Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (4 June 2023)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
More than twenty-eight months ago, on 1 February 2021, the Myanmar military attempted an illegal coup, toppled the elected civilian government, and unlawfully and unjustly detained State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and other senior members of the elected 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 02 June 2023, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 3,614 people have been ruthlessly killed by the military, whereas 22,947 people have been arrested and a total of 156 individuals have been sentenced to death, of which 114 (including two children) are detained and 42 remain 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 death sentences were executed by the military junta in July 2022.
Atrocities committed by the military
Raiding, killing, arresting, torching and looting villages in Sagaing Region
News reported that on 19 May 2023, a military column of around 100 junta personnel raided Kan Thit and Aung Chan Thar Villages, in Khin-U Township, Sagaing Region, and burned down 175 houses. As a result, residents are forced to flee for safety.
On 25 May 2023, around 70 junta soldiers raided Ma Kyee Sauk Village in Ayadaw Township, Sagaing Region. The junta forces shot and killed a local woman while she was attempting to flee.
On 28 May 2023, junta forces attacked one of the bases of a local People’s Defense Force (LPDF), near War Yaung Village in Ayadaw Township. During the attack, a 43-year-old woman was shot in the head and a vehicle and three motorcycles were destroyed by the junta forces.
According to reliable sources, approximately 170 junta troops raided Hpein Kar Village on 25 May, killed an elderly woman, Daw Thaung Kyi and torched around seven houses. The junta troops detained four farmers from Taze Township, three villagers from Pay Kone Village and one villager from Ywar Pu Gyi Village in Ye-U Township. The situation of the detainees was unknown at the time of reporting. The same troops raided and set fire to Mon Taing Pin Village of Ye-U Township, Sagaing Region on 29 May 2023. According to the spokesperson of People’s Defense Comrades, a resistance group in the township, around 17 houses were torched by the same junta troops who massacred 29 Mon Taing Pin villagers in 2022. Reportedly, there were no casualties as the village was deserted amid junta raids on other villages in Ye-U on 25 May.
According to local sources, around 100 junta troops raided a resistance base in Chaung-U Township on 31 May 2023, and a man who was arrested and used as a human shield was shot in the head and his body set on fire in their camp by junta troops. According to Irrawaddy News Media, on 1 June 2023, at around 5 a.m., junta troops attacked a village resistance base in Hpoke Kone Village, Kanbalu Township, Sagaing Region. During the attack, four village resistance members and a civilian were killed. Moreover Hpoke Kone Village was raided on 21 May by other junta troops, and they destroyed at least 450 out of 700 homes in the village.
Raiding, killing, torching and looting villages in Yay Lel Kyun, Magway Region
According to reliable local sources, around 200 junta troops have begun raiding villages in Yay Lel Kyun, an island at the confluence of the Ayeyarwady and Chindwin rivers, since 26 May 2023. A 38-year-old woman was killed by junta shelling on 26 May in Mipuya Village. On 28 May 2023, junta troops raided a camp where more than 100 displaced villagers were hiding. According to a member of Yesagyo People’s Defense Force (PDF), during the raid, a civilian and a resistance fighter were killed. With the villagers being trapped in the forest, one was killed by a stray bullet and another was deliberately shot dead. Junta troops drowned a displaced villager during their raid on Yayyar Village on 28 May 2023. And according to a resident in Maegone Village, the junta forces torched Maegone Village on 29 May and they allegedly tortured and killed a resident who tried to put out a fire. According to Yesagyo PDF, more than twenty civilians have been seized as human shields. News also reported that Yay Lel Kyun has around 50 villages of which more than 20 have been attacked. Some villages were entirely burned. Junta troops also looted valuables and destroyed vehicles and boats. According to Yesagyo Information, more than 21,000 villagers have been displaced by junta raids.
Raiding and looting in Hpakant Township, Kachin State
According to Irrawaddy News Media, junta troops have raided mining companies at Myanmar’s jade hub in Hpakant Township, Kachin State. Triple One Co, Kyaw Naing and Brothers Co between Hmaw Wan Gyi and Hmaw Maung Layan Villages were raided on 27 May by junta troops firing shots. Around 50 jade prospectors and employees were detained by the junta soldiers. Junta troops also raided Kachin National Development and Progress Co Ltd (KNDPC) and Naymin Gabar Co in Lone Khin Village on 29 May and occupied the sites until 30 May. Each company has approximately 120 employees. Troops also reportedly seized machinery.
