Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (29 Jan 2023)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
Two years 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 27 January 2023, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 2,894 people have been ruthlessly killed by the military, whereas 17,492 people have been arrested and a total of 143 individuals have been sentenced to death, of which 101 (including two 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
Raiding, Killing and Torching Villages in Sagaing Region
It was reported that on 19 January 2023, a badly disfigured body of 36-years-old local villager Khaing Soe was discovered in a wooded area about 100m from Shwe Hlay Village, Salingyi Township, Sagaing Region. According to locals, he was one of several people who were detained by the junta troops on 13 January 2023 during raids in the area around the Letpadaung copper mine. He was the only one who was not released and was later used by the junta troops as a porter. According to the locals who retrieved his body, his face was beaten to a pulp, his skull was crushed, his eyes were almost falling out of their sockets and his body was covered with bruises and scrapes. Some locals thought that the victim was singled out by the junta forces because flyers requesting donations for internally displaced persons (IDPs) were found in his backpack, and they suspected that he had been involved in the fundraising program. At the time of arrest, Khaing Soe was returning to his home village Kyauk Phyu Taing after taking his mother and sister to an IDP camp. It was reported that the junta troops began raiding villages around the Letpadaung mine during early January 2023, and as of the third week of January they burned down a total of at least 200 houses in five villages. In Kyauk Phyu Taing Village, 94 families were left homeless after their houses were set on fire.
According to the news, during a junta raid in Pein Hne Kone Village, Wuntho Township, northern Sagaing Region, on 22 January 2023, two civilians, including an eighteen-month-old child, were killed. The targeted attack on Pein Hne Kone Village occurred on the second day of clashes between the military and allied resistance groups from Wuntho and Kawlin Townships of Sagaing. On 21 January 2023, the allied resistance groups ambushed and attacked the two junta columns of approximately 130 soldiers, near Lwin Gyi Village. After the junta soldiers retreated and rested in the village for a night, they torched the village and departed on the next day. They then joined a third column of 180 soldiers and raided Pein Hne Kone Village by firing artillery into the village before burning at least four homes. An eighteen-month-old child was killed by the heavy weapons, whereas his father and another villager were injured. The second deceased was a woman who was shot dead while trying to flee the village.
On 23 January 2023, a junta column with around 100 soldiers raided villages in Yinmabin Township, Sagaing Region. Thirty-year-old Nay Tun, who lived in the forest near Pa Tein Pyin Village, was captured after the arrival of the advancing military unit. His body was found decapitated later that day with signs of torture. It was reported that the junta’s rampage burned at least 100 homes in seven villages in one day. Among these were two houses in Pa Tein Pyin Village and the communal hall. The other villages targeted on the same day included Inbat, Kyat Shar, Kyaung Kone, Kyun Paw, Hnaw Pin, Kyauk Hmaw Villages. According to the resident from Inbat, many houses in the village as well as the cowsheds, barns and crops were destroyed. According to a statement released by the anti-junta Northern Yinmabin Strike Force on 24 January, the junta troops rested in Sone Chaung Village at the night of 23 January 2023. There, they captured five locals and later released just one of the individuals. The whereabouts of the remaining four were not known at the time of reporting. According to local sources, the junta forces proceeded through Aung Moe and Si Hlaung Villages, and occupied Nat Ku Taung on 25 January 2023. A second junta column was seen stationed in Ye Kyi Pin Village, and the third group of junta soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee militia was seen attacking more villages in Yinmabin Township along the Chindwin River. Due to the raids throughout the week by these groups of junta troops, some 10,000 people from 11 villages were reportedly forced to flee their homes.
According to the news, on 24 and 25 January 2023, the junta troops torched several villages in Depayin Township, Sagaing Region. It was a retaliation for the attack of the local resistance groups on the junta forces near Letyetkone Village earlier that day. It was reported that after the fighting stopped, the junta troops torched even more houses until the entire villages were destroyed. A Letyetkone resident who returned to the village after the attack to survey the damage said in the news that around 35 houses in his village had been destroyed. The residents of Nyaung Hla Village, which had lost more than 200 houses in December 2022, said that they couldn’t determine the extent of the latest damage to the village since it was still occupied by junta troops. According to Depayin Brothers, a local group that has been collecting conflict-related data in Depayin, junta forces have burned down nearly 5,000 houses in the township since the illegal coup on 1 February 2021.
