Myanmar Situation Update (18-24 April 2022)
Myanmar military junta chief Min Aung Hlaing offered to meet with leaders of ethnic armed groups in person. He said through a brief broadcast from state-owned television that “2022 is the year of peace and that we will work for an end to all armed conflict”. The offer was not extended to democratically elected government, pro-democracy People’s Defense Forces and other opposition forces.
The junta-appointed Union Election Commission Chairman received the Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar, Mr. Chen Hai, in Nay Pyi Taw. The information minister reportedly said that the election would be held in 2023 and that they had been working for the stability of the country.
The Myanmar junta has issued an emergency alert to all of its units across the country as they prepare for resistance attacks on Tuesday. One of the ethnic armed groups, the Karen National Defense Organization (KND) which is under the control of the Karen National Union (KNU), called on the Myanmar army to withdraw from two bases in Mon State’s Bilin Township within three days or face military action. The bases are eight miles apart and located at the border with Karen State’s Hpa-an Township.
The Myanmar junta exempted foreign investments and business operating in economic zones from currency conversion rules. On the exemption list are foreign direct investment projects approved by the Myanmar Investment Commission, according to a notice issued by the Central Bank of Myanmar. The exemption also covered domestic and foreign businesses in special economic zones, embassies and the United Nations personnel. Early April, the Central Bank announced that foreign earnings can no longer hold more than one day in foreign currency and that they must exchange them into Myanmar Kyat including the foreign currency currently held in foreign currency accounts.
The White House announced that President Joe Biden will host the leaders of member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Washington on May 12 and 13 for a US-ASEAN Special Summit to demonstrate the US’s enduring commitment to the regional bloc. The US State Department spokesperson also said that Washington supports ASEAN’s decision on inviting non-political representatives from Myanmar to high-level ASEAN events in the absence of progress on the Five-Point Consensus agreed by Myanmar and ASEAN last year at the ASEAN special summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, barring junta chief Min Aung Hlaing from attending the summit.
A Cambodian delegation led by Secretary of State for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Head of the Office of the ASEAN Special Envoy, Kung Phoak met with the members of the junta task force on ASEAN humanitarian assistance on 20 April 2022. Kung Phoak said that Cambodia “respects Myanmar’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and is looking for ways to assist Myanmar “not with the intention to interfere in other countries’ domestic problems”.
According to Human Rights Watch, ASEAN has failed to fulfill its pledges or take meaningful steps toward pressing the junta to end its human rights violations, by adopting a “five-point consensus” or by coordinating action with the broader international community.
As a consequence of the continuing crisis in Myanmar, the children of families who have fled fighting in conflict zones are being deprived of essential immunizations due to lack of health care. More than 1.6 million Myanmar workers lost their jobs in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the military coup, according to the estimates of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Ko Ko Lay, vice chairperson of Mandalay District NLD, died of a brain hemorrhage after receiving information of his wife being killed by the junta during interrogation. The Ministry of Women, Youth and Children of the National Unity Government (NUG) said that women accounted for 9.3% of all of those who lost lives in the revolution from the military coup up to 11 April 2022. The Ministry of Health of NUG said 40 healthcare workers had been killed by the military junta and 362 others had been arrested since the coup last year.
Myanmar’s junta has sentenced Dr. Htar Htar Lin who led Myanmar’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout under the ousted civilian government, to three years in prison with hard labor on corruption charges because she denied the regime international COVID-19 grants. Kyaw Lin, the Deputy Minister of Construction, was sentenced to 20 years in prison with hard labor.
In a joint statement, the Ministry of Information and Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, said they have been working to accelerate energy projects for domestic power supply, with China also working to develop major energy projects. They said that China would play an increasingly important role in the country's energy-related developments. Myanmar has been experiencing lengthy daily blackouts with the information minister blaming the outages to rising liquefied natural gas prices due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and supposed “terrorist action” linked to the People's Defence Force.
As of 22 April 2022, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) recorded that 1,782 people have been killed by the junta since the coup. There are 10,290 people currently under detention. There are 100 people who have been sentenced to death while 1,977 people are evading arrest warrants.
Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)
25 April 2022, 11:30 a.m. (Bangkok time)
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