Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (4 December 2022)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
Over twenty-two 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 2 December 2022, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 2,553 people have been ruthlessly killed by the military, whereas 16,510 people have been arrested and a total of 139 individuals have been sentenced to death, of which 97 (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
University students sentenced to death
On 30 November 2022, it was reported that the Insein Prison martial court handed a death sentence to seven Dagon University students and four youth activists. According to the news, the seven students were sentenced to death under Section 302(a) of the Penal Code for allegedly shooting dead the World Treasure bank manager Lt. Col. Saw Moe Win in Dagon Myothit (South) Township on 18 April 2022. The four other youth activists were sentenced to death for their alleged involvement in the shooting and death of Khin Maung Than, the administrator of Ward 45, Dagon Myothit (North) Township, on 24 May 2022.
Raiding, Killing and Torching in Sagaing Region
On 23 November 2022, around 80 junta soldiers attacked Mone Hla Village in Khin-U Township, Sagaing Region, from both ground and air. According to the news report, the junta’s attack was part of a wider offensive targeting several neighbouring townships in Sagaing Region. During the raid, a total of seven people, including a nine-year-old child, were killed, approximately one-third of the village was burned down and a high school was destroyed. According to the local residents, the child was shot dead from the helicopter while herding cows and the other six people were resistance fighters from southern Khin-U Township who were unable to retreat from the village when the airstrike began. Local resources said that the bodies of the seven victims were recovered after junta troops left the village on 24 November 2022. It was also reported that 40-year-old civilian Daw Mya was killed by junta artillery fire while fleeing from Mone Hla Village. Fifty-year-old villager Phoe Tauk was also reported dead.
According to the Mone Hla defence team leader, the column responsible for the raid on Mone Hla Village is based in Kar Boe Village, Kanbalu Township, and they also raided and torched the Muslim Villages of Kyi Su and Kyauk Taing on 22 November 2022. According to news reports, in July 2022, Mone Hla Village was also targeted by airstrikes when three helicopters fired at the village, reportedly hitting a local church and other religious buildings.
Also on 23 November 2022, another army column reportedly raided Kan Tharyar Village, about 15km southeast of Mone Hla Village, and killed civilians, including a 14-year-old boy. According to the news, the junta soldiers left Mone Hla and Kan Tharyar Villages, arrived in Myint Daung Village on 25 November 2022, which they then occupied for three days before departing on 28 November 2022. When most local residents of Myin Daung Village returned to the village after the soldiers had left, they discovered three charred bodies with their arms wrapped around each other inside a village shop. The residents confirmed that the corpses belonged to three men who had lived in Myin Daung, identified as Nay Soe, 32; Ko Zaw, 48; and Tin Win Myint, 53.
On 25 November 2022, the junta forces arrived Myit Taw Village in the southeast of Khin-U Township. According to the Khin-U Township PDF, a 65-year-old local man, Hla Win, who was walking with a cane, was shot dead from behind by the junta soldiers.
Deaths of civilians due to landmine explosion
According to the news, on 27 November 2022, three youths near Mobye Town in Pekon Township, Shan State were seriously injured by the explosion of landmines supposedly set up by the junta forces. According to local residents, among the three injured youths, the 15-year-old Ngwe Shin with serious head injury passed away at that night. The other two injured were of age 12 and 13 years each. The local people also confirmed that the area where the landmine exploded was the path regularly taken by the junta troops and that they used to set up landmines behind their path when they left the area. However, there were no statement issued by the junta regarding this landmine explosion at the time of reporting.
Deaths of IDPs due to inaccessibility of medical treatment
News reported that the number of displaced persons near Hakha Township, Chin State, has increased to at least 5,000 since the armed conflicts in southern Kalay Township, Sagaing Region, and in Chin State have intensified. Due to strict security control of the junta forces near Hakha, and their unexpected arbitrary arrests, displaced persons have been facing difficulties in getting sufficient and timely medical supplies or treatments. According to a volunteer who has been helping the displaced persons, the lack of access to medical treatment and supplies have caused a number of casualties among displaced persons.
