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What is going on in Myanmar 2022

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  • What is going on in Myanmar 2022

    Myanmar: One year after the military coup and bloody crackdown

    A year ago today, Myanmar’s military seized power of the government over what they say was a fraudulent election. The democratically elected State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted and detained, as well as other civilian leaders. The coup was met with backlash from the public, leading to a bloody crackdown by security forces that killed more than one thousand people. And a number of journalists, students, artists, activists, civil workers, and lawmakers were arrested for defying the military junta.

    February 01. 2021 Military Takeover
    Footage of the coup unfolding was actually captured by a fitness instructor who was shooting an aerobics video. Behind her, SUVs and armoured videos could be seen driving to the parliament building to seize the power of the government and arrest Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint as well as other civilian leaders under the National League for Democracy. When the military-owned Myawaddy TV announced the coup, the news presenter cited a section of the 2008 Constitution that authorises the military to declare a national emergency. The coup followed claims from the military proxy party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, that there were ballot irregularities during the November 2020 election. The Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide. The majority of the NLD lawmakers and leaders, who had won at least 397 out of 476 parliamentary seats in the November 8 election, were arrested.

    Mass protests and bloody crackdown
    Mass protests erupted nationwide standing up against the military regime, calling for democracy and demanding the release of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and other civilian leaders. As a symbol of resistance against the military junta, protesters held up the three-finger salute, taken from the movie and book series the Hunger Games. The salute has also been widely used by pro-democracy protesters in Thailand. To hinder communications amongst protesters, the military junta ordered the internet to be shut down and social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, to be blocked.
    Security forces used high-pressure water cannons, rubber bullets, and even live ammunition to disperse protesters. Over the past year, around 1,503 people have been killed by security forces, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, but those are just the deaths confirmed by the activist group. The activist group says 11,838 people are currently in detention including two children who have even been sentenced to death.

    International pressure on Myanmar’s military
    Since the start of the coup, the United Nations has taken a firm stance against the military’s actions. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, also started holding talks early on. A number of foreign ministers have urged the junta to release the detained leaders and to end the violence. Sanctions against military leaders were imposed by the US and the European Union. Thailand has kept fairly quiet on the situation, the foreign ministry has said it was “gravely concerned” with the violence and causalities following the coup.

    Ethnic armies clash with military, People Defense Forces form
    There are more than 18 active ethnic armies, most occupying border regions. A number of armed groups had signed a ceasefire agreement with the state military, but some broke the agreement following the February 1 coup. The prominent armed wing of the Karen National Union has taken a strong stance against the military takeover and clashes along the border, with some villagers in Thailand reporting bullets on Thai soil and the sound of explosions. The National Unity Government, a shadow government, was formed after the coup along with its armed wing, the People’s Defence Force. The rebel troops are being trained by the Kachin Independence Army, which has also clashed with state military forces. In September, NUG urged ethnic armed forces to start targeting the military junta and its affiliates immediately in order to construct a long-term federal state, adding that the international community would recognise the attack as a “just and fair revolution.”

    One year later
    As today marks the first anniversary of the coup, activists have called for a “silent strike,” with citizens staying at home between 10am and 4pm. Toward the end of the strike, people will clap or smash pots, a traditional act to drive out evil spirits which is frequently used as a form of protest against the military. However, in an attempt to quell any protests on this yearly day, the military junta has threatened sedition charges on individuals who close their businesses or even clap and bang pots.

  • #2
    ASEAN called to reconsider its five-point consensus on solving the Myanmar crisis

    Political experts called on ASEAN to reconsider its dialogue with the Myanmar military junta and urged it to get more help from the international community today as some say the bloc’s five-point consensus on solving the Myanmar crisis is “not working.”

    During the webinar “Myanmar: Year Zero Plus One” by Asia News Network earlier this week, a retired Thai ambassador, Kobsak Chutikul, said the international community has followed ASEAN’s lead as it played a leading role in attempting to resolve the Myanmar crisis, but it should not be prolonged by repeating the same actions as last year’s plan, which included an immediate halt to violence, engagement between all parties involved, the designation of a special ASEAN envoy, humanitarian aid, and a visit to Myanmar by the special envoy and a group to meet with all relevant parties.

    As the bloc has made no progress in putting the strategy into action thus far, Kobsak stated that it has to accept that the current process isn’t working since it didn’t set a deadline, adding that other stakeholders, such as the European Union, Russia, Japan, and the US, should also participate in stepping up the game, while ASEAN should not be left solely to solve the crisis.

