Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
Over twenty 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 23 September 2022, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military has ruthlessly killed 2,316 people, arrested 15,607 people, and a total of 126 individuals have been sentenced to death, of which 84 (including 2 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
Airstrikes on the schools in Letyet Kone Village, Depayin Township, Sagaing Region
As an update on last week’s report about the 16 September 2022 junta airstrikes and ground assault on the school compound in the monastery of Letyetkone Village, Sagaing Region, at least 13 civilians including seven children died due to those attacks, as of the time of reporting. It was reported that the junta soldiers held the teachers and students as captive for about three hours as they removed evidence of their crimes. They didn’t let the families of the late students to take those bodies away. As they left the school, the junta soldiers abducted two teachers and around 20 children, with serious injuries, as well as six other villagers as drivers and hostages. According to local residents, at least two of the children died by the time they reached a traditional medicine hospital in Ye-U Township, a town about 10km north of Letyetkone. Locals have reportedly discovered more bodies in and around the village after the soldiers left. Those victims included a 13-year-old boy found dead near the Muu River, three men with gunshot wounds who were found floating in the river a day after the attack, and a woman killed while herding her cows in the woods. The villagers also said that a body of a 33-year-old man named Aung Saw Htwe, one of the hostages taken by the soldiers when they left Letyetkone was found dumped on the road to Ye-U. The indiscriminate attacks and shootings forced around 50,000 people living in villages along the western bank of the Muu River to flee.
Raiding, Torching, Abducting in Villages of Khin-U Township, Sagaing Region
According to the news, thousands of villagers have been displaced by recent military assaults on villages of Khin-U Township, Sagaing Region. On 21 September 2022, troops arrived at Thagara Myo Thit Village and clashed with local defence forces at the village entrance. After the local defence forces withdrew from the clash, the junta troops set up a base in the village, and half of them reportedly continued on to neighbouring Gway Kone Village the next morning. By 22 September 2022, locals in multiple villages along the highway had fled the military raids. On 20 September 2022, the larger junta column operating in eastern Khin-U Township began its raids with junta ships travelling along the Ayeyarwady River attacking Ka Bwat and Yone Pin Villages. According to the news report, the Khin-U PDF said that some 7,500 civilians from 2,000 households had been displaced from Ka Bwat to the surrounding forests. In Yone Pin Village, although most of the residents have fled, 10 locals were arrested by the arriving Myanmar army troops.
Raiding and attacking the villagers of Wari Su Palai Village, Moebye Township, Shan State
According to an officer from the Pekhon People’s Defence Force (PDF), at least 150 regime soldiers stationed in Wari Su Palai Village, south of Moebye, entered Moebye Town late on 18 September to carry out operations. The junta troops have since taken up position in several wards of the town, which is located near the border with Karenni State. Moreover, heavy artillery was reportedly fired from a base in Pekhon, some 15km to the north, to clear the way for the military column that marched into Moebye that day. According to the local residents, the military was seeking vengance after it has lost at least 60 soldiers and was forced to pull its troops out of the town on 11 September during four days of intense fighting with local anti-regime groups in Moebye’s Pwel Kone Ward 3. On 19 September, the junta troops occupied the Pwel Kone Ward 3 and the Mwe Daw Monastery in Myoma Ward. In addition, civilians unable to flee Moebye before Sunday, the day the junta troops returned, were forced to work for the occupying soldiers. With the arrival of junta troops, Moebye has been sealed off since 19 September. Among those trapped in the town are novice monks and internally displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering at the Mwe Daw and Set Taw Yar monasteries. The Moebye People’s Defence Force and the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force mentioned in their statements that civilians in the town and along the villages are being used by the junta troops as human shields.
Killing innocent civilians
On 18 September 2022, Soe Linn Paing and Phoe Sal were killed by the junta forces while they were farming near Wat Khot Village, Gway Kone Village Tract, Yesagyo Township, Magway Region. It was reported that the junta forces killed the two after their arrival to the village in the afternoon.
