Human Rights Situation Report by The Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma Reveals Systematic, Widespread Abuses with Institutionalized Impunity

Human Rights Situation Report by The Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma
Reveals Systematic, Widespread Abuses with Institutionalized Impunity

For Immediate Release

15 September 2020: The latest situation report by the Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma (ND-Burma) reveals a steady increase of human rights violations against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and active conflict. During the reporting period of January to June 2020, ND-Burma recorded 401 cases and 446 human rights violations across six states and one region including Rakhine, Chin, Mon, Karen, Kachin, Shan states and Tanintharyi region. Clashes overwhelmingly took place in Chin, Rakhine and northern Shan states with frequent skirmishes in Karen, Mon and Kachin states.

ND-Burma member organizations also observed a continued pattern of refuted accountability, despite mounting evidence of crimes against humanity and war crimes by the main perpetrator – the Burma Army. Our members have taken exceptional risks in their documentation in their efforts to hold perpetrators of human rights violations liable in our joint pursuits for justice. Drawing on evidence from member data and situational analysis, ND-Burma has concluded that armed conflict has perpetuated a dangerous cycle of rampant abuses for civilians across the country.

Among our key findings, ND-Burma member organizations observed 1047 victims of human rights abuses. The majority of civilians were impacted by killings, arbitrary arrest and detainment, forced displacement and torture with northern Shan, Rakhine and Chin experiencing the most clashes. These abuses were all exacerbated by an unstable security situation. Violations took place in ceasefire areas, despite agreements made between armed groups and the Burma Army.

ND-Burma members also documented cases showing how the Burma Army continues to systematically target civilians through ‘divide and rule’ tactics including the four cuts strategy which seeks to deprive groups of food, funds, recruits and information. Military blockages of humanitarian aid delayed emergency response efforts in conflict areas, which was of exceptional concern for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Further, there continues to be a shrinking space for journalists who are working in a heavily censored environment.

ND-Burma renews our calls for accountability and justice for the many grave human rights abuses that have been committed. If the process of national reconciliation is to be taken seriously, all stakeholders must commit to ceasefires by making them inclusive and engaging in a dialogue that considers the needs of those impacted by conflict. Decades of civil war have resulted in forced displacement and a lack of trust by communities impacted by the worst of the violence. Reparations and accountability are long overdue – indeed, the people of Burma deserve justice.

Media Contact

Ko Ting Oo, All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress

Ph No: + 66 81 595 6138, 95 9 891 424 201

Lway Poe Jay, Ta’ang Students and Youth Union

Ph No: +09 264 162 229

_______

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

 

An Overview of the Human Rights Situation in Burma (January to June 2020)

ND-Burma is extremely grateful to all interviewees for their courage in speaking the truth.

ND-Burma is also grateful to its member organisations and their fieldworkers who continue to gather invaluable testimonies at their own great personal risk.

This report would not be possible without the work of ND-Burma members and their coordinated efforts to collect evidence of human rights abuses at the expense of their safety and security. We are reminded through the voices of civilians in this report that there is still a long way to go for peace in Burma, but are nonetheless motivated by their resilience to continue to speak truth to power against forces undermining prospects for change.

We would like to express our most sincere gratitude to our supporters and institutions who have offered their unwavering support to ensure that this report was made possible.

 

UNICEF Myanmar Statement on the killing and injury of children in Myebon, Rakhine State

YANGON 10 September 2020 – UNICEF Myanmar expresses deep sorrow over the deaths of two children and the injury of another child on Tuesday following an artillery fire in Myebon, Rakhine State. UNICEF is deeply concerned about the alarming increase of reports of killings and injuries of children, as a result of intensified fighting between the Myanmar Army and the Arakan Army in the conflict-affected areas of Rakhine State and southern Chin.

Children should never be targeted during armed conflicts. They are being killed in crossfire between parties to the conflict or even deliberately shot. They are being killed and maimed by landmines and explosive remnants of war in different parts of the country. Their education is being hampered by attacks against schools and the use of schools by parties to the conflict.

With the disruption of services including schools, that encompass much of their daily routine, children in Rakhine already feel the heavy weight of a stressful life in a conflict-affected area. Their safety and their rights must be a primary consideration in Myanmar, and for all adults who have influence over children’s lives. UNICEF strongly urges all parties to protect children at all times and keep them out of harm’s way.

As the country tackles the resurgence of COVID-19, UNICEF urges all parties to the conflict to intensify efforts to ensure civilians, including children affected by the pandemic and the protracted conflict, continue to have access to humanitarian assistance and services by exercising maximum restraint in the use of force against civilians.

UNICEF

‘Kill All You See’: In a First, Myanmar Soldiers Tell of Rohingya Slaughter

The two soldiers confess their crimes in a monotone, a few blinks of the eye their only betrayal of emotion: executions, mass burials, village obliterations and rape.

The August 2017 order from his commanding officer was clear, Pvt. Myo Win Tun said in video testimony. “Shoot all you see and all you hear.”

He said he obeyed, taking part in the massacre of 30 Rohingya Muslims and burying them in a mass grave near a cell tower and a military base.

Around the same time, in a neighboring township, Pvt. Zaw Naing Tun said he and his comrades in another battalion followed a nearly identical directive from his superior: “Kill all you see, whether children or adults.”

ImagePvt. Myo Win Tun and Pvt. Zaw Naing Tun are the first members of Myanmar’s military to openly confess to taking part in what United Nations officials say was a genocidal campaign against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.

“We wiped out about 20 villages,” Private Zaw Naing Tun said, adding that he, too, dumped bodies in a mass grave.

The two soldiers’ video testimony, recorded by a rebel militia, is the first time that members of the Tatmadaw, as Myanmar’s military is known, have openly confessed to taking part in what United Nations officials say was a genocidal campaign against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.

Image

Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in Bangladesh in August 2017. Many had fled the area of Taung Bazar, where Pvt. Myo Win Tun has confessed to taking part in atrocities. 
Credit…Adam Dean for The New York Times

On Monday, the two men, who fled Myanmar last month, were transported to The Hague, where the International Criminal Court has opened a case examining whether Tatmadaw leaders committed large-scale crimes against the Rohingya.

The atrocities described by the two men echo evidence of serious human rights abuses gathered from among the more than one million Rohingya refugees now sheltering in neighboring Bangladesh. What distinguishes their testimony is that it comes from perpetrators, not victims.

“This is a monumental moment for Rohingya and the people of Myanmar in their ongoing struggle for justice,” said Matthew Smith, chief executive officer at Fortify Rights, a human rights watchdog. “These men could be the first perpetrators from Myanmar tried at the I.C.C., and the first insider witnesses in the custody of the court.”

