Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (8 May 2022)
Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
Over 15 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 6 May 2022, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 1,825 people were ruthlessly killed by the military, whereas 13,595 people have been arrested and 1,977 people have been issued with warrants since 1 February 2021, when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians.
Atrocities committed by the military
Torching the villages in Sagaing Region and Chin State
Myanmar Now News reported that during the first week of May, the military burned down more than 1,000 homes in villages in townships across Sagaing Region and Chin State.
In the evening of 1 May 2022, following clashes between the Kalay People’s Defence Force (PDF) and around 200 junta troops, the junta forces torched nearly the entire 800-household Ah Shey See village in Kalay Township, Sagaing Region to the ground. Aerial photographs of the village show that most of the village has been reduced to ashes. Only around 40 structures are still standing. According to the residents of the village, the soldiers stole as much as they could from their homes before starting the fires. Stockpiles of rice were also destroyed. According to the statement of the local defence force, the military carried out two airstrikes in response to the Kalay PDF’s shooting down of the military’s assault drone. Several houses in the village were also destroyed by the bombs dropped by the junta.
On 2 May 2022, junta soldiers carried out widespread acts of arson in Malethar and Kyaung Sin Aing villages of Ayadaw Township, which is 200 miles away from the Ah Shey See village. On 2 May 2022, the junta forces torched and destroyed at least 500 of the 600 houses of Malethar Village in Ayadaw Township. It was not yet verified whether there were casualties in the fires in Ayadaw and Kalay. However, according to local residents, an elderly woman, who was blind and was unable to flee with the other residents of Malethar, is believed to have been killed in the fire.
On 5 May 2022, junta soldiers, who have been stationed in Kyaung Sin Aing Village of Taze Township, Sagaing Region, started burning homes in the village of 300 households. Most of the 3,000 residents had to flee due to the arson. According to the news, around 90 junta soldiers had been stationed in that village to carry out earlier raids on communities in northwestern Taze Township.
At around 4 AM on 6 May 2022, the junta forces came into Kan Thit Village, Budalin Township, Sagaing Region, and burned the village down. A 78-years-old woman was burned to death.
Junta forces have made similar attacks in villages of Chin State. Around 100 soldiers from a 30-vehicle military convoy burned more than 20 homes in Ramthlo and Tlangzar villages along the road connecting Hakha and Falam Townships on 4 May 2022. Both villages are located in Falam Township.
According to a statement on 1 May 2022 by Data For Myanmar, an organization which has been collecting data on crimes committed by the junta, 11,417 houses had been destroyed in military raids since the coup. Among them, more than 7,500 homes were in Sagaing Region, 2,121 in Magway Region, and 1,147 in Chin State.
Torture in the prisons
According to the news, around 20 political prisoners currently being held at Monywa Prison in Sagaing Region have been subjected to repeated beatings and other forms of torture since a riot broke out there on 3 April 2022. The prison authorities responded to the unrest by opening fire and taking at least 20 prisoners to a separate ward where they have been manacled and assaulted repeatedly for nearly a month. Sources reported that the feet of the prisoners were chained together, and they were beaten repeatedly, including with belts. Since the riot, around 150 political detainees have reportedly been transferred from Monywa to other prisons, including Myingyan Prison and Obo Prison in Mandalay Region. Those still being held at Monywa Prison have been denied permission to receive visitors or communicate with their families, according to relatives. It was also reported that additional charges are expected to be laid against those currently being held in the separate ward inside the prison.
It was reported that 66 political prisoners in Hpa-an prison were transferred to Kyaik-Ma-Yaw prison on 8 May 2022. Among them, 50 were male prisoners and the rest are female prisoners. According to the local residents who witnessed the transfer, the prisoners were verbally assaulted and beaten while getting onto the transfer bus. It was also reported that the prisoners were forced to sing the “Thway-Thitsar” song, which is one of the Spring Revolution songs. Those who refused to sing were also beaten.
Arbitrary Arrests; Detention of family members
In the evening of 28 April 2022, Thae Yadanar Htwe, a matriculation student from Maung Ma Kan Village, Launglon Township, Tanintharyi Region, was arrested by junta soldiers without apparent cause. She was taken to Dawei Prison and has since been denied visitation rights.
