Myanmar Mission To UN
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (5 Feb 2023)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
About two years ago on 1st February 2021, 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 3 February 2023, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military ruthlessly killed 2,951 people, arrested 17,645 people, and 13,825 people remain in detention, whereas 143 people have been sentenced to death, including 101 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 sentenced to death were executed by the military junta in July 2022.
Serious crimes committed by the Military
According to the AAPP, the military forces raided Maubin East Village in Shwebo Township of Sagaing Region on 29 January 2023 and set houses on fire. It was reported that the military forces also killed two villagers namely Myint Thant and Kan Htoo, and burned their bodies. On the morning of 30 January, the locals found their bodies after the military forces left the village.
The news reported that on the night of 30 January 2023, military forces and the members of the paramilitary Pyu Saw Htee arrested three villagers for questioning in Ngwe Twin Village in Ayadaw Township of Sagaing Region. The source said that those arrested were the villagers Zaw Naing, Kyaw Min Soe, and Shit Bot. It was reported that on 31 January 2023, the military forces told the family members of Kyaw Min Soe to come and pick up his body, and the condition of the other two villagers remains unknown.
The AAPP reported that the military forces arrested a civilian named Soe Yadanar Oo from Zabu Thiri Township of Nay Pyi Taw on 30 January 2023, and accused her of posting about the silent strike on social media. It was reported that on the following day, the military charged her under Section 52(a) of the Counter Terrorism Law in Za Bu Thi Ri Township Court.
The news reported that on 1 February 2023, the military forces arrested a civilian named Hla Aung, a resident of Aung Chan Thar Ward in Indaw Township of Sagaing Region. He was arrested in front of his house while he was taking photos of the empty streets during the silent strike.
Firing heavy artillery and displacing the villages in Bago Region
Myanmar Now News reported that the military forces fired heavy artillery in the villages in eastern Bago Region during the last week of January 2023. The source said that the military forces threatened the residents of Payunmyaung Village in Nyaunglebin Township of Bago Region with an arson attack in retaliation for 17 January killing of two alleged military informants. The military forces fired on the village with heavy artillery and threatened to torched the villages in eastern Bago Region.
According to a resident from Payunmyaung Village, the villagers fled in fear of the shells fired by the military, and only those who had nowhere to run and stayed behind to look after their houses were left in the village. Only about 10 percent of the original population of Pazunmyaung Village remained. Local residents said that the population of at least 10 other villages near the shores of the Sittaung have been displaced since 28 January 2023.
Raiding and attacking villages and murdering civilians in Sagaing Region
Myanmar Now News reported that since 28 January 2023, a military column consisting of around 150 troops raided eastern and western Maubin Villages in Shwebo Township of Sagaing Region and conducted a series of raids on the villages along the eastern bank of Muu River in Sagaing Region. According to a resident, the military forces left on 30 January 2023, after they have torched and destroyed more than 300 houses and killed at least three civilians.
It was reported that the fighting between the military forces and the fighters from People’s Defence Force broke out near the villages of Nyaungbintha, Sin Shin and Min Taing Pin in the west of Pale Township of Sagaing Region on 31 January 2023, and during the clash, the local defence members were captured. The sources said that the six local defence members were then killed, and their headless bodies were found in three villages near Pale township. The Spokesperson for the Pale Township People’s Defence Team said that the bodies of the beheaded resistance fighters were found scattered in several locations around the three villages.
According to Mizzima News, a military column consisting of 150 troops conducted operations in the southwest of Khin U Township of Sagaing Region on 31 January 2023, and it torched the houses in the villages of Byaingkyaing, Yonesu, and Nyaung Pin Gyi Su. The military forces reportedly killed an elderly man and destroyed roughly 680 homes in these three villages. The military troops were said to have left on 1 February 2023, after they stayed the night in Nyaung Pin Gyi Su Village.
According to the AAPP, the military forces raided and indiscriminately fired both heavy and light weaponry into Nyaung Pin Thar Village in Kawlin Township of Sagaing Region on 1 February 2023. It was reported that during the raid, the military forces shot a civilian named Zaw Min Khaing and injured three other villagers.