The New York Times cannot independently confirm that the two soldiers committed the crimes to which they confessed. But details in their narratives conform to descriptions provided by dozens of witnesses and observers, including Rohingya refugees, Rakhine residents, Tatmadaw soldiers and local politicians.

And multiple villagers independently confirmed the whereabouts of mass graves that the soldiers provided in their testimony — evidence that will be seized on in investigations at the International Criminal Court and other legal proceedings. The Myanmar government has repeatedly denied that such sites exist across the region.

The crimes that the soldiers say were carried out by their infantry battalions and other security forces — some 150 civilians killed and dozens of villages destroyed — are just a part of Myanmar’s long campaign against the Rohingya. And they portray a concerted, calculated operation to exterminate a single ethnic minority group, the issue at the heart of ongoing genocide cases.

The massacres of Rohingya that culminated in 2017 catalyzed one of the fastest flights of refugees anywhere in the world. Within weeks, three-quarters of a million stateless people were uprooted from their homes in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State, as security forces attacked their villages with rifles, machetes and flamethrowers.

Image

Rohingya refugees at a camp near Amtoli, Bangladesh, in August 2017. 
Credit…Adam Dean for The New York Times

Old men were decapitated, and young girls were raped, their head scarves torn off to use as blindfolds, witnesses and survivors said. Doctors Without Borders estimated that at least 6,700 Rohingya, including 730 children, suffered violent deaths from late August to late September 2017. Roughly 200 Rohingya settlements were completely razed from 2017 to 2019, the United Nations said.

In a report published last year, a fact-finding mission for the United Nations Human Rights Council said “there is a serious risk that genocidal actions may occur or recur and that Myanmar is failing in its obligation to prevent genocide, to investigate genocide and to enact effective legislation criminalizing and punishing genocide.”

The Myanmar government has denied any orchestrated campaign against the Rohingya. Last December, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the nation’s civilian leader, defended Myanmar against charges of genocide in another case, this one at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. A Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has seen her legacy tarnished by her support for the military and her refusal to vocally condemn the persecution of the Rohingya.

Only a few Tatmadaw soldiers have been punished, with brief prison terms, for what the military says were isolated missteps in a couple of villages.

Although the Rohingya are from Rakhine State in Myanmar, the country’s government claims that they are foreign interlopers. Myanmar officials have suggested that the Rohingya burned down their own villages to garner international sympathy.

The two soldiers’ accounts shatter that official narrative.

It is not clear what will happen to the two men, who are not under arrest but were effectively placed in the custody of the International Criminal Court on Monday. They could provide testimony in court proceedings and be put in witness protection. They could be tried. The court’s office of the prosecutor refused to publicly comment on an ongoing case, but two people familiar with the investigations said that the men had already been questioned extensively by court officials in recent weeks.

Image

Rohingya refugees in September 2017 after crossing into Bangladesh. Villages are burning in the background. 
Credit…Adam Dean for The New York Times

The International Criminal Court normally pursues prosecutions of high-level figures accused of grave offenses such as genocide or crimes against humanity, not rank-and-file soldiers.

Payam Akhavan, a Canadian lawyer who is representing Bangladesh in a filing against Myanmar at the International Criminal Court, would not comment on the identities of the two men. But he called for accountability to prevent further atrocities against the 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Myanmar.

“Impunity is not an option,” Mr. Akhavan said. “Some justice is better than no justice at all.”

The soldiers’ accounts will also add weight to the separate case at the International Court of Justice, where Myanmar is being accused of trying to “destroy the Rohingya as a group, in whole or in part, by the use of mass murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as the systematic destruction by fire of their villages.”

That case was filed last year by Gambia on behalf of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Last week, the Netherlands and Canada announced that they would provide legal support to the effort to hold Myanmar accountable for genocide, calling it a matter “of concern to all of humanity.”

Image

A refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, in November 2017. More than a million Rohingya have taken refuge in Bangladesh.
Credit…Adam Dean for The New York Times

In August 2017, the 353 and 565 Light Infantry Battalions conducted “clearance operations” in the areas where the men said they did, Buthidaung and Maungdaw Townships. Commanding officers whom Private Myo Win Tun said ordered him to wipe out the Rohingya — Col. Than Htike, Capt. Tun Tun and Sgt. Aung San Oo — were operational there at the time, according to fellow soldiers.

There is a cell tower close to the 552 Light Infantry Battalion base, on the outskirts of Taung Bazar town, near where Private Myo Win Tun said he helped dig a mass grave. The base is well known in the area because it, along with two dozen border guard posts, was attacked by Rohingya insurgents on Aug. 25, 2017, galvanizing the brutal military operations against Rohingya civilians.

Rohingya refugees who lived in a village adjacent to the 552 encampment said they recognized Private Myo Win Tun. They described in precise detail the locations of two mass graves in that area. Residents still in the region, who spoke with The Times, also said they knew of mass burial sites near the military encampment.

NORTH

552 Light Infantry

Battalion base

Location of mass grave

confirmed by villagers

Cell tower

Thin Ga Net village

Location of another mass grave

confirmed by villagers

By Jin Wu/The New York Times·Satellite image by Maxar Technologies, taken on September 25, 2017.

Basha Miya, who is now a refugee in Bangladesh, said his grandmother was buried in one of the mass graves by the base, along with at least 16 others from the neighboring village of Thin Ga Net, known in the Rohingya language as Phirkhali.

“When I remember her, I just cry,” he said. “I feel bad that I couldn’t give her a proper funeral.”

After soldiers dumped the bodies in two graves by the banks of canals, they brought in bulldozers to cover the corpses, eyewitnesses said. Private Myo Win Tun said he and others buried eight women, seven children and 15 men in one grave.

Thin Ga Net village was wiped from the map by fire. Today, only a couple of water reservoirs hint that a bustling Rohingya village once stood there.

Thin Ga Net village

May 23, 2017

Burned Rohingya villages

Location of mass grave

confirmed by villagers

552 Light Infantry

Battalion base

Sept. 25, 2017

By Jin Wu/The New York Times·Satellite images by Maxar Technologies

As they marauded through the villages around Taung Bazar, Private Myo Win Tun, 33, seems to have lost track of how many Rohingya he and his battalion killed. Was it 60 or 70? Maybe more?

“We indiscriminately shot at everybody,” he said in video testimony. “We shot the Muslim men in the foreheads and kicked the bodies into the hole.”

He also raped a woman, he said.

