Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (27 March 2022)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
Almost 14 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 25 March 2022, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 1,707 people were ruthlessly killed by the military, whereas 12,970 people have been arrested and 1,974 people have been issued with warrants since 1 February 2021, when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians.
Atrocities committed by the military
Junta’s plan to intensify their anti-resistance activities
On 24 March 2022, during a press conference in Naypyitaw, Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun, the junta’s spokesperson, said that the junta’s armed forces plan to intensify their anti-resistance activities in Sagaing Region, northwestern Myanmar, with the help of allied militias. Members of what locals call the “Pyu Saw Htee” groups—trained and armed by the military—have been present during raids on villages in the region alongside Myanmar army soldiers. According to leaked records from discussion between army chief Min Aung Hlaing and Sagaing’s Chief Minister Myat Kyaw in February, Myat Kyaw said that more than 2,000 weapons had been distributed to a total of 77 such militias in the region and reportedly asked that the military council recruit more civil servants to take part in combat training.
Raiding, Killing, Looting and Attacks in Inn Nge Daunt Village
On 5 March 2022, around 100 junta soldiers and paramilitary Pyu Saw Htee forces raided Inn Nge Daunt Village in Pauk Township of Magway Region, and they looted the goods and properties of the villagers. After the junta troops took control of the small village with around 30 households, they began firing guns and heavy artillery to ward off resistance forces active in the area. When the goods looted by the junta were taken to Wun Chone, a known Pyu Saw Htee stronghold, a local defence force approached and attacked until the junta forces used the heavy artillery against them. The junta troops torched the houses in the centre of the village and burned four injured youths who they captured from the local defense force. The junta troops raped the wife of a villager and killed her and her three-year-old daughter. The junta forces took more than 30 hostages as human shields when they set off for Wun Chone. Those hostages included eight children and a three-month-old baby. There was no information about them for two weeks.
Raiding, Killing and Looting in Villages of Taze Township
On 12 March 2022, the junta forces raided Sein Sar and Chaung Yoe Villages of Taze Township, Sagaing Region, which are located on the road connecting the towns of Taze and Ye-U Townships. During the raid in Sein Sar village, the junta troops raided the monastery; interrogated and tortured the 70-year-old abbot, Ven. Pyinnya Zawta; looted the appliances and a car from the monastery; and torched at least 18 buildings in the village including the monastery. According to a villager, a 14-year-old schoolgirl was shot dead while trying to flee the attack. As the group moved to the next village, Chaung Yoe, they interrogated three nuns, all in their seventies, at the Mary Help of Christians Church and burned the pulpit, altar, robes and other sacred items of the Church. A 55-year-old man and his son were also shot and killed during the raid, according to the Chaung Yoe resident.
According to the Chin Human Rights Organisation, regime forces destroyed 34 churches and 15 other Christian religious buildings between February 2021 and January 2022.
According to the Myanmar Now News Agency, on 21 March 2022, a column of roughly 100 junta soldiers raided Ywar Htaung Village of Yinmabin Township, Sagaing Region and hundreds of people fled the area. When the villagers ran to the Mambara Monastery located at the edge of Yinmabin Township for shelter, the soldiers kidnapped 30 of the men. The leader of the local resistance group, “the North Yamar Defence Force”, told the News Agency that the soldiers used both heavy and light weapons while there were no defense forces around the area. The next day, the soldiers torched the houses in the village and moved to Htan Taw Gyi Village on the northeastern side of Yinmabin.
According to the news article of Myanmar Now News Agency on 21 March 2022, the police in Mandalay detained Daw Nilar, a 52-years-old mother of a suspected PDF member, on 2 March 2022. She was arrested when the police raided her house in the Yadanar Su neighbourhood of Chanayethazan Township in search of her son, 34-year-old Wai Yan Soe and could not find him. During February 2022, Daw Nilar and her daughter were taken to the station for one day to be interrogated regarding the whereabouts of Wai Yan Soe. Now Daw Nilar is being held at Obo Prison and the reason and charges of the detention was unclear.
A similar case happened in November 2021, when the junta’s forces arrested Khin Aye Maw, a 50-year-old mother of Hein Htet, a Mandalay engineering student accused of joining the PDF. She was later charged with a terrorism offence and is being held at Obo Prison.
