The outlet’s editor-in-chief has vowed to continue publishing stories despite an attempt by soldiers to raid its offices last week
Several journalists from Western News, a media outlet based in the Rakhine State capital of Sittwe, have gone into hiding after soldiers and police tried to locate their office for a raid last week, the publication’s chief editor has said.
Wunna Khwar Nyo told Myanmar Now that junta personnel travelled around Sittwe in five police and military vehicles on Friday evening looking for the location of the Western News office.
“They questioned people in the neighbourhood regarding our location so that they could raid us. All of the people from our office have been forced into hiding now,” said Wunna Khwar Nyo. The junta forces have so far been unable to locate the office, he added.
At least ten of the outlet’s journalists are now in hiding. It is unclear if authorities have filed any charges against them.
Friday marked the seventh anniversary of a Myanmar military attack on a rebel base in Laiza, Kachin State, that killed 23 cadets including eight members of the Arakan Army (AA).
Wunna Khwar Nyo suggested a Western News report about an event in Sittwe to mark the anniversary is the reason the outlet was targeted. The outlet has been subjected to intimidation by junta authorities before, he added.
In June the news team was summoned by the ministry of border affairs and security and told the junta did not like to be referred to as the military council and disliked the outlet’s coverage of rights abuses in Rakhine, he said.
“We didn’t stop writing news after the warning. I think they were holding a grudge against us for that,” Wunna Khwar Nyo said. The outlet will continue to publish stories even though its journalists are in hiding, he added.
Earlier this year the junta filed charges against the editor-in-charge and a reporter from the Rakhine-based Development Media Group. The outlet’s editor-in-chief, Aung Min Oo, is facing charges from 2019 but like his colleagues has so far evaded arrest.
The military council has revoked the publishing licenses of nine media outlets, including Myanmar Now, since seizing power in the February 1 coup.
More than 50 journalists remain in junta custody, according to Detained Journalists Information Myanmar.
22 November 2021
To: Kim Jong Yang, INTERPOL President; Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL General Secretary; the INTERPOL Executive Committee and INTERPOL Member Countries
Subject: Call on INTERPOL to ban the illegal junta from representing Myanmar at its General Assembly
Dear INTERPOL President Kim Jong Yang
INTERPOL Vice Presidents Benyamina Abbad and Šárka Havránková
INTERPOL General Secretary Jürgen Stock
INTERPOL Executive Committee Delegates
Khaled Jameel Al Materyeen
Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi
Robert Guirao Bailén
Olushola Kamar Subair
Jannine Van den Berg
and Member Countries
We, the undersigned 259 organizations, call on INTERPOL to immediately ban the Myanmar military junta from representing Myanmar as a member of INTERPOL. We demand you ensure that the military junta is excluded from the upcoming 89th INTERPOL General Assembly and all benefits and future cooperation that membership entails.
According to media reports, the Myanmar military junta’s police force is currently representing Myanmar in INTERPOL and its members, led by the Head of Police and Deputy Home Affairs Minister Lieutenant-General Than Hlaing, will act as delegates for the Myanmar government at the INTERPOL General Assembly. This is a matter of grave concern to us and raises serious credibility issues for INTERPOL itself for the following reasons:
- The military junta does not represent the government of Myanmar. The international community has refused to recognise the military junta as the legitimate government of Myanmar and has prevented members of the military junta from participating in international forums including the UN General Assembly, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and the ASEAN Summit.
- The attempted coup on 1 February 2021, under the leadership of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing by violent means violated the Myanmar Constitution, international law and the principle of rule of law.
- The head of the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar recently stated that since the attempted coup the Myanmar military junta’s widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population amounts to crimes against humanity.
- The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar, composed of international experts including former members of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar and a former Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, has recently argued that, in addition to crimes against humanity, the Myanmar military is engaging in terrorism and should be classified as a terrorist organization.
- General Than Hlaing, as the junta’s Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Chief of Police, is directly responsible for decision making concerning repressive policies and violent actions committed by police against peaceful demonstrators and is therefore responsible for serious human rights violations in Myanmar/Burma.
- For this and other reasons, Lt. General Than Hlaing has been placed by the European Union under a travel ban and asset freeze as of 3 March 2021.
