A villager killed and two houses burnt due to artillery shelling

January 8, 2021
Ta’ang Women’s Organization
Large artillery shells from the fighting between Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS/SSA), fell in Nyaung Sui and Mai Hon villages in Namtu Township on 5 January, burning down two houses. A villager was killed on the spot due to a gunshot wound.
Tensions between the two armies have been rising since the end of December and 268 local villagers from Nyaung Sui, Mai Hon and Luk Lay villages have fled to Mangyan Monastery in Man Hon in Mangyan village tract.
Abbot from Nyaung Sui village monastery said, “Fighting started since 7 in the moring. Palaung (Ta’ang) soldiers were in the village. Shan army shot from Mai Hon and an artillery shell hit a house. Cars from Mansan war refugee association arrived after the fighting to pick up the villagers.”
A 50 years old man, Ta Aik Ngo who was watching the fighting in front of his house, was killed on the spot by a stray bullet. The abbot said the body of him was left in the village and until the time of reporting the body has not been burnt and burried.
The owner of the burnt house said, “Currently we are staying at the monastery. House of grandma was wholly burnt. We didn’t get anything except a blanket. Now, we lost everything and we don’t know what to do for future.”
Furthermore, 612 locals from Hway Hon, Mai Hon and Narmat villages had fled to Narsai village. The fighting between two armies continues.
Photo-We Zay Ya

Justice Newsletter (December 2020)

Summary Overview

This month the National League for Democracy (NLD) formed a committee to hold talks with ethnic political parties in an effort to ‘coordinate and try to achieve common ground.’  However, ethnic parties say they have reason to approach the invitation with caution.  The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy Vice chair Sai Nyunt Lwin said the letter required no response, telling Frontier Myanmar, “The letter just says the NLD hopes to work with ethnic parties. It offered no invitation for anything.” The newly formed committee is planning to start talks with ethnic parties quickly. However, while the invitation suggests promise for an improved working relationship, expectations of ethnic parties are wary given the NLD’s past working relationship. Trust must be a foundation in the starting ground.

Those who fled conflict in Rakhine started to head home as the Burma Army and Arakan Army (AA) engaged in indirect talks following a three week lull in fighting since the 2020 general election. The internal conflict between the two groups has killed over 300 civilians and displaced nearly 230 000. Burma’s president, Win Myint called for cooperation among all stakeholders in Rakhine on the 46th Rakhine State Day. The two sides are currently observing an unofficial ceasefire. However, there has been backlash suggesting the military should involve the government in pursuing peace with other armed groups. “It would have been preferable if the military had included relevant government organisations or the peace commission,” said NLD spokesperson, Monywa Aung Shin.

The Burma Army and AA met in person for talks in the Wa capital of Pangsang. Focal points of discussion according to the AA’s spokesperson were making the by-election possible, the peace process and ensuring a ceasefire between both sides. Ethnic armed organisations who have not signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement met with the government and Burma Army to discuss plans to resume peace negotiations, which have been delayed due to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Rakhine civil society organizations are calling for the ‘swift implementation of the request made by the President U Win Myint for holding the elections in Arakan State.’ Over 1 million citizens lost their rights to vote in the 2020 general election. There have been claims that the mass voter disenfranchisement was intentional as the NLD claims that legal obstacles stand in the way of holding elections. Rakhine women who were elected into office are being encouraged to focus on IDPs and women’s issues in upcoming legislative sessions. The course of intense civil war has been felt by thousands of innocent civilians. Nearly 20 000 are still living in IDP camps and displacement sites, according to the Rakhine Ethnics Congress and over 60% of IDPS are women who are in need of health services and accommodation.

Rakhine

Calls for Release of Civilians Ignored by Burma Army | 11 December 2020

After filing a missing person’s report of civilians kidnapped by the Burma Army, family members were turned away in their second attempt calling for their release and accountability. The military has denied holding the group of 18 who went missing between 13 and 16 March 2020. The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) said that it will not investigate the case of the missing villagers. The request was declined because according to MNHRC, the military’s denials of the alleged detainment are true. A lawmaker from Kyauktaw township says the decision by the MNHRC has left civilians at a ‘dead-end’.