Private Zaw Naing Tun, a former Buddhist monk, admits to a similar fog, as his battalion’s killing of some 80 Rohingya stretched from hours into days. The soldier said he and other members of his battalion stormed through 20 villages in Maungdaw Township, including Doe Tan, Ngan Chaung, Kyet Yoe Pyin, Zin Paing Nyar and U Shey Kya.

Some of these villages were burned to the ground. Bashir Ahmed said that Tatmadaw battalions entered his hometown, Zin Paing Nyar, early on Aug. 26, 2017.

Zin Paing Nyar village

Feb. 15, 2017

Burned

Rohingya

villages

Nov. 26, 2017

Satellite image by Maxar Technologies

Doe Tan village

May 23, 2017

Burned

Rohingya

villages

Jan. 9, 2018

Satellite image by Maxar Technologies

“They opened fire whenever they found someone in front of them,” he said. “They burned our houses. Nothing is left.”

More than 30 residents were killed in Zin Paing Nyar, according to survivors’ testimony.

Private Zaw Naing Tun, 30, said that he and four other members of his battalion shot dead seven Rohingya in Zin Paing Nyar. They captured 10 unarmed men, tied them with ropes, killed them and buried them in a mass grave north of the village, he said in the video testimony.

There are some discrepancies between the soldiers’ accounts and those of Rohingya villagers. Private Myo Win Tun described the cell tower as being east of the 552 base when it is, in fact, southwest.

Image

Credit…Adam Dean for The New York Times

But most of the other details are corroborated by statements from witnesses and survivors. In Ngan Chaung village, part of which was spared destruction, five or six soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 353 arrived one afternoon in late August 2017 and singled out five women for rape, said a resident who still lives in the hamlet. The women’s husbands were later killed, he and other residents said.

Private Zaw Naing Tun said he didn’t commit sexual violence because he was too low-ranking to participate. Instead, he stood sentry as others raped Rohingya women, he said.

Both of the soldiers who admitted to killing Rohingya are themselves members of ethnic minorities in a country where persecution of such groups is institutionalized.

Earlier this year, the pair ended up in the custody of the Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine militia currently fighting the Tatmadaw, which recorded their video confessions. Both men said they deserted from the Tatmadaw.

Desertion is a particular problem in ethnic minority conflict zones, military insiders say. About 60 soldiers are believed to have gone A.W.O.L. from Light Infantry Battalion 565.

“I was racially discriminated against,” Private Myo Win Tun, a member of the Shanni ethnic group, said in his video testimony, in a rare burst of feeling.

Later, he would describe, in a flat voice, how his commanding officer, Colonel Than Htike, had instructed the battalion to “exterminate” the Rohingya.

“I was involved in the killing of 30 Muslim innocent men, women and children buried in one grave,” he said, as he stoically faced the camera.

NYTimes

Justice Newsletter (August 2020)

August Justice Newsletter

Summary Report

The Union Panglong Conference Took Place Against the Backdrop of Mounting Human Rights Violations as COVID-19 Cases Surge 

This month, the government hosted the fourth Union Panglong Conference (UPC) amid the lead up to the 2020 national election. However, against the backdrop of the political dialogue human rights violations continued to take place across Burma. For civilians living in conflict-torn Rakhine, the Internet shutdown has compromised their safety further with the spike in COVID-19 cases. Local transmissions of COVID-19 are now nearly 500.

In Karen state, calls for justice were amplified by Karen civil-society organizations in their continued appeals for accountability in the death of Naw Mu Naw who was killed at point blank range by two Burma Army soldiers last month. Freedom of expression suffered more blows as renowned activist Maung Saungkha was charged by the authorities for ‘unlawful’ protests when he demanded an end to the Internet shutdown.

As the political parties tout new commitments and promises, it appears to be ‘business as usual’ with an ongoing cycle of blame for the problems in the country. The lack of accountability was made evident at UPC as well when the Commander-in-Chief of the Burma Army, Min Aung Hlaing blamed ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) for the failure of the peace process. Prior to UPC, he remarked the “peace is the most important thing for the country, and I really desire it. However, peace cannot be implemented unilaterally. It needs all-inclusiveness.” Nonetheless, the Burma Army extended their unilateral ceasefire till the end of September but excluded the Arakan Army.

There is also concern over the lack of transparency with Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) rejecting the People’s Alliance for Credible Election’s (PACE) application to observe the upcoming elections. Civil society organizations reacted to the decision in a joint statement. Further, a call by Human Rights Watch advising Burma’s election body to revise broadcasting restrictions has been supported by several political parties who need permission by the UEC for televised speeches on TV and radio.

The anniversary of 8-8-88 was also solemnly observed this month. In a poignant piece in Frontier Myanmar, the reflection on the historical significance noted, “One of the lessons from 1988, and it is a cliché, is that a country that doesn’t learn from its history is condemned to repeat it.”

 Rakhine State

Police Shooting Leads to Death, Injury | 3 August 2020

Unrest in Rakhine is unraveling as another civilian is injured in a police shooting, and a Rohingya man is killed. Authorities denied shooting the two men.

Man Killed in Burma Army Custody | 12 August 2020

A Rakhine man died in the custody of the Burma Army. The military’s denial and lack of comments on the deaths in detainment speak volumes. Twenty civilians have died during interrogation by the Burma Army in conflict-torn townships in Rakhine.

 Woman Wounded by Artillery Shell Shrapnel | 13 August 2020

A 43-year-old woman was wounded by an artillery shell when it exploded in her home in Kyauktaw, Rakhine. Civilian injuries and casualties continue in the lead up to the Union Panglong Conference amid calls for an inclusive ceasefire and commitment to national reconciliation.

Three Injured by Artillery Firing | 15 August 202
Three people were wounded by artillery firing after it exploded in a local village. Three homes in the village were also destroyed in the explosion. It was not made clear who was responsible for the attack.

Conflict Undermines Delivery of Life-saving materials | 18 August 2020
Fighting in Rakhine state is limiting the delivery of medicine as conflict takes place along transport routes. Supplies end up being damaged in transport. Civilians deserve to not have their health compromised, among other things, by ongoing clashes.
Civilians Increasingly Detained by the Burma Army | 19 August 2020

The Burma Army has carried out a series of arrests against civilians in Rakhine state where villagers are taken away to unknown locations. Those arbitrarily detained and arrested have no contact with their families and are often charged with unfounded claims.
Monks Abducted by the Arakan Army | 21 August 2020
Two monks and two novices have been abducted by the Arakan Army from monasteries in Rakhine state. This is the first-time monks have been taken by the Arakan Army, said the abbot of the same monastery.

