12 June 2023

Summary of Monthly Situation Update for March 2023

1 Info-graphs of BHRN's Report

2 Editor's Note

3 Rohingya Issue

4 Violations of Freedom of Religion and Belief

5 Hate Speech

5.1 Social Media Monitoring

5.2 Print Media Monitoring

6 Human Rights Violations

6.1 Rape asWar Crime (Committed by Junta Troops)

6.2 Oppression of the Political Prisoners

6.3 Violation of Freedom of Expression

6.3.1 Arrest of Journalists

6.3.2 Arrest of CDMs

6.4 Extra-Judicial Punishment

6.4.1 Arbitrary Arrests

6.5 Extra-Judicial-Killing and Enforced Disappearance

6.6 Violence Attacks by Pro-junta Thugs

Every month BHRN provides a summary of situation update for the previous month’s important event in Burma. More detailed information for each paragraph contained in the update is available in more details upon request.


Information in this document has been gathered by the BHRN team by primary and secondary research method. We employed local researchers and local informers across Burma including in Rakhine State, Thai-Burma border and the Bangladesh border monitoring, investigating and documenting incidents of human rights violations. Any information we receive is carefully checked for credibility and authenticity by experienced senior research officers in the organisation. Once the information is approved the editorial team prepares the final document.

Short video of the summary of the monthly situation update for March 2023

1.Info-graphs of BHRN’s Report

2.Editor's Note

Key highlights 

  •    Tropical Cyclone Mocha made landfall over Burma’s Rakhine State on May 14, adversely affecting approximately 5.4 million people in Burma and an estimated 2.3 million people in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar District. 


  •     The United Nations said access restrictions imposed by military authorities hinder the delivery of aid to cyclone-affected individuals across the country. The UN relief agencies signaled that the time is running out of tens of thousands of people who are in need of emergency relief assistance. They said much wider access need to be granted to the relief agencies to reach 1.6 million people in Rakhine, Chin, Magway, Sagaing, and Kachin.

  •     UN has launched a $333 million Flash Appeal for Myanmar; however, it said the assistance received so far from the international community was “not anywhere near sufficient” due to a lack of access and support in rural areas remaining “far from adequate”.


  •      The UN reported some success in reaching out to the victims of Cyclone Mocha in Bangladesh, where access has been easier. The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) said it provided emergency rations to approximately 3,000 Rohingya refugees between May 13 and 14, while also hosting more than 600 cyclone-preparedness workshops for more than 5,200 people. While WFP distributed food assistance to more than 6,200 Rohingya refugees who are unable to return to their shelters in Cox’s Bazar. Additionally, the International Organization on Migration (IOM) prepositioned emergency items for refugee shelters and supported shelter repairs for Rohingya refugees adversely affected by the cyclone.

  •      In the current political climate inside Myanmar and restrictions on access imposed by the military regime, it is highly unlikely that the UN will be able to raise the funds it needed from international donors. 


  •      While the UN needs to take a leadership role in mobilizing international support the UN announced that its special envoy in Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer, is due to end her assignment after serving 20 months in the position. She managed to visit only once to Myanmar during her tenure. However, she managed to have a consultation with China and other regional actors to find a solution to the political crisis in Myanmar.   

  • The cyclone emergency is the latest addition to the list of mounting crises Myanmar has been facing since the military coup in February 2021. So far, the UN failed to take a leadership role to find a way out of these crises. 

  •   As the international leadership lapsed China in recent months has increased its maneuvers to take the leadership role in brokering a settlement in Myanmar. As the junta continues its cozy ties with Russia and in recent months with Iran intending to buy more weapons for increasingly vulnerable junta troops in Tatmadaw. 


  •    Meanwhile, the anti-junta forces continue to make further progress politically and militarily in recent weeks which will help their long struggle for democracy and the establishment of a federal union. There are reports of low morale among the regime forces in the face of growing casualties in the fight against people’s defense forces. Also, politically the anti-regime forces have organized a regular forum that in a longer could help to produce a unified stance of anti-junta forces.