    He also suggested that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, must convene international conferences and his visit to Myanmar is what everyone should expect this year. The National Unity Government’s international cooperation minister, Dr Sasa, also called out to the international community not to hide behind ASEAN and to consult on the crisis with unanimity.

    He claimed that the people of Myanmar were losing faith in ASEAN because the agreement had been on the table for several months and that they should be consulted in the planning process for it to be truly effective, and that it should also clarify what approach will be used for humanitarian aid.

    “When the ASEAN chair goes to Myanmar, it’s common sense that he needs to talk with other members. ASEAN requires a single concrete voice”.


    • #3
      Myanmar junta and its supporters will face more sanctions – US State Department

      The US, along with the UK and Canada, imposed new sanctions on people and organisations linked to Myanmar this week, focusing on judicial officials involved in prosecutions against Myanmar’s deposed leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained since the coup last year.

      According to US State Department Counselor Derek Chollet, Myanmar’s military and those who assisted the junta that seized power a year ago will continue to face sanctions, saying “we’re not done.” He was referring to individuals who were behind or assisted in the coup, as well as those attempting to undermine the country’s democratic path.

      Official data from the United Nations human rights office shows that the coup provoked strikes and protests, killing roughly 1,500 citizens in crackdowns and around 11,800 being arbitrarily detained.

      According to Treasury Undersecretary Jon Chollet, the US has placed sanctions or export limits on 65 individuals and 26 businesses, including one Myanmar businessman for assisting the military in procuring guns and another for providing financial support.

      Chollet claimed that Washington was in constant touch with military opponents, including the National Unity Government, a parallel government that wanted the West to do more to suffocate the junta. He also confirms that the US is collaborating with Singapore to discuss measures to limit the military’s access to overseas financial holdings.


      • #4
        Cambodian PM says false claims of Australian’s release in Myanmar was a “mistake”

        Cambodian PM Hun Sen says his claims that the Myanmar military junta had released an Australian economist as per his request was an “unintentional mistake.” After authorities in Myanmar said the economic adviser, Sean Turnell, is still the Hun Sen admitted that he had been given the wrong information and had made a mistake.

        On his official Facebook page, the prime minister wrote… “The confusion is because of me getting the information wrong. Please forgive me for this unintentional mistake.”

        Australia’s Foreign Minister had called for the “immediate release” of Sean Turnell, marking one year since he was detained following the February 2021 military coup in Myanmar. Turnell is the former economic adviser to Myanmar’s deposed leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. He was arrested on February 6, 2021 and charged with violating the Official Secrets Act, which carries a sentence of up to 14 years in jail.

        While speaking to BBC Burmese yesterday, Myanmar military spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun said there were no intentions to free Turnell. A source close to Turnell also confirmed that he has not been released and that the trial for him has yet to begin.

        Rights groups estimate that around 11,000 people have been imprisoned since the coup, and Hun Sen has been willing to meet them despite the bloc’s reservations about legitimising Myanmar’s generals. As chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, he has encouraged the military to follow through on a five-point consensus agreed by the junta leader last year.

        A senior Cambodian official told Reuters that the junta chief had agreed to meet with some members of Suu Kyi’s party yesterday.


        • #5
          Interpol turns down Myanmar military’s request to assist them counter “terrorism”

          In response to the Myanmar military’s appeal to assist them in countering “terrorism” threats in the post-coup nation, the international police organisation Interpol turned down the request and said it will not intervene in any nation’s domestic political affairs.

          An Interpol spokesperson told CNA that the organisation does not comment on specific cases or operations of member countries unless in extraordinary circumstances, especially notices requested for political opponents, government critics, or in the context of a coup d’etat.

          The statement came just two days after the Myanmar military’s appointed foreign affairs minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, asked the international community to assist the regime in dealing with such threats, referring to the actions of its opposition body, the National Unity Government, which was formed to depose junta coup leader Min Aung Hlaing.

          The minister gave a diplomatic briefing for ambassadors and UN officials in Yangon on the same day. He accused the opposition party and its allies of being terrorists who had murdered innocent civilians and civil servants and destroyed public buildings such as schools, hospitals, and bridges. He addressed the UN, ASEAN counter-terrorism bodies, the ASEAN Chiefs of Police, and Interpol to take action against them.

          The opposition government declared a “defensive war” against the regime with the help of its militants called the People Defence Forces and local resistance fighters across Myanmar last year. The shadow government is also considering legal retribution to file against the military through various international channels, including the International Criminal Court.