Illegitimately Sentencing Civilians
The AAPP reported that on 30 January 2023, the Special Court inside Pathein Prison sentenced Dr. Hla Myat Thway, the Minister of Social Affairs of the Ayeyarwady Region Government, to two years in prison under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code. It was reported that she was transferred to Pathein Prison on 30 December 2022, after she had been under house arrest in government housing in Ayeyarwady Region since 1 February 2021.
On 31 January 2023, the news reported that the Court in Mogaung Township of Kachin State sentenced a civilian named Aung Htay Oo to three years in prison with hard labor under Section 52(a) of the Counter-Terrorism Law. The source said that Aung Htay Oo was the NLD Party Chairman in Sar Hmaw Village. It was reported that he was accused of supporting the People’s Defence Force and was arrested in his home on 25 September 2022.
Nationwide Silent Strike
News media reported that despite threats from the military, a nationwide silent strike was held on 1 February 2023, closing down the businesses across the country to mark the second anniversary of the military’s attempted coup. This strike aimed to show the world that the people of Myanmar reject the military rule and the military’s sham election planned for this year. It was reported that the streets of Yangon, Mandalay, Naypyitaw, Monywa and other cities remained empty all day as residents stayed indoors.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 31 January 2023, The National Unity Government (NUG) office at Washington DC issued a statement that Deputy Foreign Minister H.E. Mr. Moe Zaw Oo and Minister of Communication H.E. Mr. Htin Lin Aung, along with Burmese ethnic groups’ leaders and Women’s leaders, warmly received the Foreign Ministry representatives of the United States – Mr Daniel Kritenbrink (Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs) and Ms Melissa Brown (Deputy Assistant Secretary of Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs). The statement noted that this visit was an important step in strengthening diplomatic ties between the U.S. government and NUG, as it provided a platform to discuss issues such as U.S. policy towards the current situation of Myanmar; helping people from Myanmar; sanctions against Military Government etc. During the meeting, the NUG ministers and ethnic leaders detailed on what is happening at ground level across Myanmar and things that need support or collaboration with the U.S. The foreign ministry representatives also expressed appreciation for all efforts made by NUG in providing relief to those affected due to political unrest caused by military coup earlier this year while also assuring them continued support from the U.S. government side throughout this process if needed be.
On 31 January 2023, Ambassador H.E. Mr. Kyaw Moe Tun, the Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations delivered a remark at the Launch of Conference Room Paper by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. The Permanent Representative said that the atrocities committed by the military junta amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes, and the consequences of the military’s atrocities and institutional destruction are massive not only for Myanmar but also for countries in the region and beyond. He joined the Special Rapporteur in urging all UN member states not to support the illegal junta’s attempt to gain legitimacy through the sham elections. He explained that no election organized and controlled by the illegal junta will have any chance to be genuine, free, fair and independent, especially while they are holding politicians hostage and the rule of law has been dismantled. Additionally, the military’s sham elections will never be a solution nor a realistic path to stability. The Permanent Representative underlined that the people of Myanmar deserve nothing less than a free, open, just and peaceful democratic country, and reiterated that the National Unity Government appreciates the efforts of the Special Rapporteur and always stands ready to closely work with the Special Rapporteur and everyone who want peace and democracy in Myanmar.
On 1 February 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government of Myanmar issued a statement on the second anniversary of the people’s Spring Revolution against the illegal military’s failed power grab. It stated that the people of Myanmar have shown remarkable unity and resolve, and have refused to surrender their democracy, rights and freedoms to thugs with guns. The statement honoured the martyrs and their family members for their unimaginable sacrifices, all those in unlawful junta detention, the ethnic partners, Civil Disobedience Movement, strike committees, youth and civil society, the medical workers and human rights defenders, People’s and Local Defence Forces, and every other person protecting the communities and defying the terrorist junta, as well as extended sincere gratitude to the friends around the world standing in solidarity with Myanmar. Through the statement, the National Unity Government (NUG) called on the United Nations, ASEAN partners and on the international community to support the legitimate democratic mandate of NUG and to block all attempts by the junta to trade its bloody military fatigues for civilian suits through sham elections. The statement said that this second-year anniversary must mark the moment that the international community says no more to impunity, to regional instability and to an aspiring dictator.