Attacking the IDPs at the Shelter
On 22 March 2022, an eight-year-old boy died when he was hit by a Myanmar military artillery shell in Sagaing Region, while four others including a 13-year-old girl were injured. According to the news article, the boy was among a group of displaced people taking shelter in the village of Htan Be Hla in Ye-U Township, where the junta soldiers arrived and began firing heavy and light weapons. The deceased boy and his mother, along with several other people, were taking cover beneath a tamarind tree when a shell fired by the junta troops landed near the tree. After firing for 30 minutes, the soldiers detained 10 men from the village and tortured them on suspicion of being members of the People’s Defence Force (PDF). They released eight of the captives and took two with them when they left the village later that day. One of those released villagers said that the soldiers dunked the villagers’ heads in the muddy swamp water, kicked and stepped on their heads with their boots, hit their heads with rifle handles and cut the villagers’ throats lightly with their knives. The remaining two survivors who were released later were seriously injured and had to receive medical treatment. The soldiers headed to the town of Ye-U via Hnaw Kone Village after leaving Htan Be Hla.
According to the news on 27 March 2022, the Abbot Ven. U Tay Zani Ya, who lived near Kywal Kan Village in Kyauk-Pa-Daung Township, Mandalay Region, was burned and murdered during the night of 25 March. The Lay Attendant (Kapiya) of the Monk was also murdered. According to a local resident, the murders were discovered the next morning when one of the locals visited the monastery to offer alms. The body of the monk was burned with his two hands tied at his back. The late Abbot was well-known and respected by the community since he voluntarily helped the alcohol addicts and drug addicts in their rehabilitation process. The late Abbot has been sculpting four Buddha statues, among which one was intended for donation to pay homage to State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Some local residents told BBC Burmese that the Ward Administrators from some townships in Yangon have forwarded the residents the junta’s instruction to include the entire family’s photo when anyone wishes to register as a guest for overnight stay at their house.
From 6 to 12 March 2022, in Demoso, Loikaw, Hpruso, Shadaw, Bawlake, Hpasawng, and Mese Townships of Kayah State, nine clashes broke out between junta forces and PDFs. During those clashes, junta forces conducted massive airstrikes 28 times and shot heavy artilleries in an indiscriminate manner. In Lel Htwear Village, three children and a member of the Free Burma Rangers, which is a multi-ethnic relief organization, were killed by heavy artillery. One child and one man were also injured. Fifteen houses from Pu Hpar Village were also destroyed due to the airstrikes. Junta forces torched 30 houses in Pu Hpar Village and 10 houses in Thay Su Le Village of Demoso Township.
On 26 March 2022, the junta’s two jet fighters dropped two bombs against Ta Waw Thaw Village of Myawaddy Township in Kayin State. Although there were no casualties or injuries, a few civilian houses were destroyed.
According to news reports, on 27 March 2022, the junta’s two jet fighters conducted airstrikes against Pay Kay Village and Htee Lay Kwi Village of Hpapun Township, Kayin State, destroying civilian houses.
Charges against family members, students, and journalists
According to Myanmar Now News Agency, on 17 March 2022, the court handed the 3-year-old Ma Su Myat Zaw, her 30-year-old mother Ma Tin May Oo and her 56-year-old grandmother Daw Kathy maximum sentences for incitement of three years of imprisonment. The family members were arrested on 30 March 2021 and held hostage in Insein Prison, Yangon Region, when the junta couldn’t find Min Zaw Oo, the father of the toddler and a janitor of the Yangon City Development Committee, who was wanted for participating in the CDM’s general strike. The women were convicted of violating Section 505(a) of the Penal Code. According to the news, the prison court rejected the family’s request for release on 6 January 2022, and Daw Kathy, who is Min Zaw Oo’s mother, had been in the prison hospital for more than 10 days at the time of reporting due to multiple chronic health conditions including diabetes and kidney and liver issues. The detainees’ family members requested that the verdict in the case be expedited out of concern for Daw Kathy’s health.