Using civilians as human shields in Bago Region
According to the news, the junta troops reportedly used local villagers as human shields after the three-day clashes with the local resistance groups in Natalin Township, Tharyarwady District, Bago Region. From 26 to 28 January 2023, during the clashes between the junta forces and the local resistance groups, there were reportedly six casualties on junta side, and they have started to capture and force the local villagers to walk at the front of the junta column as it moves to another area. According to the member of local resistance groups, in such situations, the local resistance groups refrain from attacking that junta column not to risk the lives of the innocent civilians.
Killing Innocent Civilians
According to the news, on 15 January 2023, after the clash between junta forces and the Chinland Defense Force (Matupi) near Nga Leng Village, Matupi Township, Chin State, the junta forces stationed themselves in the village and arrested two villagers, Van Bate and Lalb Lyan. It was reported that their bodies were discovered on 21 January 2023.
On 17 January 2023, the junta forces murdered a villager from Shut Pon Village, Palaw Township, Tanintharyi Region and torched a rubber plantation. According to locals, the villager could not be identified at the time of reporting, and he appeared to be on his way to work when he was killed. The attack was in retaliation for the anti-junta resistance fighters’ ambush on the junta troops on 16 January 2023 as they entered the village. Two soldiers and two members of Pyu Saw Htee militia were killed in that attack. Shut Pon, a village of around 2,000 households, is regarded as a Pyu Saw Htee stronghold. The military reportedly supplied weapons to the Pyu Saw Htee militia in the village. According to monitor group Dawei Watch, security has been tightened around the village since that attack, with the military deploying two naval vessels to restrict access.
According to the news, on 20 January 2023, after a junta force with over 130 personnel attacked Lel Mhee Village, Tigyaing Township, Sagaing Region, they took away three locals, namely, Ye Win Aung, Nyo Aye, and San Wai. On the next morning, on 21 January 2023, their bodies were discovered in a forest near U Shit Kone Village, Indaw Township, Sagaing Region.
It was reported that on 23 January 2023, three youths traveling from Kyun Pin Thar Village to Tamu Township, Sagaing Region, were interrogated by the junta soldiers in front of a military camp in Koon Taung Village. The junta arrested them, accusing them of contacting the People’s Defence Force, and killed them. Those three youths were Let Ming Thang from Kyun Pin Thar Village and Shwe Ming Thang and Ngam Ming Hau – both from Myot Ma 14 Section in Chaung Natt Gyi Village. The junta did not return their dead bodies to their families.
On 25 January 2023, the dead body of Kyaw Zin Latt (aka) Shangyi was returned to his family. He was a 40-year-old man from Sate Kaly Suetaw Village, Saw Hti Township, who was arrested on 22 January 2023 by the junta forces and held for three days for interrogation. According to the statement of the Karen National Union, Kyaw Zin Lat (aka) Shangyi, who was unjustly arrested and killed by the military junta, ran a motorbike taxi business. At the time of arrest on 22 January 2023, he was sending a passenger to the side of Theinzayat in Kyaikhto Township where he was accused of taking someone to the PDF.
Arbitrary Detention of Innocent Civilians
On 22 January 2023, the NLD lawyer Win Kyaw Soe was arrested at his home in Kyi Kone Village, Patheingyi Township, Mandalay Region. He had been representing people with political charges in the special court inside Obo Prison.
Also on 22 January 2023, a social media influencer Aung Chan Aye was arrested in his house in Kaut Htin Village, Kyaikhto Township, Mon State, with the charges under article 505. Since March 2021, for participating in the protests against the military coup, the junta charged Aung Chan Aye with article 505, but couldn’t arrest him as he has escaped to Thailand and started working there. He returned to Myanmar for business purpose and was detained on the day he arrived his house. According to news, he has been detained at the Kyaik Hto Police Station with the charges under article 505(a).
Saw Eh Htoo, 35-years-old, and Saw Par Chit, 30-years-old from Tone Tadar Village, Ler Doh (Kyauk Kyi) Township, Karen State, were arrested by the junta troops on 22 January 2023. On the day of reporting, their family members haven’t received any information, and they are still missing.
According to the news, on 22 January 2023, at around 10 p.m., three NLD members, Ko Gyi, his younger brother Zaw Gyi, and Zaw Gyi’s wife, were arrested by junta forces at their home in Inn Tae Ei Kin Ward, Aungmyaythazan Township, Mandalay Region.
