From January to December 2022, the junta troops violated numerous human rights abuses and committed international crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in various parts of Myanmar. National Unity Government, Ministry of Human Rights collaborated with Network for Human Rights Documentation (Burma) – ND-Burma, Equality Myanmar and Spring Archive to provide summary review on the military regime’s human rights violations.
Several villagers believed to have been captured are missing, and one is found beheaded
A 30-year-old man was found decapitated on Monday amid a junta rampage through Sagaing Region’s Yinmabin Township that left some 100 homes in seven villages burned in one day.
The 100-soldier column carrying out the raids has been actively torching communities along the Chindwin River since Monday.
Nay Tun, the deceased, lived in the forest near the village of Pa Tein Pyin, and was captured after the arrival of the advancing military unit. Another villager told Myanmar Now that his body, found later that day, showed signs of torture.
“He had all his toes cut off before he was finally decapitated,” the local said.
In total, around 100 homes had been destroyed within a seven mile radius at the time of reporting. Among these were two houses in Pa Tein Pyin, as well as the communal hall.
The other villages targeted on Monday included Inbat—where almost half of the burned homes were located—and Kyat Shar, Kyaung Kone, Kyun Paw, Hnaw Pin, Kyauk Hmaw.
“It’s very hard to build a house, and so many good houses were destroyed in the arson attacks,” an Inbat resident who lost his home said. “It wasn’t just houses… even the cowsheds and barns were destroyed.”
“The fire actually got worse, because the locals didn’t dare to come back into the village to put out the flames, thinking the junta forces were still there,” he continued. “Even the crops were destroyed.”
He spoke to Myanmar Now from the forest, where he and others had sought refuge.
“We don’t even have pots and pans to cook with, let alone shelter,” he said.
According to a statement released by the anti-junta Northern Yinmabin Strike Force on Tuesday, the military column in question spent Monday night in the village of Sone Chaung, where they captured five locals. They later released just one of the individuals; the whereabouts of the remaining four were not known at the time of reporting.
The junta unit proceeded through the villages of Aung Moe and Si Hlaung, and were occupying Nat Ku Taung as of Wednesday morning, according to local sources.
A second army column was also seen stationed near Nat Ku Taung in the village of Ye Kyi Pin, and a third—made up of both soldiers and members of the military-backed Pyu Saw Htee militia—were seen attacking more Yinmabin Township villages along the Chindwin River on Wednesday.
Due to the raids throughout the week by these columns, some 10,000 people from 11 villages were forced to flee their homes.
“They are staying at relatives’ homes, monasteries, schools, and in other places where we think they may be safe,” a Yinmabin local helping the displaced persons said. “The junta column hasn’t withdrawn and we don’t know where it is heading next.”
A spokesperson for a local resistance force speculated that the military was intensifying its attacks on areas considered to be resistance strongholds in Sagaing in order to clear the way to hold junta-controlled elections later this year.
GENEVA (27 January 2023) – Two years after the Myanmar military launched a coup against the democratically-elected government, the country has sunk deeper than ever into crisis and has undergone a wholesale regression in human rights, UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk said today.
“By nearly every feasible measurement, and in every area of human rights – economic, social and cultural, as much as civil and political – Myanmar has profoundly regressed,” he said, reflecting on the spiralling crisis since the attempted coup of 1 February 2021.
“Despite clear legal obligations for the military to protect civilians in the conduct of hostilities, there has been consistent disregard for the related rules of international law. Far from being spared, civilians have been the actual targets of attacks – victims of targeted and indiscriminate artillery barrages and air strikes, extrajudicial executions, the use of torture, and the burning of whole villages.”
“At this somber time, I want to acknowledge the courage of all those whose lives have been lost in the struggle for freedom and dignity in Myanmar, and the continuing pain and suffering of their families and loved ones.”
According to credible sources at least 2,890 people have died at the hands of the military and others working with them, of whom at least 767 were initially taken into custody. This is almost certainly an underestimation of the number of civilians killed as a result of military action. A staggering further 1.2 million people have been internally displaced, and over 70,000 have left the country – joining over one million others, including the bulk of the country’s Rohingya Muslim population, who fled sustained persecution and attacks over the past decades.