Clashes Delay IDP return to Villages in Rathedaung | 21 August 2020

For IDPs living in conflict torn Rakhine, IDPs who fled at the end of June have not been able to return home. According to the Rakhine Ethnics Congress, the Burma Army and the Arakan Army remain in a standoff near Kyauktan, stating: “Even though the Burma Army said it wouldn’t launch a military clearance operation in the area, it’s completely unsafe for residents.” According to local civil society organizations that are helping IDPs, there are more than 40,000 displaced in Rathedaung

Two Villagers Injured by Gunfire | 22 August 2020

Civilians traveling by boat in Ann township, Rakhine state were shot at when they were attempting to deliver materials to a camp for internally displaced persons.

Villagers Struck by Artillery Fire | 22 August 2020

Five villagers – including a three year old – were injured the day after the Union Panglong Conference when artillery shells exploded in Rathedaung township. Civilian casualties are mounting against backdrop of rising COVID-19 cases were the need for a clear emergency response is desperately required

Artillery Strike Kills Two, Injures Three in Separate Incidents | 31 August 2020
An artillery strike has killed a man and woman, and injured three other women in two separate incidents.  Civilian injuries and deaths are mounting – as a COVID19 outbreak ravages Rakhine state.

Rakhine Lawmaker Rejected as Son Joins Arakan Army | 31 August 2020

A sitting Rakhine lawmaker’s application to run for re-election in the upcoming November election was rejected because his son left the Burma Army to fight for the Arakan Army. The ruling has been deemed unreasonable by the supporters of the lawmaker.

 Chin State

Food Shortages Hurt IDP Livelihoods | 12 August 2020

A shortage of food in Paletwa state is the result of ongoing blocks of transportation routes between Rakhine and Chin states. IDPs were supported with rice rations from INGOs but locals in the town are also in need. Nearly 8500 in families cannot afford rice.

Chin Teenager Killed by Landmine | 8 August 2020

A 17 year old Chin woman who was looking for bamboo shoots in the jungle was killed when a landmine detonated. The Burma Government must take seriously calls to strengthen de-mining legislation as another innocent civilian is killed. 

Shan State
Civilians Frustrated by Escalating Conflict in northern Shan | 10 August 2020
The killing of a Shan farmer sparked local protests at the end of June after years of ‘keeping it inside.’ A report by Frontier Myanmar looked at how civilians are responding to the tactics of the Burma Army who continue to deny and dismiss the human rights violations they are guilty of committing.

Locals Reject Plans by Kesi township Land Management | 12 August 2020

Residents living in Kesi township are prepared to refute plans to seize over 1000 acres of land and allocate it for use by companies as long as there is no opposition from the locals in the area. Headman of Pan Saet village tract said, “If we don’t have farmland, how can villagers grow their crops? We do not agree with it.”

Ta’ang Villagers, CSOs Appeal for Answers in Disappearance of Loved Ones | 25 August 2020

Ta’ang CSOs and the relatives of three villagers who went missing after being detained by the Burma Army are demanding answers after their bodies were found in northern Shan state. Accountability from the Burma Army is being evaded as they deny any involvement. CSOs including ND-Burma members, TSYU, HURFOM, KWAT, TWO, Progressive Voice, TWU and PYO joined a statement calling for justice.

Burma Army Acknowledges Shooting Civilian | 26 August 2020

In a rare case of admission, the Burma Army acknowledged shooting and killing a civilian in northern Shan state in June. The death prompted an overwhelming local response demanding justice. However, RFA reports the ‘military has not issued a statement on the incident.’

Human Rights Violations Updates by ND-Burma member, the Ta’ang Students and Youths Union:

KIA Arrests Young Ta’ang Girl
At the end of July, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) arrested Lway Ei, a 16-year-old girl who lives in Nar Khaing village, Youne Maw village tract, Kutkai Township, Muse district and Northern Shan State.

The head of villagers said that “her father, who is U Aik Maung is a soldier and he had escaped because he did not want to serve in the KIA. That is why the KIA arrested his daughter. We don’t know where he escaped.”

One of the villagers said that “Lway Ei is very young. She is struggling to find work and has to support her family. They are very poor and she had to go to China to find work.”

The villagers have been negotiating with the KIA but so far there is no reply. The Ta’ang villagers that live in Mone Si village have to pay support and provide rice to the KIA every year. The KIA sent back Lway Ei to her home on 11 August 2020. The KIA said they will call again if needed.

Ta’ang National Liberation Army’s Soldiers Beat a Disabled Person 

On 26 July 2020, two Ta’ang National Liberation Army soldiers who were not wearing a uniform beat U La Shi Pya La San in Karlaing village , Kutkai Township. They beat him on suspicion of using drugs.

The two soldiers and U La Shi Pya La San met at the villagers’ home. After they met, two of the soldiers were going to check U La Shi Pya La San’s house. They found two soap holders, two sets of matches and two papers to burn for drug use. They asked him who is using these things.

U La Shi La Pya La San said, “the soldiers arrived at 11:00 PM but they weren’t wearing uniform and with normal clothes. I asked them what do they need and they did not reply. They only said that they are drunk and then they got angry. They went to my home and searched my brother’s bed room. My brother is using drugs but he wasn’t in the house when they searched his room.”

The two soldiers showed the items being used for drugs. U La Shi Pya La San said he did not know. They accused him of being a drug addict and asked who is using the drugs. Despite his denials, he was beat.

One of the soldiers beat him ten times and also beat his wife once. They kept the things that they found as evidence. After the case was released on social media and online. The two soldiers apologized to the villagers (U La Shi La Pya La San) and provided 30, 000MMK for treatment.

U La Shi La Pya La San also said that, “this case is not justice being served, and I don’t want to be involved any more in the future. If they would like to eliminate drug use, do it without force. Do not arrest and request the money. I wanted them to do it by law.”

On 1 August, the TNLA also released the statement for some of their soldiers who had committed human rights violations when they are implementing the drug issue. In the statement, the TNLA will investigate and punish those who are committing human rights violations and reparation for the survivor/ victims.

After releasing the statement, the TNLA also met with the community in the area and the two soldiers were imprisoned in line with TNLA law.

RCCC/SSA Restricted Ta’ang National Party –TNP’s Candidates to be Elected in Mong Kung township, Southern Shan State

On 20 August 2020, the RCSS/SSA threatened candidates running in the 2020 election in Burma twice. In 2015, the RCSS/SSA also arrested some people related to eligibility.

The Ta’ang National Party (TNP) Township Executive Committee member said, “After we submitted the name list for candidates, the RCSS/SSA Sai Tun Tun told us that we cannot run to be elected in their controlled areas. They said we had to go to Manton and Namhsan Township (Palaung self-autonomy). They said, “If you are trying to be elected in this area, there will be problems in the community.” This order came from top level leadership.

