Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
Over 16 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 3 June 2022, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 1,887 people have been ruthlessly killed by the military, whereas 13,959 people have been arrested and a total of 114 individuals have been sentenced to death of which 73 (including 2 children) who are detained and 41 in absentia, all since 1 February 2021, when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians.
Atrocities committed by the military
Announcement to execute anti-military activists
The junta announced on 3 June 2022 that it will execute former lawmaker from National League for Democracy party Phyo Zeya Thaw and veteran pro-democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, also known as Ko Jimmy, convicted of violating the Counter-Terrorism Law. The other two men sentenced to hang, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, were convicted in April 2021 for alleged crimes. Military spokesperson Zaw Min Tun was cited as saying the decision to carry out the hangings was confirmed after appeals by the four were rejected. He said the executions will go ahead in accordance with prison procedures. He did not say when the executions would be carried out.
Raiding, torching, looting and killings in Sagaing Region
The Myanmar military has continued its raids and attacks against the villages of Yinmabin and Khin-U townships in Sagaing Region.
On 29 May 2022, Thayet Kone Village of Khin-U Township was raided by the junta troops using heavy artillery. More than 70 homes and a mosque were destroyed by fire during a raid, and many villagers fled. According to local sources, several people sheltering at the local school were detained during the raid. The junta focused on the houses of members of local resistance forces and burned them to ashes.
On 30 May 2022, the bodies of four villagers were discovered in Lel Ngauk Village of Yinmabin Township, Sagaing Region. It was reportedly an area where the junta troops had attacked on 27 May 2022 and stationed for the following three days. According to the local residents, three of the victims appeared to have been burned alive with their hands tied behind their backs, whereas the fourth was shot in the head while attempting to escape. Those soldiers reportedly burned down at least 50 houses and three monastery vehicles and looted many houses after taking control of the village. Due to indiscriminate shooting into the village, two women were injured and a cow was killed.
On 1 and 2 June 2022, there were clashes between the junta troops and the local resistance forces in some villages of Kani Township. Due to the junta’s area clearance operations, many houses in those villages have been burned, and the local people have been running out of rations and medicine. The junta has been limiting the transportation of medicine and ration from Monywa Township, which used to be the usual route for medicine and food supplies, since the start of its area clearance operations, causing similar situations in villages of Min Kin Township. In some villages, villagers have already passed away due to insufficient medicine and lack of medical treatment.
Occupying religious sites in Rakhine State
According to the news, junta forces have occupied and set up posts in many religious sites of Rakhine State, including in the townships of Buthidaung, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U and Minbya. In Buthidaung Township, soldiers have reportedly been staying in monasteries in at least four villages, at the historic 31 Realms Pagoda, as well as in mosques in three communities. In Kyein Chaung Village, the junta troops have stationed themselves near the compound of a local mosque for more than two weeks, and that made the locals afraid to visit the mosque. The pagodas on Shwe Taung and Thin Kyate Taung hills in Myauk-U Township were also occupied by Myanmar army troops. Junta forces are also reportedly positioned at the Mahamuni pagoda in Kyauktaw Township, which is on the road connecting Mrauk-U with the state capital Sittwe Township. The locals from those areas dislike having military troops occupy religious areas which makes them feel unsafe and unbeing able to pay homage freely. Soldiers have been stationed at the Kyein Taung pagoda in Minbya Township since before the mid-April Thingyan festival.
On 30 May 2022, junta soldiers crashed their vehicle into five teenagers, four boys and one girl, after a protest in South Okkalapa Township, Yangon Region. The teenagers suffered multiple injuries. According to the reports, after running into the teens with the Toyota Mark II, the soldiers beat them with the butts of their rifles. Although the seriousness of the injuries was unknown, according to the ABFSU, they were believed to have suffered serious abrasions to their heads, backs, arms and legs. They were being held at the South Okkalapa Police Station. Altogether around 30 people took part in that protest. Although three other protesters, all aged 15 or 16, were also pursued by the regime’s forces, they managed to escape.