On 24 January 2023, the junta and pro-junta Pyu Saw Htee Militia raided and seized U Zaw Oo’s house in Kyauk Ni Maw Village, Launglon Township, Tanintharyi Region. Since U Zaw Oo has not lived in that house since the coup, they also arrested two women, a cousin of U Zaw Oo and Ma Ei Ei Phyo.
On 25 January 2023, more than 100 junta soldiers raided Ma Kyi Kone Village in Thabeikkyin Township, Mandalay Region, where they arrested and killed a local villager Min Maung. They also arrested Min Maung’s wife, his 16-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter.
Airstrikes and heavy artillery targeting civilian areas
According to news, on 19 January 2023, the allied resistance groups ambushed junta forces of more than 70 soldiers near Moe Tar Lay Village, Katha Township, Sagaing Region. The junta responded by sending two fighter jets to bomb Moe Tar Lay Village at around 4 pm on that day. The bombs killed seven locals and injured more than 30. According to a member of the Katha PDF, on the following day, the 20 January 2023, with the escalation of the clashes, junta aircraft attacked the area three times between 10am and 2:30pm. He added that the military also fired heavy artillery in the direction of Moe Tar Lay. Thousands of residents from Moe Tar Lay and neighbouring Sin Gon Taing and Tut Kone Villages fled their homes during the fighting and took refuge in Katha town. According to a local man, following the clashes between the PDF and the junta troops near Alel Kyun Village on 19 January 2023, the junta forces torched the village, forcing its residents and those from the nearby communities of Than Taung and Pyin Htaung Gyi Villages to flee.
On 20 January 2023, after a convoy carrying around 300 regime forces entered the eastern part of Demoso township from Loikaw, Kayah State, junta artillery attacks and airstrikes began against the villages in the township. The attacks have forced more than 1,000 civilians to flee their homes in Demoso Township. Most of the displaced civilians were from Dawse and Daw Ta Mye Villages and were currently sheltering in Daw Law Khu Village. Among those forced to flee were some from San Pya 6 Mile and Bet Ta Lein Villages, who had already been driven from their homes by a military offensive carried out late 2022. According to residents of the area, all civilian traffic between Loikaw and Demoso townships has been suspended since the military began its latest series of attacks there on 20 January. According to local resistance groups, no major fighting has taken place in the area. The junta troops based in Demoso and Loikaw had been reportedly shelling day and night since the latest offensive began. There were also reports of airstrikes, including one on Nan Hu Htwe Village on 23 January 2023. Although there were no reported civilian casualties in those attacks as the residents had already fled the area, artillery fire had reportedly injured four civilians, including two children, in Demoso Township. One of the victims, a woman, was said to be in critical condition.
It was reported that the phone and internet lines in Mindat Township were cut off since the night of 20 January 2023. At the night of 21 January 2023, junta groups dropped two bombs on residential houses near Suntaung Village, Mindat Township, where one man and one woman were hit and six houses damaged. According to the local administration, no clashes occurred in the area. On 22 January 2023, at around 11:00 am, the junta forces stationing Mindat Township fired heavy weaponry five times into Wamma Thu Village, where the local hospital is located. They reportedly fired at 15-minute intervals and then at 10-minute intervals. Since the local residents fled, there were no casualties. The houses were not completely destroyed, but the roofs and windows were broken.
According to news, on 21 January 2023, junta forces attacked a rural hospital in Ba Hin Village, Myaing Township, Magway Region, with an Mi-35 helicopter. As a result, a caretaker of one of the patients, who was hiding under a tamarind tree during the attack, lost her leg and died from blood loss.
According to the news from Myanmar Pressphoto Agency, on 23 January 2023, the Mindat Township IDP Camps Management Committee announced that a bomb dropped by the military hit the Palate Twi Monastery building, which is the temporary office of the Mindat Township IDP Camps Management Committee. The Committee announced that the whole Management Committee was injured by the aerial bomb, and two members are in serious condition with non-critical injuries. It was also announced that a total of three million cash, an office computer, three solar panels, a Hymon Jeep, four batteries, two phones, a printer, two motorcycles, blankets, and other consumer goods were all badly damaged due to the bombing. Currently, it was reported that all Committee members are on the run and are receiving medical treatment. The Committee also said that it will continue to distribute food to support those people displaced by the war.
