Myanmar Situation Update (13 – 19 December 2021)
Myanmar ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in court in Naypyitaw in a prison uniform for her hearing against corruption charges for allegedly obtaining rental properties for headquarters of Daw Khin Kyi Foundation below market price . Former Yangon Region chief minister Phyo Min Thein and former Yangon Region minister Nilar Kyaw also appeared at the court, as did prosecution witnesses against Aung San Suu Kyi for corruption charges.
Media also reported that Mandalay Region’s ousted chief minister and vice chair of NLD party, Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, was not allowed to testify as a witness for Aung San Suu Kyi in her trial for breaching COVID-19 rules in campaigning for the 2020 General Elections. Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced by the junta court last week to four years in jail for incitement and breaching coronavirus regulations, later reduced to a two-year term in an undisclosed location.
The junta’s peace negotiation committee held talks with representatives of six ethnic armed groups of the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) with the facilitation of China in Mongla of Shan State. Reportedly, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) did not join the meeting.
Thousands of refugees from Myanmar's Karen state flee to Thailand after fresh fighting broke out last week between the Karen National Union (KNU) and the junta force. The NUG urged Thailand to allow the IDPs fleeing Lay Kay Kaw town and seeking refuge to cross the border safely as soon as possible. It also urged the international community to provide humanitarian aid and assistance to the IDPs. Thailand has sent over 600 Myanmar refugees who fled fighting between the junta forces and ethnic armies back across the border. Human rights groups urged Thailand not to rush refugees back to Myanmar as junta forces deliberately target civilians with deadly force. An artillery shell fired by the Myanmar’s junta during the fighting exploded on the Thai side, about six miles away from Myawaddy and the road to the Mae Kot Kin refugee camp on the Thailand side of the Thaung Yin River. Thai authorities have officially warned that they would return fire if more artillery shells by the Myanmar junta’s army landed again on Thailand’s side.
Responding to the critics of his trip to meet with the Myanmar coup leader in January, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said the visit aimed to help to repair the image of the ASEAN and he would name the country's foreign minister Prak Sokhonn as the Asean chair's new special envoy to Myanmar. Cambodia currently holds the ASEAN presidency.
In the recent statement of the United Nations OHCHR, it has warned Myanmar’s human rights situation is deepening on an unprecedented scale. It further state that serious human rights violations reported daily of the rights to life, liberty and security of person, the prohibition against torture, the right to a fair trial, and freedom of expression.
The US senate passed a bipartisan Myanmar amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to support democracy in Myanmar. This includes the provisions such as requiring Biden administration officials to present to Congress within sixty days a strategy to impose costs on the military government, legitimizing representative organizations such as the National Unity Government, restoring democratic governance, and fostering national reconciliation. The amendment will also require the State Department, USAID, Treasury Department and Defense Department to brief Congress on specific U.S. policy and security objectives in Myanmar.
Myanmar placed second on the list of a crackdown on journalists worldwide in the report released by the Reporters Without Borders. Myanmar is second with 53, followed by 43 in Vietnam , 32 in Belarus and 31 in Saudi Arabia. China stands first in the list with imprisoned journalists at 127. Ko Nyein Chan, a journalist from Bago Weekly Journal based in the west Bago region, was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPI) has urged to immediately release the reporter Aung San Lin from Democratic Voice of Burma and drop any charges against him. Soe Naing, a local freelance photojournalist who was arrested by junta’s troops while taking photos during “silent strike” in Yangon, has become the first journalist known to have died in junta’s custody since the military coup.
According to the information compiled by ANFREL, at least 23 bomb blasts happened across Myanmar in the past week. It was reported that at least 4 people were injured.
As of 18 December, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) recorded that 1,346 people have been killed by the junta. 8,100 people are currently under detention and 399 are sentenced. 75 have been sentenced to death and 1,964 are evading arrest warrants.