On 1 February 2023, the National Unity Government issued a statement to commend and laud all the heroes of the People and the Nation, who have resolutely and steadfastly taken part in Civil Disobedience Movement and stood on the side of justice and righteousness with nationalistic fervour against the illegal putsch on 1 February 2021.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
On 30 January 2023, Amnesty International called for increased global action and solidarity ahead of the two-year anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar on 1st February. Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns Ming Yu Hah said, “there is no denying that the military is able to carry out its nationwide assault on human rights because of the shockingly inadequate global response to this crisis, which risks becoming forgotten. We can’t let that happen. This anniversary should highlight the need for urgent global action from countries around the world and the ASEAN to protect the people of Myanmar, who remain under daily siege from the military.”
Refugees International Director for Africa, Asia, and the Middle East Daniel P. Sullivan released a statement to mark two years following the military coup in Myanmar on 30 January 2023, underlining that two years into this coup, the United States and likeminded countries must step up pressure on the military, including through coordinated targeted sanctions on the junta and those supporting it, whether in the form of weapons, aviation fuel, or proceeds from the oil and gas sectors.
At the United Nations daily press briefing on 31 January 2023, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq said that the Secretary-General continues to stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and to support their democratic aspirations for an inclusive, peaceful and just society and the protection of all communities, including the Rohingya. The Deputy Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is concerned by the military’s stated intention to hold elections amid intensifying aerial bombardment and burning of civilian houses, along with ongoing arrests, intimidation and harassment of political leaders, civil society actors and journalists, and without conditions that permit the people of Myanmar to freely exercise their political rights, the proposed polls risk exacerbating instability.
On 31 January 2023, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer released a statement, urgently calling for international unity on humanitarian aid and a unified stance on elections and civilian protection. The Special Envoy highlighted key areas for concrete action where greater regional and international unity can support a Myanmar-led process to end the violence and suffering and help Myanmar return to the path of democracy guided by the will of the people. She reiterated the concern of the UN Secretary-General regarding the military’s stated intention to hold elections, which threatens to worsen the violence and instability in the absence of inclusive political dialogue and conditions that permit citizens to freely exercise their political rights without fear or intimidation.
The Secretary of the U.S. Department of State issued a press statement ahead of the two-year anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar on 31 January 2023. The United States reaffirmed its position that the regime’s planned elections cannot be free or fair, not while the regime has killed, detained, or forced possible contenders to flee, nor while it continues to inflict brutal violence against its peaceful opponents. It stated that the United States will continue to support the pro-democracy movement and its efforts to advance peace and multiparty governance in Myanmar, as well as continue to promote accountability for the military’s atrocities, including through support to the UN’s Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar and other international efforts to protect and support vulnerable populations, including Rohingya.
On 31 January 2023, the United States announced that it imposed sanctions on six individuals and three entities linked to the regime’s efforts to generate revenue and procure arms, including senior leadership of the country’s Ministry of Energy, Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), and Burma’s Air Force, as well as an arms dealer and a family member of a previously designated business associate of the military. The U.S. also sanctioned the Union Electoral Commission, which the military has deployed to advance its plans for deeply flawed elections. These actions were in conjunction with actions being taken by the United Kingdom and Canada.
On the eve of the second anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar, Canada announced additional sanctions on 31 January 2021. Those sanctions were under the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations against six individuals and a new prohibition on the export, sale, supply or shipment of aviation fuel to the Myanmar military regime. On the same day, the United Kingdom announced new sanctions against companies supplying the Myanmar military with aviation fuel. The latest round of sanctions targets companies that are helping to facilitate military air strikes and repression of the civilian population. Those sanctioned entities and individuals included Asia Sun Trading Company Limited and Cargo Link Company Limited, Zaw Min Tun (Director and sole shareholder of Asia Sun Trading) and Win Kyaw Kyaw Aung (former Director and shareholder of Asia Sun Trading).
