Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (25 June 2023)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
More than twenty-eight months ago on 1February 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 people suffer with inhumane and disproportionate actions.
As of 23 June2023, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military ruthlessly killed 3,692 people, arrested 23,441 people, and 19,096 people remain in detention, whereas 157 people have been sentenced to death, including 115 post-coup death row prisoners 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 sentenced to death were executed by the military junta in July 2022.
Serious crimes committed by the Military
Firing into the Civilian Areas in Khin-U Township
According to AAPP, the junta forces fired heavily into civilian areas, where no clashes were recorded, resulting in further evacuations in the area. On 18 June 2023, a military column consisting of 200 junta forces fired various weapons at Yar Taw Village in Khin-U Township of Sagaing Region and then raided the area. As a result, around 4,000 local villagers from Yar Taw Village and nearby villages had to flee for their safety.
Raiding the villages and murdering the civilians in Sagaing Region
Myanmar Now News reported that a military column consisting of 100 junta forces started to raid Thazi Lay Village in Sagaing Region on 18 June 2023, and then targeted the villages located around the area where Sagaing, Wetlet and Ayadaw Townships meet. It was reported that following a three-day rampage through multiple villages within Sagaing Region, four civilians from the villages of Thazi Lay, Shwe See Kone and Kyauk Kone were murdered. Later, the bodies of the victims were found.
According to the local source, a member of the local defence team was killed, when he went back to Thazi Lay Village. After he had been killed, the junta forces burned his body. After the junta forces left the area, a burnt body was discovered. The local resistance fighters said that the body could not be retrieved, and identified the body as 21-year-old civilian named Shine Ko Ko, who is a local resident from Thazi Lay Village.
In Shwe See Kone Village, the junta forces captured two villagers. They murdered one of them and dropped the dead body in a well. The source said that when the body was retrieved, a gunshot wound to the head was found. In Kyauk Kone Village near Wetlet Township, the junta forces detained two other local villagers during the raid. It was reported that the junta forces killed these two villagers near to a pagoda at the eastern edge of Kyauk Kone Village on 19 June 2023, and on the next day, the dead bodies were discovered by the PDF members.
Having examined the injuries, the source said that the junta forces had asked the hostages to run and shot them from behind.
Notification of the deaths of Civilians in Waw Township
According to the local reliable source, on 20 June 2023, the junta authorities have announced the deaths of five civilians, who were among those arrested on suspicion of involvement in an attack on a police station in Nyaung Khar Shey Village in Waw Township of Bago Region. The source said that after the police station in Nyaung Khar Shey Village has been attacked on 27 April, the junta forces arrested around 34 locals on suspicion of involvement in the attack.
It was reported that the families were notified of the deaths of five civilians on 20 June, including Tin Myo Khaing (53), Win Zaw Htay (52), San Shey (45), Mya Thein (60), and Kyaw Myint Thein (35). All are from the villages within the Waw Township; including three civilians from Pho Sabae Village and two from Kyon Par Village. Of those deaths, the dead body of one victim from Kyon Par Village was seen by the families, and wounds of being beaten were found out in the body, but the families were not allowed to bury the body. The dead bodies of other four victims could not be seen, and there is no information available to the families’ members as well as the public regarding other civilians who were arrested.
Torching the Village in Salingyi Township
BBC Burmese reported on 20 June 2023 that the junta forces stationed at Nyaung Pin Gyi Village in Salingyi Township of Sagaing Region. Starting from 9 June 2023 until 20 June, the junta forces have been torching and destroying the villages in vicinity of Nyaung Pin Gyi Village. As a result, around 400 houses were burned down.
Local residents said that after the junta forces have left the village, four dead bodies were discovered. In Htan Taw Village in the area, the entire village has been torched, and the residents have no home to return to. As the junta forces fired heavy artillery in Hnin Taw Village, the local residents had to flee.
Firing Heavy Artillery in a Village of Kale Township
According to AAPP report, on the night of 21 June 2023, the junta forces attacked San Thar Village in Kale Township of Sagaing Region and fired heavy artillery. As a result, an artillery shell struck a house in the village, and a 5-year-old child was killed due to shrapnel striking on the head.
Arresting a Civilian
According to AAPP, around 30 junta forces took a civilian named Aung Phe as a hostage from his house located in Pyin Htein Village in Launglon Township of Tanintharyi Region on 19 June 2023, after they have physically assaulted him. It was reported that he is currently detained at Launglon Myoma Police Station. The source said that he was the father of Min Lwin Oo who is a member of Dawei District Strike Committee in Tanintharyi Region, as well as who served as a President of Dawei Technological University Students’ Union. A warrant was further issued for his arrest under Section 505 A of the Penal Code in March 2021.
