Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (28 August 2022)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
It has been over 18 months since 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 26 August 2022, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 2,249 people were ruthlessly killed by the military, 15,239 people have been arrested and a total of 12,142 people remain in detention, whereas a total of 125 people have been sentenced to death, including 83 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 given to death sentence were executed by the military junta in July 2022.
Serious crimes committed by the Military
Torching and destroying villages and killing civilians in Sagaing Region
Myanmar Now News reported that on 22 August 2022 a military column consisting of 80 troops using 60 mm artillery shells attacked Tha Nga Village, situated on the eastern banks of the Chindwin River within Paungbyin Township of Sagaing Region. As the military troops overran the village and stationed at a monastery overnight, around 60 local villagers, including elderly people, were trapped in the village. It is reported that the military forces torched more than half of the homes in the village and killed the locals who were unable to flee. A spokesperson for the Pyaungbin chapter of the People’s Defence Force (PDF) said that the civilian casualties and damage to the village were discovered the next day after the military forces left the village.
According to AAPP, the military forces conducted airstrike attacks and dropped bombs at Thit Saint Kone Village in Kawlin Township of Sagaing Region on 23 August 2022. The military’s airstrikes instantly killed four local villagers and injured one villager. It was reported that the deceased people include 6-and-a-half-year-old Pyae Sone and Moe Aung, as well as Zin Myo Tun and his wife named Phyu Zar Win, who is nine months pregnant.
According to the Irrawaddy, the military forces burned down the three villages in Yinmabin Township of Sagaing Region during the third week of August. Local residents and resistance groups said that due to the military’s attacks, six civilians were killed and over 7,000 residents were forced to flee and seek shelter in nearby forest areas and in other villages.
Killing innocent civilians
According to Democratic Voice of Burma, while two local residents were riding one motorbike on their way back home on 24 August 2022 in Myeik Township of Taninthayi Region, the military forces fired guns at them. One of the residents riding the motorbike was shot dead. It was reported that the other one on the motorbike could run away. Furthermore, another civilian nearby was also killed.
It was reported that a military column consisting of 50 troops entered Lezin Village in Monywa Township, Sagaing Region, on 26 August 2022. When the military forces fired guns in the village, the residents ran away with fear, and of those, a civilian named Aung Chit was shot dead.
Myanmar Now News reported that the fighting between the Myanmar military forces and the Arakan Army (AA) continued through the fourth weekend of August 2022 in Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State. Amid the fighting, it was reported that in the morning of 27 August 2022, a woman named May Thar Sein, aged 60, was killed by an artillery shell fired by the military forces in Min Gyi Village. According to a local resident, the military forces stationed in the nearby village of Kyein Chaung fired the shell, killing the women instantly.
Arbitrary Arrests and sealing off private properties
It was reported that on 23 August 2022, the military forces seized the house of popular former actor Kyaw Thu, who is the founder and chairman of the prominent Free Funeral Service Society (FFSS), and his wife Myint Myint Khin Pe (better known as Shwe Zee Kwat). Their house, which was confiscated, is in Mayangone Township of Yangon. The couple is known for their social and philanthropic work, and they have faced arrest warrants since early March last year under incitement charges for supporting the anti-military movement. According to the military, the couple encouraged the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) by providing cash to more than 2,000 striking civil servants.
According to the news, the military arrested former British Ambassador to Myanmar Vicky Bowman and her husband Htein Lin, who is a famous artist and former political prisoner, during the night of 24 August 2022, while they were at their home in Sanchaung Township, Yangon. It was reported that they were arrested and charged with violating the Immigration Act, and then they were immediately sent to Insein Prison. On the next day, they were brought to the township court, where Vicky Bowman, who is a UK citizen, was charged with violating Article 13(1) of Myanmar’s immigration law. The statute reportedly carries a prison sentence of six months to five years for overstaying or breaking the terms of a visa or illegal entry to Myanmar. The famous artist Htein Lin was charged under Article 13(5) of Myanmar’s immigration law for facilitating the alleged violation of his wife, and he potentially faces the same prison sentence.
The Irrawaddy reported on 25 August 2022 that the military forces arrested a gems merchant named Kyaw Thura, who is the vice-chair of the Myanmar Gems and Jewellery Entrepreneurs Association and who owns the Myanmar Thura Gems Company, a leading jade mining company. He was arrested for allegedly supporting the National Unity Government (NUG). It was reported that the military also seized his assets. His possessions, including land, buildings, machinery and 193 tons of raw jade, which were estimated to be worth nearly 12 billion kyats, were sealed off.