On 31 January 2023, the High Representative on behalf of the EU, and the Foreign Ministers of Albania, Armenia, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, the Federated States of Micronesia, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine, the UK and the US issued a joint statement on the two year anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar. The joint statement again called on all members of the international community to support all efforts to hold those responsible for human rights violations and abuses to account, to cease the sale and transfer of arms and equipment which facilitate atrocities and to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of Myanmar’s people, including its most vulnerable communities.
On 31 January 2023, the European Union (EU) condemned in the strongest possible terms the grave human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, the persecution of civil society, human rights defenders and journalists, attacks on the civilian population, targeting also children and persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities across the country, and recent deadly air strikes on civilian targets, including on schools and hospitals, by the Myanmar armed forces. Those responsible for the coup, as well as the perpetrators of violence and gross human rights violations, should be held accountable. The EU reiterated its call for increased international preventive action, including an arms embargo in order to cease the sale and transfer of arms and equipment, as they facilitate the military’s atrocities. Stating that the four executions of pro-democracy and opposition leaders carried out on 25 July 2022 were a blatant violation of human rights, the EU is fundamentally opposed to the death penalty as an inhumane, cruel and irreversible punishment.
Human Rights Watch said on 31 January 2023 that in the two years following the coup, the military has expanded its use of deadly force and repressive measures to squelch all dissent, and foreign governments should coordinate increased pressure on the junta to establish fundamental freedoms and democratic civilian rule. It was said that the concerned governments should more effectively target the military’s main revenue sources, particularly foreign currency revenues that the military obtains from exports like natural gas, metals, gemstones, and timber and uses to purchase weapons, military equipment, and fuel.
On 1 February 2023, the Australian Government has imposed targeted financial sanctions and travel bans on individuals responsible for egregious human rights abuses in Myanmar, as well as sanctions on entities enabling the repression of its people. Sanctioned individuals included 16 members of the Myanmar military regime’s governing State Administrative Council (SAC), as key individuals directly responsible for the coup.
On 1 February 2023, the Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State Ned Price said that the U.S. strongly opposes the Myanmar military’s decision to extend the state of emergency. Entering the third year following the military coup in Myanmar, the Spokesperson reiterated the commitment of the U.S. to support the people of Myanmar and the realization of their aspirations for an inclusive, democratic country. He stated that the U.S. will continue to work with the allies and partners to support the pro-democracy movement’s efforts to establish genuine inclusive democracy in the country, deny the regime international credibility, prevent and redress violence and abuse, press the regime to meet its commitments under the ASEAN Five Point Consensus, and denounce the regime‘s plans for so-called elections.
On 1 February 2023, France reiterated its commitment to seeing the establishment of a political dialogue that includes the democratic opposition, including the National League for Democracy and its historic leaders, as well as the National Unity Government (NUG) and the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH). As was demanded by the UN Security Council in its resolution 2669, France reiterated its call for the immediate, unconditional release of all those who are being arbitrarily detained, including the Myanmar President and State Counselor, as well as its call for an end to the violence committed by Myanmar’s security forces. France reaffirmed its support for the efforts of ASEAN and its Special Envoy, as well as those of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. France will continue to stand firmly united with the Myanmar people in their fight for justice and democracy.
On 1 February 2023, the Head of the International Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) Nicholas Koumjian issued a statement. It said that during two years following the military coup, they have seen a dramatic increase in the number of serious international crimes systematically committed across the country, and the credible evidence documenting the commission of an array of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, torture, unlawful imprisonment, and deportation or forcible transfer have been collected. The Head of the IIMM said that they are analysing this evidence and preparing case files to hold perpetrators of these crimes responsible so that they will one day face justice.
Date: 5 February 2023
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York