Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (26 September 2021)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
After more than 230 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.
As of 25 September 2021, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a total of 8,456 people have been arrested, 6,803 people have still been detained, whereas 1,989 people have been issued with warrants, and 1,125 people were ruthlessly murdered by the military since 1 February 2021 when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians.
Nevertheless, demonstrations against the military, anti-coup movements,and pro-democracy activities are still actively and coordinately continued.
Internet Blackout in Myanmar
The military led State Administrative Council cut off internet access in some townships of Mandalay and the Sagaing Regions since last week.
In Hpakant township in Kachin State, internet access has been blocked since 20 August 2021, and the residents are still facing internet blackout. Residents said that such action of blocking internet access by the military violates the socio-economic rights of the residents.
According to the credible reports, moreover, the military cut off internet access across Chin State except for Hakha City, the capital of Chin State, on 23 September 2021. It is reported that mobile internet services from three telecom operators have been blocked since the evening of 23 September.
According to residents, Gangaw, Hteelin, and Myaing, three townships of the Magway Region have faced an internet blackout since the evening of 23 September 2021. Internet access has been shut down in these three townships after the military committed a series of violent assaults, such as shelling towns and burning down villages.
Similarly, access to phone and internet connections was cut off on 26 September 2021 in three townships named Pinlebu, Wuntho, and Kawlin in Sagaing Region after clashes between military troops and People’s Defence Force (PDF) and the Kachin Independent Army (KIA). It is reported that four of Myanmar telecoms providers went down in the early morning of 26 September. The military reportedly launched an airstrike near Wunbe Inn village in Pinlebu on 25 September, and after the internet blackout, two military helicopters landed in Wuntho at bases controlled by the 33rd Light Infantry Division.
Since August, twenty-two other townships across Sagaing Region, Chin State, and Kachin State have been facing internet blackout.
Burning Down a Village in Sagaing Region
According to a local news agency, the military troops raided Kyikone Village in Taze Township of the Sagaing Region and burned down houses in the village on 24 September 2021. It is reported that the military forces raided the village after the relatives of a policewoman in the village were murdered by unknown assailants on 22 September 2021.
According to local residents, the military troops torched the village twice in two days, burning down houses both in the southern and northern part of the village and the houses of the National League for Democracy (NLD) members. At least 11 houses were set on fire, and the blaze spread to surrounding fields and destroyed crops. Following the incident, almost all the villagers in Kyikone village and thousands from nearby villages in Sagaing Region have fled to safer zones.
The military is systematically destroying towns where the primarily civilian population lives. This is tantamount to a crime against humanity. Their mission was clear; to put fear into people and ensure that villages could not support local PDF fighters.
Brutal Killings intensified by the Military
Around midnight on 20 September 2021, the military troops reportedly raided Shaw Phyu (Middle) Village in Nahtogyi Township in Mandalay Region, and at least four people from one family were killed during the raid. Due to the incident, four of five family members were shot dead on the spot, and an 18-month-old child died due to a thigh injury when he arrived at Mandalay General Hospital. These deceased family members are Mr. Bo Khin, 76 years old; Mrs. Than, 75 years old; Mr. Maung Tun, 50 years old and Ms. Maw Htay, 30 years old and Mr. Zwe Htet Maw, 18 months old. According to the residents, a military informant had pointed out their home to the military as a known supporter of the NLD. The soldiers who invaded the village were reportedly stationed at the compound of a school in the town.
On 23 September 2021, it was reported that Mr. Pauk Gyi, living in Sein Pan Ward in Mandalay, was arrested and taken by the soldiers. He was then killed on the embankment of Sein Pan. His body was found with a gunshot wound on his head and stab wounds on his neck.
A 24-year-old activist, Mr. Sithu Kaung Myat, was shot and arrested at his home on 23 September 2021 in Bago. He was reportedly admitted to the Bago General Hospital for gunshot wounds to the chest, and he later died of his severe injuries on 24 September 2021. His 50-year-old mother was also arrested on 23 September and was detained. The police were sealing off their house after the death of Mr. Sithu Kaung Myat.
On 24 September 2021, a man named Mr. Ye, detained at the No.7 Police Station in Maha Aung Myay Township in Mandalay Region, was reportedly shot dead by the police. He was shot while he was leaving the police station after the police released him from detain. Mr.Ye was arrested on 22 September 2021 on suspicion of setting off a bomb explosion in Sein Pan Ward.
Arrests of Members of the Students’ Unions
On 19 September 2021, a 21-year-old Ms. Aye Nandar Soe, a leader of Students’Union of the Sagaing University of Education, was believed to stop and arresteda bus at the Yadabon bridge connecting Mandalay and Sagaing Regions. According to her friends, her whereabouts are unknown, and the military has not made a public announcement about her.
On the same day, it was reported that three young activists, including two members of the All Burma Federation of Student Union (ABFSU), were detained in Yangon and accused of being involved in bank robberies to fund armed resistance against the military.
According to the spokesperson of the ABFSU, the military has stepped up arrests of anti-military student activists in recent weeks, and the exact number detained is unknown.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 22 September 2021, H.E. Mr. Aung Myo Min, Union Minister of Human Rights of the National Unity Government has participated as one of the panelists at the Side Event: “Human Rights Situation in Myanmar: Eight Months after the attempted coup d’etat-updates from the ground,” during the 48th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council.