On 24 January 2023, a clash broke out between the People’s Defence Force and the junta in Tanintharyi Township, Tanintharyi Region. Afterwards, the junta indiscriminately fired heavy weaponry into nearby villages, killing Thein Khin, age 90, from Ou Yin Kan Village.
Deaths of civilians in Rakhine State due to landmines
According to the news from Myanmar Pressphoto Agency, although the Arakan Army (AA) and the SAC Military suddenly called a cease-fire on 26 November 2022, the local people in Rakhine are now suffering from the danger of landmines. It was reported that so far in Rakhine during 2023, two people, including a child, have been killed and three children have been injured. On 26 January 2023, a landmine exploded on a mountain near Phoe Khaung Chaung Village, Buthidaung Township, killing one ten-year-old and injuring three teenager Rohingya children from the village who were gathering firewood on the mountain. In addition, according to the residents of Phar Pyo Village, Minbya Township, on 27 January 2023, a 50-year-old villager named U Than Shwe Maung was killed by a landmine on the mountain near the village. According to the local residents, the areas where the local people are stepping on landmines and getting injured are the places where the SAC troops are stationed near the residential villages. The people of Rakhine are demanding the withdrawal of SAC troops and camps that have been stationed in residential villages, religious places, and public places during the ceasefire period in Rakhine.
According to the news, the protest against the junta’s illegal elections were held on 23 January 2023 at the Myaung Township, Mandalay Region. At least 100 civilians have joined the protest and the local resistance groups gave protection for all the protestors. During the protest, the people held up the banners which wrote to stand against the junta-led illegal election and eliminate the fascist junta group.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 23 January 2023, the National Unity Government(NUG) issued Weekly Newsletter No. 4/2023, which contained articles relating to the NUG’s activities. Those articles included the NUG calling on neighbours to block the terrorist SAC’s use of their airspace for its atrocities, the NUG welcoming the establishment of the ASEAN Special Envoy Office to Myanmar, the NUG sending documentation and evidence of the SAC’s atrocities to international organizations and media and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration announcing that 27 more staff have joined the civil disobedience movement.
On 23 January 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government issued a statement (3/2023) calling for sanctions on aviation fuel to save the lives of Myanmar people. In the statement, it said that the junta is continuing to conduct airstrikes against civilians throughout Myanmar and hundreds of people have been killed. It was also mentioned in the statement that the NUG welcomes the UN Security Council resolution 2669 of December 2022. The Security Council demanded in the resolution “an immediate end to all forms of violence.” On behalf of the people of Myanmar, the NUG statement called for immediate and effective sectoral sanctions on aviation fuel to halt the supply of aviation fuel to the military, which is an urgent and necessary step that potentially will save thousands of lives. It also emphasized that the junta must be cut off from the resources which enable their atrocities against their own people.
On 23 January 2023, the Ministry of Education issued an announcement (2/2023), recognizing 33 online schools as interim basic education schools. In the announcement, the NUG said that it has established the interim education schools and recognizes as official online schools 33 schools that have pledged their compliance with the 11 points of the people’s education policy and the information and technology security guidelines. By implementing those programs, the NUG intends to provide learning opportunities to students who boycott the junta’s schools.
On 24 January 2023, at the ECOSOC Special Meeting on “Social and economic measures to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”, H.E. Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to the United Nations, delivered a statement. In his statement, he said that it is high time for the United Nations to raise a single voice, uphold the principles of responsibility to protect, and act collectively by using all tools at its disposal to hold all perpetrators, including the military junta, accountable and finally end their cycle of impunity. He added that the fascist military has committed numerous atrocities against Myanmar people including ethnic minorities such as the Rohingyas. He also remarked that the fascist military did not stop committing such crimes, and it even attempted to stage an illegal coup in February 2021. He stressed that during the two-year period, the inhumane military junta has completely dismantled rule of law, and caused serious consequences to the population in Myanmar and other nations in the region.
On 27 January 2023, the Ministry of Human Rights of the NUG issued announcement no. (2/2023), titled “Statement of International Jurisdiction”. In the announcement, the ministry welcomed the growing number of criminal cases around the world against the members of failed military junta in Myanmar. The announcement mentioned that in the case of Myanmar, universal jurisdiction enables countries to use their courts to bring junta members to justice. The NUG urges German authorities to act on the request by the survivors and witnesses with the support of Fortify Rights to open an investigation into military’s atrocity crimes in Myanmar. The NUG expressed, in the announcement, its deep appreciation to all associated national authorities and rights groups for their commitment to justice and accountability in Myanmar. The NUG also called upon all UN member states to extend similar support to accountability efforts, particularly those that exercise universal jurisdiction.