Sai Tun Tun gave a warning to the TNP’s EC once and after five days, he told the villager and communities, “tell your TNP to not run for election in this area.” The RCSS/SSA had arrested a Mong Kong candidate in 2015. They community said they will follow the law, and if the RCSS/SSA does not allow, they will report to the Union Election Commission- UEC.

They also sent a report to UEC saying that, “The RCSS/SSA does not have the authority to tell us not to run. If they do, it is their mistake. This is government’s responsibility to solve this problem and to acknowledge it by the commission.”

On 21 August, the TNP’s EC report to TNP (center). In Namtu Township, Northern Shan State, Ta’ang National Party- TNP’s signposts and slogans also had been destroyed and they do not know who did it.

Karen State

 Calls for Justice for Karen civilian, Naw Mu Naw, who was killed by the Burma Army

Karen civil-society organizations including the Karen Women’s Organization and the Karen Peace Support Network called for transparency in the case of Naw Mu Naw, who was brutally killed by two Burma Army soldiers. Despite the military saying ‘harsh punishment’ would follow – there has been no update on the charges or repercussions they face.

Karen Martyrs’ Day Met with Organizers Detained | 13 August 2020

Three civilians were charged on Karen Martyrs’ Day (12 August) under the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for holding an event to mark the event. The Karen Women’s Organization, the Karen Human Rights Group and the Karen Peace Support Network condemned the charges, calling for respect for ethnic traditions and celebrations.

Kachin State

Civilians Being Double Taxed by Armed Groups | 7 August 2020

Coupled with a population living in a conflict zone and experiencing economic hardship, civilians are being doubled-taxed by the government and the Kachin Independence Army, say locals.

 Freedom of Expression

 Peacock Generation, Thangyat Member Released | 20 August 2020

Suu Yadana Myint, one of the members of the Peacock Generation, was released from Insein prison on 19 August after serving her sentence for a satirical performance mocking the Burma Army.

 Calls for Charges Against Activists to be Dropped | 20 August 2020

Charges against activists for challenging the year-long Internet shutdown must be dropped, said Access Now in denouncing the persecution of Maung Saungkha, a prominent poet and activist.

Organizations Call for Upgraded Internet Service
| 24 August 2020
Mrauk-U Youth Organization is calling on the government to upgrade 4G in Rakhine township. Despite resumed Internet services, 2G is an extremely weak signal and has been deemed ‘unusable.’ Amid the pandemic and the upcoming election, access to information must not be further repressed.  Freedom of expression organization, ATHAN, made similar calls in a statement released.

Former Student Leader Sentenced to Six Months in Prison | 26 August 2020

A former leader of the All Burma Federation of the Student Unions, Ko Lin Htet Naign was sentenced by the Kyauktada township to six months in prison for the possession of a specious ID card during a student strike in 2015. Since the case was part of an amnesty order issued by the state in 2016, the Yangon Region Police Chief’s Office informed the court to withdraw the case. However, the Ministry of Immigration refused to withdraw the case and he was handed six months jail sentence under Section 468 of the Penal Code. (Source: ATHAN)

Activist Charged Under 66(d) for Social Media Posts | 29 August 2020

A social activist from Sittwe had been charged for posts on social media by the Sittwe township administrator for alleging writing false information ‘with the intention to discredit the Rakhine state government.’ He said his home had also been raided by police.

Member Update

The Chin Human Rights Organization released an update sharing that three Chin people were killed, and another seriously injured within the space of a week in Ann township, Rakhine state. CHRO regularly sends information updates. Subscribe here.

 Joint Secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), Ko Bo Gyi, spoke to The Irrawaddy about how citizens should vote in the upcoming election. Among other things, he said “the most important avenue for change is to participate in the process.”

AAPP also released a new report, “Prison Reform with Key Population.”

The Human Rights Foundation of Monland Program Director, Nai Aue Mon, co-authored an editorial in Frontier Myanmar with former ND-Burma Adovacy Manager, Janeen Sawatzky on how the NLD’s COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan is failing IDPs in remote communities of Mon and Kayin states as well as Tanintharyi region.

Sang Hnin Lian from the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) penned an op-ed in Asia Times on the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances writing: “Parties involved in disputes with one another need to remember that every individual involved in an armed conflict must comply with humanitarian law.” CHRO also shared a press release calling for an end to the practise of civilian abductions and enforced disappearances – specifically in Paletwa township.

The All Arakan Students’ and Youths Congress’ (AASYC) released their monthly news analysis on the situation in Rakhine state including findings and policy recommendations on the war, human rights and the status of vulnerable groups, as well as socio-economic affairs. Read more here. AASYC also released an analysis and recommendation on the handling of COVID-19 in Rakhine from April and July.

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

July Justice Newsletter (July 2020)

July Justice Newsletter


This month continued to show a backsliding of human rights violations and blatant disregard for the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), as the rights of civilians were dismissed with clashes increasing in northern Shan with the expansion of Burma Army operations. In Rakhine and Chin states, conflict remains volatile and shows no signs of slowing as the numbers of those forcibly displaced rise, alongside their unmet needs.  Humanitarian blockages have made efforts to support the most vulnerable amid the COVID-19 pandemic and rising numbers of casualties and those injured even more difficult, making for an increasingly dire and overwhelming situation.

The failings of the government to uphold basic rights and freedoms was made evident as several rights groups released submissions to the Universal Periodic Review including ND-Burma as well as ALTSEAN Burma, the All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress  and Progressive Voice alongside several ND-Burma members on hate speech and shrinking democratic and civil society space, and on refugees and internally displaced persons. The submissions all echoed past commitments Burma had made during the previous cycle. Burma has struggled tremendously to commit to much needed legislative reforms that would protect rights defenders and religious minorities. They also observed Burma’s dangerous human rights record where civilians are regularly killed, tortured and displaced at the hands of the military. ALTSEAN-Burma stated that in the first half of 2020 alone, there were 608 armed clashes or attacks on civilians. According to ALTSEAN, these incidents took place in 10 out of the nation’s 14 States and Regions, and involved killings, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, forced labor, and mass displacement. Attempts for peace and reconciliation in Burma will continue to not be taken seriously unless the government and the Burma Army show their commitment to ceasefires and negotiations, of which they have initiated.

 

Rakhine State

Since the year began, civilian deaths at the hands of the Burma Army have increased to at least 29 cases, with the majority taking place in Rakhine state. Civilians are regularly arrested and killed in detention on often unproven claims of them being affiliated with the Arakan Army. Clashes have been intensifying since early July between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army with fighting breaking out regularly in Rathedaung, Myaybon, Ponnagyun, Rathedaung, Mrauk-U, and Minbya townships.