Attacks on the displaced civilians in Sagaing Region
According to news, the junta’s area clearance operations in the villages of Kanbalu Township, Sagaing Region, increased the number of displaced persons as well as the need for rations and medicines. According to local resources, at least 10,000 displaced persons need rations, medicines and emergency shelters. The junta’s continuous raids and arson in the villages in Kanbalu Township forced the local residents to flee for their lives for more than six months. While displaced local people have been encountering difficulties including the need for antidote for snake poison and nutrition for elderly people and pregnant women, the military attacked and destroyed the areas where the people have been taking refuge as well as killed and arrested some of the displaced persons. The junta forces arrested 18 people from Zee Ka Nar and Shaw Phyu Kone Villages on 3 November 2022, and massacred and burned 14 of them without any reason. They also arrested three villagers from Gone Nyin Shoe Village and did not release them until 3 December.
Abducting civilians as hostages
According to news, the junta forces which marched from Hpa Kant Township, Kachin State, to Karmine on 30 November 2022, reached Nant Yarr Village on 1 December 2022. Along the trip, they forcibly abducted at least 50 to 60 local civilians. Reportedly, the village leaders and the religious leaders in the community around Nant Yarr Village have tried to negotiate with the junta troops to release the hostages, but were unsuccessful. The hostages were taken along with the troops to Karmine and whether they will be released or not was unknown at the time of reporting.
Airstrikes and heavy artillery targeting civilian areas
According to news reports, a member of the anti-junta People’s Administration Team in Htigyaing Township, Sagaing Region, said that aircraft from Tada-U airport in Mandalay opened fire on a site near Ah Lel Taw village on 27 November 2022 for around 30 minutes. The airstrike was launched after a clash had broken out between junta troops and the local People’s Defence Force at the site in that morning. According to locals, junta soldiers set fire to several homes in Ah Lel Taw Village and nearby Ingyin Kone Village. On 28 November 2022, two more fighter jets dropped a total of 12 bombs on Lay Thar Village, which is located next to Ah Lel Taw Village. According to the local administration team member, the bombs were dropped on the monastery and the school in Lay Thar Village, and there were no serious casualties at the time of reporting. Some 3,000 residents of those three villages have been displaced due to the military assaults.
According to the VoA news, the Karenni National Defence Force (KNDF) announced on 1 December 2022 that the junta’s artillery attacks in Karenni (Kayah) State during November 2022 killed at least two civilians and injured 34 civilians. Local residents have been living a fearsome life due to the junta’s heavy artillery attacks onto civilian areas on daily basis. While the armed conflicts between the military and the KNDF happened in the area quite frequently, the military’s attacks mostly targeted civilian areas.
On 1 December 2022, the junta forces launched an air attack onto mine no. 6 near Makathar Village, Phayar Thonesu Township, Karen State. According to the news, the area was under the administration of the Karen National Union (KNU), and it was the junta’s fourth attack on the area. Due to the attack, many mine workers were injured and buildings destroyed.
Charges against the former Chief Minister of Tanintharyi Region
Two additional charges have been brought against Tanintharyi Region Chief Minister Myint Maung, in November 2022, this time under Penal Code Section 130(A). In November 2021, he had been sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment under charges of Penal Code Section 505(B), Natural Disaster Management Law Section 25 and Penal Code Section 409. He was arrested by the junta on 10 February 2021, and he has been held in solitary confinement in Dawei Prison until present.
