Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
Over six months since an illegal military coup in Myanmar, the military is pushing its country and its people to the edge. Over 930 civilians have been killed, with thousands arrested and detained. The military has only continued crackdown to deepen its grip on power when the people are facing a pandemic.
COVID-19 is surging in Myanmar
In addition to the political and humanitarian crisis caused by the military coup, the arrival of the new variant of Covid-19 to Myanmar becomes an added humanitarian disaster. According to WHO, as of August 6, there have been 322,838 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 11,262 deaths. Myanmar is experiencing its highest number of coronavirus-related deaths since the outbreak began, and the number of coronavirus infections in the country is at an all-time high.
The virus testing has collapsed since the coup on February 1. The World Health Organization and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have warned of the growing outbreak. The country has been to a devastating surge in cases, and people are suffering. The military has no trust from the people because of their continued lies and violent and inhumane crackdown. Many doctors and healthcare workers have refused to work for the military, while others have been detained and arbitrarily arrested.
The healthcare system under the military regime is collapsing, and its lack of resources, capabilities, genuine will and grit has put the lives of Myanmar people at high risk. The people are taking care of themselves and one another, while the military continues lying and showing their total disregard for human lives.
There is no adequate screening of the outbreak and testing capacity. While the rest of the world is adapting to new normal where most people have been vaccinated, the people of Myanmar are desperately looking for oxygen. The price of face masks, test kits, and other medical supplies is also on the rise. There are not enough essential medical supplies for every household in Myanmar. Instead of controlling the price gouging, the military is causing chaos and deliberately letting people get infected with the Covid-19.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 67 medical professionals are currently detained, and nearly 600 are warranted arrest. Besides, a total of 7 doctors have been killed by the military since the coup.
The World Food Programme warned that COVID-19 third wave had hit Myanmar like a "tsunami." Since February 1 coup, more and more families are being pushed to the edge, struggling to get the most basic food. Nearly 90 percent of households living in impoverished environments around Yangon borrow money to buy food. Incomes have been badly affected by many. Millions of people are falling into poverty, and they cannot live with dignity anymore. It is not certain how long the people of Yangon can endure these harsh conditions of the pandemic and the coup. If the much need help is not arrived in-time, there can be devastating consequences such as rise in human trafficking, and transnational criminal networks. If the pandemic is not contained effectively and people are not vaccinated, Myanmar can lose a significant percentage of her population.
Military's leader extended state of emergency until elections are held in two years
In a recorded televised address on August 1, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing declared himself prime minister. He would lead the country under the extended state of emergency until elections are held in two years, and the state of emergency will achieve its objectives by August 2023. Besides, the military government named itself "the caretaker government." This formation of a so-called new government has no constitutional basis and utterly lacks the support of people.
Amid the pandemic and unrest across the country, the military leader's announcement has proved that the military has no sympathy for people and lacks the intention to respect people's will and aspiration for democracy. The military junta's announcement is just time-wasting to its advantage. Within six months under the military leadership, a total of 11 international corporations from eight countries have either suspended their operations or left the business entirely.
British Foreign Minister wrote on Twitter, "the decision by the military to extend the so-called state of emergency in Myanmar is unjustifiable and a blatant attempt to solidify their undemocratic power grab. The junta must hand back control to an elected government and respect the democratic will of the people of Myanmar."
Arrests in a plot targeting Myanmar Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Department of Justice released a statement on August 6 that two Myanmar citizens were arrested to injure or kill Myanmar Permanent Representative to the United Nations. According to the statement, Phyo Hein Htut and Ye Hein Zaw plotted to seriously injure or kill H.E. Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar Permanent Representative to the United Nations, in a planned attack on a foreign official that was to take place on American soil. These defendants reached across borders and oceans in designing a violent plot against an international leader. The investigation is ongoing, and the charges in the complaints are merely accusations.
Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun has expressed his gratitude to the United States Government and law enforcement agencies for their support, kind assistance, and professionalism in saving his life. Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun standing in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and speaking on behalf of the people of Myanmar, has publicly declared his opposition to the military coup ousting the country's civilian government on February 16 at the United Nations General Assembly. Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun has been demanding the United Nations and the international community to help the people of Myanmar in their common fights for a return to democracy.
Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun said that he would continue what he has to do, and this incident will not deter what he is doing for the country and the people. This horrific threat to Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, who is residing on foreign soil, has proved how people inside the country have been threatened and endangered.
Deaths and Arbitrary Arrests
Since the coup, more than 190 days have passed; the military terrorist group continues committing inhumane acts, arbitrary arrests, brutal beatings, and torture in detention.
As of August 9, 2021, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a total of 7,084 people have been arrested, whereas 5,526 people are still under detention, 1,984 people have been issued warrants, and 962 people ruthlessly murdered since February 1, 2021, when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians.
Acting Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator Ramanathan Balakrishnan in Myanmar warned that the situation in Myanmar is characterized by instability and a deteriorating socio-economic and security situation, and a raging third wave of COVID-19. Following the coup, an additional two million were identified as those in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
Appointment of ASEAN Special Envoy for Myanmar
On August 4, ASEAN has appointed Brunei's second minister for foreign affairs, Erywan Yusof as a special envoy to Myanmar. As U.N. Secretary-General stated, the appointment of Special Envoy marked "an important step" towards the implementation of ASEAN's commitment to end the crisis in Myanmar. The Special Envoy has been tasked with ending violence, opening dialogue between Myanmar's military rulers and their opponents, and overseeing humanitarian aid delivery.
While supporting ASEAN's efforts in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis, it is principal for the Special Envoy to engage with all stakeholders, including the National Unity Government, the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, and other pro-democracy groups. Humanitarian aid is urgently needed, and safe and unhindered access to all displaced persons and people in need must be ensured as soon as possible.
Military's Vicious Acts amidst pandemics
The military junta has been using COVID to conceal its crimes. Two men in Kalay Township, Sagaing region, simply on their way back to homes, were arrested by the military accusing of transporting weapons. The next day, one of them died in custody, and the military forces claimed the cause of death was COVID. Anything but the truth is signs of torture were found on the body.
A 29-year-old man called Pyay Thein was arrested during a protest in Yay township on March 22 and had been detained. On August 4, his family was informed that Pyay Thein had passed away from diabetes which he had never been diagnosed with.
Increasingly, people are dying during interrogation and inside prison. The military has been using torture to extract information from detainees on the locations of senior opposition leaders and activist leaders.
Peaceful protests continue
With August 8, the iconic day of the 33rd Anniversary of the 8888 Uprising, protests were organized in many places calling for the end of military dictatorship and democracy. It has been reported that nearly 11 young people were captured in Yangon, and there have been gunshots at a group of people marching in downtown Yangon in an attempt to disperse. The protests were also being held around the world. Around 3000 people gathered in front of the White House in Washington DC and called on the U.S. government to recognize the National Unity Government.
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter that the US continues to support those in Burma, calling for their human rights and fundamental freedoms to be respected, while remembering the 8888 pro-democracy movements and the people's decades-long struggle for democracy and peace.
On August 4, U.S. State Department released a statement on Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman's virtual meeting with Union Minister of Foreign Affairs of National Unity Government of Myanmar Daw Zin Mar Aung. They both discussed efforts by the NUG and others to return the country to the path of democracy and to combat the pandemic.
75 children killed, 1,000 detained since Myanmar coup
Since the military coup, 75 children have been killed, about 1,000 children arbitrarily detained, and countless more deprived of essential medical care and education, according to credible information obtained by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Moreover, children's rights in Myanmar face an onslaught that risks damaging an entire generation, U.N. Child Rights Committee (CRC) has warned.
According to UNICEF, a million children in Myanmar are missing essential vaccinations, and more than 40,000 children are no longer getting treatment for severe acute malnutrition. Children's rights to life, education, and development have been violated due to the military coup. Children of Myanmar desperately need humanitarian aid from the international community. Receiving those essential vaccines can treat preventable diseases for millions of children and help us save lives.
Date: 8 August 2021
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York