Cyclone Mocha is a devastating blow to Rakhine State which is already grappling with poverty, sectarian violence, and ethnic conflict from the past more than more than one decade.


Rakhine State is the second poorest state in Myanmar and the UN said even before Mocha hit, 80 percent of people in Rakhine were living in poverty with 200,000 people internally displaced. In 2022, half of the state’s population was cutting down on meals due to the economic crisis, according to UNDP data.


The UN warned that Rakhine State risks facing “perpetuating an unending cycle of suffering” if help is not forthcoming for the cyclone victims.


Even in such a scenario in Rakhine State, the officials from Myanmar and Bangladesh have made a second attempt to lure Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to return to their homes in Northern Rakhine State. 


The Myanmar regime invited a team of Rohingya refugees, and Government officials from Bangladesh to visit the facilities built by military authorities to assess preparations ahead of a pilot repatriation program planned to commence in late May.


Following the visit, Bangladeshi officials shared overall positive impressions of the repatriation sites in Rakhine, despite the refugees expressed unwillingness to return to IDP camps conditions. Rohingya returnees said they would face insufficient access to basic services, livelihood opportunities, and limited humanitarian assistance—reiterating the need for guarantees of full citizenship rights ahead of any return to Rakhine.


This initiative of repatriation of Rohingya refugees is known to be going on at the encouragement of China, which in recent months increased its interaction with the junta officials as well as the ethnic armed organisations in its attempt to take the vacant leadership role in helping to resolve the internal crisis in Myanmar. 


In the latest development of China’s engagement in Myanmar, the foreign affairs special envoy for Yunnan Province attended a meeting between the junta and the three Ethnic Armed organisations (EAOs)- the Arakan Army (AA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), also known as the Kokang Army-in Mongla, in Northern Shan State, on 1 June. 


All three groups are members of the Northern Alliance, which has previously lent assistance to the anti-junta resistance movement.


The meeting comes after a senior Chinese intelligence official visited Nay Pyi Taw to meet the regime leaders. Major-General Yang Yang, acting director-general of the Intelligence Bureau of the Joint Staff Department of China's Central Military Commission, met the junta leaders during his recent visit to Nay Pyi Taw. 


China has been persuading the ethnic armed groups in Myanmar under its influence not to support the National Unity Government (NUG), as the parallel government of Myanmar is moving closer to the Western powers, particularly to Beijing’s arch-rival in the region the United States.


China’s attempt to reengage Myanmar might also be influenced by the Min Aung Hlaing regime’s close ties since the military coup with other international pariahs like Russia, Iran, and Belarus as well as with India which is currently ruled by a Hindu nationalist regime. These countries are a source of military hardware for the regime. That enable the junta to use more sophisticated weapons in its brutal war against pro-democratic opposition and the ethnic armies. 


The Irrawaddy news agency reported on 26 May that Since the military coup the regime purchased US$ 1 billion in weapons and military-related equipment much of it from Russia and China.


The same report by Irrawaddy mentioned the plan by the Myanmar regime to purchase other military equipment including drones and eventually nuclear technology from Iran. 


The attempt to boost its hardware capabilities comes as the junta continued to face mounting casualties in its fighting with the people’s defense forces and the ethnic armies. Also, it face a boycott by the people of Myanmar which led to a shortfall in the recruitment of soldiers. 


BBC reported on 30 May that the Burmese military is suffering defections and is finding it difficult to recruit.


The report quoting defectors from the military after the 2021 coup said more than 13,000 soldiers and policemen have defected since the military coup in February 2021, according to the exiled National Unity Government of Myanmar (NUG). NUG is offering cash incentives and support to try and get more soldiers and police officers to switch sides.


Also, the number of casualties in the Myanmar military has taken a toll. The NUG estimates that roughly 20,000 junta combat troops have been killed since the coup, a report by the United States Institute of Peace said in a recent report. The report Myanmar’s Military Is Smaller Than Commonly Thought — and Shrinking Fast said the military is accepting “criminals, those with heavy debts and drug addicts” to address the shortage of recruits. 