Charges against anti-junta activists and members of the NLD party
According to the news, on 28 November 2022 nine children between the ages of 14 and 17, accused of having connections with the PDF, were sentenced by the Nattalin Township Court, Bago Region, to serve two years in prison under Counter-Terrorism Law Section 52. They were 17-year-olds Ye Yint Htet, Thura Aung, Theint Theint Moe, Ma Su Hnin Yi Aung and Myat Thu Htet; 16-year-olds Wai Phyo Aung and Arkar Phone Myat; 15-year-old Hmue Myat Ko Ko and 14-year-old Khin Nyein Chan. They were arrested in February 2022 and are currently being detained at Nattalin Myoma Police Station.
On the same day, Wai Linn Aung, Pyithu Hluttaw Representative for Myaungmya Township for the NLD, Ayeyarwady Region, was sentenced to serve 26 years in prison with hard labor by Myawaddy District Court, Kayin State, under charges of the Counter-Terrorism Law Sections 52(a), 50(a) and 50(j). He was previously sentenced 20 years imprisonment under Penal Code Section 122. With the decision of the court to let him serve both sentences simultaneously, rather than consecutively, instead of serving a total of 46 years in prison, he can serve 26 years in prison.
On 29 November 2022, Tun Tun Hein, Deputy Chairman of the Pyitthu Hluttaw and Central Executive Member of the NLD, was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment by a prison court in Lashio, Shan State, under Section 122 of the Penal Code. This was in addition to his previous sentence of four years imprisonment in December 2021.
On 30 November 2022, Kaung Sett Naing, a student from Magway Medical University, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment under Counter-Terrorism Law Section 49(A). He was sentenced by the Myawaddy District Court in Kayin State for allegedly supporting the CRPH, NUG and PDF. He was detained on 6 December 2021 at a junta checkpoint between Myawaddy and Lay Kay Kaw Myothit on his way to Myawaddy for work.
On the same day, the Pyapon Prison special court sentenced the reporter Myo San Soe to serve 15 years in prison. He was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison under the Counter-Terrorism Law Section 50(J) and five years in prison under Section 52(A) of the same law. He was detained on 29 October 2021 when the junta police questioned him during his charity work in Pyapon Township and discovered an alleged connection with the PDF on his phone.
Charges against arrested medics of resistance forces
News reported that nine women, between the ages of 20 and 28, who were captured during the junta’s raid on a PDF base in Kalay Township, Sagaing Region, in November 2021 have been handed 12-year prison sentences by the prison court in Kalay Prison. At the time of arrest, they were working as medics for the People’s Defence Force (PDF) in Kalay Township. They were reportedly sentenced in October 2022 after being found guilty of sedition and supporting terrorism under Section 505(a) of the Penal Code and the Counter-Terrorism Law. Three others apprehended during the same raid, were reportedly tortured to death. There were reports that some or all of the women had been beaten during their initial interrogation while being held at a military base prior to their transfer to the prison. There were fears for the safety of nine medics after learning about the deaths of three others detained at the same time. According to a relative of one of the women, they were all believed to be in good health, but contact with them has been extremely limited due to security measures.
Charge against the lawyer
According to the AAPP, on 25 November 2022, Phoe Phyu, a lawyer who followed cases of land seizure in ethnic regions, was sentenced to serve seven years in prison and pay a fine of 10,000 Kyats under Penal Code 124(A) by Botahtaung District Court, Yangon. He was arrested in Yangon by the junta on 23 March 2022, and he was sentenced after eight months of detainment.
Protests against the junta’s announced sham elections in 2023
Despite the junta’s imposition of strict control and vicious suppression, the peaceful protests against the military junta have continued in different parts of Myanmar. During the last week of November, the people in Kalay Township and other parts of Sagaing Region protested against the junta’s announced sham elections. The protests were aimed to inform the public not to acknowledge or relate in any ways the illegal election exercise to be held by the junta military in 2023. This campaign against the junta’s planned elections were initiated in different townships of Sagaing since the beginning of November, including in Kalay, Monywa, Yin Mar Bin, Sarlingyi, Kani and Chaung-U. The protestors also planned to raise awareness for the civilians living in the areas strongly controlled by the junta through online or media platforms.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 28 November 2022, the National Unity Government issued Weekly Newsletter No. 31/2022, which contained articles relating to the NUG’s activities. Those articles included the joint statement by the NUG’s Ministry of Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs and Ministry of Human Rights on the International Children Day; the Ministry of Labour urging labour organization to stop cooperating with the terrorist SAC; and the announcement by the NUG’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management regarding the humanitarian aids it has distributed in October 2022.