Two Years of Conflict Taking Toll on Children in Rakhine | 16 December 2020

Civil society organisations have condemned violence against children in conflict torn Rakhine where fighting has had serious impacts on young people – including psychological trauma, physical injury and death from crossfire and landmines. Between January and September, 56 children were severely injured, and 13 children died from explosions of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Myanmar, according to UNICEF.

Civilian Casualties Taking Place Lawlessly, says CSO | 24 December 2020

In a new report, Generation Wave says twenty-one people were killed ‘lawlessly’ from 16 June to 15 September. The report also noted 124 people who have been unlawfully detained over the 90-day period, including 23 members from various student unions who protested against state-sponsored human rights violations and conflict. Eight are human rights activists, two politicians, and one journalist.

Landmine Victims Demand Government Assistance | 24 December 2020

Those who have had their lives altered as a result of landmine injuries are calling on the Burmese government to provide assistance in helping to rebuild their futures. According to the Rakhine Ethnics Congress, explosions from landmines and other devices have killed at least 33 people and injured 73 in two years.

Myanmar Army, Arakan Army Working to Prevent Clashes in Rakhine | 30 December 2020

Talks with the Arakan Army and the Burma Army are continuing with the two sides agreeing to an ‘unofficial ceasefire’ that expires early January. The Burma Army has said they are not sending in reinforcements and hope IDPs can return home safely. The future of civilian security is dependent on their negotiations.

Chin

Chin Youth Detained by the Arakan Army Release | 16 December 2020

Following numerous calls by the family of a Chin youth detained by the Arakan Army for over 4 months, Salai Aung Soe was released after 138 days in their custody. The Khumi Affairs Coordination Committee says since 2015, the Arakan Army has detained 105 civilians. There are still 22 being held. Affiliate member, the Chin Human Rights Organization, continues to call for the release of all Chin people detained.

Chin IDPs In Need of Support

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Chin State who have been displaced by clashes between the Arakan Army and the Burma Army are facing severe food shortages. Relief groups estimate there are 4,300 IDPs from over 40 villages and 600 are staying in two camps in the town of Ann.

Shan

Woman Raped in COVID-19 Quarantine | 2 December 2020

A young woman was raped in a COVID-19 quarantine centre in Southern Shan State in the women’s dormitory where she was assaulted at knifepoint. The incident called on the authorities to seriously consider the safety of women in quarantine.

Villagers Forcibly Displaced by Fighting Between Armed Groups | 10 December 2020

Villagers in northern Shan experienced heavy fighting, which forced them to flee as clashes between the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and members of the Northern Alliance escalated. Sounds of gunfire saw many forcibly displaced as a result of the growing hostilities.

Over 7000 Displaced in Northern Shan Since beginning of 2020 | 14 December 2020

According to UNOCHA, around 300 civilians were forced to flee due to recent armed clashes in Namtu Township. Some have returned, while others are taking refuge in monasteries and host communities. There are 7,300 people who have been temporarily displaced in northern Shan since the start of 2020.

Military Tensions Escalate in Namtu and Kyaukme in northern Shan State between the TNLA and RCSS (Ta’ang Students and Youths Union)

More fighting between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) occurred in Hsipaw Township on December 30. The fighting between the RCSS and the TNLA broke out ten times in December 2020. During one such outbreak on December 29, one civilian was killed and another one was injured in an artillery strike. Over 2,000 residents were forced from their homes to take shelter in urban Kyaukme and Namtu Townships in northern Shan State.

Missing Teacher Not Allowed to See Family Members (Ta’ang Students and Youths Union)

Daw Than Than Myo, a schoolteacher in Manna Village, Mogok Township, Mandalay Region, was arrested by the military on December 28, 2020 and has not been allowed to see her family members. Mai Wunna, interim secretary of Ta’ang Literature and Culture in Mogok Township, said the military has not said anything about the arrest of the teacher. The family still has had no contact with a teacher who was detained by the military.

Karen State

Renewed Clashes in Karen State Lead to Increased Military Presence | 31 December 2020

The Burma Army has increased their presence in Karen areas, resulting in a series of armed clashes that has forced over 3000 villagers to flee their homes. The ‘backsliding’ on the peace process by the government is hurting civilians, said the Karen Youth Network. As a result of decades of fighting particularly in Karen State, over 100 000 have sought refuge in camps along the Thai-Burma border.

