Myanmar Situation Update (26 April to 2 May 2021)

The pro-democracy protests continued across the country while the Myanmar community outside of the country also conducted the protests in places such as London, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Seoul. The protests started again in Yangon last week just before the ASEAN summit after a few weeks of absence. Some flashmobs were also witnessed in townships such as Kyauktada, Sanchaung, Ahlone, Hlaing, Kamayut, Dawbon, Thaketa, Tamwe, Insein and Hlaing Tharyar townships in Yangon.

A series of small-scale explosions also reported in Yangon in the past week. On 2 May alone, explosions were reported at least in six townships including Insein, Hlaing Thar Yar, Tamwe, North Dagon, South Dagon and Thaketa.

The junta lifted the nightly fibre internet cut off while mobile data and wireless broadband remain blocked, except for some selected business and banking apps. Social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, are still banned in the country.

Despite the call for immediate cessation of violence through ASEAN summit by the ASEAN leaders which was joined by the junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, deadly crackdowns, human rights violations, raids and arrests have continued in days and nights. The junta also announced that stability is the current priority of the regime including maintaining law and order and restoring community peace and tranquility. The junta also announced it will only consider the ASEAN leaders’ recommended five-point consensus after the situation stabilizes in the country.

Suppression of media and arrest of journalists also continued. More than 70 journalists have been arrested since the coup and of them, 40 are still under detention and another 22 journalists face arrest warrants on incitement charges. It was also reported last week the junta has terminated the license of Myitkyina News Journal, a local media based in Kachin State.

In the past week, tension between the Myanmar military and ethnic armed organizations Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) intensified. The military launched more airstrikes in the conflict areas, causing more residents to flee across the Thailand border.

There is also a trend that pro-democracy activists express their support towards the ethnic armed organizations and receive military training from ethnic armies in Myanmar's borderlands. Thousands of young people including students, doctors and engineers have joined the training in Karen and Kachin States.

The UNDP has reported that nearly half of Myanmar’s population could be forced into poverty by 2022 due to the impacts of military rule and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners figures showed that as of 2 May, 765 people have been killed by the junta, 3,555 are currently under detention while 82 were sentenced. 1,396 arrest warrants have been issued and among them 20 were sentenced to death and 14 to three years imprisonment[1].

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