On 31 May 2022, at 7 PM, Maung Ye Paing from Ka Nyin Kyoe Village, Kyaukkyi Township, Bago Region was arrested by five policemen, who accused him of having connections to the Karen National Union (KNU).
Deaths of innocent civilians
News reported that a 75-year-old resident of Yoke Thar Village, Kyauktaw Township in northern Rakhine State passed away after stepping on a landmine on 31 May 2022. The victim, Daw Tin Thein, was reportedly foraging for edible plants on a hill at 7 AM outside of her village when she accidentally set off the mine. The explosion caused her to immediately lose her right leg above the knee and severely injured her left leg. The nearby villagers tried to send her to the Kyauktaw hospital, but she died on the way. According to the local villagers, the junta forces have occupied the village and the hill in 2019 to carry out clearance of the hill area, and those landmines are believed to be the ones they set up. The body of the victim would be cremated at the cemetery in Kyauktaw town, as junta troops had also reportedly mined the area around Yoke Thar’s cemetery.
Killing innocent civilians
On 24 May 2022, Yan Naing Linn, an internally displaced person living in Ban Bwe Taw Pyin Village, Yinmabin Township, Sagaing Region, was arrested by the junta. Two days later, his body was discovered near Thanatkha Yard.
On 27 May 2022, the junta force reportedly shot and killed two civilians for riding a motorcycle together near Ba La Ba Village in Yesagyo Township, Magway Region. The bodies of the two civilians from Kwae Htaunt Village were then burned.
On the night of 28 May 2022, NLD member Saw Tha Phwe, also known as Bin Lar Din, who lived in Phado Town, Kyauktaga Township, Bago Region, was arrested and beaten by the junta’s paramilitary wing. After two days of arbitrary arrest, his family was informed of his passing. It was reported that he had been on the run for a long time and was finally captured when he went home to see his wife who had severe health issues.
On 29 May 2022, Soe Thant and Nyi Nyi Win from Pint Thar Village in Kanbalu Township, Sagaing Region were arrested and killed by the Junta troops. They were captured and killed by junta forces sent as reinforcements for the clash between the junta and the PDF.
On 31 May 2022, junta soldiers raided Kan Gyi (West) Village in Kanbalu Township, Sagaing Region, and they arrested and killed five villagers who were guarding the village.
Killing villagers who were taken as human shields
According to the news, the bodies of six civilians who were captured by the junta forces in early May were discovered on 26 May 2022, near Kyauk Khwet Village in Myaing Township of Magway Region. The victims were among 40 villagers who the soldiers had taken hostage and used as human shields on 13 May 2022. According to local anti-regime forces, the victims were all men between the ages of 25 and 50, and are believed to be from the villages of Than Chaung, Kyauk Khwet, Bawton and Baunt Bin. On the bodies of the dead villagers, there were signs of physical abuse, including broken bones, and two gunshot wounds each in the head, either to the ears or in their mouths.
Taking the family members of PDF members as hostages
On 29 May 2022, at Ye Ywar Thit Village, Singu Township, Mandalay Region, junta troops searched the house of Tin Tun Aung and Aung Aung, who are members of Singu People’s Defense Force. Unable to find them, the junta soldiers took their father and Tin Tun Aung’s wife as hostages. Their father was released that night, however Win Theingi is still being held captive.
On 26 May 2022, the junta forces mounted a major offensive to retake control of the Myittha dam in Pyin Thar Village, Gangaw Township, Magway Region which had been captured by anti-junta groups active in the area. According to the local Yaw Defence Force (YDF), the junta used MI-35 attack helicopters to carry out multiple assaults on resistance fighters stationed near the dam as well as to transport troops into the area. According to local sources, around 5,000 civilians from several villages near the dam have fled the attacks.
Heavy artillery fired at civilian locations
On the night of 28 May 2022, junta troops fired heavy artillery fired into Tar Han Ward, Kale Township, Sagaing Region, killing two internally displaced persons (IDPs) and another woman. All three died of the wounds caused by artillery shells. The two IDPs were a mother and a son who were running away from Mingin to Kale Town.