The crisis within the Myanmar military has been welcomed as many believe it could lead to its disintegration. However, so far there has been no concrete plan by the anti-regime on what alternative they have been thinking. Also, diverse political views have made the opposition weaker in dealing with the regime.


To address these shortfalls an interesting initiative emerged in Sagaing Region, which could help to unite the opposition groups against the regime. These groups recently initiated a regular dialogue mechanism, "Sagaing Forum", which will help for strengthening local and subnational networks to increase collaboration within the Sagaing Region, the site's strongest anti-junta resistance. which could help bring the resistance to the next level, the Irrawaddy news agency reported. 


It said the Sagaing Forum emerged in late May this year after a series of consultations among the anti-junta groups under the auspices of NUG. The purpose of the forum, which will meet every two weeks, is to navigate through the political storms and remain resolute in their pursuit of establishing a political platform that fosters common ground and shared goals, the report said.


It said these deliberations at Sagaing Forum have involved representatives from over 25 out of the 37 townships in the region, making it a comprehensive and inclusive process. Some township administrators directly appointed by the NUG have also attended the Forum.


“Among political approaches, the Sagaing Forum could stand out as a zero-to-one innovation in a Buddhist Bamar-dominated region. It signifies a departure from the conventional top-down models and embraces a bottom-up perspective, emphasizing the voices and needs of the local communities. By doing so, the Forum recognizes the importance of empowering those directly affected by the crisis and involving them in shaping their own future,” Zaw Tuseng, a former pro-democracy activist, is the founder and president of a local think-tank the Myanmar Policy Institute (MPI) said. 


His opinion was shared by other anti-junta organizations. A rebel group the Karen National Union (KNU) welcomed the idea of the Sagaing Forum and urged revolutionary and resistance stakeholders in Sagaing to use the forum to hold a step-by-step discussion that would lead to the establishment of Sagaing Region as a federal unit in the future.


“The KNU expects Sagaing Region to be able to comprise a federal unit in the process of building a new Federal Union,” the KNU said in a letter sent to the forum.

Observations and Analysis

  • The current situation in Myanmar could be described as far worst than it was in 2008 when the country also faced a catastrophic natural disaster cyclone Nargis. The military regime at that time was eventually persuaded to allow access to the international aid organizations under the auspices of the Tripartite Core Group, involving the UN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the government at that time. The process was seen as a success as the UN was able to persuade the Western countries, who were critical of the Myanmar regime to provide funding support to the victims of cyclone on the humanitarian grounds.  

  • Ironically, one of the staunchest critics of international assistance for the victims of cyclone Nargis more than a decade ago is now leading the junta’s international cooperation ministry, the key focal point for the organizations which would like to mobilize international support for the victims of Cyclone Mocha. Ko Ko Hlaing famously wrote in the state-owned newspapers days after cyclone Nargis which killed more than 138 000 people and displaced 2.4 million, that the cyclone victims could survive on their own.  

  • Ko Ko Hlaing argued in his article that as the Ayeyarwady Region, which was worst hit by Cyclone Nargis, is rich in fertile soil and water resources, its residents could catch "frogs and fish" to eat along with the vegetables that grow in the region, and they can survive on candles so no need to restore the electricity for the cyclone victims. 


  • In terms of international engagement, China’s likely to take more proactive measures to try to broker a political solution in the coming weeks. However, Beijing has not yet revealed what will be its policy when it comes to the role of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party the National League for Democracy (NLD), which won a landslide victory in the elections held before the military coup. 


  • As the international efforts to persuade the junta to change its behavior, mostly failed it is now left to the domestic opposition group to formulate a clear policy on what they envisage for Burma in the post-military regime era. The Sagaing Forum could be a new kind of approach that would grantees a bottom-up approach to finding a solution to Myanmar’s long-standing political crisis and through such a process a collective leadership model could be developed. 