- Targeted sanctions against Lt. General Than Hlaing also remain in place by the US, UK, and Canada (overview with links here).
- Lt General Than Hlaing has been appointed to lead operations in Chin State. Escalating military attacks against civilians there and in Sagaing and Magwe Regions have caused rights groups to draw similarities to “clearance operations” used to violently oppress the ethnic Rohingya population – now at issue in the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice
INTERPOL’s vision is to connect police for a “safer world” and to support security for the world’s citizens. The people of Myanmar are in dire need of safety and security. The single biggest threat to their security is the Myanmar military junta, who is attempting to represent Myanmar in INTERPOL and use the General Assembly as a platform for political gain and international legitimacy. This will embolden the Myanmar military to continue to commit international crimes with blanket impunity.
We note that countering the threat of terrorism is the first of INTERPOL’s seven Global Policing Goals, and INTERPOL has a responsibility to counter and disrupt terrorism wherever it occurs, including in Myanmar.
We draw your attention to condemnation by the UN Security Council regarding the junta following the February 2021 coup, including a November 2021 statement by the Council’s President Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez citing “deep concern at further recent violence across Myanmar”.
We note that upholding human rights is central to INTERPOL’s mandate. We implore you to meet the commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated in Article 2 of the Constitution of the ICPO-INTERPOL. Recognizing the Myanmar military junta, responsible for systemic and grave human rights violations would be a clear violation of this article.
We appeal to you to adhere to INTERPOL’s commitment to political neutrality stated in Article 3 of the INTERPOL Constitution. Awarding an unlawful military junta that lacks domestic and international recognition with legitimacy would violate this article, and amount to a partisan intervention that would embolden the military to continue to commit international crimes with total impunity.
Instead of legitimizing the military junta through INTERPOL membership, we appeal to you to uphold international law by supporting the ongoing investigation at the International Criminal Court concerning crimes of genocide against the Rohingya, and future investigations, to bring all perpetrators of Myanmar atrocities to account. The Myanmar military must be recognized as a terrorist organization, not recognized as representatives of the Myanmar people who are the very victims of the junta’s daily barrage of violence that INTERPOL aims to protect.
We therefore call on INTERPOL to:
- Ban the Myanmar military junta from INTERPOL, including the 89th General Assembly.
- Support efforts to bring Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing, Lt Gen Than Hlaing and all other perpetrators of atrocity crimes to justice by identifying and arresting suspects.
- Take all measures available to prevent the Myanmar military junta’s continued acts of terrorism by disrupting terrorism movement and tracing and disrupting their international revenue and arms supply networks.
At this fragile and crucial time in Myanmar, INTERPOL and their member countries must act in the interests of the safety and security of Myanmar people, victims and survivors of crime and in accordance with international law and norms.
For more information, please contact:
- Khin Ohmar, Progressive Voice, email@example.com
- Veronica Pedrosa, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Annie Boyajian, Freedom House; Boyajian@freedomhouse.org
- 8888 Generation (New Zealand)
- Action Committee for Democracy Development
- Activists Group for Human Rights ‘BARAM’
- Albany Karen Community, Albany
- All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress
- All Burma Democratic Face in New Zealand
- ALL FOR LITTLE ONE
- Alliance for Gender Inclusion in Peace Process (AGIPP)
- Alternative Solutions for Rural Communities (ASORCOM)
- Arizona Kachin Community
- ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights – APHR
- Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
- Asian Dignity Initiative
- Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
- Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
- Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
- Auckland Kachin Community NZ
- Auckland Zomi Community
- Blood Money Campaign
- Boat People SOS
- Burma Action Ireland
- Burma Campaign UK
- Burma Human Rights Network
- Burma Rohingya Organisation UK
- Burmese Relief Center – Japan
- Burmese Rohingya Welfare Organisation New Zealand
- Burmese Women’s Union
- Calgary Karen Community Association (CKCA)
- California Kachin Community
- Campaign for a New Myanmar
- Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights Committee (CENTRAL)
- Chin Community of Auckland
- Christian Solidarity Worldwide
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- Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA)
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- CRPH & NUG Supporters Austria
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- Democracy for Myanmar – Working Group (NZ)
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- Dongjadong Sarangbang