On 29 May 2022, when the junta forces, stationed in Kha Lae-Tagon Daing Area Police Station, Kyainseikgyi Township, Kayin State, opened fire on Nan Thaing Htun Village using heavy artillery, they killed a woman named Zin Oo in her house, and her 7-year old daughter was wounded in the cheek.
On 30 May 2022, the junta troops stationed at a pagoda near Nyaung Chaung and Mahamuni IDP camps in Kyauktaw Township, Rakhine State, opened fire with heavy artillery on those two camps for displaced villagers. According to local reports, internally displaced persons (IDPs) staying at those camps were forced to flee when the shelling began at around 8 PM without any clash happening in the area. The shooting reportedly happened days after troops stationed themselves at the nearby Mahamuni pagoda.
On 31 May 2022, junta troops fired artillery, killing a woman, as they entered U Yin Thar Village, Wetlet Township, Mandalay Region. Afterwards, the troops held six civilians from the neighbouring Ti Taw Village hostage to constrain the local resistance forces from preventing them to enter the village. According to the local resistance force, the junta troops fired relentlessly, using both heavy artillery and machine guns, during their assault on the village. A local resident reported that before the troops left early the next day, eight houses were torched and several farm animals were killed.
On 31 May 2022, a military column of around 200 soldiers fired five artillery shells at an IDP camp in Nat Myaung Village, Kalay Township and seriously injured seven people, including one child. The camp was located inside a local monastery, with around 1,000 people from the neighbouring villages of Nat Myaung and Nat Chaung as well as several other villages in the area that have come under attack from regime forces. The injured child was taken to the Kalay Township for treatment, but it was not known at the time of reporting if he survived his injuries. According to news reports, this was the second time that the Nat Myaung IDP camp had come under attack from junta troops. On 6 March 2022, several shells landed on the monastery where the camp is located, injuring 10 people, including three children. The military column that carried out the attack on the camp in Nat Myaung later moved to Nat Chaung, about three kilometers away, where it was stationed at a local monastery and high school.
On 1 June 2022, junta troops fired an artillery shell that hit a house in Koe Taung Boet Village of Kanbalu Township, Sagaing Region, killing an eight-year-old child along with his mother and grandfather. The shelling happened during a clash between junta troops stationed in the village and members of a local defence force called KTB-R. An artillery shell fired by junta troops from outside the village hit the house of the victims while they were inside their home. According to local resistance forces, the soldiers had been stationed in Koe Taung Boet since late March and had dug trenches and built communication tunnels there, essentially creating a small base. Although there were around 2,000 households in Koe Taw Boet Village, most of its inhabitants have fled the area due to the clashes.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 30 May 2022, the National Unity Government issued a Weekly Newsletter No. 5/2022. The newsletter published articles relating to the NUG’s activities including the NUG’s statement on 23 May 2022 calling on measures from the four-nation Quad bloc, including the creation of a formal working group to coordinate the global response to the Myanmar crisis, the Prime Minister’s call for national solidarity establishing the future federal union during the 55th Cabinet Meeting held on 24 May 2022, the announcement of the Ministry of Defense on 26 May 2022 urging Myanmar citizens not to join the People’s Security Force’s terrorist groups, the meeting between Union Minister for Health and Education Professor Dr. Zaw Wai Soe and the European Union’s Minister of State for Asian and the Middle East, the Statement delivered by Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun at the UN Meeting, and Announcement issued by Ministry of Health on 22 May 2022 as condolence for the death of Mg Kyaw Nyi Zin.
On 31 May 2022, the Ministry of Defense of the National Unity Government issued an announcement regarding the bomb blast in a crowded area of Yangon on that day. The announcement stated that there was a bomb blast in a busy bus stop on Barr Street. At least seven civilians were injured in the initial blast, some of whom have died, and there were subsequent explosions. It was reiterated that the Ministry has been conducting the People’s Resistance in accordance with the Code of Conduct and military ethics in order to protect the civilian population from extra-judicial torture and killings by the junta. It was reaffirmed that those who violated the Code of Conduct and the ministry's ethical principles are investigated and effective actions are taken. The MOD has set the protection of the people of all ethnic groups and the safety and security of the people as a whole as prime objectives. In the announcement, the ministry strongly condemned the incident and all like it and all violence against civilians. The statement informed that the relevant ministries of the National Unity Government will continue to investigate and take action to bring justice for such acts.