On 26 April 2022, Nu Nu Aung and Khet Khet, who are members of 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, were arrested in Hpa-an Township, Kayin State. Khet Khet’s adult son was also arrested together with them. On the next day, the junta took Nu Nu Aung’s daughter and 80-years-old mother into custody. According to their colleagues, no news has been heard from them as of the end of the first week of May.
On Sunday, 1 May 2022, the military junta raided the house of Nyan Win Htet, a wanted university student. While failing to apprehend him during a raid, they arrested his parents and five siblings, including his 10-years-old brother. It was reported that the detained family members are being held at the Dawbon Township police station. According to an officer from the Eastern University student union, junta forces had previously attempted to arrest Nyan Win Htet at a monastery near Shwedagon Pagoda after learning that he had temporarily ordained as a monk during the Thingyan holidays.
Killing innocent civilians
On 28 April 2022, around 50 junta soldiers entered and opened fire into the Zalet Kone Village’s Cemetery in Myingyan Township, Mandalay Region, while a funeral procession was taking place. The shootings caused the death of civilian Nay Soe Thu, who was shot in the legs and genital area. It was reported that the junta has targeted and planned to arrest Thein Tan, a cousin of Nay Soe Thu.
On 29 April 2022, at around 11 PM, Htin Kyaw, a civilian living in Aung San Ward, Natmauk Township, Magway Region, was arrested by a large group of policemen. On the following day, his family was informed of his death.
On 2 May 2022, a civilian named Shine Htoo Aung was killed by the junta forces near Seik Khun Village in Shwebo Township, Sagaing Region. When he saw junta soldiers and tried to drive away with his motorbike, they shot him dead.
On 2 May 2022, the military forces raided Oak Pho Village of Budalin Township, Sagaing Region and executed nine civilians who were sheltering at a local Buddhist meditation centre of the village. According to the local residents, the victims, some of whom were elderly, had been displaced by recent fighting in the area. The military troops forced the victims to sit in a line and directly shot them in their heads. The age of the victims ranged from 30 to 82. The soldiers also ransacked at least a dozen houses and destroyed several vehicles.
On 4 May 2022, at around 8:30 PM, junta soldiers carried out indiscriminate shooting while stationed inside High School (1) of Sa Kaw Hlan Ward, Tedim Township, Chin State. A local youth from Tedim, Kap Som Kham, was shot and later died of his injuries.
Airstrikes and Heavy Artillery Attacks
On 1 May 2022, according to the KNU spokesperson, the military junta dropped several bombs on a village in territory controlled by Brigade 1 of the Karen National Union (KNU). This aerial attack targeted Lay Kay Village, Bilin Township in Mon State and reportedly injured three villagers. During the attack, eight houses and a monastery were destroyed and several other buildings were also damaged by fire. On 23 April 2022, the Karen National Defence Organisation (KNDO), an armed wing of the KNU, fired several warning shots at two bases of the junta forces that the KNDO had earlier ordered the military to abandon. On 24 April 2022, the regime forces reportedly opened fire on Lay Kay with 60mm artillery shells, resulting in the destruction of three houses in the village. According to KNU, at least 7,000 residents of Bilin Township have been forced to flee recent attacks by regime forces.
On 3 May 2022, at around 8 PM, the junta forces shelled Madayan (Maw Bone) Village, Hpakant Township, Kachin State with heavy weaponry, causing the deaths of two villagers: Maung Htoo and Yone Kywe.
Actions taken against CDM staff
On 28 April 2022, the Thandwe Court sentenced Cherry Thet Shay, CDM High School teacher from Taungup Township, Rakhine State, to 10 years in prison. She was arrested in her house on 20 November 2021 with the charges under Section 50(j) of the Counter-Terrorism Law.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 2 May 2022, the National Unity Government of Myanmar issued the Weekly News Bulletin articles, including the Acting President’s Speech on the one-year anniversary of formation of the NUG, Press release on the Press Conference of the NUG, Forming a Special Investigation Department, Forming the NUG Department of Migration, and other activities.
