing Lwin, the troops took all the phones and laptops from the house.
On August 19, 2021, a large number of security forces reportedly raided a hostel in Shwepyithar Township in Yangon Region, having been accused of housing the PDF. Mr. Lin Lin Tun, a.k.a Bo Phyu, was shot in the stomach and died on the spot while attempting to jump out of the window to escape. Ms. Hnin Ei Khaing was also arrested.
Last two weeks ago, there was a similar incident known as 44th Street Raid in Yangon where young people jumped over the buildings trying to be free from the security forces.
Survivors of the Yangon’s 44th Street Raid
According to the information received, among the three survivors of a fall from the building at 44th Street in Yangon during the raid of the security forces on August 10, 2021, Mr. Ye Min was discharged from the military hospital and sent to an interrogation centre in Shwepyithar. This interrogation is notorious for its brutal tortures and actions.
Mr. Kaung Min Thant was the only person who could manage to flee from the 44th Street raid. He was initially being reported to have been shot in the incident. However, he declared that he escaped to a safe place after hiding on the roof of the building for 12 hours. He told the news media that he saw all five of his friends who jumped from the building on the ground in the alley, and he said it had happened within seconds. He said that he had heard the soldiers beating those who survived the jump. He also said that officers from the Botahtaung police station had asked his family to pay 2.6 million kyats (more than 1,500 USD) to retrieve his dead body. According to the news received, Mr. Kaung Min Thant is now in an area under the control of an ethnic armed organization. Myanmar young people, locally known as Generation Z, have been at the forefront of the fight against the military. It was primarily young people who took to the street in February in an immediate response to the takeover by generals. Young people have been the ones who suffered the most from the barbaric crackdown by the military.
Activities of the National Unity Government (NUG)
On August 16, 2021, the National Health Committee (NHC) has been established as the outcome of the National Health Conference, jointly convened by the Ministry of Health of the National Unity Government and Ethnic Health Organizations on August 5, 2021. The Committee comprises 17 members and ten consultants and has four main objectives and 5 Ways forward.
On August 20, 2021, the National Unity Government launched the first Radio NUG trial for 30 mins at 8 am and 8 pm at SW 16/ 17.71 MHz. More trials will be made in the coming days for better quality radio channel that could deliver the critical and in-time message of the NUG to the people. Having direct radio access is essential to countering fake information and propaganda from social media. The military has been using phony bot accounts to post misinformation and propaganda to divide people and spread lies among ordinary people. Having accurate information and message from the legitimate government is necessary to mobilize people for an uprising for democracy.
On August 20, the National Unity Government has released a statement regarding accepting the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. In the statement, acting President Duwa Lashi La of the National Unity Government lodged a declaration with the registrar of the ICC, accepting the Court’s jurisdiction with respect to the international crimes committed in the territory of Myanmar since July 1, 2002. The declaration was transmitted to the Registrar of the Court on July 17, 2021, for further consideration. The National Unity Government further stated its commitment to ensuring accountability and ending impunity for those high-ranking generals and their subordinates who committed a grave violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.
International Action and Pressure
On August 18, 2021, the European Union pledged support to humanitarian assistance of ASEAN to Myanmar. At the Pledging Videoconference to ASEAN’s Humanitarian Assistance to Myanmar, the European Union announced that it is providing through the current EU-SAHA (EU Support to AHA Centre) programme, up to €370,000 for activities related to strengthening the capacity of the AHA Centre and ASEAN Emergency Response Mechanism in Myanmar.
On August 19, 2021, which is World Humanitarian Day, the European Union announced that as humanitarian and aid workers in Myanmar are working against the most challenging condition, under the devastating situations following the coup and the pandemic, they are invaluable and are not a target. It also added that the EU in Myanmar is undertaking to address the immediate needs of crisis-affected populations and strengthen those and at-risk populations' resilience through multiple projects.
On this World Humanitarian Day, the Embassy of the United States in Yangon issued a statement expressing the appreciation and admiration for humanitarian workers in Myanmar and worldwide. It also stated that those must be able to pursue their noble work in safety and security.
Mr. Thomas Andrew, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situations in Myanmar, announced on August 19 through Twitter that the death toll killed by the military has reached more than 1,000 people. He agreed with the urge of Deputy U.S Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis to the United Nations Security Council: “What are we waiting for? The longer we delay, the more people die”.
During an interview on August 20, 2021, the Foreign Minister of Singapore, Mr. Vivian Balakrishnan, said that ASEAN is not as effective nor quick as hoped in resolving the crisis of Myanmar. However, ASEAN has been urged by the United Nations and the international community to restore stability in Myanmar through diplomacy. Mr. Balakrishnan stressed that the outcome of ASEAN’s work in Myanmar would be on how the military engages with the ASEAN special envoy.
The envoy needs to have a productive discussion with all the stakeholders in the country, especially with the people of Myanmar on the streets, from rural villages, representatives of the NUG, and ethnic armed organizations.
He called the situations in Myanmar “dire,” as the country's economy has collapsed and the humanitarian crisis is worsening, and the COVID-19 infections and the deaths thereof are surging. He also added that there had been no discussion within ASEAN to expel or suspend Myanmar from the association, and ASEAN is trying to be constructive without interfering with the domestic politics of Myanmar.
Date: 22 August 2021
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York