Arresting Civilians for participating in “Flower Strike”
News reported that in response to “Flower Strike” which drew nationwide support and marked the 78th birthday of the Myanmar State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on 19 June 2023, the junta forces had arrested more than 130 people for participating in the protest. Of those arrested, most of them are women. Most of the arrests occurred on 19 June, and the junta forces continued to arrest the people throughout the week.
Sentencing a Civilian
According to AAPP, a special court of Paungde Prison sentenced U Tun Tun Oo, the former Minister of Immigration and Population of Bago Region during the elected civilian government, to serve a total of 6 years in prison on two charges under Section 505A of the Penal Code on 21 June 2023. It was reported that the junta forces arrested him in Paungde Town of Bago Region on 30 May.
Imposing a new Restriction to enter Ye-U Township
According to the Irrawaddy news, the junta forces imposed a new rule starting from the fourth-week of June 2023. According to the new rule, the residents have to show a recommendation letter from the local authorities to enter Ye-U Township. It was reported that the residents must pay 10,000 kyats (USD 4) to policemen and Ye-U administrators to get a recommendation letter.
The residents of Ye-U and Tabayin Townships of Sagaing Region are facing serious hardship, after the junta forces have banned the residents from entering Ye-U Town and the residents were asked to show a recommendation letter from the local authorities to enter Ye-U. It was reported that the recommendation letter is valid for only one week, and the residents of villages on the border of Ye-U and Tabayin Townships are facing various difficulties because of the new restriction.
Displacement in South-East of Myanmar
The Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) released a displacement overview on 22 June 2023, stating that in the South-East of Myanmar, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) increased sharply from 452,100 to 459,800 at the time of releasing the report.
The overview highlighted the displacement situations as of 19 June 2023, particularly in Karenni (Kayah) State, Shan State (South), Kayin State, Mon State and Tanintharyi Region.
In Karenni (Kayah) State, 2,100 people from Moe Bye town and Hpasawng Town were displaced due to the increased fighting, airstrikes and shelling. In Shan State (South), 1,200 people from Moe Bye town in Pekon Township were displaced to Pekon town due to intensified fighting, airstrikes, and shelling on 10 June. In Kayin State, 260 people were displaced within Kyainseikgyi Township due to intensified fighting near their villages. In Mon State, about 2,100 IDPs were verified following increased fighting during the first week of June 2023, while 1,100 people were displaced within Ye Township, and 1,000 people were displaced from Yebyu Township in Tanintharyi Region to Thanbyuzayat Township.
In Tanintharyi Region, about 2,500 people from six villages in Dawei, Thayetchaung, Yebyu, and Launglon Townships were displaced within the respective townships due to intensified fighting. Among them, 400 people were secondarily displaced in Dawei Township.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 21 June 2023, the Foreign Minister of the National Unity Government of Myanmar, H.E. Daw Zin Mar Aung, met with Ms. Paola Pampaloni, Asia and Asia Pacific Director from European Union – External Action Service and Ambassador Igor Driesmans, EU Ambassador to ASEAN, and discussed on the current situations in Myanmar, as well as the effective coordination to impose more effective targeted sanctions on the military, to end the military dictatorship and to restore the aspirations of the people of Myanmar, who are seeking freedom and democracy.
On 22 June 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government of Myanmar issued a Statement, welcoming the sanctions announced by the United States Department of Treasury against the military’s Ministry of Defence, as well as the two financial institutions under its control; Myanma Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) and Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB). The Statement underlined that the National Unity Government extends gratitude to the Government and People of the United States for their sustained commitment and strong support towards promoting peace, justice, freedom, and democracy within Myanmar, and this action not only supports the people’s pursuit of establishing a free, democratic, and federal Union but also contributes towards regional stability. The National Unity Government of Myanmar also called for the international community to take similar measures to expedite the realization of the shared vision for a peaceful and prosperous Myanmar that harmoniously coexists with the neighbouring nations.
At the inaugural High-Level Forum celebrating “International Day of Women in Diplomacy” held virtually on 23 June 2023, Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to the United Nations delivered an intervention. The Permanent Representative said that the National Unity Government of Myanmar consider women as a key driver to socio-economic development and nation-building. He also explained the commitment of the National Unity Government to strengthen global support to the role of women in diplomacy and the effort for the protection of women and girls, and promotion and facilitation of equity, diversity, and inclusion for socio-economic sustainable development. The Permanent Representative stressed that the people of Myanmar long for peace, stability and prosperity, as well as gender equality and the greater role of women in all sectors including in diplomacy. He added that the military dictatorship is needed to end immediately, to restore democracy urgently, and to bring power back to the people through the elected civilian government now.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
On the 78th birthday of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar on 19 June 2023, her younger son Aris called for more international support for her release. Through a video, he expressed his first appeal to the Myanmar junta to release the State Counsellor and all political prisoners. He urged the international community to apply “meaningful pressure” on the junta to end the brutal and inhumane treatment of its own people.