Credible information indicates that over 34,000 civilian structures, including homes, clinics, schools and places of worship, have been burned over the past two years. Myanmar’s economy has collapsed with nearly half of the population now living below the poverty line.
Since the coup was launched, the military has imprisoned the democratically elected leadership of the country and, in subsequent months, detained over 16,000 others – most of whom face specious charges in military-controlled courts, in flagrant breach of due process and fair trial rights, linked to their refusal to accept the military’s actions.
“There must be a way out of this catastrophic situation, which sees only deepening human suffering and rights violations on a daily basis,” said Türk. “Regional leaders, who engaged the military leadership through ASEAN, agreed a Five-Point Consensus that Myanmar’s generals have treated with disdain.”
“Two of the critical conditions that were agreed – to cease all violence and to allow humanitarian access – have not been met. In fact, we have seen the opposite. Violence has spiralled out of control and humanitarian access has been severely restricted.”
The High Commissioner pointed to other measures that would be crucial to a political foundation for resolving the crisis: the release of all political prisoners, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint, as called for by the UN Security Council; inclusive dialogue with all parties — involving both the ASEAN Chair and the UN Special Envoy; and allowing the UN Human Rights Office meaningful access to the country to monitor the situation independently and impartially.
“Restoring respect for human rights is a key to ending this crisis, to end this situation where Myanmar’s generals are trying to prop up through brute force a decades-old system in which they answer to no-one but themselves,” said Türk.
“Those responsible for the daily attacks against civilians and the human rights violations must be held accountable. The military needs to be brought under real, effective civilian oversight. This will be difficult to achieve, but these elements are critical to restoring any semblance of democratic rule, security and stability to the country.”
In its first year of independence, Myanmar was among the first Member States of the United Nations to vote in favour of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sadly, as we mark 75 years since the Declaration’s adoption, the military is actively engaged in violating its fundamental values, principles and rights enshrined in it,” the High Commissioner said.
“How can a military that purports to defend the country have brought their own people – from all parts of Myanmar’s rich and diverse society – to such a point of desperation?”
“Last month, the Security Council united to adopt a path-breaking resolution that demanded an immediate end to the violence, among other urgent steps. Now it is time for the world to come together to take common actions to stop the killing, protect the people of Myanmar, and ensure respect for their universal human rights.”
Three columns join to form a 300-soldier unit that assaulted a Wuntho Township village, killing a woman and an infant
Two civilians, including an 18-month-old child, were killed during a Myanmar army raid in northern Sagaing Region’s Wuntho Township on Sunday, according to a member of an anti-junta guerrilla force active in the area.
The attack, which targeted Pein Hne Kone village, occurred on the second day of clashes between the military and allied resistance groups from Wuntho as well as Kawlin Township, located to the south.
Two junta columns were ambushed by the alliance near the village of Lwin Gyi—one mile from Pein Hne Kone—on Saturday.
According to the information officer from a Wuntho-based resistance group, one of the military columns—which had around 80 soldiers—retreated into Lwin Gyi after suffering several casualties at around 3pm.
“We set up landmines at the entrance of Lwin Gyi, so a lot of them were killed. We haven’t confirmed the exact numbers, but up to six of them died in that attack,” he said.
Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify the resistance spokesperson’s figures.
The second unit of 50 junta troops, who had just torched and destroyed the nearby village of Shwe Taik Kone, joined the column in Lwin Gyi that afternoon around the time of the resistance force’s attack. Together, the combined column of approximately 130 soldiers stayed overnight in Lwin Gyi before setting fire to the village at 6am on Sunday and departing.
They then joined a larger third column of 180 troops and raided Pein Hne Kone around two hours later, firing artillery into the village before burning at least four homes.
A woman was shot dead that afternoon while trying to flee the occupying soldiers, the Wuntho resistance force spokesperson said, adding that her identity was not confirmed.