- Edmonton Karen Community Youth Organization
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- Equality Myanmar
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- Federal Myanmar Benevolence Group (NZ)
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- Freedom House
- Future Light Center
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- Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
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- Georgia Kachin Community
- Global Movement for Myanmar Democracy (GM4MD)
- Global Myanmar Spring Revolution
- Gwangju Asia sisterhood
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- Houston Kachin Community
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- Incorporated Organization Shilcheon Bulgyo
- Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)
- Info Birmanie
- Initiatives for International Dialogue
- International Campaign for the Rohingya
- International Child Rights Center
- International Karen Organisation
- International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
- Iowa Kachin Community
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- Justice For Myanmar
- Kachin American Community (Portland – Vancouver)
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- Karen Community of Canada (KCC)
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- Karen Community of Hamilton
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- Karenni Community of Missouri, MO
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- Karenni Community of Portland, OR
- Karenni Community of Rockford, IL
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- Karenni Community of Utah, UT
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- Karenni Community of Washington, WA
- Karenni Community of Wisconsin, WI
- Karenni Human Rights Group
- Karenni National Women’s Organization
- Karenni Society New Zealand
- Karenni Society of Omaha, NE
- Karenni-American Association
- Keng Tung Youth
- Kentucky Kachin Community
- Kijamii Table
- Kim Wan Sik (MR)
- Korea Christian Solidarity for Democracy and Human Rights in Myanmar
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The bodies of a 23-year-old female medic and two male members of the Kale People’s Defense Force (PDF) were found at a camp which was raided by junta troops last Tuesday in Kale Township, Sagaing Region.
The civilian resistance group said victims were Biak Rem Chin, Cher Thang Puia and Ram Mawia.
Biak Rem Chin, also known as Chin Chin, was providing medical training at the camp. She had been shot in the forehead while Cher Thang Puia and Ram Mawia showed signs of torture on their faces.
During the raid, the junta captured nine female medics at the base and their condition remains unknown.
The three deaths mean the numbers killed by the military regime is at least 1,281, reported the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which records killings and arrests by the junta. The group estimated that the actual number of victims is much higher.
According to the AAPP’s latest report, junta forces have killed around 50 civilians so far this month, including five teenagers, bystanders, villagers, a striking teacher and a hostage.
High-school teacher U Zaw Min Aung, 40, who joined the civil disobedience movement by refusing to work under the regime, was tortured to death in interrogation hours after being detained in Myin Thar village, Thabeikkyin Township, Mandalay Region.
He was seized with another civilian on the night of Nov. 17 and accused of having links to PDFs.
Ko Ye Aung, who was seized as a hostage in Kyauktada village in Mandalay Region was tortured to death during interrogation, the AAPP said.
On Nov. 12, Ko Myint Naing and Ko Ye Aung, the father and uncle of a young activist who faced an arrest warrant for incitement, were detained. The next day, Ko Ye Aung’s family was told to retrieve his body, which was apparently covered in torture injuries.
Junta forces have detained more than 10,000 people, while nearly 2,000 people face arrest warrants.
Numerous relatives of wanted activists have been taken hostage by the junta.
The AAPP said the 13-year-old son of National League for Democracy member U Htay Aung was seized when junta forces could not find him.
On Nov. 13 morning, the junta seized the wife of U Thein Naing Tun and a young philanthropist named Ko Thein Zaw as hostages in Taung Tha Township, Mandalay Region, when troops failed to find former village administrator U Thein Naing Tun and two other wanted people.
YANGON, MYANMAR —
Myanmar security forces are deploying large numbers of forces to crack down on dissident groups in various townships in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, as anti-coup forces continue to intensify attacks against military assets and affiliates.
A key member of the National League for Democracy, the party of ousted de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and former member of the parliament, Phyo Zeyar Thaw, was arrested in Dagon Seikkan township Thursday (November 18).
The next day, the ruling junta released news of the arrest, with photos of Phyo Zeyar Thaw, handcuffed and with bruises on his face, amid guns and ammunition. It also released photos of 40 young men and seven women arrested between November 12 and 17, allegedly for carrying out terrorist attacks in Yangon under Phyo Zeyar Thaw’s direction.