On 1 June 2022, Dr. Zaw Wai Soe, Union Minister for Health and Education, met with Paola Pampaloni, Deputy Managing Director of European External Action Service-EEAS of the European Union in Brussels. During the meeting, the Union Minister and Mrs. Pampaloni discussed the crisis in Myanmar and called for an immediate cessation of all violence, the unhindered provision of the humanitarian assistance, and free access for the ASEAN Special Envoy to all stakeholders in Myanmar.
On the same day, Dr. Zaw Wai Soe, Union Minister for Health and Education, met with Heidi Hautala, Vice-President of the European Parliament; Bernard Guetta, Member of the European Parliament; and Antoine Ripoll, Director of Parliamentary Relations with ASEAN and Southeast Asia. During the meeting the Union Minister gave an update on the situation in Myanmar. The European delegation said that the European Parliament stands shoulder to shoulder with the CRPH, NUCC and NUG in their efforts to restore democracy in Myanmar.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
Following the US-ASEAN Special Summit from 12-13 May and the US-Thailand Strategic and Defence Dialogue on 9-10 May, while discussing the issue of human rights protection and steps to address the growing humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, Michael Heath, charge d’affaires ad interim of the US embassy in Bangkok said that the U.S. will continue to support ASEAN’s efforts for a peaceful solution in the interest of Myanmar. He explained that this support includes utilising the capacity of the special envoy of the ASEAN chair on Myanmar to build confidence and establish open and full access between all parties concerned. He also mentioned that the Biden-Harris Administration has strongly supported the grouping by bolstering ASEAN’s capacity to adapt to the effects of climate change and upgrading its technology for achieving clean and renewable energy development. It also supports ASEAN’s pandemic recovery and health security efforts.
According to the 30 May 2022 Weekly Highlights of the UNHCR on displacement in the South-East, the total number of IDPs decreased from 258,300 last week to 256,000 this week in the South-East, although it was explained that due to the sporadic armed clashes and general insecurity, verification on the number of individuals affected by new displacement had not been able to take place. Among the states and regions, Kayah State and Kayin State account for the larger part of the displaced population with 90,000 and 82,800 individuals respectively whereas Tanintharyi region has 300 individuals experiencing secondary displacement. In Kayah State, over 1,700 individuals returned to Loikaw town and Demoso Township. Furthermore, more than 400 individuals have returned to their places of origin in Kayin State. It was also mentioned that a very small number of individuals were also recorded to have left Shan State (South) to their places of origin.
On 30 May 2022, ILO issued a press release announcing the launch of Myanmar eLearning Programme on Child Labour to bolster social protection and community action. According to the press release, on the back of the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour, ILO Myanmar has announced the upcoming release of a Myanmar eLearning Programme on Child Labour to enable stakeholders to take action against child labour. The press release informed that the nine-module interactive course, which will be delivered in Myanmar and English language, is set to go live at the ILO’s digital learning platform on 12 June 2022, the World Day Against Child Labour. It explained that this course aims to equip civil society partners, social workers, employers and worker’s organizations to effectively assess and address cases of child labour within their communities. The modules consist of a live, instructor-led component and an on- demand online component. It also provides participants with comprehensive information and tools to design interventions contributing to the elimination of child labour.