  • Until now Myanmar's opposition is led by personality rather than sound and all-inclusive policy development processes that benefit all stakeholders. 


The news analysis for April 2023 by the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) mentioned that (former) the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Myanmar, Ms Noeleen Heyzer, during her recent meeting with the Foreign Minister of China called on the international community to encourage for a dialogue among all actors in Myanmar to resolve the country’s conflict.

We would like to acknowledge Ms.Hayzer’s position on this issue which is "the solution has to be Myanmar-led based on the will and needs of the people (of Myanmar).

We apologize Ms Heyzer for this inadvertent error.

3.Rohingya Issue

Rohingya Issues


7 March- A team of Bangladeshi officials visited the reception camps for Rohingya refugees in Maungtaw Township on 5 May to assess the situation. After the visit, the team said the conditions in the reception centres are not conducive to receiving Rohingya refugees. The team said until the Rohingya refugees are granted citizenship and their security is granted, they can't return to Rakhine State. A Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh said the 15 villages the military junta has built as reception centres are unsafe enough for Rohingya Muslims. Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees were forced to flee to Bangladesh after the regime forces attacked Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine State. BHRN


7 May- Fire broke out at a camp for internally displaced Rohingya people in Kyein Ni Pyin village in Pauktaw Township in Rakhine State on 7 May in which 150 houses were gutted. The fire left 3700 people in need of urgent supplies of food and shelter, a Rohingya man told Burma Network for Human Rights. BHRN


18 May- More than 200 Rohingya Muslims reportedly died due to a cyclone that hit Rakhine State on 14 May. A source who lives in Thakaipyin camp for displaced Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine State capital Sittwe said that among those who were killed due to Cyclone Mocha includes 100 Rohingya from Sittwe and the rest from other places in the state. He said the victims of the cyclone are in dire need of food and other relief supplies. BHRN  

Rohingya in Bangladesh Camp

1 May- A Rohingya Muslim man was shot dead and seriously injured in Kutupalong refugee camp no 2 camps in Bangladesh on 30 April. The incident of the killing of Rohingya refugees in the camps in Bangladesh is increasing in the past months. Among those who were killed in such incidents are mainly religious leaders and in some cases, children were killed. Source: BHRN  


5 May - A group of 20 Rohingya refugees accompanied a Bangladeshi team to visit Rakhine State to see proposed resettlement camps established by the Burmese junta. These refugees said they did not feel safe with repatriation because there were no assurances for their rights or safety. Source: BHRN

14 May - Cyclone Mocha caused damage to several shelters in the refugee camps in Bangladesh. Official numbers say that 3,000 shelters were damaged in the storm, with 32 learning centers and 29 mosques damaged. Local refugees have said they believe the damage is much higher than reported. Refugees have said that the response by NGOs and government officials after the storm has needed improvement, with many shelters still needing repairing and people needing more significant access to food and medicine. Source: BHRN

16 May - Two shops in Camp 15 caught fire but locals were able to put the blaze out quickly. The fire was believed to have been started by an electrical mishap. Source: BHRN

20 May - A fire occurred in a space for children and surrounding shelters. People in the area were able to subdue the fire, and no one was injured. Source: BHRN

21 May - Approximately 500 Rohingya refugees were relocated to Bhasan Char Island from camps 1W and 2W. Refugees remain concerned about the island's safety, especially during monsoon season. Refugees have also said they do not feel they have any say in their relocation. Source: BHRN

4.Violations of Freedom of Rligious and Belief

1 May- A US report on global religious freedom has designated Myanmar as a country of particular concern. The report issued on 1 May by the United States Commission on Religious Freedom (USCRIF) said the situation of religious freedom in Myanmar has greatly deteriorated since the military coup in 2021. The report said the regimes in the countries designated as CPC have totally disregarded religious freedom and freedom of belief. The report said the military regime was involved in arson attacks on Buddhist monasteries in Magwe and Sagaing regions where it is facing attacks by pro-democracy militia groups. It said the regime also attacked Catholic churches in Kayan state where it is also facing attacks by resistance forces. Ref: RFA