On 18 September 2022, junta troops shot dead Lal Madee, an ethnic-Lisu from Ward 2, Arlan Village in Myitkyina Township, Kachin State. According to the news, he was going to check on his bamboo raft at a pier when he ran into the junta forces, who tried to stop him. As he fled in fear, they shot him and his body was later burned near a river bank.
Arbitrary arrest of innocent civilians
According to the news, on 29 August 2022, the family of Khin Myo Nwel, who was detained on 27 August 2022, was informed of her death. She was detained by the armed wing of the Junta in Zee Phyu Kone Village, Twantay Township, Yangon Region and the cause of her death was not clear. On 30 August 2022, her family went to the Mingaladon Military Hospital and could only see her face.
On 18 September 2022, an ethnic-Chin vocalist called Mercy Ngun Tha Cin was arrested by the junta forces at her Chin traditional clothing shop, Cengkerh Collection, in Hakha Township, Chin State, due to having an alleged connection to the PDF.
Actions taken against the arrested high school teacher and anti-dictatorship protestors
On 20 September 2022, Ye Soe Kyaw, a teacher from Htet Myat Thu Private High School in Lewe Township, Nay Pyi Taw, was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment under the Counter-Terrorism Law Section 50(J) by a Nay Pyi Taw Prison special court. He was arrested on 5 January 2022 by the junta forces while he was teaching at school. At the time of arrest, he was accused of supporting the PDF.
On 20 September 2022, seven female anti-dictatorship protestors and one male driver were sentenced by Hpakant Township Court in Kachin State. They were arrested by military soldiers whilst returning from a demonstration on 13 July 2022. Under Penal Code Section 505A and other sections, the female protestors, namely Mar Mar Linn, Khin Toe, Than Ngwe, Htay Htay Khaing, Sandar Shwe Thein, Myint Myint Than and Khin Lae, were sentenced to one year and six months’ imprisonment and the male driver, Thein Tun, was sentenced to two years and seven months’ imprisonment.
Death of a young activist in the prison
On 17 September 2022, the family of Khant Thurein, a 16-year-old boy arrested by the junta one year ago, was informed of his death. According to the news report, the junta claimed that the teenager had died at an unspecified date of tuberculosis. When returning Khant Thurein's body, the junta warned his family that any cremation or funeral service would need to be held with discretion. It was noted that if his serving time had been deducted from his sentence, Khant Thurein would have been released on three days later. He was arrested in Mayangone’s first ward along with four other minors: Wai Yan Phyo, 17; Aung Ko Oo, 16; Thant Zin, 16; and Kyel Zin Hnin Wai, 14. The five were among nine youth accused of involvement in three assassinations and one targeted explosion in Mayangone and North Dagon townships between July and September 2021.
Heavy artillery fired at civilian locations
On 16 September 2022, at around 4 am, a 70-year-old local named Kyi Tin was killed by an artillery shell when the junta fired separate heavy and light weaponry into Na Nwin Kaing Village, Myaung Township, Sagaing Region. News reported that the victim was seeking refuge in a monastery.
According to local news, on 16 September 2022, four internally displaced persons (IDPs) were instantly killed when the junta’s artillery shell landed on the Mwe Daw Monastery, Moebye Town, Pekhon Township, Shan State. The victims, who were among some 300 people sheltering at a monastery, included two sisters aged 7 and 10 and two men in their 50s. According to a town resident, at least 13 others were seriously injured. Moreover, the residents also said that junta troops have been shelling relentlessly since being forced to retreat from the town on 11 September following four days of fighting that resulted in heavy regime casualties.
On 17 September 2022, a local woman named Naw Thoo Lay Phaw, from Taung Su Village, Kyaukkyi Township, Bago Region, was hit and killed by the indiscriminate heavy weaponry of Light Infantry Battalion 351 stationed in Natthankwin Bridge. According to the news, locals in Taung Su Village fled outside the village when military troops forcibly relocated them. Naw Thoo Lay Phaw, who returned to the village to retrieve rice, was struck by the heavy weaponry when she was trying to leave the village.