Freedom of Expression

Burma Army Admits to Detaining Military Medic for Criticising Dictators | 8 December 2020

A second year student at the Defense Services Medical Academy is being charged under the Defence Services Act for making critical comments about the military on Facebook. His family has had no contact with him since late August 2020.

Voter Arrested for Claiming Pressure from Military in Vote Choice | 9 December 2020

The 25 year old daughter of an army officer, Thinzar Than Min said she faced pressure and threats if her family did not vote for the military backed Union Solidarity and Development Party in Burma’s 2020 general elections, and was subsequently charged to nine months of hard labor for violating article 505(a) of the penal code for causing members of the military “to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail” in their duties. The ruling was met with outcry from groups like Human Rights Watch who cited laws used to ‘prosecute and silence critics of the Myanmar authorities’ including Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law. ND-Burma member, the Assistance Association or Political Prisoners (AAPP) said they added Thinzar Than Min to their list of political prisoners because ‘she was exercising her right to free speech to expose the military’s wrongdoing.’

 Rights Groups Call for Reforms to Defamation Laws | December 11 2020

Over 50 civil society organizations in Burma called for the reform of six defamation laws used by the government and the military to suppress freedom of expression. The statement was also endorsed by news media, lawyers and judges.

Activists Urge Reform to Defamation Laws | 14 December 2020

Freedom of speech and protected spaces are shrinking at an alarming rate. Research by civil society organization, Athan, found 539 criminal suits had been filed against more than 1,000 individuals for public criticism in the first 4 years of the NLD’s term in office.

Youths Shared for Human Rights Day Activities | 22 December 2020

Three youths who participated in a campaign on Sittwe to mark International Human Rights Day were charged under Section 19(a) of the Peaceful Assembly Law. Over 30 people joined the event and widely condemned the systematic use of violence against civilians. Under the law they have been charged with, they must pay a fine not exceeding 30,000 Myanmar Kyats and/or a fine of up to three months in prison. Despite reforms to the law by the NLD, there has been criticism that these changes still criminalize peaceful expression and protest.

Member Update

On International Human Rights Day, ND-Burma called on the Burmese government to protect all people in the country, and for everyone’s rights to be respected and upheld, so that meaningful steps can be made towards achieving peace.

Ting Oo, of the All Arakan Students’ and Youths Congress addressed the  Kaladan transport project, stating the voices of local people in the affected area have not been taken into account, with a focus instead on completion of the project.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reported an increase in the number of political prisoners in Burma by six individuals this past month, beginning next parliamentary term.

The Kachin Women’s Association Thailand moderated a Human Rights Day Panel on accountability in the face of rising authoritarianism, militarism, human rights violations and internal displacement.

Future Light Center released a report called,  ‘The life struggle of labourers during the COVID-19 pandemic.’

The Chin Human Rights Foundation released their annual report on ‘The situation of Human Rights in Chin State and Western Burma/Myanmar.’ CHRO also spoke on a panel of religion and beliefs in Burma as part of a pre-session on the UPR at the UN Human Rights Council.

CHRO also reported that the Burma Army extorted money from villagers in Thantlang Township.

On International Human Rights Day, ND-Burma member, the Ta’ang Students and Youths Union (TSYU), distributed posters on the history and principles of Article 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to youth groups in 13 townships and Ta’ang civil society organizations in Lashio city. TSYU also posted a video interview of youth and relevant organizations regarding human rights abuses being addressed in Shan State on Facebook. Please see more here:

https://www.facebook.com/451214215694715/posts/870100853806047/

https://www.facebook.com/451214215694715/posts/869490953867037/

https://www.facebook.com/451214215694715/posts/874011780081621/

https://www.facebook.com/451214215694715/posts/873298390152960/

https://www.facebook.com/451214215694715/posts/872749110207888/

ND-Burma is a network that consists of 13-member organisations who represent a range of ethnic nationalities, women and former political prisoners. ND-Burma member organisations have been documenting human rights abuses and fighting for justice for victims since 2004. The network consists of nine Full Members and four Affiliate Members as follows:

Full Members:

  1. All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress 
    2.     Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
    3.     Association Human Rights Defenders and Promoters 
    4.     Future Light Center 
    5.     Human Rights Foundation of Monland
    6.     Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand
    7.     Ta’ang Women’s Organization
    8.     Ta’ang Students and Youth Union
    9.     Tavoyan Women’s Union 

 Affiliate Members:

  1. Chin Human Rights Organization
    2.     East Bago – Former Political Prisoners Network
    3.     Pa-O Youth Organization
    4.     Progressive Voice

On the 72nd International Human Rights Day, the Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma Calls for An Immediate End to Widespread Violations and A Response to the Humanitarian Crisis in Burma

On the 72nd International Human Rights Day, the Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma Calls for An Immediate End to Widespread Violations and A Response to the Humanitarian Crisis in Burma

10 December 2020: The Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma (ND-Burma) is concerned about the escalating human rights situation in Burma. Abuses are widespread and target the most vulnerable; those who are unable to defend themselves against the force of armed military soldiers. Ensuring security for civilians is essential and must be prioritized as the newly re-elected National League for Democracy (NLD) prepares to govern for another five-year term. On this International Human Rights Day, ND-Burma calls on the Burmese government to protect all people in the country, and for everyone’s rights to be respected and upheld, so that meaningful steps can be made towards achieving peace through an inclusive, non-discriminatory approach.

Thousands of innocent civilians have been killed, injured and forcibly displaced over seven decades of internal conflict in Burma. These tragedies have taken place with few cases of reparations and justice for victims and their families. The disappointments of institutions meant to facilitate and advocate for justice, including the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC), have failed them. Article 37 of the MNHRC in particular, which states that the Commission cannot inquire into any complaint that is already involved in court, is just one example of how the broad scope of its mandate limits any influence the MNHRC has in holding offenders accountable. Victims of human rights violations and their families have the right to access justice referral pathways without institutionalized discrimination. This includes the right to know the truth about the abuses they have suffered, including holding the perpetrator responsible. Regardless of the crime, the culprit should not be protected by military courts or government officials.

Despite several ceasefire extensions by the Burma Army to various ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), there is yet to be an inclusive nationwide agreement that includes the Arakan Army (AA). In March this year, the AA was declared a terrorist organization by Burma’s Anti-Terrorism Central Committee. This December marks the two-year anniversary of when fighting escalated between the AA and Burma Army, which prompted an ongoing trajectory of abuses including deaths and injuries from landmine explosions, torture, shelling and artillery fire and sexual violence. Meanwhile, violence by the Burma Army and EAOs continues to systematically target civilians in northern Shan, Chin, Kachin and Karen states. The Tatmadaw and the EAOs full cooperation with the Geneva Convention, which the Burmese government ratified in 1992, is necessary for ensuring standards of international law are applied in the context of war.

As noted in ND-Burma’s most recent human rights situational report released in September 2020, hostilities across the country not only target people living in the areas, but the repercussions faced by journalists, human rights defenders and civil society organizations for reporting on the issues taking place is also of grave concern. A hallmark of any democratic society is one which the rights of the press and to freedom of expression are respected. According to the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, Burma scored 139th, leading Reporters without Borders to declare, “media freedom is clearly not one of the priorities of the [NLD] government.”

For genuine peace to be a reality for the people of Burma, especially those who have carried the conflict on their shoulders for decades, the NLD must take their victory in the 2020 general election as an opportunity to achieve peace, national reconciliation, protection for civilians and promote human rights by working with key stakeholders, including civil society organizations. There is hope that early efforts shown by the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee agreeing to engage in negotiations with the NLD are a positive sign of things to come. These talks must ensure civilian safety is at the forefront of guiding prospects of achieving a federal union.

Further, ND-Burma members are gravely concerned about Burma’s future. Without security and transitional justice mechanisms in place, innocent people will continue to be at risk. Further, we call for the Geneva Convention to be followed by the Tatmadaw and EAOs, and for civilian lives and their properties to be protected. Those who fail to do so must be held accountable for their actions in a court of law that takes seriously the failure to uphold these commitments.