          Since the coup, the Myanmar army has killed over 1,500 people, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. On Christmas Eve, more than 30 people, including children, were killed in Myanmar’s Kayah State.


          • #6
            Thailand-based natural gas company stalls move on Myanmar following coup

            Following the withdrawal of its French and US partners from a gas production project in Myanmar, Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production Plc is stalling its next move by saying that it will make an official announcement early next month on whether to keep ties with the military in Myanmar or not.

            US-based Chevron Corp and France-based Total Energies both announced that they will stop operations in the country due to the worsening humanitarian situation following the military coup and bloody crackdown by security forces. Activists have been campaigning for the two companies to withdraw from Myanmar as the operations are a major source of revenue for the military junta.

            PTTEP, which has invested in the Yadana gas project off Myanmar’s southwestern coast and Moattama Gas Transportation Company, was poised to take over the holdings of its two partners according to earlier reports. The finance division’s senior vice-president, Orachon Ouiyamapun, told investors yesterday that the company had only gotten a notice letter from Total Energy in France but had yet to get one from Chevron in the US.

            “Our executives are looking into this issue to decide on the next move. We plan to inform the public early next month.”
            Total Energy owns 31.24% of the company, while Chevron owns 28.3%. PTTEP owns 25.5% of the company, while MOGE owns the rest. It intends to raise sales by 12% this year to 467 kilo barrels of oil equivalent per day, up from an average of 416 kilo barrels last year, according to Orachon.


            • #7
              Karen soldiers from Myanmar clash with Burmese army on Thai Border

              Soldiers from the Karen National Union and People’s Defense Force attacked the Burmese army with mortar guns and grenade launchers in Palu village in Myanmar on the Thai-Burmese border yesterday. A reporter for Nation Thailand said the Burmese army fired back with their own mortar guns, and called for backup help from a helicopter dispatched to shoot at the enemy forces. The reporter added that soldiers on both sides were killed and injured.

              The Karen hill tribe in Myanmar, and several other minority groups have been fighting for greater autonomy since Myanmar gained independence in 1948. In March 2021, following the military coup, the Burmese military launched air strikes on the country’s Kachine State, where most Karen live. 20,000 Karen people were forced to flee. They hid in caves and jungles with low food and medicine supply.

              Karen people live mostly in Myanmar, though many have fled to refugee camps in Thailand. In Thailand, they often have issues getting jobs and enrolling in schools since many of them not Thai citizens.


              • #8
                UN expert claims Russia, China, and Serbia arming Myanmar junta against civilians

                A United Nations human rights expert released a report on Tuesday saying Russia, China, and Serbia are supplying weapons to Myanmar’s junta government, knowing they will be used against civilians. The human rights expert, Thomas Andrews, said Russia and China are providing the junta with fighter jets. Myanmar’s military and Russia’s foreign ministry couldn’t be reached by Reuters on time to comment. China’s foreign minister responded vaguely…

                “China has always advocated that all parties and factions should proceed in the long-term interests of the country”.
                The minister also said China should “resolve contradictions through political dialogue”. Since Myanmar’s military coup in February 2021, 1,500 people have been killed. Over 300,000 people have been displaced by rural armed conflict between Myanmar’s military, and ethnic minority groups that oppose it. The junta says it is fighting “terrorists,” and opposes UN intervention. Two minority groups well known for being persecuted by Myanmar’s military are the Karen hill tribe, and Rohingya Muslims.

                In March 2021, following the military coup, the Burmese military launched air strikes on the country’s Kachine State, where most Karen live. 20,000 Karen people were forced to flee. They hid in caves and jungles with low food and medicine supply.

                Andrews’s report says Russia (Putin is out of his mind and looks for new alliances) has given the junta two types of fighter jets, two kinds of armoured vehicles, including one that has air defense systems. Andrews calls for cutting the Burmese military’s access to oil and gas revenue and foreign reserves, and international bans on timber, gemstones, and rare earths from Myanmar. He calls on all three countries to stop arming the junta.

                “It should be incontrovertible that weapons used to kill civilians should no longer be transferred to Myanmar”.


                • #9
                  Myanmar’s army accused of holding children and teachers hostage

                  On Sunday, a newspaper in Myanmar accused the country’s military of taking 85 children and 10 teachers hostage during fighting with rebels. Reuters could not independently verify the report, and a spokesman for Myanmar’s junta did not respond to requests for comment. But the country’s National Unity Government, which opposes the junta, said some children were younger than five years old. The incident allegedly happened in the Sagaing region, which is in central Myanmar. A member of the NUG’s armed wing said the hostage situation made them unable to fight Myanmar’s army.