Arresting teachers who joined Civil Disobedience Movement
According to a local news, on 27 May 2023, junta forces arrested Theint Theint Soe, a CDM teacher, at her house located in No. 6 Ward, Bogale Town, Ayeyarwady Region. Being arrested for allegedly having connection with the National Unity Government, she was detained at Bogale Myoma Police Station, and was charged under Section 52(a) of the Counter-Terrorism Law.
On the night of 27 May 2023, junta forces arrested another CDM teacher Khaing Soe Wai at her house in Shwegu Town, Kachin State. At the time of reporting, Khaing Soe Wai is being detained at Shwegu Myoma Police Station.
Airstrikes, heavy artillery, and other targeting of civilian areas
According to AAPP, in recent weeks, junta forces have increasingly been carrying out airstrikes on religious establishments and civilian areas, which are not military targets. On the night of 23 May 2023, the junta’s Air Force dropped bombs with fighter planes on Pa Nwe Phoe Ka Loe Village in Maw Khee Village Tract, Kawkareik Township, Kayin State. This attack has destroyed a total of eight buildings, including a Christian church.
According to a news report, on 28 May 2023, junta forces fired artillery shells at Kha Name Moo Extension Ward, No. 7 Ward in Kawkareik Town, Kayin State. As a result, two local residents, Phoe Kyar and Khin Myat Htwe, were killed while returning home on their motorbike at the time of the attack. Reportedly, the artillery shrapnel hit Phoe Kyar on the head and thigh, and Khin Myat Htwe on her neck, hands and legs.
On the morning of 27 May 2023, over 100 junta troops opened fire at Sel Zin Kone Village in Thabeikkyin Township, Mandalay Region. Consequently, a local Kyaw Zaw Linn was killed with shrapnel striking his head and a three-year-old child was injured.
A local source reported that on 1 June 2023, junta forces fired 60 mm artillery shells targeting Seik Khon Village in Shwebo Township, Sagaing Region. With one of the artillery shells exploded in the village, a local named Kyu Hline was killed with shrapnel struck on her chest. It was also reported that Soe Gyi, who had lived near Taung Market, was killed by shrapnel striking his head.
On 1 June 2023, junta forces fired artillery shells targeting Min Htain Village in Palaw Township, Tanintharyi Region. An artillery shell exploded on a house in the village, killing a 90-year-old local woman and her daughter Ngwe Shin.
Charges against the anti-junta activists
On 24 May 2023, the junta’s prison court sentenced Mee Thet from Hle Kone Ward, Kan Pauk Village Tract, Yebyu Township, Tanintharyi Region, to serve 10 years in prison under Section 50(j) of the Counter-Terrorism Law. Reportedly, Mee Thet was one of the 23 detainees from Kan Pauk Village Tract arrested by the junta Myawaddy Regional Command after a junta-appointed administrator in Kan Pauk Village was shot dead on 25 January 2023.
On 26 May 2023, Thingangyun District Court sentenced Hmue Yadanar Khet Moh Moh Tun, a 34-year-old journalist from the Online Myanmar Pressphoto Agency to serve 10 years in prison, including hard labor, under Section 50(j) of the Counter-Terrorism Law, for allegedly supporting the resistance groups. According to her lawyer, the defendant had proven that allegations of her having a financial link to resistance groups were not true, but the judge said the proof was inconclusive. She was arrested, on 5 December 2021, while gathering news at the protest in Pan Pin Gyi Street, Kyeemyindaing Township in Yangon Region, along with the other protestors, by the junta forces, who rammed into the protesters in vehicles. It was reported that she and her fellow journalist Kaung Sett Lin were hit by the vehicle at high speed as they were taking photos and videos from behind the protest march. Hmue Yadanar's left ear was cut in half, her left cheek was torn, bones were broken in three places in her left ankle and she had to have 15 stitches for a head wound. She received metal implants to fix broken bones in her left leg in Insein prison in March 2023 but still has to use crutches to walk. With the previous charges in December 2022 to serve 3 years in prison with hard labor under 505A of the Penal Code, she has a prison sentence amounting to 13 years in total.
On 30 May 2023, Mogaung Township Court sentenced Nay Chi Aung, a CDM clerk from the General Administration Department, to serve 3 years in prison under Section 52(a) of the Counter-Terrorism Law. She was arrested by the junta forces on 7 April 2023 at her house in Nam Yin Ward, Mogaung Town, Kachin State.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 28 May 2023, the Ministry of Education announced that it had already declared all the schools, private schools and the monastery education institute under the control of the SAC null and void while students and parents are participating in the boycott campaign against SAC-controlled education institute and schools. The Ministry urged all civilians to keep boycotting the SAC affiliated education facilities and receiving educational instruction home-based teaching centers, people-based online schools, or other educational service providers.