On 28 January 2023, the National Unity Government announced that it had met with the democratic forces to discuss the anti-illegal election process. It was reported that on 25 January, the Anti Sham Election Joint Working Committee, formed by representatives of the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) and the National Unity Government (NUG), had separately met and discussed with the Central Working Committee of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the Strike Forces. The NUG stated that in this discussion, as a Joint Working Committee, the NUCC had presented and discussed joint procedures approved related to anti-illegal elections, and the NLD Central Working Committee and the strike forces had also shared and discussed the procedures established and ongoing procedures for anti-illegal elections, and they all discussed and decided together ways to cooperate in the future. The NUG informed that the joint procedures related to anti-illegal election that were presented and discussed by the Joint Working Committee, contained in internal and external processes and implementation principles. It was reported that “the Joint Working Committee will continue to cooperate with other partner forces fighting for federal democracy”.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
According to the news, the Norwegian central bank said on 25 January 2023 that Norway's sovereign wealth fund, one of the world's largest, has excluded two companies from China and India for selling light combat aircraft and a weapons system to the Myanmar military. The fund valued at 13.2 trillion kroner ($1.3 trillion) on Wednesday owned 0.37 percent of the Chinese group and 0.32 percent of the Indian company at the end of 2021, the most recent figures available. It said AviChina had delivered light aeroplanes in December 2021. Bharat Electronics meanwhile delivered a remote-controlled weapons station in July 2021.
On 25 January 2023, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) published the Myanmar Operational Update for the period of October to December 2022. In its key highlights, it informed that 103,524 people received core relief items comprising kitchen sets, blankets and sleeping mats, ensuring their basic needs were met. It presented that 37,773 people received shelter support for safe and dignified living conditions while in displacement, and 3,643 people with specific needs benefited from cash assistance to meet their basic needs. It added that there are 600,000 estimated Rohingya in Rakhine State, of which some 152,000 are living in displacement camps as well as among the host community since 2012. Among the total of 1.5 M Internally displaced people (IDP) living in Rakhine, Chin, Kachin, Shan, Kayin and Mon States, and Bago (East), Tanintharyi, Sagaing and Magway Regions (as of 26 December 2022), an estimated 1,175,300 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 99,588 people remain displaced in Rakhine and Chin States following the Arakan Army/Tatmadaw conflict (as of 19 December 2022).
On 25 January 2023, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published a Myanmar Humanitarian Response Plan 2023 (January 2023). According to the overview of the plan, the Plan requests US$764 million to reach 4.5 million people prioritized for life- saving humanitarian support (52 per cent women, 32 per cent children and 13 per cent with disability). It informed that the people of Myanmar have entered 2023 facing an unprecedented political, socioeconomic, human rights and humanitarian crisis with residual needs persisting from previous years, and new needs flowing from security and conflict dynamics since the military takeover on 1 February 2021. It underlined that almost half the population is thought to be living in poverty in 2023, wiping out the impressive development gains made since 2005. It added that the number of people on the move as a result of conflict and depleted coping capacity has sky-rocketed in 2022 and stands at 1.5 million at the start of 2023. It also stressed that price hikes, severe inflation, movement restrictions, armed conflict and violence have forced many of the most vulnerable people to resort to crisis or emergency coping strategies to buy food and other basic supplies, often negatively impacting on their safety, well-being, and dignity. It informed that this multi-dimensional humanitarian crisis is now affecting the whole country, posing grave protection risks for civilians, limiting access to services and deepening food insecurity.