On 21 September 2022, a junta artillery division, stationed in Loikaw, Kayah State, fired heavy weaponry indiscriminately. A local named Jue was killed by two of the artillery shells that landed in Saung Kan (Shan) Village in Loikaw Township.
On 22 September 2022, junta forces stationed in Shwe Paw Kyunn Pagoda in Shwegu Township, Kachin State, fired heavy weaponry indiscriminately at villages on the other side of the river in Shwegu. One of the artillery shells exploded in Moe Sitt Village, killing 12-year-old Zwe Naing Win on the spot, while another woman lost her leg. Other villagers were also injured, and two households were burned down.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 18 September 2022, three ministries of the National Unity Government; the Ministry of Education; Ministry of Women, Youth and Children Affairs; and the Ministry of Human Rights; issued a joint statement regarding the deaths and injuries caused by an airstrike on a school in Debayin Township. In the statement, the NUG strongly condemned the military’s “targeted attacks on the schools, which is an inhuman and brutal war crime”. It demanded that the arrested children and teachers be released without any harm. It underlined that the international community has the responsibility to support the effort of bringing justice for war crimes, gross violations of children’s right to education and heinous targeted attacks on schools.
On 19 September 2022, the National Unity Government issued a Weekly Newsletter No. 21/2022, which published articles relating to the NUG’s activities. Those articles included the NUG’s Prime Minister urging the NUG ministries to cut revenue flow to the SAC and to mobilize funds for the revolution, the NUG’s help for Myanmar migrant workers who were fired in Thailand to get their pay and worker status back, the NUG to provide educational programs for Rohingya youth, and the joint statement of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Women, Youth and Children Affairs and Ministry of Human Rights in response to the 9th September report by Save the Children and Global Coalition to Protect Education (GCPEA) entitled “The impacts of attacks on education and military use in Myanmar”. The newsletter also published the article titled “SAC air strikes continue to kill innocent children”, which explained the bombardment and raid in Latyat Kone Village on 16 September 2022.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
On 19 September 2022, UNICEF Myanmar issued a press release titled “At least 11 schoolchildren killed in Myanmar attack”. The full statement reads: “On 16 September, at least 11 children died in an air strike and indiscriminate fire in civilian areas, including a school in Tabayin Township, Sagaing Region of Myanmar. While more details are still being verified, UNICEF offers condolences to the parents and families who lost their children. At least 15 children from the same school are still missing. UNICEF calls for their immediate and safe release. Schools must be safe. Children must never be attacked.”
On 19 September 2022, the U.S. Department of State announced an additional contribution of $1 million through its Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs to the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM). The contribution, to support victims and witnesses of abuses by the Burmese military, was announced by Beth Van Schaack, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice during an event cohosted on the margins of the UN General Assembly by the Department of State and the Atlantic Council titled “Safeguarding Victims and Witnesses in Atrocity Crime Trials”. The Ambassador also called on other governments to similarly provide assistance to safeguard victims of and witnesses to atrocity crimes. The press release of the U.S. State Department mentioned that there is a clear and pressing need to protect victims of and witnesses to crimes in Burma. Credible information provided by victims and witnesses of atrocities committed in Burma is a threat to the military regime, which is actively targeting dissenting voices through forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. It explained that this contribution will further support the IIMM’s efforts to ensure victim and witness protection, while also increasing the mechanism’s access to important credible information of crimes committed within the scope of the IIMM’s mandate to investigate, collect, preserve, and analyze evidence of the most serious international crimes in Burma since 2011.
On 20 September 2022, the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Myanmar made a statement which was posted on the website of the UN. According to the statement, the Secretary-General strongly condemned the attacks by Myanmar armed forces on a school in Let Yet Kone in Sagaing Region, killing at least 13 people, including 11 children. He offered his deepest condolences to the families of the victims. It was stated that even in times of armed conflict, schools must remain areas in which children are granted protection and a safe place to learn. Attacks on schools and hospitals in contravention of international humanitarian law also constitute one of the six grave violations against children in times of armed conflict strongly condemned by the Security Council. The Secretary-General reiterated that, under international humanitarian law, combatants must not direct attacks against civilians, including children, or civilian objects. Perpetrators of all international crimes committed in Myanmar must be held accountable.