The junta has accused Phyo Zeyar Thaw of recruiting youths at the behest of what it considers terrorist groups, such as the opposition shadow government, the National Unity Government, and the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, consisting of elected MPs from last year’s 2020 general election.
A spokesman for the National Unity Government’s Military Command and Control Unit of Yangon Division said of the 47 detainees arrested by the military, 20 are members of the National Unity Government unit. Since the announcement of the National Unity Government’s “People’s Defensive War” on September 7, opposition forces have launched an “Operation Swallow” in Yangon and two neighboring regions of Bago and Ayeyarwaddy.
The National Unity Government military unit has claimed responsibility for shootings in several parts of Yangon and said there had been 443 attacks in Yangon between September 7 and November 6.
Aung Kyi Nyunt, chairman of the MPs group, expressed serious concern about the arrest of many young people, including Phyo Zeyar Thaw.
“They would be tortured under interrogation. They lives are at risk,” Aung Kyi Nyunt told VOA Saturday (November 20).
Four people were arrested Friday (November 19) in connection with the November 4 shooting death of Thein Aung, a high-ranking official of Mytel, a military-owned telecom company. Seven other men were arrested with weapons and ammunition, including two M16 rifles, for firing on a township administration office November 7.
The junta accused the opposition government and parliamentarians’ group of connection to the shootings, attacks and assassinations in Yangon, and the groups also have been accused of providing arms to young people involved in these attacks. Aung Kyi Nyunt would not comment on the military’s allegations.
The military has increased security in many townships and is conducting raids at night.
“After 8:00 at night, we do not dare to go out in our neighborhood. Soldiers are on the road, and [people] can be interrogated and arrested for no reason,” said a North Okkalapa township resident.
A total of 198 people were killed in terrorist attacks between February 1 and November 16, the junta announced on November 18. The junta reaffirmed it will crack down on those who create instability.
The junta also has warned that those who rent houses or apartments for members of the opposition military forces will be prosecuted under existing law and their property will be confiscated.
Opposition military forces say that despite the arrests, they will increase their efforts, and the command unit said it will be speeding up its operations in Yangon.
Kyaw Oo, a member of the opposition People’s Defense Force, who has been carrying out guerrilla attacks since April, told VOA his group received information in October that the junta would launch an operation in Yangon within three months.
“Since then, the military has put more security forces on Yangon than ever before. As a result, prominent people were targeted and arrested on missions. Later arrests may become more severe. So, now all the groups in Yangon are paying special attention to security. Otherwise, we will be arrested,” Kyaw Oo said.
The man and his wife have both been held in Mandalay’s Obo Prison since their arrest in early July
The owner of a teashop in Mandalay Region’s Sintgaing Township has lost his hearing and some of his eyesight due to torture at the hands of his interrogators, according to a source close to his family.
Min Thu Tun, 32, was arrested at his teashop in the village of Ohn Pin Chan on July 6 on suspicion of involvement with anti-regime forces active in the area.
He is currently being held in Mandalay’s Obo Prison, where he faces charges of incitement under Section 505a of the Penal Code and illegal possession of weapons under Sections 5 and 6 of the Weapons Act.
His condition has greatly deteriorated since he was arrested together with his wife and five others, including his 12-year-old son and employees of his teashop, according to the family contact.
“He has gone deaf and his eyes have also been badly injured. They said his eyesight is not very good. He got all those injuries from being tortured,” the source said, citing someone who saw Min Thu Tun at an in-prison court hearing in October.
The family was taken into custody following a clash between junta forces and local resistance fighters near Mandalay International Airport in the nearby town of Tada-U. One soldier was killed in the shootout and one member of the Sintgaing People’s Defence Force (PDF) was arrested.
During a raid carried out after the clash, regime forces reportedly discovered explosives in a hut near Min Thu Tun’s Shwe Kyal Zin teashop.
Min Thu Tun, his wife Tin Nwe Hlaing, and three other suspects are still being held by the junta, but the couple’s son, Aung Swan Pyae, and one other boy have since been released after initially being charged with possessing explosives.