On 3 May 2022, the National Unity Government release a Press Statement on World Press Freedom Day. In the statement, the NUG honoured all professional and citizen journalists, and all the people who work in media, at home and abroad, for their tireless efforts not only in preserving the freedom of the press, and freedom of expression in Myanmar during the Spring Revolution, but also for ensuring the free flow of information around the world. The NUG recalled that there are waves of hatred and oppression radiating from groups who oppose freedom, peace, and justice and that many brave reporters and journalists have been slain, imprisoned, tortured, or forced to flee, and their families targeted and their homes and properties seized. The statement noted that in Myanmar, according to statistics from the Myanmar Press Freedom In-Depth Group, a total of 166 journalists have been arrested by the terrorist military council, since the coup in 2021. It further explained that charges on those journalists ranged from the infamous section 505 (a) of the criminal code (sedition against the military, state, and hate speech), to sections 114, 118, 436, and 332 of the criminal code, section 66 (d) of the communications act (misinformation), violations of various customs and immigration acts, and sections 124 (a) and (c) of the colonial era penal code (sedition against the government). The statement also mentioned that although some of the unjustly detained journalists have since been released, but more than 50 remain in detention. The statement highlighted that three journalists have lost their lives as a result of interrogations.
The statement explained that in Myanmar licenses have been revoked from 11 media outlets, and three have been suspended entirely. The NUG further explained that the junta has tried to cut information off at the source, as well as to limit the spread of information by periodically cutting off the internet, reducing internet speed and bandwidth, limiting internet access, and raising data fees. By quoting paragraph 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the NUG urged the international community to support the Myanmar people and to hold the military terrorists accountable for their unjust arrests, persecution, killings, and war crimes. The NUG further encouraged a full review and analysis of the strict rules and regulations on freedom of information and the press in ASEAN countries, and to establish a standard policy among the ASEAN community. The NUG also expressed its commitment to providing justice to the media, informants, and professional and citizen journalists for all the injustices done them by the terrorist military.
On 4 May 2022, the Central Committee for Counter-Terrorism was formed by the National Unity Government. The Committee is comprised of 16 members with the Union Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration as a chairperson. Other members of the committee are the Union Ministers from the Ministry of Defense; Ministry of Judiciary; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment; Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management; Ministry of Woman, Youth and Child Affairs; Ministry of Human Rights; Ministry of Communication, Information and Technology; Ministry of Electricity and Energy; Ministry of Economic and Commerce and other high-level officials from the respective ministries.
On 5 May 2022, Dr. Win Myat Aye, Union Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management of the National Unity Government held a virtual meeting with Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Special envoy of the UN Secretary-General on Myanmar. During the meeting, discussions were held related to the provision of humanitarian assistance including the provision of health care for IDPs associated with the current crisis, state authority returning to the civilian rule, finding all-inclusive negotiations, ending the current conflicts and atrocities, the release of political prisoners, and possible support and assistance, which the regional and international community should render. The Union Minister and team explained the challenges which follow the humanitarian activities and ground situation in Myanmar as well as ways and means the assistance from the international community could efficiently render support to those people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The Special Envoy discussed on the priorities to be carried out during her trip to Myanmar.
On 5 May 2022, the National Unity Government issued an Announcement (1/2022) regarding the establishment of legislative, executive and judicial mechanisms of the federal units in accordance with the Federal Democracy Charter. The announcement stated that the Central Committee for developing an Interim Local Administrative Mechanism of the NUG has commenced the implementation of the strategic action plan for interim local administration in Sagaing and Magway Region. The announcement explained that the NUG will develop and implement the legislative, executive and judicial mechanisms of the state and region in consideration of the evolving needs of the federal units and in accordance with sections 52 and 53 of Chapter 8 of the Federal Democracy Charter. It was mentioned that when more discussions and dialogues between the Union and the Federal Units with regard to legislative, executive and judicial matters are required, the NUG will mediate and negotiate with the respective federal units at the National Unity Consultation Centre (NUCC).
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
According to the news on 2 May 2022, Japanese energy conglomerate ENEOS Holdings said on that day that it will withdraw from a gas project in Myanmar, days after its Thai and Malaysian partners announced they would pull out. ENEOS is the latest energy giant to retreat from the Southeast Asian country, whose military has waged a widespread crackdown on dissent since it ousted and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi last year. JX Nippon Oil Gas Exploration, part of the ENEOS group, is involved in the Yetagun project off southern Myanmar, with the Japanese government and Mitsubishi Corporation.