On the same day, Save the Children published a press statement regarding this similar attack on a school on 16 September. In the statement, it said that Save the Children is horrified by reports that at least 11 children have been killed and 17 others injured in an attack on a school in Myanmar on 16 September. It condemned the attack in Depayin, Sagaing Region, in the strongest possible terms and expressed deepest condolences to the families who have lost children and loved ones in this attack. It also called for International Humanitarian Law to be upheld and that children and schools must be off-limits from attacks. It reiterated the call for this violence to end immediately and for children and civilians to be kept out of harm’s way.
On 21 September 2022, during the interactive dialogue at the Human Rights Council, Mr. Thomas Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, said that conditions had gone from bad to worse to horrific for untold numbers of innocent people in Myanmar. He mentioned that around 1.3 million people had been displaced; the military had destroyed more than 28,000 homes, burning entire villages to the ground. The number of innocent people who had been killed or injured by landmines was rising significantly. He stressed that Myanmar people were frustrated and angered by Member States that were working to prop up this illegal and brutal military junta with funding, trade, weapons, and a veneer of legitimacy. They were also disappointed by those nations that voiced support for them, but then failed to back up their words with action. The Myanmar military was committing war crimes and crimes against humanity daily, including sexual violence, torture, deliberate targeting of civilians, and murder. The junta was holding at least 84 political prisoners on death row; and more than 12,000, including 295 children, remained arbitrarily detained in deplorable conditions, subject to torture. Mr. Andrews mentioned that the international response to this deepening crisis had failed. Member States needed to take stronger, more effective action to deprive the junta and its forces of revenue, weapons and legitimacy. He said that he had spoken with more than 100 Myanmar human rights defenders, pro-democracy activists, aid workers, youth leaders, and women’s rights advocates. He had been deeply inspired by their courage and their tireless efforts to resist the illegal military junta. These people needed the world’s support. He underlined that the people of Myanmar desperately needed all Member States to re-think status quo policies that were clearly not working, and to stand with and for them as they fought for their lives, their children, and their future.
On 21 September 2022, the Embassy of Canada in Myanmar posted on its Facebook account that Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms recent attacks including at a school in Tabayin Township, Sagaing Region by Myanmar security forces, which are reported to have killed at least 11 schoolchildren and injured and killed many more. Canada will continue to support efforts to hold Myanmar security forces accountable for violations of applicable international law, and to protect the human rights of children and youth in Myanmar – including the right to education, primary health care, and personal security.
On 21 September 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Cambodia released a press statement regarding the remark on Myanmar during a bilateral meeting between H.E. PRAK Sokhonn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia and H.E. Santiago Cafiero, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Worship of the Argentine Republic on 20 September 2022. In the statement, it was explained that during this bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York City, U.S.A., the two Ministers exchanged views on the war in Ukraine and its impact on global food and energy security and the crisis in Myanmar. It was also mentioned that Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister briefed his Argentine counterpart on Cambodia’s efforts, as the Chair of ASEAN, in assisting Myanmar’s return to normalcy through the implementation of the ASEAN Five-point consensus and the challenges that Cambodia faces in this regard.
On 21 September 2022, the World Food Programme (WFP) published the WFP Myanmar Situation Report (August 2022). As the highlights of the report, it was stated as follows: In response to rising inflation and a surge in local and global food prices, WFP increased the value of cash-based transfers in August. The change will cost WFP an additional US$450,000 per month. In August, WFP reached more than 1 million people with food and cash assistance, including 33,300 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who received WFP assistance for the first time. In 2022, WFP has assisted 2.6 million conflict-affected people across Myanmar with emergency food, livelihoods and nutrition support.