Tin Nwe Hlaing, 32, is also suffering from health problems, according to the family contact.
“She has a stomach disease. The rice they serve in prison is of poor quality, causing her to have frequent stomach pains. It’s really worrying,” he said.
“Their child is being looked after by their relatives. It’s so sad to see a family being torn apart,” he added.
No details were available about the condition of the three other detainees, Sai, Htet Wai Yan, and Min Min Soe.
The next court hearing is expected to be held at a special court inside Obo Prison on November 19.
Myanmar Now attempted to contact the regime’s information officer and Sintgaing’s central police station for information regarding the cases against the detainees and their condition in custody, but did not receive a response.
Neither Min Thu Tun nor Tin Nwe Hlaing have received adequate treatment for their health issues, according to the source close to the family.
“They’re not guilty in the first place. I just want to request the military council to release them as soon as possible,” he said.
The Myanmar military is using innocent civilians as political tools in order to make themselves appear more legitimate. Over the last week, a series of high-profile National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders have either been arrested, or sentenced to long sentences in an attempt to weaken party morale.
Detained veteran student activist, U Kyaw Min Yu (Ko Jimmy), a member of the 88 Generation Students Group was arrested at the end of October where he later suffered a violent interrogation in military custody. He was then charged with high treason and terrorism. The five charges he faces could see him face 30 years in prison if convicted, with the possibility of the death penalty.
Former NLD Chief Minister, Nang Khin Htwe Mying, 67 was found guilty on five separate charges in a military court. She was handed a maximum of 15 years for each case – which brought the total to 77 years in prison.
U Win Htein, who has been sentenced to two decades in prison for sedition by the junta, is an 80 year old patron of the NLD in declining health who was transferred from a Naypyitaw detention centre to Obo Prison in Mandalay.
As more charges are laid, ousted politicians are still being detained and family members taken hostage in their place. Win Myint Hlaing, 51, who represented Taungdwingyi Township in Magway’s regional legislature was taken away with his brother on 8 November and has not been heard from since.
Meanwhile, since the attempted coup, the junta has continued to crackdown on former government officials who have rejected the regime and remained loyal to the NLD. Over the last 90 days, the military has seized approximately 70 properties of NLD lawmakers and other party members who have joined the National Unity Government or People’s Defense Forces.
Despite all the efforts to weaken the resistance movement and Spring Revolution, efforts to dismantle the junta have not wavered. The arrests and targeted assaults on the people’s freedoms are only signifying the fragility of the junta and their desperate attempts to eliminate competition to appear stronger. People continue to overwhelmingly reject everything that the military stands for.
Satellite imagery showed the devastation and destruction perpetrated by the military junta in Chin State where homes and churches were burnt to the ground. The regime continues to deny their involvement but photos and testimonies from survivors speak the truth.
As resistance forces continued to fight to defend their territory, the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) in Mindat township stated that over a week and a half, a Myanmar military convoy was repeatedly attacked and nearly 60 soldiers were killed.
The wave of atrocity crimes in Chin State has led to challenges documenting evidence of the war-path left behind by the Myanmar junta. An ongoing internet shutdown has made it even harder. Organizations are taking huge risks to attempt to collect critical documentation.
Communities in Kachin State are reeling from the aftermath of targeted airstrikes by the military junta. Livelihoods have been forcibly put on hold as the regime’s presence evokes fear and uncertainty. Since March, multiple airstrikes have displaced thousands. Many displaced villagers have left the IDP camps and returned home, fearing that they would contract the COVID-19 virus in close quarters. Yet many of their needs remain unmet as conflict and the pandemic, as well as inflation, has put basic items out of financial reach for local people.
Shan State is among the many areas which continues to be faced with the brutality of the junta as ongoing offensives threaten their survival. In the last two days, scorched earth tactics forced nearly 40 000 residents in Shan State and Sagaing region. In Pekon township, southern Shan State there were 10 000 people from 20 villages seeking refuge.
Villagers also reported the rape of a local elderly woman in northern Shan State after soldiers stole food from her home. The 62-year old was in her home with another woman when three soldiers approached her home. After one left to feed the livestock, the soldiers returned and raped the woman.