Myanmar Situation Update (12-18 July 2021)

Myanmar detained State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and former Naypyitaw Council Chairman Dr. Myo Aung appeared at a special court in Naypyitaw’s Zabuthiri township for their trial for incitement under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code. The junta filed fresh charges against Suu Kyi, bringing the number of cases she faces to ten with a potential prison sentence of 75 years. The next court hearings of their trial have been moved to July 26 and 27, following the junta’s designation of a week-long public holiday and lockdown order.

Senior National League for Democracy (NLD) patron Win Htein was indicted on a sedition charge by a court inside a Naypyitaw detention centre with a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years. The state-run MRTV also reported the Anti-Corruption Commission (AAC) made a complaint against the former Chief Minister of Shan State, three former state ministers, and three people under the anti-corruption law at Taunggyi Township police station while the junta has already filed corruption cases against many former State Chief Ministers under the NLD government.

During the press conference on 12 July 2021 in Naypyitaw, the junta-appointed Union Election Commission (UEC) announced that 11,305,390 voter list errors were found from the investigation conducted by the UEC. The UEC also said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is investigating foreign funding of political parties and the investigation reports will be published soon with legal actions to be taken against the parties who violate the law. On the other hand, the UEC said it has received 18 papers related to the introduction of the proportional representation electoral system and this will be further discussed during the next meeting with political parties as they are planning to conduct meetings with political parties quarterly. The next meeting will be conducted at the end of August. The UEC also posted an article on social media on the PR system as an attempt to justify the idea of introducing a PR system to its electoral system. 

As the third wave of COVID-19 hit the country, Asia Times reported that public health experts in Myanmar predicted that 50% of Myanmar’s 55 million people will be infected within three weeks by either the Alpha or Delta variant of COVID-19 and the population will be decimated by at least 10-15 million by the time COVID-19 is done with Myanmar. In response to the criticism that the junta imposed restrictions on private oxygen plants ordering not to refill cylinders for individuals, the junta spokesman said “people are doing it unnecessarily”. Media also reported that Yangon’s Yeway Cemetery saw a steady stream of ambulances carrying bodies to funerals from the morning hours. The same scenes are being observed at the city’s other three burial sites.

The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar also accused Myanmar’s junta of “weaponizing” the COVID-19 crisis by blocking civil society organizations and humanitarian groups from providing aid “for millions of people as a massive third wave of COVID-19 sweeps the country.”

The UN Child Rights Committee (CRC) has warned that children’s rights in Myanmar are facing an onslaught that risks leaving an entire generation damaged. Since the military coup, 75 children have been killed, about 1,000 arbitrarily detained and countless more deprived of essential medical care and education in Myanmar, according to credible information obtained by the Committee. The Committee called for immediate action to bring about a peaceful solution to the crisis and urged Myanmar to uphold its obligations under the Convention to protect and promote children’s rights to the utmost degree. 

Myanmar's junta-appointed foreign minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, joined the foreign ministers meeting of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) and the US and replied to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken remarks on Myanmar by saying that his government is doing its best to implement what was agreed to at the ASEAN summit. The junta also rejected the UN Human Rights Council resolution calling for reconciliation with the persecuted Rohingya minority, slamming "one-sided allegations" over its treatment of the stateless community.

American journalist Danny Fenster, the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, appeared in another virtual court trial as he faces allegations of working to foment dissent against the country’s military government and he has informed his lawyer that he had been infected with COVID-19. Out of 87 journalists arrested by Myanmar’s junta in the five months since the coup, 43 domestic and international reporters remain in detention.

The junta established a new drafting committee with a mandate to change an old draft “hate speech” bill first developed by the USDP government and then re-drafted by the NLD. It included much broader political “crimes” which is another sign of the junta’s intention to restrict freedom of expression in the long term, according to the Free Expression Myanmar (FEM).

Protests continue in different parts of Myanmar despite the crackdown by the junta. The clashes between the junta forces and the civil resistance fighters or Ethnic Armed Organizations also emerged across Myanmar particularly in Shan, Karen, Kachin, Mon, Kayah States and Sagaing, Yangon and Mandalay Regions.

According to the information compiled by ANFREL, at least 20 bomb blasts happened across Myanmar in the past week. It was reported that at least 13 people were injured and 2 were killed.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) reported that, as of 17 July, 914 people have been killed by the junta. 5,291 people are currently under detention and 254 are sentenced. 65 have been sentenced to death and 1,963 are evading arrest warrants.

Myanmar-Situation-Update-12-18-July-2021

Download the full update here: Myanmar Situation Update (12-18 July 2021)

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