In the United Nations’ daily press briefing on 1 June 2022, Mr. Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, mentioned that the number of internally displaced men, women and children in Myanmar has now exceeded 1 million, and this includes some 700,000 people displaced by fighting and insecurity since the military takeover in February last year. He added that some nearly 40,000 people from Myanmar are currently displaced in neighbouring India and Thailand. He informed that since April of this year, the monsoons have damaged shelters for internally displaced people who were already living in difficult conditions in Rakhine, Kachin, southern Shan, and Kayin states. He further mentioned that aid agencies and their local partners are working to provide displaced people and host communities with food, clean water, shelter, medicines, hygiene kits, COVID-19 preventive items, protection services, and other essential services. He explained that during the first quarter of 2022, aid workers have reached 2.6 million people, despite difficulties with access as well as limited funding. Dujarric said that to reach all of the 6.2 million people in Myanmar who need humanitarian aid, the U.N. needs improved access, the removal of bottlenecks such as visa delays and banking restrictions, and increased funding. He also said that only 10 per cent of the $826 million for the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan has been received. He added that inflation in the prices for food, fuel, shelter materials and other items has further limited the operations, and the U.N. again calls on donors to give generously to save and protect the lives of women, men and children.
On 31 May 2022, the United Nations OCHA released Humanitarian Update No. 18 on Myanmar. The update’s highlights and key messages mentioned that for the first time the number of displaced men, women and children in Myanmar has exceeded one million. This number included almost 700,000 people displaced by the conflict and insecurity since the military takeover in February last year. The update explained that the monsoon season is now in full swing with strong storms and heavy rain hitting Rakhine, Kachin, southern Shan, and Kayin since April, causing damage to shelters and further compounding existing vulnerabilities. Humanitarian responses and preparedness efforts are underway in high-risk areas. It was informed in the update that humanitarian organizations continue providing critical life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable people despite access challenges and limited funding. During the first quarter of 2022, 2.6 million people were reached with humanitarian assistance (41 per cent of the 2022 HRP target). The update informed that inflation in commodity prices, including food, fuel, shelter materials and NFIs, has become a major concern for partners in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable people. The Nutrition Cluster is facing possible pipeline breaks for both preventative and therapeutic nutrition supplies due to under-funding and taxation issues. Resolution of taxation issues for humanitarian supplies is an urgent priority.
Regarding funding, the update presented that funding for agriculture support to vulnerable farmers is a priority for food security partners with fears that the lack of investment in livelihoods assistance could lead to food unavailability and unaffordability in rural areas. It was highlighted that funding has been secured for 270 out of the 550 IDP camp longhouses that need immediate reconstruction in Rakhine. However, there remains a $2.4 million funding gap to repair the remaining 281 longhouses as the monsoon season arrives. It was also explained that the funding situation for 2022 is now dire with the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) only 10 per cent funded, five months into the year, leaving a gap of US$740m (FTS). All clusters are seriously underfunded, threatening their ability to respond to the growing needs and gaps in response.
On 1 June 2022, Save the Children published a press release titled “Myanmar: Number of children out of school more than doubles in two years”. The statement explained that children are missing out on formal education due to COVID-19 school closures and escalating insecurity. Enrolment in schools has dropped by up to 80% in two years in some parts of the country, with at least 7.8 million children out of school. This comes after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of places of learning globally in early 2020. The press release stated that in Myanmar, due to the pandemic, schools were fully or partially closed for 15 months. The press release also mentioned that attacks on schools, teachers and students have surged over the past year due to the conflict, leaving many of them scared to return to the classroom, and in some cases with no schools left to attend. The press release highlighted that schools and children must be protected at all times. It stressed that there were at least 260 attacks on schools between May 2021 and April 2022 with explosions in and around school buildings accounting for 190 of the incidents. It was also mentioned that during April 2022, explosive devices were discovered at four schools or education offices, and there were three explosions in or very close to schools. There were also 33 recorded cases of schools or education offices being set on fire, and 10 direct attacks on teachers and education staff. Save the Children has recorded 10 incidents in which schools were occupied by armed actors in the 32 townships where its education teams work. It said the actual number of school occupations across the country is likely to be much higher.