On 29 November 2022, the Ministry of Defence conducted awareness raising for all democratic forces regarding chemical weapons. It noted that the use of chemical weapons is harmful to the civilian population and caused injury and deaths indiscriminately. The ministry condemned their use and production and explained the different forms of those weapons and how they can affect the human body through different means.
The Acting President Duwa Lashi La participated in the REUTERS NEXT: Leadership Summit and Global Broadcast on 1 December 2022 and discussed about the Myanmar people’s fight for democracy and freedom. During the interview, the Acting President, stated that if America and the EU support the people of Myanmar just as they have Ukraine, the daily massacres of civilians by the SAC could have been ended, and the NUG’s objective is to end those air raids and shelling attacks as soon as possible. He added that it would be grateful to see the earnest participation of the international community in the efforts to rebuild Myanmar as a whole. Other speakers who participated in the broadcast were global political and business leaders including the Canada Prime Minister, Lithuania Prime Minister, Japan Foreign Minister, German Federal Minister of Finance, Zambia Minister of Finance, IMF Managing Director, World Bank President, and Morgan Stanley Chairman & CEO.
On 3 December 2022, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Women, Youths and Children Affairs and the Ministry of Human Rights released a Joint Statement on the Imposition of the Death Penalty against the people, including seven students from Dagon University. In the statement it was mentioned that the terrorist military unjustly arrested seven young students from Dagon University on 21 April 2022. It underlined that the terrorist military has violated the democratic rights of the people by arbitrarily detaining or extrajudicially killing those who oppose them through political means. It stressed that the terrorist military has violated the people’s right to life by carrying out the inhumane death penalty. As the statement reiterated that imposing death penalty is contrary to international human rights principles, it stated that the terrorist military must be held accountable for committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Through the statement, the NUG vowed to seek justice and continue to fight against the military dictatorship until federal democracy is restored.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
On 28 November 2022, the UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) in Bangkok issued a press released titled “Myanmar: UN Human Rights Office deeply concerned by new NGO law”. In the press release, it stated that OHCHR is deeply concerned about the potential negative impact on civic space and human rights of new rules regulating the registration of non-profit organizations in Myanmar. It referred to the text unilaterally imposed by the military’s so-called State Administration Council on 28 October 2022, making registration compulsory for both national and international non- governmental organizations and associations. It underlined that in purportedly repealing the 2014 Association Registration Law, these new rules introduce criminal penalties for organizations who fail to comply with punishments up to five years of imprisonment. The press release also informed that the military has used the national legal framework and the judiciary to crush any opposition and these new provisions add to the legal arsenal at their disposal to exert authoritarian control over Myanmar. It underlined that in the context of ongoing fighting throughout Myanmar, military decisions and actions have severely restricted humanitarian access limiting efforts to reach some of the estimated 1.4 million internally displaced people and millions of others affected by crisis with life-saving humanitarian aid. The OHCHR called on the military to meet their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, particularly to enhance protection of civilians, release political prisoners, and restore a political system representative of the will of the people of Myanmar.