An infant, one-and-a-half years old, was killed by heavy weapons fire; his father and one other civilian were also injured, he added.
On Monday morning, the consolidated unit of more than 300 troops advanced into the forests west of Ka Na Hpawt, the village next to Pein Hne Kone.
As of Monday afternoon, there were no further clashes in the area, according to the resistance spokesperson, who noted that guerrilla forces were still monitoring the junta soldiers in question.
Local resistance groups claimed that some 20 Myanmar military troops were killed in an earlier battle in Wuntho Township, near Tone Kyeik village, on January 12.
Myanmar Now was unable to confirm those figures.
The junta does not typically release information on clashes or casualties.
Myanmar Now provides an overview of underreported developments in the country over the past week, January 16-23
The junta authorities moved the detained civilian President Win Myint to a prison in Taungoo, Bago Region, more than one week ago, Myanmar Now recently learned. The town is located around 60 miles south of Naypyitaw, the country’s administrative capital, where he was believed to have been kept under house arrest since the coup that deposed his elected National League for Democracy (NLD) government nearly two years ago.
On January 23, Myanmar Now confirmed with two sources familiar with the detained President’s situation that he had been sent to the prison on January 14. The regime authorities have yet to officially acknowledge the transfer, and staff at a police station in Naypyitaw accepted parcels for Win Myint on January 23 as usual, the first source said. A second source added that there is no information available on the President’s wife Cho Cho, elder sister Ma Ma Lay, daughter Phyu Phyu Thin, or a female caretaker and her mother, all of whom were kept under house arrest with Win Myint, despite having no criminal charges filed against them.
The family members have not returned to Win Myint’s native Pathein Township in Ayeyarwady Region, where he had maintained a residence, according to a Pathein local who is close to his family.
President Win Myint (President’s Office)
The 71-year-old ousted President was sentenced to 12 years in prison after being convicted in a junta-controlled court of eight charges—five of which were related to alleged corruption—and finalised in late December.
Observers have dismissed the cases as fabricated accusations filed against civilian leaders by the military in the wake of the February 1, 2021 coup. Ousted NLD State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi was likewise sentenced to 33 years in prison after being handed 19 convictions.
With their trials completed, there had been speculation that the pair would be transferred to prison, but at the time of reporting, Suu Kyi continued to be held in separate quarters in the Naypyitaw Detention Centre.
Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing met with Chalermphon Srisawasdi, chief of defence forces of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, in Thandwe, Rakhine State, on January 20 as Myanmar hosted the eighth ever high-level meeting between the two countries’ militaries. Regime mouthpieces did not disclose details regarding the private meeting between Min Aung Hlaing and Srisawasdi on that day but during the addresses delivered by the men as part of the three-day meeting, both expressed a desire to improve existing military relations and to take further steps to increase border security. Srisawasdi said he would “strive to maintain Myanmar and Thai militaries as perpetual good friends.”
Among the Myanmar military’s delegation were chief of general staff Gen Maung Maung Aye, navy commander Adm Moe Aung, air force commander Gen Tun Aung, and other officers such as chief of military security affairs Lt-Gen Ye Win Oo. The meeting was the first between the two military chiefs since Myanmar’s coup nearly two years ago.
Chalermphon Srisawasdi, chief of defence forces of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, (left) and Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing (right) (Cincds)
Min Aung Hlaing and his wife Kyu Kyu Hla attended the Lunar New Year celebrations and the closing ceremony of a commemorative friendship basketball tournament organised by the Chinese embassy and the Myanmar Chinese Chamber of Commerce at Thuwunna National Indoor Stadium-1 in Yangon on January 21. Also present at the occasion was Chinese ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai, President of the Myanmar Chinese Chamber of Commerce Aik Tun, members of the military council, the regime’s Yangon Region chief minister, and other army officials. Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing again expressed his support for the “One China Policy” in a speech at the event, declaring that “one must stay true to one’s own convictions, regardless of who is breaching theirs,” quoting a Burmese proverb.