Media Contact

U Aung Zaw Oo
Association Human Rights Defenders and Promoters (HRDP)
+95 942 103 9493

Lway Poe Jay
Ta’ang Students and Youth Union (TSYU)
+95 926 416 2229

ND-Burma is a network that consists of 13-member organisations who represent a range of ethnic nationalities, women and former political prisoners. ND-Burma member organisations have been documenting human rights abuses and fighting for justice for victims since 2004. The network consists of nine Full Members and four Affiliate Members as follows:

Full Members:

1.    All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress  (AASYC)
2.     Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP)
3.     Association Human Rights Defenders and Promoters (HRDP)
4.     Future Light Center (FLC)
5.     Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM)
6.     Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand (KWAT)
7.     Ta’ang Women’s Organization (TWO)
8.     Ta’ang Students and Youth Union (TSYU)
9.     Tavoyan Women’s Union (TWU)

Affiliate Members:

1.     Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO)
2.     East Bago – Former Political Prisoners Network (FPPN-EB)
3.     Pa-O Youth Organization (PYO)
4.     Progressive Voice(PV)

Justice Newsletter (November 2020)

Summary Overview

Burma’s 2020 general election results were announced this month with the National League for Democracy (NLD) securing a second-term landslide victory by winning 396 of the 498 contested seats in the bicameral parliament. The NLD won more seats in the 2020 election than it did in 2015, when they first ousted the military ruling government. The main opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has contested the results, including filing over 1000 election complaints, and sending an open letter calling on the President to hold the Union Election Commission (UEC) accountable for allegedly violating the 2008 Constitution by ‘failing to perform its duties enshrined by the law,’ citing transparency issues. Nonetheless, the UEC is moving ahead.

Upon news of their victory, the NLD and military made swift steps towards reigniting the long delayed peace process. Before the NLD won the election, the military had revealed a permanent committee to, ‘continue peace talks as quickly as possible.’ The peace process started in 2011 but has made slow progress over the last several years. The most recent Union Panglong Conference was held in August 2020.

The NLD also reached out to 48 ethnic political parties to seek a federal union and an end to the civil war.  According to the Irrawaddy, this move by the NLD is the first of its kind. In response to the NLD’s request to ethnic parties to work together towards a ‘national unity government,’ Nai Tala Non, Chair of the Mon Unity Party said the invitation is a good thing, stating: “I would like to say that the way the NLD government has dealt with ethnic issues in our country in the past is completely wrong. If we continue like this, civil war will expand, and the fighting will become more intense. That’s why we have to change the format.” The Kayah State Democratic Party said they would only join if there is a ‘clear and firm agreement on ethnic issues.’ At this point, most ethnic parties and armed groups are appearing to warm to the NLD victory and are open to negotiations to the country’s long running internal conflicts.

The 2020 pre-election campaign period was met with serious debate from ethnic political parties and candidates who claimed with evidence that they had experienced discrimination and censorship.

Positively, the number of female lawmakers increased during the 2020 election. Women accounted for 17% of lawmakers and ethnic affairs ministers, a rise from 2015.

Reactions to the 2020 Election by State:

 

Rakhine State

The Arakan Army has called for a by-election in parts of Rakhine State that were denied the right to vote through a nationwide ceasefire between the Burma Army and NLD, saying it would be a show of ‘goodwill’ as the sentiment from many ethnic people and parties was suppression of democratic rights in areas where voting was cancelled:

“The failure to hold elections in most townships in Rakhine state has resulted in the loss of the right to vote and the loss of elected representatives who can represent the voice of the people,” said the statement from the AA and its political wing, the United League of Arakan (ULA).”

 In a rare step of agreement, the army welcomed this statement.

 

Karen State

General Secretary of the Karen National Union, Saw Tah Doh Moo said the following in the Myanmar Times regarding the 2020 election result:

“The reports of voter fraud will need to be investigated and solved by following procedures. Until these reports are proven, we must recognise and respect the people’s choice. There are cases of voter fraud in all elections to some extent. If the election is not fair, it should be resolved through the proper channel along with verified documents. The extent of which the election is transparent, free and fair will depend on observer assessments.”