8 May- Muslims in the Rakhine State capital Sittwe have asked local authorities to allow the refurbishment of an ancient mosque that has been locked for more than one decade. More than a century-old Myoma mosque was locked by authorities after sectarian violence targetting Muslims in Sittwe in 2012. A local resident said the ancient mosque has been used by drug addicts as their hideout despite it being guarded by police and military. The source said the authorities so far refused to grant permission for the renovation of the mosque. Ref: Narinjara

13 May- The junta has demolished at least four monasteries in Nay Pyi Taw in recent days, the Yangon Khit Thit newspaper reported quoting a local source. The report said demolishing started on 10 May. The source also told Yangon Khit Thit that the junta issued an order for demolishing three other monasteries in Nay Pyi Taw and set a deadline of 18 May to complete demolishing. Ref: Khit Thit News

 19 May- The immigration authorities in Mon State capital Mawlamyine have issued an order to the local administration to report on the population count and the number of religious buildings that exist in the city. The letter issued on 18 May asked the ward and village authorities to send the list to the local junta head within two days. The reason for asking for the list is still unknown. BHRN  

 24 May- A church was destroyed in an airstrike by the junta's airforce in Kawkareik Township in Kayin State on 23 May, a statement issued by the Kayin National Union (KNU), a rebel group based in the region said. The statement said the airstrike was carried out by a fighter jet from Nay Pyi Taw air base and the church was completely destroyed in the attack due to a direct hit of bombs. Ref: Khit Thit Media

25 May- A monastery and civilian homes were destroyed in an airstrike carried out by the junta forces in Indaw Township in Sagaing Region on 23 May, a local source told the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN). He said three fighter jets that came from Myitkyina airbase in Kachin State were involved in the attacks, in which eight bombs were dropped and also fired with machine guns from the fighter jets. BHRN. 


29 May- A monastery was destroyed in an airstrike by the junta's fighter jets in Kawkareik Township in Kayin State on 28 May, a spokesperson of the people defence force Justice Solider told the Yangon Khit Thit media. He said the attack targeted the Justice Solider troops, however, it has no presence in the monastery. Ref: Khit Thit Media

5. Hate Speech

●     Social Media Monitoring

The Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) monitored the hate speech and fake news that appeared on the social media sites Facebook and Telegram during May 2023 and recorded 24 such posts on the two sites. These posts mostly target the members of minority religions in Myanmar, including the members of the Islamic and Christianity faiths. 


The accusations against the Organisation of Islamic States 

Several social media users in Myanmar have spread hate messages against the Organization of Islamic State (OiC), which has a membership of 57 Islamic countries across the world. In the monitoring by BHRN, it was found that the comments on OiC on social media are based on unsubstantiated information and facts. 


One post seen in May accused OiC of planning to occupy Myanmar by trying to create a new Muslim ethnic group by using the Bengali Muslims in Northern Rakhine State. It also accused the US government as well as Mr George Soros, who leads a US-based philanthropic group the Open Society Foundation and OiC of collaborating in the attack against the Myanmar military and trying to wipe out Buddhism in Myanmar. 


Another post said OiC’s strategy was to destroy the Buddhist literature and culture as well as the values and culture of the Myanmar people. The obvious intention of these posts is to defame the countries and international organisations that are critical of the Burmese military regime. And they intend to divert the attention of the people of Myanmar who vehemently oppose the military dictatorship. And to use religious sentiment to create a division among the members of a different faith who joined hands in their struggle against the military regime.  


Hate Messages against the members of the Rohingya Muslim communities 

Several social media posts were seen during May which targeted Rohingya Muslim minority people in Myanmar. These posts were discriminatory in nature against the Rohingya community. One post said more Rohingya Muslims have died compared to other communities during cyclone Mocha, which struck Rakhine State in mid-May. The posts which were seen on the social media sites of the extremist elements, who mostly support the military regime said the cyclone has hit across Rakhine State, however, more Rohingya people were killed it was because of their past misdeeds. 