Villagers Forced to Flee as Burma Army Announces Clearance Operations | 2 July 2020

In an alarming retreat, over 10 000 villagers were forced to flee their homes in Rathedaung township as the Burma Army prepared to launch an offensive against the Arakan Army. Diplomatic missions from the US, UK, Canada and Australian condemned the operations.

Man Dies of Landmine Injuries | 11 July 2020

The death of an elderly man from a landmine has continued to reinforce fears for safety for civilians in Western Burma. He succumbed to severe blood loss and shock after delays in receiving medical treatment. Injuries and casualties from landmines are too frequent in Rakhine state, having claimed the lives of many amid fighting between the Burma Army and Arakan Army.

Rakhine Woman Accuses Burma Army Soldiers of Gang Rape | 13 July 2020

A woman from Rathedaung Township filed a complaint with the Sittwe Township Police Station against three military soldiers accusing them of gang rape. She spoke out about the attack saying, “I want the truth to be revealed, so I filed the complaint at the police station openly, by telling the truth.” Over 100 civil-society-organizations issued a joint statement calling for accountability and justice in the case.

Two Women Injured by Gunfire in Rathedaung | 14 July 2020

The women struck were 37, and 48 were injured by gunfire from the Burma Army when they indiscriminately fired at four homes. The women were struck when they were hiding.

Shootout Kills One, Injures Three | 14 July 2020

A 70-year old man was killed and three women were injured in northern Rakhine following indiscriminate shooting between the Burma Army and Arakan Army. Civilians said the shooting lasted nearly two hours. Local organizations on the ground claim that over 250 people have died and 600 have been injured in Burma Army-Arakan Army conflicts since 2018.

Two killed, Three Injured in Attack | 16 July 2020

Those injured included children after the Burma Army attacked a village while fighting with the Arakan Army. A man and woman were killed, and a woman and two children under 5 were hurt.

Family Members Want Justice for Detained Men | 16 July 2020

Family members of two civilians from Kyaukphyu Township are appealing to the Burma Army to release the detainees. The men are reportedly in custody of the military and being brutally tortured.

Detainee Death Questioned by Victims Family | 17 July 2020

The family of a Rakhine villager who allegedly died by hanging while in custody of the Burma Army also suffered wounds to his head, neck and a gunshot wound to his left hand – leading the family to believe the apparent suicide is a cover up by the military.

Woman Fleeing Violence Shot in the Back | 22 July 2020

A mother of four was shot in the back while fleeing violence in northern Rakhine. She survived and is being treated at Mrauk U hospital. Witnesses say they heard gunshots and bullets were flying everywhere.

Three Women Arrested, Detained by Burma Army | 26 July 2020

Three civilian women from Kyaukphyu township were arrested and have been detained by the Burma Army on allegations that they have ties to the Arakan Army. Their condition has not been made clear, though they have been reportedly charged under Section 50(j) and Section 52(a) of the Counter-Terrorism Law.

Civilians Struck by Shrapnel in Their Homes | 28 July 2020

One woman and three men from Ann township were injured when an artillery shell exploded in their village. Those struck were in their homes. Civilians are not safe living in the conflict zone with clashes frequently taking place between the Arakan Army and the Burma Army.

 

Chin State

Civilians Stranded in Paletwa | 6 July 2020

ND-Burma affiliate member, the Chin Human Rights Organization says over 500 people are stranded in Paletwa after being asked to meet with the General Administrative Department. Despite being allowed to travel freely for the meeting, they have not been permitted to return – and were threatened otherwise.

No Shelter for IDPs in Ann Township | 17 July 2020

Those seeking refuge from fighting between the Arakan Army and Burma Army in Ann township have been left with no space in the town’s two IDP camps with new arrivals being housed in a sports stadium. Consequences of the armed conflict continue to fall on civilians.

 

Shan State

An increase in Burma Army troops in northern Shan state has locals worried as civilians are increasingly arbitrarily detained, forced to porter and at a heightened risk of experiencing human rights violations. Military impunity is a driving force of injustice for victims of violence, particularly in northern Shan where human rights violations are rampant. This month alone, the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) has clashed with the Burma Army over 20-times. 

Civilian Beaten by Burma Army Soldier | 3 July 2020

A 60-year old civilian in northern Shan state was beaten by the Burma Army when clashes erupted between the Restoration Council of Shan State.

Seven Villagers Injured from Landmine Blast in Namt Khone Village | 8 July 2020

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

On 8 July 2020, there were seven villagers who were injured when a young boy found a UXO device found near his farm, during break time after lunch and at 1:30 PM, Namt Khone village, Pan Kaing village tract, Namphakar, Kutkai Township, Muse District, and Northern Shan State.

The village head said, “They went to the farm around 8AM and had lunch soon after. The mine looked like an improvised explosive device, which the young boy took back to his hut when it exploded. After the blast, they went to Namphakar hospital and five of them with more serious injuries were treated at the Lashio Public Hospital.

The explosion injured Namt Khone villagers including Lway Ei Lar (15) years, Lway Nu Nu Hlaing (16) years, Lway Aye Khaing (14) years, Lway Amm Cherry (18) years, Lway Kwel (16) years, Mai Yai Thaung (24) years and Mai Maung Sein (20) years.

The five who arrived at Lashio Public Hospital were Lway Ei Lar, Lway Nu Nu Hlaing, Lway Amm Cherry and Mai Yai Thaung. Two of them had been treated at Namphakar hospital.

In the last two years, there has been an increase in landmines including UXO, following clashes near Namphakar village.

Farmers Injured in Bomb Explosion | 11 July 2020

A bomb explosion injured seven farmers in Kutkai over the weekend. Fears have escalated in Shan State since the recent deployment of additional Burma Army troops in civilian areas as clashes continue with the Ta’ang National Liberation Party.

Villager Injured by Landmine | 12 July 2020
Case from ND-Burma member, the Ta’ang Students and Youths Union

On 12 July 2020, U Aik Lam who lives in Mai Yu Lay village, Kutkai Township, Muse district, Northern Shan State went to cut bamboo when he stepped on a landmine and was seriously injured.

The village head said, “Previously, there was fighting between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Burma Army. No one knew he went there. In the evening, the Namphakar social group took him to the Namphakar hospital, but they referred him to Muse Public Hospital because the injury was more serious.

U Aik Lam is 30 years old and has 3 children. The injury has made his livelihood more difficult as he needs to provide for the education and health of his family. He was injured in his leg, arm and stomach.

Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) Condemns Burma Army Violence | 13 July 2020

In response to the mass protest on 10 July by Kyaukme residents demanding justice for their fellow villagers who were killed, tortured and wounded by the Burma Army on June 29, the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) condemned the targeting of civilians and called for the Burma Army to drop charges against protesters. SHRF expressed concern that the June deployment of over 800 troops is fueling displacement and fear amid the COVID-19 lockdown. SHRF also observed that it is no surprise that most of the fighting has taken place near the site of the Upper Yeywa hydropower dam on the Namtu River.

Coal Mining Company Pressures Villagers in Southern Shan State | 14 July 2020

Southern Shan villagers are being pressured to accept a coal mining project, which would cause environmental damage and health problems. Leverage through bribery is common and is a testament to local solidarity in their refusals to succumb to the offers.

Civilians in Northern Shan Flee During Harvest | 17 July 2020

The sound of gunfire has become all too familiar in northern Shan state where civilians have been forced to flee regular fighting and taking refugees in monasteries and nearby townships.

RCSS/SSA Soldier Rapes Young Woman | 17 July 2020

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

On 17 June 2020, Sai Aik Pan, a Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS-SSA) soldier raped a young woman around 12PM, Nyaung Pan La village, Chaung Sar village tract, Namtu township, Kyuakme District and northern Shan State. She was raped while coming back from the farm for the day.

The young woman’s father said, “this is not only my daughter who has faced this kind of abuse, but other women as well. The RCSS/SSA should control their soldiers when they set up a base in villages.”

Some soldiers take responsibility and accountability for their issues, but others have not been held accountable for their crimes.  The young woman’s mother said, “we do not dare go back to the village – even if we do go back, it is not safe.”

On 13 July 2020, Ta’ang civil society organizations and some Shan/Tai civil society organizations went to the Yay-O village in Namtu township to meet with the RCSS/SSA spokesperson who takes responsibility in these areas. The RCSS/SSA was requested to attend a meeting, but they did not show up. They also threatened civil-society organizations and others who came to them to meet the village head leader.

The RCSS/SSA has arrested the soldier who committed the crime, but the community has been limited in speaking out for fear of reprisals. In Tai Freedom Media, the RCSS/SSA denied that the soldier committed the rape.

The RCSS/SSA is one of the EAOs who has signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2015, and had also signed the Geneva Deed of Commitment on child protection on 26 November 2019.

Landmine Strikes Villages, including Buddhist Abbot | 17 July 2020

Instability continues to ravage northern Shan state after a landmine killed a Buddhist abbot, villager and injured a novice monk cleaning the monastery grounds. The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Burma Army are based in the area where locals have called for both groups to remove the mines. The monk who passed away was U Zin Nandi Ya (36) years and had served 16 years in the monastery. Mai Naing Htin (18) years injured his chest and leg, and a novice suffered from a minor injury. They are being treated at the monastery.

ND-Burma, the Ta’ang Students and Youths Union, said that the TNLA and the Restoration Council of Shan State have clashed in this area in the past, and now the Burma Army has increased their presence by staying for 20-days in this village last month.

Par Nay Villagers Killed by Landmine While Traveling | 19 July 2020

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

On 19 July 2020, Mai Aik Waung (29) years old, Mai A Lay (18) years old who lived in Par Nay village, Man Pu village tract, Kutkai Township, Muse District and Northern Shan State were traveling from their village to sell their buffalo when a landmine exploded halfway there.

The village head said, “They went to the Mai Yu Lay to sell the buffalo from the village. When they arrived near Lwal Kan village, Mai Aik Waung went in front and stepped onto the land mine and Mai Aik Lay (my younger brother) was at the back. My young brother did not get injured, but Mai Aik Waung lost his left leg and later died.”

According to a local villager, this mine was planted by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) because there were three landmines planted. One of them was stepped on by the Burma Army, another stepped on by Mai Aik Waung and one had been removed by the TNLA. The TNLA failed to announce and remind the villagers that landmines had been set up in the local area, and they failed to take responsibility and accountability for this issue.

Mai Aik Waung who was killed had two daughters, one of whom was 4 months old. He came from a poor family and now there are many problems to solve with livelihood difficulties.

Civilians Fear Increase in Operations in Kyaukme | 22 July 2020

Civilians remain fearful as the Burma Army sends more troops into Kyaukme, northern Shan where locals have experienced heightened unrest with frequent clashes between the Restoration Council of Shan State.  Farmers in particular are suffering as fighting puts their livelihood at risk.

Burma Army Unjustly sued 47 Farmers for Trespassing on Seized Land | 22 July 2020

The Shan Human Rights Foundation condemns charges by the Burma Army who are suing 47 farmers for trespassing on their own farmlands – which were seized by the Burma Army.

Hsihseng Farmers Reject Government Compensation | 22 July 2020

Locals in southern Shan State are opposing an offer of compensation for farmland seized by the military. Instead, they are speaking out against the creation of highland farms and calling for their conservation efforts to be preserved and upheld.

Escalating clashes between SSPP/SSA and Burma Army Displaces Villagers | 26 July 2020

Villagers were again forced to flee fighting due to clashes between the Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) and the Burma Army and were unable to bring anything with them.

Disabled Family Tortured by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) | 26 July 2020

Two TNLA soldiers entered a local family home in Kutkai, northern Shan and went on to abuse a paralyzed man, his wife and children. The soldiers claimed they were searching for drugs and when they did not find any, they beat the man and his wife. He said, “after they searched and did not find anything, they hit me, my wife and children who were sleeping. I feel very sad and want to resolve this so it does not happen again in the future.’

The Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) Blames Burma Army for Clashes | 28 July 2020

The RCSS has clashed with the Burma Army over 20 times in the last month as terms of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement are violated at the expense of civilian safety and security. Fighting has resulted in forced displacement of over 1000 people from villages in northern Shan.

Attempted Rape by Burma Army Soldier | 30 July 2020

A woman farming was dragged by a Burma Army soldier to a push where he attempted to rape her. Her calls for help were heard and the soldier was imprisoned, though no reparations were offered to the victim. The lapse in justice is evident in the lack of knowing where the perpetrator was actually punished, and is evident of the Burma Army’s tolerant culture of impunity.

Landmine blast in Kho Tin village Kills One, Injures Others | 30 July 2020

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

On 30 July 2020 around 4PM in the afternoon, children were playing when a landmine detonated in Kho Tin village, Man Jat village tract, Kutkai Township, Muse District and Northern Shan State.