On 28 November 2022, UNOCHA issued a “Myanmar: Humanitarian Response Plan 2022 -Quarter Three Dashboard (Jan - Sep 2022)”. The overview of the plan mentioned that there is a continuation of deadly threats to the safety and wellbeing of people in conflict areas and additional economic pressures due to surging inflations. It explained that high intensity conflict persisted, particularly in the Northwest and Southeast. It informed that displaced people continue to experience high to extreme levels of vulnerability whereas the combined economic, humanitarian, human rights and political crises further eroded the resilience of other crisis-affected people. The humanitarian operational space continued to shrink amidst ongoing conflict, insecurity, and other bureaucratic access constraints. The safety of humanitarians and frontline workers is increasingly under threat. Against this backdrop, humanitarian partners continue to explore alternative approaches to deliver desperately needed assistance. It highlighted that local partners are now the backbone of the response and there is a further increase in the number of organizations coordinating their response through the cluster system, from 177 in second quarter to 219 - the direct result of a scale-up in cluster coordination efforts, with a particular focus on hard-to-reach areas.
On 30 November 2022, UNICEF Myanmar issued Humanitarian Situation Report No. 10 for November 2022. The report contained highlights of the report, UNICEF’s Response and Funding Status, Funding Overview and Partnerships, Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs, Summary Analysis of Programme Response, and Humanitarian Leadership, Coordination and Strategy. The highlights of the report explained that essential medical supplies were distributed to partners in the northwest and southeast regions for use in primary health care services and were expected to meet the needs of more than 14,000 children. It informed that a total of 10,370 children (5,348 girls and 5,022 boys) and 2,062 caregivers were provided with access to mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) activities and interventions through in-person and remote approaches. It added that nearly 28,000 temporarily displaced people in Kayin, Kayah, Magway and Tanintharyi received life-saving WASH supplies. It mentioned that so far this year, UNICEF has provided cash assistance to a total of 8,467 participants through its Maternal and Child Cash Transfer programme. It also added that up to November, the 2022 UNICEF Humanitarian Action for Children appeal has received only 20 per cent of the required US$151.4 million to cover the multisectoral humanitarian needs of the targeted 1.1 million children.
On 1 December 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a Weekly Highlights of Myanmar South East - Emergency Overview Map: Number of people displaced in South East since Feb 2021 and remain displaced as of 28 November 2022. The highlights informed that in the South-East, the number of IDPs increased from 327,800 last week to 328,900 this week. Clashes, airstrikes and indiscriminate shelling were reported in Kayin State where 625 people have been displaced in Kawkareik and Thandaunggyi Townships. In Mon State, some 1,073 IDPs from Thaton Township, who were temporarily displaced in nearby areas since early November 2022 have now returned to their places of origin as the situation improved. Due to increased armed clashes in Shan State (South), a total of 1,168 IDPs originally from Loikaw Township, Kayah State (895 people) and Pekon Township, Shan State (South) (273 people) have been verified in Hsihseng Township.
At the United Nations daily press briefing on 2 December 2022, Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the Secretary-General, said that Volker Türk, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, on the same day, expressed shock that since the launch of the coup last year, more than 130 people have now been sentenced to death by military courts behind closed doors in Myanmar. Also related to the general situation in Myanmar, Dujarric added that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and humanitarian partners are observing a dramatic increase in the number of people attempting perilous crossings of the Andaman Sea this year. He explained that some 1,920 people, mostly Rohingya, travelled by sea from January to November, from Myanmar and Bangladesh. Comparing to only 287 in last year, the number is more than sixfold increase. Dujarric also reiterated the UNHCR’s warning that attempts at these journeys are exposing people to grave risks and fatal consequences. He stated that, tragically, 119 people have been reported dead or missing on these journeys, this year alone. Responding to the question if the Secretary-General have any plans to try and talk to any of the Myanmar leaders regarding Mr. Turk’s comments about the death sentences in Myanmar and the most recent ones against young people who had been protesting, the spokesperson said that the contacts to leaders of Myanmar are mostly through the Special Envoy on Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer. Messages of concern are being expressed publicly because the Secretary-General joins the High Commissioner in expressing his concern through different channels.