On the same day, the World Bank published the Myanmar Community Resilience Project and its Executive Summary (September 2022). The executive summary stated that under the Myanmar Community Resilience Project (MCRP), the World Bank will be supporting the World Food Programme’s (WFP’s) proposed interventions within the scope of its life-saving food and nutrition assistance to conflict-affected populations in Myanmar. The objective of the MCRP is to maintain and build resilience of vulnerable populations to enable their future development. It was further explained that the WFP interventions under the Project will support targeted relief and nutrition assistance through food transfers and cash-based transfers to populations affected by crisis, as well as provision of specialized nutritious foods to pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girls and children under 5. This Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) has been prepared to identify the potential environmental and social risks and impacts of proposed Project activities and propose suitable mitigation measures to manage these risks and impacts. It maps out the general WFP and World Bank policies applicable for the Project, and describes the principles, approaches, implementation arrangements, and environmental and social mitigation measures to be followed.
On 22 September 2022, the U.S. Department of State released a Press Statement announcing more than $170 Million in Humanitarian Assistance for the Rakhine State/Rohingya Refugee Crisis. In the statement, the State Department explained that with this new funding, the U.S.’s total assistance in response to the Rohingya Refugee Crisis has reached nearly $1.9 billion since August 2017, when over 740,000 Rohingya were forced to flee to safety in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. It further stressed that this additional humanitarian assistance included more than $93 million through the State Department and more than $77 million through USAID. With nearly $138 million for programs specifically in Bangladesh, it provides life-sustaining support to the over 940,000 Rohingya refugees, many of whom are survivors of a campaign of genocide and crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, and 540,000 generous host community members in Bangladesh. It mentioned that the assistance will enable the provision of food, safe drinking water, health care, protection, education, shelter, and psychosocial support. The State Department, through the statement, urged other donors to contribute robustly to the humanitarian response and increase support to those driven from and affected by violence in Burma.
On 22 September 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia posted a press release regarding the informal ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in New York. In the press release, it was mentioned that the meeting was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister PRAK Sokhonn, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia. It was stated in the press release that apart from ASEAN Community building efforts, the Meeting also exchanged views on the situation in Myanmar and the follow-up on the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus (SPC) agreed at the ASEAN Leaders' Meeting on 24 April 2021.
On 22 September 2022, the UNHCR posted a weekly highlight of Myanmar South East - Emergency Overview Map: Number of people displaced in South East since Feb 2021 and remain displaced (As of 19 September 2022). According to the highlights, in the South-East, the number of IDPs increased from 289,800 last week to 291,700 this week. Similar to the previous week, Kyaukkyi Township in Bago Region (East) continues to experience the most displacement with about 1,300 new IDPs verified. They reported security threats that forced them to leave their villages. In Shan State (South), 550 people from Moebye town fled to Loikaw town in Kayah State due to intensified fighting and airstrikes. In addition, 200 IDPs at a monastery in Moebye town had to move to safer locations in Pekon and Loikaw towns, following an attack. Clashes were reported in Pekon Township, Shan State (South), causing the displacements of about 680 people within the township and towards Pinlaung Township. After several weeks of fighting, 400 IDPs in Kayin State’s Myawaddy Township returned to their places of origin.
In the Key Highlights of UNHCR Myanmar Operational Update, April - June 2022, it was mentioned that 126,500 people received core relief items including kitchen sets, blankets and sleeping mats, ensuring their basic needs were met while 37,000 people received shelter support for safe and dignified living conditions while in displacement. Further, 1,055 people with specific needs benefited from cash assistance to meet their basic needs. Moreover, 600,000 Estimated stateless Rohingya in Rakhine State, of which some 153,000 are living in displacement camps as well as among the host community since 2012. Accordingly, there are 1,105,100 Internally displaced people (IDP) living in Rakhine, Chin, Kachin, Shan, Kayin and Mon States, and Bago (East), Tanintharyi, Sagaing and Magway Regions. An estimated 758,500 people are displaced due to the resumption and intensification of clashes between the Tatmadaw and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) and/or People’s Defense Forces (PDF) after 1 February 2021. Some 72,700 remain displaced in 172 sites in Rakhine and Chin States displaced following the Arakan Army- Tatmadaw conflict.
Date: 25 September 2022
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York