According to the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), on 18 March 2022, three of their Mandalay-based members were charged by the junta for violating Myanmar’s counterterrorism law. The individuals, who were arrested on 2 March 2022 in Amarapura Township, include Aung Myo Ko, chair of the student union at the Mandalay Education College, Thiri Yadanar, upper Myanmar secretary of the ABFSU and Kyaw Zin Latt, a middle school teacher from Singu Township. According to the ABFSU chair, Aung Pyae Sone Phyo, these three activists were previously a part of democratic movement, but they have stopped those activities, and they had been helping families of detained students send care packages to their loved ones in prison. The three detainees in their 20s have been held at the township police station since their arrest and were formally accused on 18 March of violating Section 50(j) of the counterterrorism law for funding “terrorist” organizations, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and being alleged accessories to terrorist acts, under Section 52(a) of the law, which carries a seven-year sentence. They were also reportedly being investigated for incitement charges under Section 505(a) of the Penal Code, although this charge had not yet been formally filed.
On 21 March 2022, Hanthar Nyein, a co-founder of Kamayut Media, was convicted by a military-run “special court” in Insein and sentenced to two years imprisonment. On 22 March 2022, Than Htike Aung, the former Mizzima correspondent, was handed the same verdict by the Dekkhina District Court in Naypyitaw. The decisions were made one year after their arrests and charges of violating Section 505(a) of the Penal Code for incitement. Both men pleaded not guilty, and were told that their time already served in prison would be deducted from their sentences. Hanthar Nyein was arrested along with Kamayut’s other co-founder and editor-in-chief Nathan Maung during a military raid on their office in Yangon on 9 March 2021. After being detained in Insein for more than three months, Nathan Maung, an American citizen, was released and deported in June. He told several news outlets that both he and Hanthar Nyein were brutally tortured by the junta’s forces during prison interrogations. Than Htike Aung was arrested outside the Dekkhina Court on 19 March 2021, by plain clothes officers while reporting on a hearing for National League for Democracy party patron U Win Htein. BBC correspondent Aung Thura was also arrested, but released days later.
More than 130 journalists have been arrested since the coup, and more than 50 were still imprisoned at the time of reporting, according to figures compiled by the Detained Journalists Group, which has been monitoring and collecting data on the issue.
Actions taken against the CDM staff
On 24 March 2022, at around 11 pm, the apartments of CDM staff at the government housing area of the Ministry of Industry in the 12th Ward, Hlaing Township, were closed down by the junta. According to the news, only those apartments which the CDM staffs have moved out of were closed down, and the CDM staffs still living in their apartments were forced to move out on the following day. It was reported that the apartments of CDM staff from Ministry of Industry near Bartar Bus Stop in Hlaing Township were closed down on 23 March 2022.
On 26 March 2022, the news reported that the military junta has informed and warned the 120 CDM staff members and their families from the No. 1, Oil Factory, ThanLynn Township, Yangon Region, to depart from the government housing areas by 8 April 2022 at the latest. According to the CDM staffs, they were threatened that if they don’t move from the houses by 8 April, the junta would use force to remove them. There are approximately 500 people from the 120 households. Most of them have already run away and were hiding, but there are many households facing difficulties to find a new place to move.
Protests and Strikes against the junta
On 21 March 2022, there was a combined strike in Mandalay consisting of monks, students, the public, women and the LGBT community after the ICRC was requested to investigate sexual violence in prisons.
On 22 March 2022, in Mandalay there was a protest against the visit of the ASEAN Special Envoy and his meeting with the SAC. During the protest, the banner titled “ASEAN stand for democracy, not for dictator” was held along the movement of the crowd.
On 26 March 2022, for the “Fascism Revolution Day” on 27 March, local residents in Mandalay marched and protested despite the restrictions all over the city.
Similarly, on 27 March 2022, as a “Fascism Revolution Day” Commemoration, the Anti-military Dictatorship Movement was held in Launglon township of Dawei district. During the movement, local women, Launglon basic education students union and youths participated and held banners reading “Eradicate Fascist Military” and “Highland and Mainland March Together; Eradicate Fascist Military”.