On 3 May 2022, at the UN daily press briefing, Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General remarked that on World Press Freedom Day, the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) colleagues in Myanmar said they remain committed to working with the people to protect and defend their press freedom, as well as to promote the safety and protection of journalists and media workers. Mr. Haq said that since February 2021, at least 154 journalists have been arrested, while at least 55 journalists remain under detention, and three journalists have been killed. He added that the number of journalists sentenced to imprisonment in Myanmar is increasing, with 33 journalists having been formally sentenced by local courts.
On 3 May 2022, Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar, issued a statement regarding ASEAN Humanitarian Consultations. In the statement, Ms. Heyzer welcomed the convening of the Consultative Meeting on ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance to Myanmar on 6 May and strongly urged ASEAN leaders and donors to prioritise principled engagement with diverse local humanitarian networks to effectively deliver aid to all communities in need. She recalled that over the past few months, the Special Envoy has held extensive engagements with some of Myanmar’s civil society organisations and local humanitarian networks who have been at the frontline in addressing the widening crisis. These groups have called for unhindered and safe humanitarian access to facilitate delivery of assistance without discrimination. The statement mentioned the key messages from local humanitarian networks: there is a need for the utmost respect of international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles; urgently needed humanitarian aid must not be instrumentalised for political purposes; military infrastructure must not be legitimised through aid delivery; and there is a need not only for more donor funding but also for donor flexibility to support local humanitarian actors and networks with access to hard-to- reach conflict affected areas, including internally displaced people, border communities and civilians affected by conflict, including in urban areas. The statement further informed about the Special Envoy's consultations with women community leaders, which have highlighted the urgent need for humanitarian support and protection for women and children, capacity building to address gender-based violence and stronger connection to regional and global women leaders.
Through the statement, the Special Envoy urged the global community to give women a key role in any humanitarian consultation, as women can help identify the most vulnerable and help monitor effective delivery along humanitarian principles. Reflective of the Secretary-General's commitment to the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, it must actively engage women to fully address the humanitarian and protection needs of the people and amplify their voices for a future federal democratic union of peace, stability and shared prosperity.
During the UN daily press briefing on 4 May 2022, Mr. Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General informed that Joyce Msuya, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator for the UN would attend the Consultative Meeting of ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance to Myanmar, taking place on 6 May 2022 in Cambodia. Mr. Dujarric also said that participants would discuss the escalating humanitarian needs in Myanmar and the obstacles that aid organizations face in reaching vulnerable people with vital assistance. He mentioned that humanitarian colleagues say that aid organizations need greater and more consistent access for the delivery of life-saving support to vulnerable men, women and children, particularly in contested areas in country’s north-west and south-east. The Spokesperson stated that Noeleen Heyzer would not be attending the ASEAN meeting in Cambodia.
According to the Inter-Agency Operational Update on the Myanmar Situation on 5 May 2022 by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the volatile situation in Myanmar following the 1 February 2021 coup has increased armed conflict and subsequent population displacement both within the country and across borders, including in Thailand. It mentioned that since 17 March 2022, 2,655 Myanmar refugees have crossed into Thailand, according to the Royal Thai Government (RTG). The refugees have sought safety in Tak province, and there are 1,543 refugees remaining on the Thai side of the border, according to the RTG. Refugees are sheltered in temporary safety areas (TSA), which are placed under the general jurisdiction of the Royal Thai Army by the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) established by the RTG in March 2021. The update highlighted that on 10 April 2022, junta forces conducted airstrikes in Kayin State, targeting opposition groups as fresh fighting broke out for control of Lay Kay Kaw in Myawaddy Township. Lay Kay Kaw has mainly been under the control of the Karen National Union (KNU) in recent months, but the military has at times sought to reassert control, and fighting broke out in December 2021. In Tanintharyi Region, fighting near the Thai border has been defused. On 17 and 18 April 2022, protests against the military occurred in Taku Village and Pulaw Township in Myeik District and Ye Phyu Township in Dawei District of Tanintharyi Region. According to the update, as of 2 May 2022, there were 578,200 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Myanmar since February, of whom 236,000 are in the southeast provinces – Kayah, Shan, Kayin, Mon States, and Tanintharyi and Bago Regions.
Date: 8 May 2022
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York