Another post said Rohingya people were creating drama about their fate in the aftermath of the cyclone to win sympathy and assistance. These posts accused Rohingya Muslims of entering Myanmar illegally.  


There were several posts which used derogatory words against the Rohingya victims. A post on the site of a pro-military lobbyist Sandi Myint Aung, which was seen on the Telegram page said, “There is no such thing as Rohingya in Myanmar you idiots, they are illegal immigrants, they do not deserve to be called as human beings”.


Another one on the Facebook page the name of Ko Lin said illegal migration, misguiding ethnic identity and asking for autonomy are the phenomena of Islamisation. 


Another post seen on the site of Yan Naing Magway on Facebook warned against issuing citizenship to Rohingya Muslims, the post said "If we grant citizenship to every Bengali who came into the country illegally, they will even get the right to vote on the country’s constitution and can become eligible to stand in the elections for the parliament. I am so apprehensive of my motherland,” the post said. Such posts are designed to support the military regime’s policy to deny citizenship rights to Rohingya Muslims. 


Using ambiguous and derogatory terms such as Jihardist, Kular and non-pork eaters- is used against Muslims on social media sites.  

Several social media posts were seen during May 2023 which are aimed at spreading Islamophobia among the people of Myanmar. Most of such messages were seen in the posts on the social media sites of ultra-nationalists. These posts described Muslims in coded words like Kular, non-pork eaters as well as Islamization and Jihad. 


These posts described the people's defense forces (PDF) which are fighting against the military regime as pro-Islamic. One post said, "These non-pork eater PDF groups will establish their territory and will claim it as a separate territory for them”. Another post said “These non-pork eaters are spread across the country and put Myanmar under their strategic target. Currently, they may not operate like jihadists, as they are collaborating with Buddhist traitors. They are collaborating to put trouble on the country”.


Another post said the drive for Islamisation could not be resisted even by the stronger countries in Europe " So how a country like Myanmar where there are many stupid people's lives could resist such an attempt? the post said. “Jihad means to spread the radical Islamic idea across the country," it added. These posts are designed to portray Muslims as a threat to the country and also attempt to create division among the opposition PDF forces where the members of all religions are collaborating in their struggle against the military regime. 


Hate speech and fake news targeting the members of the Christian religion  

There were also several posts that include hate messages and fake news targeting the members of Christian religions. They were widely seen on the Facebook and Telegram pages. One post on the Facebook page of a monk Ashin Wisarrina Mahathay said the Mocha cyclone, which hit Myanmar during mid-May, was worst affected in the northern Rakhine State, a majority Muslim area, and Kachin State, a majority Christian area. The post said it highlighted the fact that these two religions need to address their internal problems.  


Another post attacking Christians includes criticism of a Buddhist female actress for marrying a Christian. The post by a nationalist monk said “ Aye Thaung (the actress) recently got married to a Christian and she tried to pretend as if she was not a member of the Christian faith. Another celebrity a doctor and vocalist Chit Thu Wai has put up an anti-Buddhist post on Facebook in collaboration with her father. We do not have faith in the actress who is non-Buddhist,” the post said. This kind of post is a blatant attempt to defame those who belong to the members of minority religions. 


The Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) has recorded 18 posts on the two social media sites Facebook and Telegram during May 2023, which include hate messages against the members of the minority religions in Myanmar, particularly Muslims and Christians. Most of these posts are based on unsubstantiated facts and information. The posts on Facebook were liked by 3228 other users of the social media site and shared by 1498 users of the site. On Telegram such posts were seen on the channels with the total number of subscribers was 863000 and among them, 36200 have viewed the posts. 