On 25 January 2023, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) published a report “Myanmar: DIEM – Data in Emergencies Monitoring brief, round 4 - Results and recommendations (January 2023)”. In its key highlights, it explained that based on the remote Consolidated Approach for Reporting Indicators of Food Security (rCARI), 27 percent of households are considered food insecure and, according to the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES), 29 percent are recently moderately or severely food insecure. It stressed that the states and regions of Chin, Kayah, Kayin, Rakhine and Sagaing had the worst food security outcomes across all indicators. It informed that the 2022 main rainfed paddy crop, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the annual production, was expected to be below-average as harvest was approaching at the time of the survey. The share of farmers that reported a drop in production has grown from 45 percent in the second round, to 49 percent in the third round and 54 percent in the current round. It estimated that farmers in Rakhine State expect particularly poor production whereas a high share of households in Chin, Magway, Sagaing, Tanintharyi and Yangon also expect harvest to be below normal. It underlined that forty-seven percent of livestock producers experienced a decrease in herd/flock size, particularly among swine and poultry producers. The incidence of livestock diseases decreased, and market access improved, but the share of reported difficulties accessing feed and pastures has increased. It reported that households in conflict-affected areas, rural households, female-headed households, households with debt, and those vulnerable to economic shocks had the worst food security outcomes.
On 26 January 2023, UNHCR published the Weekly Highlights of Myanmar South East - Emergency Overview Map: Number of people displaced in South East since Feb 2021 and remain displaced (As of 23 January 2023). According to the highlights, in the South-East, the number of IDPs decreased from 350,300 last week to 350,100 this week. In Kayin State, 120 people have newly been displaced within the same townships of Hpapun and Kyainseikgyi following airstrikes on 21 January. In addition, 43 IDPs from Hpapun Township have been displaced yet again, and sought safety in Hpapun town and Myaing Gyi Ngu area. In Mon State, 1,127 IDPs in Kyaikto Township returned to their villages of origin in the same township. It was also mentioned that due to increased fighting on 20 January in Tanintharyi Region, 2,000 people were displaced within Palaw Township. In Dawei Township, Tanintharyi Region, 1,125 IDPs returned to their village of origin.
On 26 January 2023, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has posted in its stories that the UNODC’s opium survey for Myanmar has found that cultivation has increased significantly, reversing the downward trend of 2014 to 2020. The report released on that day, titled “Myanmar Opium Survey 2022: Cultivation, Production and Implications”, has analysed data collected during the first full growing season since the military takeover, showing an increase of 33% in cultivation area to 40,100 hectares, and an 88% increase in potential yield to 790 metric tonnes. Following a moderate increase in cultivation area of 2% and yield of 4% during the 2021 season, the 2022 results confirm a significant expansion is underway of Myanmar’s opium economy. According to the UNODC Regional Representative Jeremy Douglas, the economic, security and governance disruptions that followed the military takeover of February 2021 have converged, and farmers in remote often conflict prone areas in northern Shan and border states have had little option but to move back to opium.
On 27 January 2023, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) posted a press release regarding Myanmar after two years since coup. In the press release, the UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk said that two years after the Myanmar military launched a coup against the democratically-elected government, the country has sunk deeper than ever into crisis and has undergone a wholesale regression in human rights. He also said that by nearly every feasible measurement, and in every area of human rights – economic, social and cultural, as much as civil and political – Myanmar has profoundly regressed. He underlined that despite clear legal obligations for the military to protect civilians in the conduct of hostilities, there has been consistent disregard for the related rules of international law. He stressed that far from being spared, civilians have been the actual targets of attacks – victims of targeted and indiscriminate artillery barrages and air strikes, extrajudicial executions, the use of torture, and the burning of whole villages. The High Commissioner pointed to other measures that would be crucial to a political foundation for resolving the crisis. These measures included the release of all political prisoners, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint as called for by the UN Security Council; the inclusive dialogue with all parties involving both the ASEAN Chair and the UN Special Envoy; and allowing the UN Human Rights Office meaningful access to the country to monitor the situation independently and impartially.
On the same day, on 27 January 2023, at the press briefing by the United Nations information service in Geneva, the issue on Myanmar was discussed by the Jeremy Laurence, for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and James Rodehaver, Head of OHCHR’s Myanmar Team based in Bangkok. Whereas Jeremy Laurence has cited the statement of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, James Rodehaver stressed that Myanmar’s people, despite an enormous pressure, had remained firm and had paid quite a price for rejecting the actions of their own military. They had done so first by rejecting it non-violently, there being a rich and vibrant civil society in the country. Civil servants and a large number of workers had refused to go back to work, at the cost of their livelihoods. Most importantly, young people had decided to resist the military with force: this robust “People’s Defence Movement” comprised more than 400 groups all over the country. He further added that OHCHR’s Myanmar team was very active in monitoring violations committed by Myanmar’s military and by those opposing them. Unfortunately, civilians were still trapped in the middle of parties.
Date: 29 January 2023
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York