                  “We could not fight the troops because they were holding children”.
                  Myanmar’s military has been criticised and accused of several human rights violations, particularly against ethnic minority groups. Two minority groups well known for being persecuted by Myanmar’s military are the Karen hill tribe, and Rohingya Muslims. In March 2021, following the military coup, the Burmese military launched air strikes on the country’s Kachine State, where most Karen live. The military also killed many Karen in ground invasions. 20,000 Karen were forced to flee.

                  In February, a UN human rights expert accused three countries of supplying weapons to Myanmar: Russia, China, and Serbia. In a report, the expert claimed Russia and China provided the junta with fighter jets.


                  • #10
                    Myanmar junta revokes citizenship for National Unity Government members

                    Myanmar’s junta government announced today that it revoked the citizenships of several members of the country’s opposition government, which it considers a ‘terrorist’ group. This ‘opposition’ is mainly composed of the previously elected government that were overthrown on February 1, 2021.

                    The Bangkok Post did not report the total number of members whose citizenships were revoked. But it included the opposition’s minister of foreign affairs, its home minister, and its human rights minister. The junta wrote about this decision in a notice in a state-run newspaper, alleging the opposition had violated laws.

                    “…found to be committing acts that could harm the interests of Myanmar”.
                    Many members of Myanmar’s opposition party, the National Unity Government, have been in exile from Myanmar since the coup of February 2021. After the coup, the NUG’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was imprisoned. The NUG is made up of representatives of several ethnic minority groups, many of whom have had ongoing conflicts with Myanmar’s junta government.

                    This week, a United States government spokesman said the US would invite a ‘non-political’ representative from Myanmar’s junta to an ASEAN summit. The spokesman said this is to hold Myanmar accountable for rights violations. The invitation is in line with previous invitations from ASEAN which has not included representatives from the current Junta leadership.

                    “The regime has failed to make meaningful progress on ASEAN’s five-point consensus and should be held accountable”.
                    The five-point consensus by ASEAN demands that Myanmar halt violence from all parties and use constructive dialogue to seek peace. It also said that a special envoy of the ASEAN chair should facilitate the mediation process, with help from the ASEAN secretary-general. Last year, ASEAN blocked the junta from key meetings when it failed to honour the consensus.


                    • #11
                      UN High Commissioner accuses Myanmar’s army of war crimes, including burning alive

                      In a new report, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accused Myanmar’s army of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including burning women and children alive in Kayah State. Kayah State is home to mainly people of the Kareni, or ‘Red Karen’ ethnic group, one of the many ethnic groups fighting for autonomy in Myanmar. The report claimed the women and children burned were found in positions hinting they were trying to escape, when they were burned alive.

                      The report claimed Myanmar’s forces tortured detainees during interrogation. Forms of torture allegedly included suspending people from ceilings, electrocuting them, and injecting them with drugs. Forces also allegedly raped some detainees. The report claims that security forces and their affiliates have killed at least 1,600 people, and detained more than 12,500 people.

                      Another claim in the report is that Myanmar’s army used victims as human shields. This news comes just weeks after a newspaper in the country accused the army of holding teachers and schoolchildren hostage. The armed wing of Myanmar’s opposition government said it was unable to fight the army because of this. The report claims to be based on interviews with victims themselves, and witnesses.

                      Last month, one UN human rights expert accused China, Russia, and Serbia of supplying Myanmar’s military with weapons, including fighter jets. Earlier this month, Myanmar’s junta government also revoked citizenship for several members of its opposition.


                      • #12
                        Myanmar calls US Rohingya genocide accusation “far from reality”

                        The United States announced on Monday it will classify Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya ethnic group in 2017 as a genocide. Now, Myanmar has hit back. Its foreign ministry said in a statement yesterday that the United States’ remarks are “far from realities”, claiming the United States made the decision based on “unreliable and unverifiable” sources.

                        In 2018, the US State Department released a report detailing violence against the Rohingya in western Rakhine state as “extreme, large-scale, widespread, and seemingly geared toward both terrorising the population and driving out the Rohingya residents”.

                        The Rohingya people mostly live in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. Most of them are Muslims, while Myanmar is a Buddhist-majority country. They have their own language. In 2017, Rohingya militants launched arson attacks against over 30 police posts. Myanmar’s military, and local Buddhist mobs, then burned down Rohingya villages, killed civilians, and raped Rohingya women. Since then, over 700,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar.