As the commemoration of the Fascism Revolution Day, the National Unity Government requested the Myanmar people to participate in the “No-Light Strike” for 30 minutes at 8 P.M. on 27 March 2022. Anyone could participate in the strike by not using the electricity for 30 minutes from 8 P.M. to 8.30 P.M. on that day. According to the news, people agreed to participate in the strike by not using the electricity during that time.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 24 March 2022, with Notification No. (2/2022), the National Unity Government appointed Nan Su Mon Aung as a new representative of the National Unity Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to French Republic.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
At the 49th session of the Human Rights Council, during the interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Madame Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights delivered a statement. In her statement, she explained that thirteen months after the military coup of 1 February 2021, the human rights of the people of Myanmar are in profound crisis. Pre-existing armed conflicts in multiple ethnic states have been inflamed by the systematic use of brutal methods by security forces. She added that as the country's humanitarian crisis continues to expand and the economy is on the brink of collapse, over 14.4 million individuals are now assessed as being in humanitarian need. The High Commissioner explained the military’s harsh repression of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and information, including Internet access, and its use of lethal force, mass arbitrary arrests, and the use of torture. She mentioned that disproportionate military responses to armed resistance have taken place with particular ferocity in Sagaing and Magway Regions, as well as in Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, and Shan States. Across the country, the military has employed a so-called “four-cuts” strategy to punish local communities for their assumed support to armed elements. She further added that Myanmar is increasingly at risk of state collapse, with shattered economic, education, health, and social protection systems. The safety and rights of human rights defenders and other civil society actors and the area of civic space are of concern.
She highlighted that accountability remains crucial to any solution to this crisis. The people of Myanmar deserve, and overwhelmingly demand, justice, and urgent action is required by the international community and by all parties to halt violence, and to respond to the humanitarian needs in Myanmar. Myanmar’s people have been clear in their rejection of this coup and the violence it has wrought on their lives. They demand that their voices be heard and that they have a say in their democratic future. It is time for us all to listen to them.
During the 49th Session of Human Rights Council, at the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of the human rights in Myanmar on 21 March 2022, Mr. Thomas Andrew made a statement regarding the current situation in Myanmar. The Special Rapporteur stated that the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Myanmar have seen the international community’s failure to take strong, coordinated action as a betrayal. The people of Myanmar see only endless expressions of concern from the international community, vague declarations and endless wait for a consensus to act. The Special Rapporteur pointed to international action in light of the crisis in Ukraine as a standard by which its response to the crisis in Myanmar can be measured. He further mentioned that the military junta had murdered more than 1,600 civilians, detained more than 10,000, displaced more than half a million, destroyed more than 4,500 homes since the start of this year, spread armed conflict to regions previously at peace, and continued to systematically oppress and persecute the Rohingya in Rakhine State. He highlighted that the military junta has driven Myanmar into a humanitarian catastrophe marked by a crumbling health infrastructure, half the nation falling into poverty, rampant inflation, and the cruel and outrageous blocking of the delivery of aid to those in desperate need. Children are being targeted and killed even as they run with their parents for safety. More than 100 have been murdered since the coup was launched last year. The SR implored the Council and its Member States to stand with and for the people of Myanmar with not only words, but even more importantly, with action. Because for growing numbers of men, women and children in Myanmar, it is a matter of life and death.
On 24 March 2022, the UN OCHA issued Myanmar Humanitarian Response Plan Monitoring Report: January - December 2021. This report described the situation in Myanmar during 2021, including the unprecedented political, socioeconomic, human rights and humanitarian crisis with needs escalating dramatically since the military takeover on 1 February and a severe COVID-19 third wave. According to the UN, of the 690,000 IDPs in Myanmar as of 27 December 2021, an estimated 52 per cent were women and 34 per cent were children. Of these, 320,000 were displaced by armed conflict and unrest since 1 February 2021.
The report gave details on the military takeover and the large-scale Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) that followed heavily impacted the economy and the already fragile public service sector in 2021, further restricting people’s access to essential basic social services such as education and health. The crisis caused severe interruptions to basic health services, risking long-term consequences for the health and well-being of Myanmar’s population. The health sector has been under enormous strain due to both the CDM and COVID-19. While NGOs, Ethnic Health Organizations (EHOs) and private health services tried to cover the gap, they were not able to fully compensate for the breakdown of public services. Access to education was also heavily disrupted. Due to the combined effects of COVID-19 and the military takeover, nearly all of Myanmar’s 12 million school aged children missed out on almost two years of education in 2020 and 2021. Monsoon floods in July and August 2021 affected more than 120,000 people across various parts of the country, resulting in crop losses and further contributing to food insecurity.