On 28 May 2023, the Radio NUG broadcasted that the NUG Union Minister H.E. Dr. Zaw Wai Soe and other Ministers have visited the Senate of California, U.S. on 25 May 2023. Members of the Senate welcome Dr. Zaw Wai Soe who is the Union Minister for Health and for Education of the National Unity Government. The visiting Union Ministers met with Senator Benjamin J Allen in the afternoon and discussed the issues related to Myanmar.
On 29 May 2023, the NUG has published Weekly Press Update (21/2023). In the Press Update, articles related to the activities of the NUG have been included. Those articles include remark by the Prime Minister at the meeting of the Interim Local Public Administration Central Committee, statement delivered by Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun at the United Nations Security Council Arria Formula Meeting on Myanmar on 19 May 2023, the NUG acknowledging the fallen hero Maung Swan Htet who was a foundation year medical student at the University of Medicine (Magway) and lost his life on 22 May 2023, NUG condemning the junta’s violence against health services, and the announcement by Ministry of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Management regarding the assistance provided to households affected by Cyclone Mocha.
On 30 May 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the NUG issued a Statement on Cyclone Mocha relief. The statement informed that Cyclone Mocha struck northwest Myanmar on 14 May with wind gusts of up to 120 miles per hour leaving a trail of death and devastation in Rakhine, Bago, Chin, Magway, Mandalay, Sagaing, Shan, Yangon and Ayeyarwady. Mocha’s destruction of homes, crops and critical infrastructure and its triggering of floods and landslides has affected an estimated 1.6 million people. The statement also added that this has compounded the extreme suffering of nearly 2 million Myanmar people, who were already internally displaced by the SAC’s atrocities. In the statement, the Ministry also welcomed the UN Humanitarian Country Team’s launch of a Flash Appeal seeking USD333 million to fund further assistance. The Ministry is outraged by UN reports that the SAC has blocked the UN from delivering aid and prevented communities, including Rohingya, from relocating to safety before the cyclone hit.
On 31 May 2023, the Ministry of Education announced that the Ministry has been developing a “basic education completion assessment program for 2023” for all students who had finished Grade-10 (under the system before coup) or the first year of Government Technology Institute and were 17 years old by 31 December 2022. The Ministry added that it will release all basic education completion certificates for those who took the 1st and 2nd assessment programs conducted in 2023 by late February of 2024.
On 1 June 2023, the NUG’s Acting President H.E. Duwa Lashi La issued a decree, providing the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment with the authority to establish and manage the Interim Central Bank (ICB) in accordance with the Chapter 4 and 15 (b) and (c) of the Federal Democracy Charter: Part II (Interim Constitutional Arrangement).
On 1 June 2023, the Ministry of Defence announced that the first military battalion for Yangon Region, Battalion 5101 was formed with well-trained and disciplined combatant members under the guidance of the Ministry in order to initiate strategic and coordinated operations against the terrorist SAC.
On 3 June 2023, the NUG’s Acting President H.E. Duwa Lashi La has visited the people affected by Cyclone Mocha in a liberated area. The Acting President offered his warmth support and provided some financial support for them.
On 3 June 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government issued a statement (12/2023) regarding the Foreign Minister’s meeting with UN Special Envoy on Myanmar Dr. Noeleen Heyzer. In the statement, it was mentioned that during the meeting between the Foreign Minister and the Special Envoy, the Minister expressed the NUG’s appreciation for her commitment to her mandate. It stated that Dr. Heyzer has brought considerable energy and experience to her role and made determined efforts. It also emphasized that as Dr. Heyzer conceded, the significant obstacles she faced as Special Envoy were made worse by a lack of international resolve on Myanmar. The statement also underlined that the illegal military has escalated its widespread atrocities, ignored UN Security Council and General Assembly demands and frustrated efforts to implement ASEAN’s Five Point Consensus, and it recent prevention of UN agencies from delivering aids to communities devastated by Cyclone Mocha including Rakhine State. It stressed that it is time for UN Secretary-General to take the lead on Myanmar, and that the gravity of the situation and the vacuum created by the Special Envoy’s departure requires the Secretary-General’s use of his own good offices. It also recalled the Secretary-General’s affirmation, two years ago, the “unwavering support of the United Nations to the people of Myanmar in their pursuit of democracy, peace, human rights and the rule of law”.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
On 29 May 2023, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees published weekly highlights of Myanmar South East - Emergency Overview Map: number of people displaced in South East since Feb 2021 and remain displaced as of 29 May 2023. In the highlights, it was explained that in the South-East, the number of IDPs marginally increased from 441,300 last week to 441,600 this week, alongside significant secondary displacement; in Bago Region (East) 4,169 IDPs from at least four villages in Kyaukkyi Township were displaced within the same township due to airstrikes and intensified shelling from 10-21 May, of whom most 3,824 were secondarily displaced; in Kayin State, 371 IDPs returned to their place of origin in Kawkareik Township on 15 May, while 165 IDPs were displaced within Kawkareik Township and 98 IDPs within Kyainseikgyi Township due to the intensified conflict on 19 May, of whom 165 were secondarily displaced. It also stated that in Shan State (South), 282 people were displaced to Hsihseng or Pekon townships due to increased airstrikes on 18 May, of whom 18 have returned to their place of origin in Loikaw Township, Kayah State.