Justice For Myanmar said on 19 June 2023 that the CAA Industries of Israel is selling injection moulds and tooling for CNC machinery to Star Sapphire, enabling the manufacture of small arms by the junta of Myanmar and making it complicit in the war crimes and crimes against humanity that the military commits with total impunity. Justice For Myanmar called for CAA Industries to immediately halt any collaboration with the Myanmar junta, including shipments to Myanmar of accessories for specialized machinery. It urged the Attorney General of Israel to investigate and take swift action against CAA Industries and officials from the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs for their role in the 2019 shipment of equipment to Myanmar.
On 19 June 2023, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a report of Cyclone Mocha Situation in Myanmar. According to the report updated as of 15 June, the approval of the distribution and transportation plans for the Cyclone Mocha response in Rakhine State and Chin State of Myanmar remains pending. Although the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/ HC) urged the junta to urgently re-instate the initial approval and to allow life-saving assistance to resume on 12 June 2023, the efforts are meanwhile underway to engage with the junta authorities at the Nay Pyi Taw and regional level to try and to expand access to people in need.
In response to the increasing obstruction of humanitarian aid following the Cyclone Mocha, the Human Rights Watch said on 20 June 2023 that those actions of the junta have put thousands of lives at immediate risk and endangered millions of people. Human Rights Watch also stressed that the junta authorities have refused to authorize travel and visas for aid workers, to release urgent supplies from customs and warehouses, or to relax onerous and unnecessary restrictions on lifesaving assistance. According to the Human Rights Watch, the interference of the junta in relief operations disregards multiple international calls regarding humanitarian aid and the five-point consensus from the ASEAN, as well as the UN Security Council resolution on December 2022, which urged “full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access”.
On 21 June 2023, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a press release, announcing that for the atrocities committed by Myanmar junta against the people, the U.S. designated the Ministry of Defense of Myanmar and two military-controlled banks – Myanma Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) and Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB). It was stated that the U.S. will not waver in its support for the people of Myanmar who are seeking peace, justice and a genuine democratic future for the country. The U.S. will continue to engage with the partners and allies in the broader international community to constrain the junta’s ability to exploit the international financial system to advance its violence and prolong the crisis, as well as to restrict the junta’s ability to transfer hard currency to Russia’s defense sector.
On 21 June 2023, the European Delegation to Myanmar issued a statement, expressing concern for the ongoing detention and welfare of a number of workers and labour rights’ organizers in the garment sector who have been detained, as a consequence of a labour dispute at the Hosheng Myanmar garment factory during the third-week of June. The statement called for their immediate release and for an end to arrests of all those who are peacefully exercising their right to freedom of association and expression, as well as called on all concerned to operate in accordance with the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at work. The principles consist of respecting fundamental human rights, including freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; the effective abolition of child labour; the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation, and a safe and healthy working environment.
On 21 June 2023, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, called for the coordinated action by Indonesia and others to address the deepening crisis in Myanmar, expressing his appreciation to Indonesia for its support to the people of Myanmar and urging the country to play a bigger role in resolving the crisis both as current Chair of ASEAN and as a leader in Southeast Asia and on the world stage. In the meetings with Indonesian and ASEAN officials during his mission to Indonesia, he said that the world was looking to Indonesia and ASEAN for leadership in resolving the Myanmar crisis. During his mission to Aceh Province, he visited a Rohingya refugee camp in Pidie District, and emphasized that Indonesia is well-positioned to play a global leadership role to defend and support the Rohingya.
On 21 June 2021, Justice For Myanmar welcomed the latest round of the sanctions of the U.S. against Myanma Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB), Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB) and the Ministry of Defence of Myanmar. Justice For Myanmar called for urgent sanctions against Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise and the junta’s network of cronies and arms brokers. It was said that the international community needs to hear the voices of Myanmar and take decisive action to further cut the junta’s access to funds and arms. Furthermore, Justice For Myanmar called on India’s Quad partners and other allies to use their leverage to pressure India to stop the supply of arms and dual use goods and technology to the Myanmar junta.
In response to the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Counter Terrorism, Justice For Myanmar called on the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting to immediately cancel Myanmar junta. Justice For Myanmar said that ASEAN’s practical assistance and support for the training of Myanmar junta troops makes the bloc further complicit in ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity, and called on ASEAN to immediately cancel the exercises, to ban the junta from all meetings and to recognize and support the National Unity Government as the legitimate government of Myanmar.
Date: 25 June 2023
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York