The village head told TSYU that the children were playing and were struck by the landmine. There were six children struck by the landmine and four of them were seriously wounded.

The blast happened in front of a home where the Burma Army Infantry Battalion (99) had been staying. There was no house owner. After the children were injured, they were sent to Kut Kai hospital and those with more serious wounds were sent to Lashio hospital.

The children are Lway Ngwe Zin Aung (9) years, Mai Tun Sein (7) years, Mai Aung Naing (7) years, Lway Kyam Kham (5) years, Lway Ei Lao (2) years and Lway Sein Kham (3) years. Lway Kyam Kham died on 30 July at Kut Kai hospital, two of them are receiving treatment in Kut Kai hospital, two are getting medical treatment in Lashio hospital and one of them is in Mandalay hospital.

Farmer Killed by Accidental Landmine Detonation | 31 July 2020

Chit Maung, an elderly farmer was killed when he accidentally detonated a landmine in Kyaukme. While these fatalities are common, farmers are at a high risk of being struck on their way to the fields which are far from their villages.

Kachin State

Kachin State Landslide Kills Over 100 Miners | 2 July 2020

On 2 July 2020, a landslide at a jade mining site of Kyaukmyet Shwe claimed the lives of at least 172 civilian miners and wounded over 50. The jade found in northern Kachin state is highly prized as the most valued in the world, with an estimated net worth of over US $30 billion. It is also a driving force of conflict over ownership between ethnic armed organizations in the region, locals and the Burma Army.

Kachin civil society organizations questioned the conditions that led to the tragic death of miners at the Hpakant jade mine calling for an end to the ‘licensed death ground’ and to stop abuses of natural resources.

Two Shan-Ni Youth Teenagers Killed in Custody of Kachin Independence Army | 24 July 2020

After the death of two Shan Ni teenagers killed in custody by the Kachin Independence Army, the armed group has committed to holding the soldiers accountable and compensating the victims’ families. An investigation remains ongoing. The Shanni community has called on the KIO to avoid interethnic conflict between the Shanni and Kachin communities by not violating human rights.

 

Karen State

Military violence by the Burma Army has killed two Karen villagers and injured five in Mutraw district since 2020, according to local reports. The Burma Army has been active in KNU controlled areas and responsible for indiscriminately shooting at civilians.

Karen Woman Killed by Burma Army Soldiers | 16 July 2020

Naw Mu Naw, a Karen woman from Mutraw district, was shot three times at point blank range by two Burma Army soldiers. Karen rights groups condemned the attack and called for Burma Army troops to withdraw immediately from civilian areas. Statements came from the Karen Women’s Organization, the Karen Peace Support Network, the Karen Human Rights Group and the Karen National Union. Karen civilians also protested in front of Burma Army posts demanding they leave their villages and stop targeting civilians.  The Burma Army has arrested the two soldiers and says it will take ‘harsh action’ against them.

 

Freedom of Expression

Burma Government Justifies Continued Internet Shutdown | 8 July 2020

In a statement from Burma’s Foreign Affairs ministry, the government rationalised the Internet shutdown in Rakhine and Chin states as a way to control violence by the Arakan Army, while neglecting to mention human rights violations committed by the Burma Army.

Reports Released on Freedom of Expression Decline

18 July 2020: “A Chance to Fix in Time,” a report by Athan looks at the first four years of freedom of expression under the National League for Democracy. The report notes that violations of free speech were filed against 1,051 people.

 

22 July 2020: A new report on hate speech in South East Asia by the Asia Centre notes long-standing discrimination, hate campaigns targeting the Muslim community in Burma and calls for South East-Asian countries to commit to laws securing social, racial or religious harmony.  

Youth Leaders Arrested for Protesting Internet Ban | 26 July 2020

Youth leaders from the Rakhine Students’ Union were unjustly sentenced to one month in prison under section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for protesting the Internet ban – which has been cut off for over a year in Paletwa, and northern Rakhine state.

Network Restrictions Extended Until October 2020 | 31 July 2020

Network restrictions in Rakhine and Chin states have been extended until 31 October 2020 by the Myanmar Ministry of Transport and Communications. While 2G services are available, local groups are saying this type of connection is too slow, as Telenor Group has also expressed concern for civilian safety.

 

Member Update

  • The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) released an update on how the forced relocation of Chin civilians in Rakhine State is fueling displacement. They noted how IDPs are in dire need of food and humanitarian support amid hostilities between the Arakan Army and Burma Army. In another update, CHRO said that civilian livestock are being looted by the Burma Army.

This month CHRO also reported that over 500 people are stranded in Paletwa after being asked to meet with the General Administration Department. Despite being allowed to travel freely after the meeting, they were not allowed back to their villages.

  • The All Arakan Students’ & Youths’ Congress released their June documentation of human rights violations in Rakhine State including recommendations to policy makers on IDPs and socio-economic affairs
  • The Human Rights Foundation of Monland has released a new report, “Left Behind and Destitute,” countering claims by the National League for Democracy that the government’s COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan would leave no one behind. Read the report in English and Burmese.
  • New report from the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand and Asia Justice and Rights identifies strategies for civil-society organizations and calls on donor agencies to better support assistance to victims of the most serious human rights violations.
  • ND-Burma member organizations condemned the sexual assault of a young Ta’ang rape survivor by the Restoration Council of Shan State as a violation of rights and urged all armed organizations to respect the lives and property of civilians.
  • On July 25, representatives from the All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress and the Chin Human Rights Organization joined a panel discussion hosted by the US Campaign for Burma on IDPs and refugees.
  • The Kachin Women’s Association Thailand spoke to South-East Asia Globe about the devastating loss of life at the Hpakant jade mine and the upcoming election.
  • ND-Burma members, the Ta’ang Students and Youth Union and the Ta’ang Women’s Organization released a statement calling for an end to land confiscation and implementation of large-scale development projects during COVID-19. Civilians are regularly displaced as a result of a lack of consultation.
  • ND-Burma Advocacy Officer, Maggi Quadrini, addressed the failing ceasefire in northern Shan state against the backdrop of rampant human rights violations, in an editorial published in The Diplomat.

Member Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Submissions

ND-Burma called for an immediate halt to military operations throughout the country, so that civilian lives can be protected and inclusive political negotiations can begin, in our UPR submission on the peace process and the armed conflict in Burma.

 

NDB member, the All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress released their UPR submission on human rights violations committed by the gov. and military amid ongoing armed conflict in Rakhine State. The report observes violations including illegal detention, torture, shelling and killings.

 

Progressive Voice released joint submissions on Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons and

Hate Speech and Shrinking Democratic and Civil Society Space.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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