Min Aung Hlaing (left) and Chen Hai, Chinese ambassador to Myanmar (right), are seen at the Lunar New year Celebration at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium-1 on January 21 (Cincds)
Meanwhile, the Myanmar-born Chinese community in Yangon celebrated the Lunar New Year quietly and largely in their own homes over the weekend. It stood in sharp contrast to the once festive and government-sponsored displays shared prior to the military coup in Lanmadaw Township, known as the commercial hub’s Chinatown.
Traditional red decorations, but no large crowds, were seen at Chinese temples in the area. Chinese traditional dragon dance competitions and firecrackers have become increasingly rare as the community resists a return to a “new normal” under the military rule in solidarity with the majority of Myanmar’s diverse population.
A Chinese temple in Yangon’s Chinatown in which there was no typical crowd of visitors on January 22, the Lunar New Year (Myanmar Now)
The Myanmar coup regime accused the anti-junta People’s Defence Force (PDF) of attacking 13 election commission offices in six states and regions over the past year, in an announcement that appeared in military-run newspapers on January 23. The assaults caused more than 367.5m kyat (US$175,000) in damage, it said.
Six of the strikes were reportedly perpetrated in Chin State and Sagaing Region, both known resistance strongholds. Others were said to have occurred in Karen and Karenni states, as well as Magway and Tanintharyi regions, where the junta has also been facing significant challenges in fighting guerrilla forces and ethnic armed organisations opposed to military rule.
Junta immigration minister Myint Kyaing and staff are seen checking on the data collection process in Thingangyun Township, Yangon, on January 14 (Military council’s information ministry)
As a pretext for the February 2021 coup, the military rejected the results of Myanmar’s 2020 election—in which the governing NLD won a majority—pointing to widely unsubstantiated claims of fraud as justification for the takeover. Since then, the junta has planned to hold new elections under its own authority.
In recent weeks, resistance forces across the country also launched multiple attacks on junta personnel collecting data from residents in preparation for the military-controlled vote scheduled for later this year. Various ethnic armed organisations, the publicly mandated National Unity Government and its affiliated PDF are among those who have declared that they will not recognise the legitimacy of a military election.
The Myanmar military launches days of consecutive airstrikes on Moe Tar Lay village in Katha Township
Battles between resistance forces and the military followed a series of junta airstrikes launched on Friday in Katha Township, northern Sagaing Region, according to local sources.
Allied guerrilla groups ambushed a Myanmar army column of more than 70 soldiers under Light Infantry Division 77 on January 19 near the village of Moe Tar Lay, some 20 miles from Katha town, as they advanced through the township from the occupied community of Chaung Wa.
Members of the People’s Defence Force (PDF), the People’s Defence Team and the All Burma Students Democratic Front jointly carried out the assault. The military responded by sending two fighter jets to bomb Moe Tar Lay at around 4pm, killing seven locals and injuring more than 30.
The next day, as clashes escalated, junta aircraft attacked the area three times between 10am and 2:30pm, according to a member of the Katha PDF who spoke to Myanmar Now from the frontline.
He noted that a helicopter and a jet surveyed the area until late in the afternoon.
“We are assuming that they were looking for something as they were just hovering around without firing. It appeared that they were looking for their people to rescue,” he explained.
Heavy artillery was also fired by the military in the direction of Moe Tar Lay.
Although local media reported that a Myanmar army tactical officer was killed at the site, Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify his death.
The frontline Katha PDF member said that as of last Friday, the resistance had suffered one casualty in the episode of fighting, and saw one of its members injured.
Thousands of residents from Moe Tar Lay and neighbouring Sin Gon Taing and Tut Kone fled their homes during the fighting and took refuge in Katha town.
Elsewhere in Katha, the PDF clashed with a military column near Alel Kyun on January 19, according to a man from the area, who said that the junta forces torched the village, forcing its residents and those from the nearby communities of Than Taung and Pyin Htaung Gyi to flee.
Attacks from guerrilla forces based in the Sagaing townships of Katha and Htigyaing have been increasing as the military council relies on the Ayeyarwady River—which runs through the region—to transport arms, ammunition, supplies and reinforcements north to Kachin State.