On the same day, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced the Myanmar emergency overview map on the number of people displaced in southeast Myanmar since February 2021 and remain displaced as of 21 March 2022. According to UNHCR, in southeast Myanmar, the number of IDPs increased to 230,000 from 228,800 previously due to new displacements and verification of IDPs displaced weeks prior. In Kayin State, the situation in Hpapun and Myawaddy Townships continue to deteriorate. Several clashes and airstrikes occurred around Kawakareik Township, resulting in the forced displacement of about 4,100 people. In Shan State (South), clashes in Pekon Township resulted in the displacement of 2,460 people. In Kayah State, the situation in Demoso Township continues to be tense with security risks prompting 3,220 IDPs to move to safer locations within the township and also towards Shan State’s Pekon and Hsihseng Townships. Concurrently, returns were recorded in Shan State (South) with 3,300 IDPs in Pekon Township returning to villages of origin within the township, while 2,120 IDPs in Hsishseng Township returned to Loikaw Township in Kayah State. The high number of secondary and tertiary displacements in Kayah State suggests that the security situation remains volatile and returns may only be temporary.
On 25 March 2022, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned five individuals and five entities connected to Burma’s military regime. OFAC stated in its announcement that this action was taken as the regime prepared to mark the 77th Armed Forces Day. The United States concluded that the Burmese military committed genocide, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing against Rohingya and atrocities and other abuses against members of other ethnic and religious minority groups for decades. Following the coup on 1 February 2021, the military committed numerous atrocities against the people of Burma, including the violent repression of political dissent and violence against innocent people, including at pro-democracy protests during last year’s Armed Forces Day that killed more than 100 people.
In the announcement, Mr. Brian E. Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence said, “Treasury is committed to holding accountable those who are responsible for the ongoing violence and repression. We will continue to support the people of Burma, including those who are courageously standing in opposition to the military.”
According to the actions, the 66th Light Infantry Division (66 LID), a military unit based in Pyay Township; Brigadier-General Ko Ko Oo, who serves as the Commander of Central Command and the head of the Ministry of Defense’s Technologies Department; and Major-General Zaw Hein, who serves as the Commander of the Nay Pyi Taw Command, were designated by the OFAC. Moreover, OFAC designated the following individuals and related entities in connection with providing arms and equipment to Burma’s military regime: Naing Htut Aung for operating in the defense sector of the Burmese economy, his firm International Gateways Group of Company Limited, Aung Hlaing Oo for operating in the defense sector of the Burmese economy, Myanmar Chemical & Machinery for being owned or controlled by Aung Hlaing Oo, Sit Taing Aung for operating in the defense sector of the Burmese economy, Htoo Group of Companies for being owned or controlled by Tay Za, Asia Green Development Bank Ltd for being owned or controlled by the Htoo Group of Companies.
On 25 March 2022, the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) posted a statement titled “Myanmar: Returning to Mindat”. In the statement, the ICRC explained its experience during its return to Mindat to help people displaced by fighting in Chin State. They saw communities in Chin State were helping each other in carrying food, providing shelter, sharing meals, etc. Thousands of people have been displaced as a result of fighting in recent months. The statement mentioned that Mindat is too high up in the mountains to cultivate rice, relying on food transports from other parts of Myanmar. But ongoing clashes make travel less safe – roads are mined or bridges damaged – threatening food supplies. The ICRC has given supplies to families seeking shelters in the monasteries and churches of Mindat with basic rations, hygiene supplies, materials for shelter construction and information to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks. The ICRC team also talked with communities about the risks posed by landmines and other explosive hazards. It was also explained in the statement how the ICRC team has worked with the community to make sure awareness of these threats would be accessible to all, to ensure all are able to access supporting mental health care, to plan for futures needs, to get safe and sustainable access to water and to supplies of food and medicine as roads risk becoming blocked.
On 26 March 2022, the U.S. Department of State posted a Joint statement on Armed Forces Day in Myanmar issued by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union and the Foreign Ministers of Albania, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Palau, Republic of Korea, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In the joint statement, it was mentioned that on Armed Forces Day, those killed and displaced by violence over the last year, including at least 100 people killed on this day alone one year ago, are remembered. Moreover, it was included that some countries continue to supply lethal assistance to Myanmar’s military regime, enabling its violence and repression. The statement concluded by urging all countries to support the people of Myanmar by immediately stopping the sale or transfer of arms, military equipment, materiel, dual-use equipment, and technical assistance to Myanmar, in line with UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/75/287 and the call on the military to cease its violence and restore Myanmar’s path to democracy.
Date: 27 March 2022
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York