On 23 September 2021, H.E. Daw Zin Mar Aung, Union Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and H.E. U Aung Myo Min, Union Minister of the Ministry of Human Rights of the National Unity Government have attended a virtual meeting with Mr. Derek Chollet, the Counselor of the U.S Department of State. During the meeting, discussions regarding the current political situations and human rights conditions of Myanmar, humanitarian assistance issues, and COVID-19 vaccination programs were made. From the NUG side, H.E U Moe Zaw Oo, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador H.E U Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations, and U Aung Kyaw Moe, advisor of the Ministry of Human Rights, joined the meeting whereas Mr. Kin W. Moy, Senior Bureau Official for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the U.S Department of State also joined from the U.S. side.
On 23 September 2021, the Ministry of Human Rights of the National Unity Government released a Statement on the oral progress report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. In the statement, it was informed that Myanmar welcomes the progress report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Thomas Andrews, and supports the Special Rapporteur’s call for a “coordinated, robust and sustained program of targeted economic sanctions and a comprehensive embargo of weapons and dual-use technology.” Myanmar also endorses the “three critical roles” that the Special Rapporteur assigns to the Human Rights Council and put some additions to them. The statement further stated Myanmar’s acceptance of the Special Rapporteur’s call for all defensive actions to respect and abide by international human rights standards and humanitarian principles, in line with the National Unity Government’s established Code of Conduct.
On the following day, on 23 September 2021, the Ministry released another statement as a response to the written update of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. The statement informed that Myanmar welcomes the written update of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, which condemned the Myanmar Armed Forces’ targeted and indiscriminate attacks against civilians. The statement explained that the Myanmar people’s defiance against the attempted military coup d’état of 1 February 2021 was later responded to by the military with sheer brutality, murder, abductions, disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, and destruction of home and property.
In the statement, Myanmar also welcomes the recommendations set out in the written update. It accepts the call on the National Unity Government to ensure that its ‘actions, policies, and programmes are based on broad, inclusive consultation fully respecting international human rights law. Myanmar also further supports the High Commissioner’s call on the international community to ‘act urgently to prevent further disintegration of the situation in Myanmar. During the statement, it was stated that the National Unity Government, as the legitimate representative of the Myanmar people, stands ready to engage with the UN Member States, regional organizations, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and UN agencies, funds, and programmes to secure this same end.
As the recommendations from Myanmar, the Human Rights Council and UN Member States were asked tourge the Security Council to immediately resume its address of the situation in Myanmar and the actions of the military, to strengthen the Human Rights Council’s attention on the human rights situation in Myanmar, further to Human Rights Council resolutions 46/21 and 47/113 and General Assembly resolution 75/287.14, to support accountability efforts by Myanmar, and to support Myanmar to prevent military reprisals against persons who contribute to the work of the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms.
On 26 September 2021, the Ministry of Human Rights of the National Unity Government released a statement titled “Plea to armed groups to avoid harming civilians, including children.” The statement informed that the NUG had established a military code of conduct and rules of engagement for People’s Defense Forces to ensure they respect human rights and avoid harming innocent civilians in the revolt. In the statement, it was further stated that under no circumstances should violence be used against innocent civilians, particularly the vulnerable groups, including women, children, the elderly, and the disabled. Finally, in the statement, respective armed groups around Myanmar revolting in their ways against the military regime were urged to exercise due caution not to violate the international human rights law.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
In response to the military’s Internet Blackout in Myanmar, the Embassy of the United States in Yangon remarked on 21 September on Facebook that the military’s action of blocking internet access violates the rights of the people and harms society.
At the 48th session of the Human Rights Council on 23 September 2021, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that situation in Myanmar is spiraling into a full-blown conflict, and the military authorities show no sign of any efforts to stop these violations. High Commissioner urged that “the international community must redouble its efforts to restore democracy and prevent wider conflict before it is too late."
On 22 September 2021, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews said at the 48th session of the Human Rights Council that the crisis in Myanmar had become even graver under mass atrocity crimes and a deadly escalation of armed conflict. He called on the nations willing to support Myanmar’s citizen sanctions to do so in a coordinated, sustained programme of targeted economic sanctions and a comprehensive embargo of weapons and dual-use technology. He urged, “the international community must make a stronger commitment to ensure that life-saving aid reaches those in need.”
On 23 September 2021, US Department of State Counselor Derek Chollet met with the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs and Union Minister for Human Rights of the National Unity Government, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations in New York, and other representatives from the NUG. The meeting highlighted the importance of a swift return to democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar, respect for human rights, and equality. During the meeting, the Counselor expressed appreciation for the NUG’s leadership and dedication to the people of Myanmar in the face of the horrific violence perpetrated by the military. He also reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering support for all those working toward the peaceful restoration of Myanmar’s path to democracy.
The Quad leaders of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States issued a joint statement after the Quad Summit on 24 September 2021. In the statement, the leaders reaffirmed that they continue to call for the end to violence in Myanmar, the release of all political detainees, including foreigners, engagement in constructive dialogue, and the early restoration of democracy.
Date: 26 September 2021
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York