According to Asahi Shimbum News on 31 May 2023, Japan is withdrawing its official development assistance (ODA) for a key railway project in Myanmar. The decision, as a mark of protest over the 2021 military coup against the democratically elected government, affects financial assistance for upgrades to the railway system. Japan has been involved in the rail project in Myanmar since 2013 and the project has stood as a symbol of cooperation between the two countries. It is reported that Japan notified Myanmar last autumn that it will not provide additional yen loans that are essential for its continuation and junta sent word by April that they understood Japan’s position. Japan has suspended new yen loans for Myanmar since the coup. The notification to Myanmar about the railway project made clear that Japan will not sign a new contract to provide additional loans to the country, even for an existing project that started before the coup.
On 3 June 2023, the UN Special Envoy for Myanmar Dr. Noeleen Heyzer said that organising elections without an "inclusive political dialogue" risks worsening violence in Myanmar. She also said that she met with Daw Zin Mar Aung, Foreign Affairs Minister of the National Unity Government on 2 June 2023. According to the statement, during the meeting with Daw Zin Mar Aung, the UN Envoy warned against ongoing attempts by the Myanmar military to undermine democratic institutions and processes, such as the dissolution of opposition parties. Dr. Heyzer also warned that the military's proposed elections risk exacerbating the violence in the absence of inclusive political dialogue and conditions that permit citizens to freely exercise their rights. She said that any dialogue should focus on people in conflict-affected areas -- including women and youth.
Actions and remarks by the International Community regarding the emergency response for victims of Cyclone Mocha
At the United Nations daily press briefing on 31 May 2023, Spokesperson for Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric explained the UN’s response to Cyclone Mocha. He said that two weeks after the cyclone hit, the UN and its partners have distributed shelter and other relief items to more than 63,000 people and over 230,000 people have received some food assistance. He added that while humanitarian workers continue to ramp up support where they have authorizations and available stocks, wider access for distributions and approvals for the movement of supplies are urgent. Shelter needs continue to be a priority as the monsoon season approaches. He highlighted that the UN humanitarian staff also warned that the food reserves for households impacted by the cyclone are dwindling, and communities are facing rising food prices.
On 31 May 2023, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) issued a press release and appealed for USD 11.25 Million to Respond to Cyclone Mocha in Myanmar, to scale up its emergency assistance to vulnerable populations affected by Cyclone Mocha in Myanmar. It was mentioned that the impacts of the Extremely Severe Cyclone Mocha, which struck Myanmar on 14 May, greatly exacerbated existing needs on top of an already dire humanitarian situation for the more than 5.4 million people estimated to have been in the path of the cyclone. It explained that these number of populations include the 3.4 million people living in the highest impact zone, and particularly the 1.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the affected states of Rakhine, Chin, Sagaing, Magway and Kachin. It further stated that the IOM Cyclone Mocha Flash Appeal aims to reach over 75,000 vulnerable individuals, including IDPs in protracted displacement and newly displaced, and host communities, including those in affected areas with limited access to basic services. The Appeal also covers individuals with severe protection needs, such as returned migrants forced to return to cyclone and conflict-affected areas without prior planning, and those who have experienced labour exploitation, gender-based violence, trafficking and/or abuse.
On 2 June 2023, during the UN briefing in Geneva, Titon Mitra, the resident representative in Rakhine for the UNDP, virtually participated from Rahkine's capital Sittwe and said that around 700,000 homes had been damaged throughout the country. He said that the devastation from Cyclone Mocha was truly immense, and he also warned that the current response relative to the scale of need was not enough. He also stressed that recovery would take years and there are 1.6 million people who need assistance.
Date: 04 June 2023
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York