 

Mon State

The Mon Unity Party (MUP) expressed concerns with the electoral results in some constituencies in Mon State.  In an effort to investigate, they requested specific information from a select number of Township Election Sub-commissions, but their requests have been denied.

The Commissions must give Form #1 to every candidate who contested the election. But now they gave nothing.  Even when we, the political party, have requested this information. So, we’re having doubts [about election integrity],” said the Joint Secretary of the MUP Election Campaign Committee.

 

Shan State

The death of a newly elected Member of Parliament who was elected in Kyaukme township to the National League for Democracy was shot and killed by an unidentified suspect fueling speculation that the murder was due to the election results. There have been concerns expressed that post-election violence may rise because ‘people are disappointed with the poll results.’ The news of the death was condemned by Burma’s political parties.

Less than two weeks after the general election, fighting has continued to escalate in northern Shan state. According to Burma News International, negotiations for a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the Northern Alliance – KIA, TNLA, AA and MNDAA – were under way before the pandemic began, but no agreement was reached. All negotiations have since ceased.

Chin State

ND-Burma member, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) blamed the government for the fact that many people in southern Chin State couldn’t participate in the recent national election in Burma, stating: “because only 20 percent of Paletwa Township could vote, it demonstrates the weakness of the government, which was unable to uphold the rights of the people.”

 

Rakhine State

Children Injured in Artillery Strike | 12 November 2020

Six people, including two children, were injured when artillery shells struck Shaukkon village under  Ann township in Rakhine State.

Villagers Flee Villages Fearing Arrest | 13 November 2020

Over 500 civilians fled from their villages in Rakhine State as the Burma Army raided villages and arrested local people. Out of fear, many left and are now taking shelter in monasteries until the situation stabilises.

Rakhine Man Arrested & Beaten in Detention | 17 November 2020

The son of a man detained overnight by the Burma Army is disappointed by the lack of justice after  the Ann township resident was severely beaten. Despite doctors confirming a recovery, the family is justifiably saddened by the innocent man being beaten and arrested. 

Toddler, Family Killed in Landmine Explosion | 18 November 2020

The force of a landmine explosion in Maungdaw township killed an 18 month old child and his parents after the minivan struck a landmine. Six others were injured by the impact. The use of landmines during the civil war has led to mounting civilian deaths and injuries. At least 36 people have died and 75 have been injured by landmine explosions in Rakhine since the conflict started there in 2018, according to Rakhine Ethnic Congress.

IDPs remain worried about the dangers of landmines, despite most returning home. Their fears are reinforced by finding leftover artillery shells in the paddy fields – which has discouraged workers. According to Radio Free Asia, fighting between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army has killed 308 civilians and displaced nearly 226,000.

Families of 18 Missing Villagers File Complaints | 30 November 2020

The families of 18 missing villagers from Kyauktaw township have filed complaints against the Burma Army after their loved ones went missing following their arrest and detainment.  “Are they alive? I have no idea,” said the wife of one of the disappeared.

 

Chin State

Calls for Winter Clothing for Chin IDPs | 18 November 2020

As the cold season approaches, IDPs in Paletwa township are in urgent need of winter clothing, blankets where there are more than 10,000 IDPs from 2000 families. There are more than 4,800 IDPs staying in Paletwa town, 3,300 in the town of Sami, more than 500 in Meezar village, and more than 200 in Seint Sin village. They were displaced by clashes between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army in Paletwa Township.

Calls for Justice for Rapist Who Violated Visually Impaired IDP | 24 November 2020

Civil society organisations are calling for the prosecution of a rapist who assaulted a 23 year old visually impaired IDP in Sami IDP camp on 17 November. The perpetrator has been placed under arrest and transferred to Paletwa.

 

Shan State

CSO Leader Shot in Namkham | 6 November 2020

A civil society leader in northern Shan was shot by an unidentified gunman. Shootings are common in Shan, with the perpetrators rarely being apprehended as activists question the rule of law. Human rights defenders must be protected, especially during periods of instability.

Villagers Forced to Flee as Conflict Escalates Between TNLA and the Burma Army | 26 November 2020

Nearly 1000 villagers were forced to flee clashes between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Burma Army as sheltering takes place in monasteries, churches and community halls with relatives.