On 2 December 2022, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published a press released titled “Myanmar: UN Human Rights Chief alarmed at death sentences by secretive military courts”. The press release said that the High Commissioner Volker Türk expressed shock that more than 130 people have now been sentenced to death by military courts behind closed doors in Myanmar since the military launched a coup last year, following fresh convictions this week. It added that capital punishments were handed to at least seven university students on 30 November and four youth activists on 1 December. Mr. Türk said that the military continues to hold proceedings in secretive courts in violation of basic principles of fair trial and contrary to core judicial guarantees of independence and impartiality and he called for the suspension of all executions and a return to a moratorium on death penalty. Recalling the military’s execution, the first in approximately 30 years, against four pro-democracy activists, it mentioned that close to 1,700 detainees of the nearly 16,500 who have been arrested for opposing the military‟s coup have been tried and convicted in secret by ad hoc tribunals, sometimes lasting just minutes. None have been acquitted, and often they have not had access to lawyers or their families. Türk added that by resorting to use death sentences as a political tool to crush political opponents, the military confirms its disdain for the efforts by ASEAN and the international community at large to end violence and create the conditions for a political dialogue to lead Myanmar out of a human rights crisis created by the military.
On 2 December 2022, the United Nations OHCHR published a press release titled “Myanmar: Over 50,000 exposed to forced evictions and housing destruction, say UN experts”. According to the press release, the UN experts said that the Myanmar Military is forcibly evicting over 50,000 people from informal settlements and systematically destroying homes in a fundamental violation of core human rights obligations. The press release detailed the difficult situation of more than 40,000 residents living in informal settlements in Mingaladon Township, Yangon, who were given eviction notices last month, with only a few days to dismantle their homes, without provision of any alternative housing or land. The press release further informed about the decisions of some residents to dismantle their homes in an attempt to secure their belongings and construction materials and most of the residents who remain due to a lack of alternative or decided to flee their homes. It stressed that two residents reportedly committed suicide out of desperation. Underlining that violent arbitrary housing demolitions continue across the country, the press release also gave more information on the military’s violent actions in different parts of Myanmar. On 19 November, 150 homes were bulldozed in Ward 3 of Yangon's Mayangone township, on 21 November, over 5,000 households in Chan Mya Thazi Township, Mandalay were evicted overnight, and 200 shops and apartments on the station road of Pyin Oo Lwin township, Mandalay were ordered to remove by 25 November. Given the fact that more than 38,000 houses have been destroyed or burned down since the military coup on 1 February 2021, leading to widespread displacement of over 1.1 million people, the experts said that those incidents follow a pattern of widespread burning of Rohingya villages perpetrated by the Myanmar Military in 2017 during genocidal attacks against the Rohingya. The experts emphasized that depending on the context, systematic housing destruction and displacement can be prosecuted either as a war crime, a crime against humanity, or both. They stressed that it is the responsibility of the international community to ensure that those responsible for such crimes face international justice.
On 3 December 2022, UNOCHA published Myanmar Humanitarian Update No. 24. The highlights and key messages stated that more than 1.4 million people are displaced across the country, of whom more than 1.1 million were displaced since 2021. Armed clashes, compounded by tight security, access restrictions, and threats against aid workers, continue to hamper humanitarian operations across Myanmar. Humanitarians are deeply concerned about the newly passed NGO registration law and partners are currently investigating the potential impact on the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance. It also explained that premature return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from past and present conflicts in Rakhine, Chin and southern Shan states remains a major protection concern amid ongoing insecurity and continued fighting. It is critical that returns are done safely and voluntarily, in line with international principles. It also added that inflation in commodity prices, including for food and fuel, is deepening the socio-economic stress on communities, forcing them to adopt negative coping mechanisms. It also underlined that the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) remains drastically underfunded as the end of 2022 is approaching. As of 30 November, it is only 28 per cent funded, leaving a gap of US$597 million (FTS). It also stated that in the first nine months of 2022, humanitarians reached at least 3.9 million people with assistance according to reports received by clusters.
Date: 04 December 2022
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York