Improperly charging and sentencing of a Media Professional
The AAPP reported that Zaw Zaw, who is the former photojournalist at the Irrawaddy News Agency, was sentenced to three years imprisonment under Penal Code Section 505A by the special court in Obo Prison on 24 August 2022. He was reportedly arrested on 10 April while traveling back home.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 25 August 2022, the National Unity Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar issued a statement, marking the Fifth Anniversary of the 2017 Atrocity Crimes against the Rohingya community in Rakhine State of Myanmar. The statement underlines that the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, as represented by the National Unity Government, acknowledges with great shame that historic exclusionary and discriminatory policies, practices and rhetoric against the Rohingya and other ethnic groups also laid the ground for the escalating atrocities. The statement said that the National Unity Government is pursuing three concurrent actions: establishing conditions to support the repatriation of Rohingya community; securing justice and accountability; and delivering equality to all persons in law and practice. On accountability, the National Unity Government is intensifying efforts with the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, and options for universal jurisdiction to deliver justice to the Rohingya and to rigorously punish perpetrators of atrocity crimes. On equality, the National Unity Government is acting on the commitments set out in its Policy Position on the Rohingya in Rakhine State, including comprehensive law and policy reform, in consultation with the Rohingya and other minority communities, that will prioritise citizenship rights, non-discrimination, equal opportunities, and combating hate speech. It is mentioned that these actions face significant obstacles, and they are tied to the cementing of democracy, the ending of atrocities, and the inevitable defeat of the terrorist junta. The statement urges international organizations to deliver tangible means of support and work together with the National Unity Government and all stakeholders in the endeavours to bring justice and peace for the Rohingya community.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Fifth Anniversary of the widespread military atrocities against the Rohingya
On 24 August 2022, which marks five years since the start of the forced mass displacement of Rohingya and other communities in Rakhine state of Myanmar, the Spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General issued a statement. The statement mentioned that around 1 million refugees remain sheltered in Bangladesh, without immediate prospects for return, while more than 150,000 Rohingya people are still confined in camps in Rakhine. It also underlined that following the military coup in Myanmar in February 2021, the humanitarian, human rights and security situation across the country has deteriorated, and it is critical that the international community continue to seek comprehensive, durable and inclusive solutions to the crisis. According to the statement, noting the unflagging aspirations for an inclusive future among the country’s many ethnic and religious groups, the Secretary-General underlined that the full and effective participation of the Rohingya people is an inherent part of a Myanmar-led solution to the crisis. It further stated that the greater humanitarian and development access for the United Nations and its partners to affected areas is crucial. The statement added that perpetrators of all international crimes committed in Myanmar should be held accountable.
On this day, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Mr. Thomas Andrews urged the international community to redouble its efforts to hold perpetrators accountable and deliver justice to the Rohingya inside and outside Myanmar. The Special Rapporteur said, “It is long past time for the entirety of the international community to call these attacks what they are – genocide. The Myanmar military has yet to be held to account for this ultimate crime.” He also added that the military has had the audacity to imprison and execute democracy and human rights advocates and elected leaders, while they are committing more atrocity crimes against the people of Myanmar. According to the Special Rapporteur, it is critical that the international community hold the Myanmar military accountable for its atrocities once and for all.
Mr. Nicholas Koumjian, the Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, issued a statement, underlining that the Rohingya face an ongoing tragedy. He also urged that the international community must all work together to ensure that the perpetrators of the most serious crimes committed against them are brought to justice.
The Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns of Amnesty International Ming Yu Hah said that the 5th anniversary of the Rohingya crisis is a haunting reminder, that not a single high-ranking military official of Myanmar has been prosecuted for the egregious campaign of violence against the Rohingya, as well as this anniversary must mark a turning point in the urgent quest to deliver justice to the victims and hold those responsible to account.
The High Representative on behalf of the European Union, and the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States issued a joint statement, marking the fifth anniversary of the Myanmar military’s attack against Rohingya. The statement reiterated the commitment to holding the perpetrators of these violations and abuses to account, acknowledging the work of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar and others contributing to this objective. It called on the military regime to cease its violence against those who have suffered under its rule, including the decades of grave human rights violations and abuses endured by Rohingya and other communities in Myanmar. The statement also called on the international community to help to ensure justice for Rohingya victims, support host communities, and foster conditions that will allow for the safe, voluntary, dignified, and sustainable return to their communities.
On 25 August 2022, the UK announced a further round of sanctions to target military-linked businesses in Myanmar, in response to the 5th anniversary of the military’s atrocities against Rohingya, as well as by means of imposing new sanctions to target the military’s access to arms and revenue. The actors being sanctioned by the UK include Star Sapphire Group of Companies, International Gateways Group of Companies Limited (IGG) and Sky One Construction Company Ltd. The Minister for Asia Amanda Milling has also confirmed the UK’s intention to intervene in the case of The Gambia v. Myanmar before the International Court of Justice, and she said that the UK will always face down those who seek to undermine and destroy the values of freedom and democracy.
The Germany Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson issued a statement on 25 August 2022, marking the 5th anniversary of the Myanmar military’s large-scale violent attacks against the Rohingya communities in Myanmar. The statement underlined that Germany support the international efforts to investigate these crimes. It also stated that the judgment by the International Court of Justice on late July on the admissibility of the application by The Gambia regarding the genocide proceedings against Myanmar is an important step in that direction. It is also mentioned that Germany will intervene in the proceedings before the International Court of Justice, supporting the Gambia in order to enforce international law and to strengthen it in the fight against human rights violations. The statement said that Germany we stand in solidarity with the refugees, and the German Government will continue to support the refugees and people in Myanmar, both politically and financially.
Date: 28 August 2022
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York