                        US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States decided to categorize Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingyas as genocide based on documentation by human rights organisations and other impartial sources. He said it is also based on the government’s own fact-finding efforts. But Myanmar’s foreign ministry insists Blinken’s statements are “politically motivated”, accusing him of interfering in Myanmar’s internal affairs.

                        Meanwhile, Myanmar’s military also stands accused of crimes against other ethnic minority groups, such as the Karen hill tribe. Last week, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accused Myanmar’s military of burning Karen women and children alive.


                        • #13
                          New report “Nowhere is Safe” accuses Myanmar of sniper attacks

                          A human rights group, along with Yale Law School’s Scholl Center, accuse Myanmar’s junta chief of creating a special command that deployed snipers to kill unarmed protestors. The groups say this was to create fear. The Scholl Center and Fortify Rights investigated leaked documents and 128 testimonies from survivors, medical workers, witnesses and former military and police personnel, on violence in Myanmar. The report they published today is titled “Nowhere is Safe”.

                          The report identified 61 military and police commanders who the researchers said should be investigated for crimes against humanity. Six of these individuals are allegedly active-duty army personnel, including a colonel and two majors. The researchers allege junta chief Min Aung Hlaing’s new special command in the capital Naypyidaw was run by four of his top generals.

                          The researchers said they also got access to verified internal memos to police ordering them to arbitrarily arrest protesters, activists and members of the ousted ruling party. They also cited testimonies from alleged torture victims.

                          “Nowhere is Safe” is 193 pages long. Fortify Rights is an NGO based in Southeast Asia, and funded by donations from Europe, Asia and the United States. The Schell Center of Yale Law School is for law students and graduates to specialise in international human rights and to assist human rights organisations.

                          Earlier this month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accused Myanmar’s army of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including burning women and children alive in Kayah State.


                          • #14
                            On anniversary of bloodshed, Myanmar army chief vows to “annihilate” opponents

                            Days after human rights groups published an extensive report accusing Myanmar’s junta chief of targeting unarmed protestors, the Burmese chief vowed today to “annihilate” opponents of the junta. Today is the anniversary of Myanmar’s most violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests. The army chief, Min Aung Hlaing, said the military will “no longer negotiate… and annihilate until the end” groups fighting to end its rule.
                            The crackdown on this day one year ago killed 163 protesters, according to a local monitoring group. The protestors had been demonstrating against the junta ousting Aung San Suu Kyi’s government in the February 2021 coup. Since the coup, authorities in Myanmar have killed over 1,700 people, according to international monitors.

                            The day of the bloody crackdown, March 27, coincides with Myanmar’s “Armed Forces Day”. The day originally started to commemorate Myanmar’s freedom from Japan during World War II, however, one researcher at Human Rights Watch recently criticised governments that still celebrate the day.

                            “Governments joining Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day celebrations are celebrating the military’s brutal suppression of its own people”.
                            This week, two human rights bodies accused the chief of creating a special command that deployed snipers to kill unarmed protestors. The groups say this was to create fear. The researchers investigated leaked documents and 128 testimonies from survivors, medical workers, witnesses and former military and police personnel, on violence in Myanmar. The report is titled “Nowhere is Safe”.


                            • #15
                              More Karen flee Myanmar to Thai border, Myanmar arrests Karen journalist

                              Around 1,000 Karen hill tribe people crossed the border into Thailand on Saturday, only for Thai authorities to send them back, according to an official from a refugee camp. This month, over 10,000 Karen from Myanmar’s Kayin state have fled after clashes between Karen rebels and Myanmar’s military.

                              Now, Burmese police have arrested a reporter for the Karen Information Centre. The reporter’s name is Nay Naw, according to a source close to the family. The source said Nay was summoned to the station twice for questioning on Monday, and detained during the second meeting. The source told Radio Free Asia he didn’t know where Nay was detained, but he and the family had heard Nay was being held in the Myawaddy Myoma Police Station.

                              “We don’t know if he has been tortured or beaten”.
                              Meanwhile, the Karen who fled to the Thai border camp out along the river there. According to one Karen woman, those camping don’t have adequate food, shelter, blankets, or medicines. Myanmar’s Junta Deputy Minister of Information Major General told RFA the junta is preparing to to set up temporary shelters for refugees in and around Myawaddy.

                              “If it’s going to take time for them to return to their places of residence, we consider them to be [displaced persons]. If it isn’t, it is considered a temporary evacuation”.
                              Just weeks ago, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accused Myanmar’s army of burning alive women and children in the Kayah state, another Karen-majority state.