 

Updates from ND-Burma member, the Ta’ang Students and Youths Union:

Four Villagers Arrested and Interrogated by KIA soldiers in Momeik

Four villagers from Yepon village, Momeik Township, Northern Shan State were arbitrarily arrested and interrogated without reason by 34 soldiers of the KIA battalion.  According to the village administrator, the four villagers met KIA soldiers on the way back from Moemeik’s Market, then were arrested and beaten. Mai Kyaw Aye was seriously injured and still has pain on his nose.

The victims were identified as Mai Kyaw Aye (27), Mai Tun Sein (24), Mai Aik Wong (24) a resident of Pansay, and Mai Aik Wong (22) a resident of Macaw. KIA soldiers are constantly interrogating anyone returning from the Momeik market. The village administrator reported the incident to the KIA township chief, but no response has been received.

Family Members Tried for the Release of Two Detainees Twice | 20 November 2020

The families of Mai Ohn Kyaw (43) and U Aung Kyaw Oo (32), who have been detained at Tat Kone, Namhsam Township, have been tried twice for calling for their release. On October 22, 2020, Burmese soldiers from the Namhsan-based Army and the son of Pyithusit member’s Tun Myat Lay arrested Mai Ohn Kyaw and U Aung Kyaw Oo in Zayangyi ward, Namhsam Township at 8:00 pm without any reason.

According to families, they are accused of having ties with TNLA but found no evidence against them. Since then they had been detained at Tat Kone.

 

Freedom of Expression

Reporters Without Borders Condemns Election Censorship | 4 November 2020

Reporters Without Borders condemned press freedom violations that marked the campaign for the parliamentary elections that took place this month. Increased censorship only cast more doubts on the campaign process.

Despite pledges to uphold and protect spaces for media and information by the National League for Democracy in the 2015 manifesto, the party has removed such commitments from their platform – a worrying sign as the NLD enters another 5-year term.

Court Sentences Two Anti-War Student Protesters | 19 November 2020

Kyaw Ye Thu, president of the Student Union of Pyay University, and Htet Aung, vice president of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABSFU), were convicted under Section 505(b) of Burma Penal Code and immediately sent to jail. The Bago region residents had led protests against the two-year war in Rakhine state.

 

Member Update

ND-Burma released a short briefing paper, Dismissed & Denied: Civic Rights Undermined In the 2020 Pre-Election Landscape. Our research indicates the campaign period showed a disregard of political rights by election stakeholders. Download from our website in English and Burmese.

ND-Burma member the Human Rights Foundation of Monland and ND-Burma Advocacy Manager penned a joint editorial in The Diplomat for International Children’s Day calling for greater protection of young sexual violence survivors in Burma. Human Rights Watch also made calls on International Children’s Day to the Burma Army to stop using child soldiers.

Affiliate member, Progressive Voice, released a post-election briefing paper on the response by the Burma Army to the victory of the National League for Democracy.

ND-Burma member, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners demanded the release of 36 students arrested for protesting against the civil war in Rakhine and Chin states.

ND-Burma is a network that consists of 13-member organisations who represent a range of ethnic nationalities, women and former political prisoners. ND-Burma member organisations have been documenting human rights abuses and fighting for justice for victims since 2004. The network consists of nine Full Members and four Affiliate Members as follows:

 

Full Members:

  1. All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress 
    2.     Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
    3.     Association Human Rights Defenders and Promoters 
    4.     Future Light Center 
    5.     Human Rights Foundation of Monland
    6.     Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand
    7.     Ta’ang Women’s Organization
    8.     Ta’ang Students and Youth Union
    9.     Tavoyan Women’s Union 

 

 Affiliate Members:

  1. Chin Human Rights Organization
    2.     East Bago – Former Political Prisoners Network
    3.     Pa-O Youth Organization
    4.     Progressive Voice

 

Dismissed & Denied: Civic Rights Undermined In the 2020 Pre-Election Landscape

On November 8 2020 nearly 40 million people, including 5 million first time voters, will vote in Myanmar’s 2020 general election. With 1,171 national, state and regional seats to win,1  and over 90 political parties2  vying for them – competition during the campaign period has been fierce. Against the backdrop of the candidates’ commitments are thousands of voters who are living in conflict areas and struggling to recover economically from the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Key stakeholders including the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) government, the Burma Army, Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs), the Union Election Commission (UEC) and international governments and organizations have a responsibility to ensure all citizens have the equal right to vote and equal right to be elected.  Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.’3 The failure to uphold basic human rights principles and electoral values in the midst of political campaigning in Burma has resulted in the continued persecution of ethnic people, especially ethnic political parties, and further enabled deeply rooted systemic discrimination.

