Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (25 July 2021)
Weekly Information Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
Nearly six months since an illegal military coup in Myanmar, the military is pushing its country and its people to the edge. Over 900 civilians have been killed as the military’s crackdown on dissent, while thousands have been arrested and brutally tortured.
COVID-19 is surging in Myanmar
The arrival of the new variant of Covid-19 to Myanmar becomes a humanitarian disaster. According to WHO, as of July 23, 2021, there have been 258,870 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 6,459 deaths. Myanmar is experiencing its highest number of coronavirus-related deaths since the outbreak began, and the number of coronavirus infections in the country is at an all-time high.The highest daily average reported now at about 6,000 new infections reported each day.
The virus testing has collapsed since the coup on February 1.The World Health Organization and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have warned of the growing outbreak. The country has been to a devastating surge in cases, and people are suffering. The military has no trust from the people because of their continued lies and violent crackdown. Many doctors and healthcare workers refused to work for the military, while many others have been detained and arbitrarily arrested.
The healthcare system under the military regime is collapsing, and its lack of resources, capabilities, and grit has put the lives of Myanmar people at high risk. The people are taking care of themselves and one another, while the military continues lying and showing their total disregard for human lives.
There is no adequate screening of the outbreak and testing capacity. Furthermore, because of the disastrous plot of the military, every day, the people have to line up to fill oxygen tanks for their infected families. This is the reality and unprecedented challenge that people are facing amidst the pandemic. While the rest of the world is adapting to new normal where most people have been vaccinated, the people of Myanmar are desperately looking for oxygen. The price of face masks, test kits, and other medical supplies is also on the rise.There are not enough essential medical supplies for every household in Myanmar. Instead of controlling the price gouging, the military is causing chaos and deliberately letting people get infected with the Covid-19.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 67 medical professionals are currently detained, and nearly 600 are warranted arrest. Besides, a total of 7 doctors have been killed by the military since the coup.
There was an appalling event that happened on July 19. In North Dagon Township, Yangon, the soldiers arrested five doctors and raided their clinics. They even took oxygen tanks, PPE, and medical supplies, which the people donated for those in need. Arresting, prosecuting, and torturing medical professionals are all considered crimes against humanity by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
UN country team in Myanmar announced that it is stepping up its response efforts. WHO, UNICEF, and partners are redoubling their efforts to accelerate COVID-19 vaccination availability through multiple channels, including the COVAX facility.
National Unity Government’s announcement on the development of a COVID-19 Task Force
On July 22, NUG has announced the formation of a COVID-19 task force to control the virus and to enhance cooperation with the international community in its efforts to fight against the outbreak of the virus. The task force is led by Dr. Cynthia Maung, Chair of the Ethnic Health Committee, and Dr. Zaw Wai Soe, Union Minister of Health of the NUG, to work together with ethnic health organizations in preventing, mitigating, and controlling the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Myanmar. The task force aims to coordinate close cooperation with international institutions and organizations in order to procure not only vaccines but also prerequisite assistance and equipment needed for vaccination programs.
Deaths and Arbitrary Arrests
As of July 24, 2021, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a total of 6,901 people have been arrested, whereas 5,360 people are still under detention, 1,963 people have been issued warrants, and 931 people ruthlessly murdered since February 1, 2021, when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians.
More than 170 days have passed since the coup; the military terrorist group nevertheless continues committing inhumane acts, arbitrary arrests, brutal beatings, and torture in detention.
The World Food Program estimates that in Myanmar, over 6 million people are severely in need of food aid, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) estimates that nearly half of the population could be forced into poverty by early 2022.
Military’s Vicious Acts amidst pandemic
Arbitrary arrests and killing continue: A workshop owner in the Mandalay region and his 26 years old son and two others from the workshop were arrested by the soldiers coming with private cars as his shop has been refilling oxygen cylinders for the people. Their whereabouts are still unknown.
On July 19, Aye Hla, deputy chair of NLD Kyaukdaga Township in the Bago region, died during an interrogation. He was another victim of torture who died in prison.
The inhuman acts committed by the military are never-ending. It has been reported that the editor of Thanlwin Thway Chin news agency based in Taunggyi township, Shan state, and her daughters was arrested on July 21. The military has been violating freedom of speech by attacking journalists and media agencies since the coup. There were 87 journalists detained, and about 50 of them remain in prison. Although the military released 49 journalists, 26 journalists have been issued arrest warrants. Besides, the military has revoked the licenses of eight media companies.
U Nyan Win, a 79-year-old executive member of the NLD party’s Central Executive Committee, passed away because of the COVID-related disease. He has been jailed since February 1 coup. He was detained at Insein Prison in Yangon and only moved to Yangon General Hospital on July 11 due to serious illness after being contracted COVID-19.
The situation of detainees in prisons is extremely precarious as a result of the outbreak of the virus and inadequate medical care.
Detainees in Insein Prison staged a protest
On July 23, detainees in Yangon’s Insein prison staged a protest partly to raise awareness on deficient handling of the outbreak in the facility. The detainees demanded proper medical attention because an increasing number of detainees were becoming ill inside the prison.It has been reported that some prison staff joined the protest, and the soldiers had to control the situation. Without a doubt, the soldiers used force and tortured.
Many of the Ambassadors to Myanmar in Yangon released a joint statement urging to resolve the situation peacefully and respect the fundamental rights to proper healthcare for all detainees in every prison.
75 children killed, 1,000 detained since Myanmar coup
Since the military coup, 75 children have been killed, about 1,000 arbitrarily detained, and countless more deprived of essential medical care and education, according to credible information obtained by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Moreover, children’s rights in Myanmar are facing an onslaught that risks leaving an entire generation damaged, UN Child Rights Committee (CRC) has warned.
According to UNICEF, a million children in Myanmar are missing essential vaccinations, and more than 40,000 children are no longer getting treatment for severe acute malnutrition. Children's rights to life, education, and development have been violated due to the military coup.
Statements from International Organizations
The International Labour Organization says that there have been significant job losses and deteriorated labour market conditions in the country since the military takeover. Employment contracted by an estimated 6 percent in the second quarter of this year compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, reflecting 1.2 million job losses. In the first half of 2021, an estimated 14 percent of working hours were lost, equivalent to at least 2.2 million full-time workers. Women are estimated to have been affected more than men. A dramatic increase in unemployment for women has consequences of unemployed women falling victims into human trafficking. With this continuing situation, it is worrisome that the number of trafficked women can only increase in the future. All sectors of the economy have been affected, with construction, garment-making and tourism, and hospitality among the hardest hit. Massive influx of unemployed migrant workers from Myanmar will become a regional problem for ASEAN countries.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) released a statement on July 23, stating that it is closely following information regarding the situation in various prisons in Myanmar and deeply concerned about the increasing impact of COVID-19 in Myanmar, including detention centers.
Date: 25 July 2021
Permanent Mission of Myanmar, New York