During the United Nations’ daily press briefing on 3 June 2022, Mr. Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, mentioned that the United Nations is deeply troubled by the Myanmar military’s decision to proceed with the execution of two pro-democracy activists after they received death sentences. He said that this is a blatant violation to the right to life, liberty and security of person, as per Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He mentioned that the Secretary-General reiterated his calls to respect people’s rights to freedom of opinion and expression and also to drop all charges against those arrested on charges related to the exercise of their fundamental freedoms and rights, and for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Myanmar. He also reiterated that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines the principles of equality before the law, the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, and all of the guarantees necessary for a person’s defence. He further added that the Secretary-General considers that the death penalty cannot be reconciled with full respect for the right to life. He also highlighted that abolition is necessary and desirable for the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. Regarding the question “Does the Secretary-General have any comment on a court in Myanmar ruling that a case for election fraud can go ahead against Aung San Suu Kyi about the election that her party won in November 2020?", the Spokesperson responded that the United Nations’ call in Myanmar is for a return to democracy, for respect of the fundamental rights of all people in Myanmar, including Aung San Suu Kyi.
With regards to the Burmese military regime’s reported plans to execute pro-democracy and opposition leaders, U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Ned Price remarked that the United States strongly condemns the Burmese military regime’s reported plans to execute pro-democracy and opposition leaders, exemplifying the regime's disregard for human rights and the rule of law. And the U.S. urges the release of all those unjustly detained.
Likewise, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, France also condemns in the strongest terms the decision announced by the military regime formed by the 1 February 2021 coup in Myanmar to execute four people, including the writer Kyaw Min Yu Ko, known as Ko Jimmy, and the former National League for Democracy (NLD) member of parliament, Phyo Zayar Thaw. It was mentioned that this abject decision targets once again defenders of freedom. The violation of the de facto moratorium regarding the death sentence that has held in the country for more than 30 years represents a major setback, while 113 death penalties have been arbitrarily imposed by military courts since the military coup. It was informed that France reaffirms its constant opposition to the capital punishment at all times and in all circumstances. It was further explained that France reiterates its call for the release of all arbitrarily detained people, the cessation of violence perpetrated by the military junta and the establishment of an inclusive dialogue involving all stakeholders. The support of France to the Myanmar people, whom it commends the courage in the face of climate of terror created by an illegitimate military regime, remains unchanged.
According to the Highlights of the Myanmar Emergency Update by UNHCR on 1 June 2022, armed clashes across Myanmar continued to trigger displacement and affect civilians. As of 30 May 2022, there were an estimated 1,037,800 internally displaced persons (IDPs) across Myanmar including 691,200 newly displaced since 1 February 2021. In the North-West, armed clashes continued in Chin, Magway, and Sagaing and indiscriminate attacks against civilians resulting in deaths and casualties were reported, as well as burnings of homes and villages, house searches, arbitrary arrests, and detentions. IDPs and host communities continue to face shortages of food and goods in the North-West, due to restrictions on access, movement and transport. Sagaing Region in particular has seen a rapid increase in the number of displaced people. In the South-East, intensified armed clashes continued with incidents reported in Kayin, Mon, Kayah, and Shan (South) States and Bago-East and Tanintharyi regions. Populations affected by conflict find themselves unable to seek safety and services with many displaced in jungles or hard to reach areas. Reports of arrests, casualties, and destruction and looting of property continue as well as movement restrictions due to security checks and roadblocks.
In Kachin and Shan (North), tensions mounted in key contested areas with conflict erupting in existing and new areas. Affected communities express concern about escalating conflict as IDPs limit their movement to avoid possible arrest and mistreatment in militarized areas. Movement restrictions continue impacting access to basic services and livelihood opportunities of IDPs. In Shan (North), forced recruitment – including of children - continued being reported. IDPs have sought solutions where opportunities presented themselves but face the risk of landmines and require support to rebuild homes and access healthcare, education and livelihoods. In Rakhine State, tensions have increased, and fear of resumption of the conflict, restrictions on freedom of movement and extortion (when travelling or accessing services) impact all communities – especially the Rohingya population. There are also concerns that with a possible resumption of the conflict, specific communities could be targeted for their perceived or imputed association with different parties to the conflict.
Date: 5 June 2022
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York