This briefing paper by the Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma (ND-Burma) is a research-based analysis of the 2020 pre-election landscape about how rights were abused and manipulated in the midst of COVID-19, and internal armed conflict between the months of August 25 2020 and 25 October 2020. By drawing on the various articles in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)4  and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights5 (ICESCR), ND-Burma will demonstrate how the failure to uphold democratic values enshrined in both covenants contributes to the lack of legitimacy and integrity of the 2020 election.

Infographic PDF

Dismissed & Denied: Civic Rights Undermined In the 2020 Pre-Election Landscape by the Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma Shows Disregard of Political and Civic Rights by Election Stakeholders

New Briefing Paper, Dismissed & Denied: Civic Rights Undermined In the 2020
Pre-Election Landscape by the Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma Shows Disregard of Political and Civic Rights by Election Stakeholders

For Immediate Release

4 November 2020: The Network for Human Rights Documentation (ND-Burma) is concerned about the integrity and transparency of the upcoming general election, which is set to take place on 8 November 2020.  Research based analysis between the months of August 25 2020 and 25 October 2020 by ND-Burma shows a hostile pre-election environment in our latest briefing paper, Dismissed & Denied: Civic Rights Undermined In the 2020 Pre-Election Landscape.

Among our findings, key stakeholders in the lead up to the general election specifically targeted ethnic parties, and marginalized ethnic groups. The campaign period was further compromised by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and armed conflict across the region. Moreover, the experiences of ethnic parties and candidates, as well as villagers were analyzed through the articles in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Despite several articles set out by both the ICCPR and the ICESCR, voter disenfranchisement was widespread by state and non-state actors during the campaign period, which began on 8 September 2020. This includes the announcement by the Union Electoral Commission (UEC) to cancel the election in 581 village tracts (56 townships), predominantly in Rakhine State, which has serious implications for the over one million people who are now unable to vote. The decision shows a deliberate disregard for civil rights and political engagement, including the right to vote as stated in Article 25 of the ICCPR.

ND-Burma notes several other examples in the briefing paper, including limitations faced by female candidates and barring several Muslim candidates from running in the election without justification. The policing of freedom of speech and increased use of censorship by the UEC had significant impacts on political parties running on platforms critical of the government and the UEC. International stakeholders also threatened the integrity of the election with prejudiced language alienating ethnic candidates through voting applications.

Further, ND-Burma members are worried for the future of the most vulnerable in the country, especially given the unequal political arena across the campaign period. Our members call for much needed, and long overdue reforms to the UEC, as they have failed to preserve and protect civic rights. Further, we call on the winning political party to listen to the voices of the people in Burma. Their longstanding calls for peace and democracy must be listened to, as to ensure their concerns are met with policies and practices that protect them.

Media Contact

U Aung Zaw Oo

Association Human Rights Defenders and Promoters

+95 942 103 9493

Lway Poe Jay
Ta’ang Students and Youth Union (TSYU)
Ph No.: +95 926 416 2229


ND-Burma is a network that consists of 13-member organisations who represent a range of ethnic nationalities, women and former political prisoners. ND-Burma member organisations have been documenting human rights abuses and fighting for justice for victims since 2004. The network consists of nine Full Members and four Affiliate Members as follows. 

Full Members:

  1. All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress 
  2. Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
  3. Association Human Rights Defenders and Promoters 
  4. Future Light Center 
  5. Human Rights Foundation of Monland
  6. Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand
  7. Ta’ang Women’s Organization
  8. Ta’ang Students and Youth Union
  9. Tavoyan Women’s Union 

 Affiliate Members:

  1. Chin Human Rights Organization
  2. East Bago – Former Political Prisoners Network
  3. Pa-O Youth Organization
  4. Progressive Voice


Infographic PDF