●   Printed Media Monitoring


The Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) in its monitoring of the print media found that two publications consistently publish articles that attack the members of the minority relations and these articles are based on unsubstantiated facts. The two publications are Guardian Journal, whose publisher is Win Ko Ko Latt, an ultra-nationalist and a founding member of the now-defunct pro-Buddhist organisation the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion (Ma Ba Tha in Burmese acronym). Another one is Bullet Journal published by a company owned by a former military General and an anti-Islamic campaigner Bullet Hla Swe. These two publications combined have published seven such articles with hate messages against Muslims during May 2023. 


Hate Speech against Rohingya Muslims. 

The two publications Guardian and Bullet journals which consistently are publishing the articles with blatant attacks on the members of minority religions in Myanmar continued to do so during May. These articles mostly target the Rohingya Muslims in Northern Rakhine State. 


They include an article published in volume 5 no 10 of Bullet Journal, with the title “The issues of Bengali (who are called by Rohingya people by the international community) refugees in Bangladesh and the threat of foreign interference in Myanmar’s internal affairs”. The article was written by commentator Sun Ye, it includes attacks on the pro-Rohingya activists. It said “These activists who are pushing for the repatriation of Bengali are dangerous they are trying to bring these people back and trying to gain recognition of a fake ethnic group and then ask for citizenship for them. I am highlighting their plan before they succeed in it”   


Another article published in volumes 5 and no 12 of the Bullet Journal also called for denying citizenship rights to the Rohingya people. In the article titled "Mocha, Bengali and Thai elections” the columnist Sit Nyein said, “There is a plan to create a new name for Bengali who came into Myanmar from Bangla region as Rohingya, who are pretending to exist since the beginning of the world, must be vehemently opposed, also we need to oppose such attempts to grant them citizenship to those who are using a fake ethnic identity”. 


Another pro-nationalist publication Guardian in its recent publication said Rohingya Muslims are violating the laws of Myanmar and trying to create unrest in the country. The article with the title “The historical facts about the existence of Gurkha in Myanmar” was published in volume 2 no 29 of the Guardian Journal and it was written by a columnist Dr Myo Aung. It said, “Until these Bengali illegal immigrants stop floundering the country’s laws, oppose the government and try to incite terror, they shall not have a right to get citizenship rights”.


Accusations against the Organisation of Islamic States (OiC) 

The two publications Guardian and the Bullet Journals are run by pro-military lobbyists. And they are trying to create a negative impression against the Muslims in Myanmar to perpetuate military rule in Myanmar. In their attacks against Muslims in Myanmar, these publications also target the OiC for supporting a process to transform Myanmar into an Islamic State, which OiC and the Muslim groups in Myanmar have described as “preposterous”. 


Two such articles were published in the Bullet Journal in its May 2023 edition. The one written by Maung Yoe which was published in volume 5 no 9 of the Bullet journal accused OiC of supporting a pro-Rohingya militant group the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). The article titled “Who is forcing Rohingya who want to come back to Myanmar not to do so”. It said “ARSA is getting support from the powerful countries and organisations who have strong financial and human resources. They are implementing a plan to call for citizenship for Rohingya Muslims. These groups are increasing their demands to recognise an ethnic group [Rohingya] that has never existed in Myanmar. These attempts have become more widespread after 2017 incidents in Rakhine State”.  


Similarly, an article published in volume 5 number 9 of Bullet Journal accused OiC of trying to transform Myanmar, India and Thailand into Muslim countries. The article with the title “ If I may say a true historic fact about fake news” written by columnist Thakatho Myat Thu said,” The 57 members OiC which include the oil-rich Gulf States are trying to ignite conflict in Rakhine State as a part of their intention to transform India, Myanmar and Thailand into Islamic countries so that the entire circumference of the globe will become the Muslim countries. That is their inappropriate greed,” the article said.

6.Human Rights Violations

Rape as War Crime (committed by junta troops)

19 May- A couple were shot dead by junta troops in Okpo Township in Bago Region on 10 May. Ko Mya Min Htet and his wife Ma Thet Thet Oo were arrested on 10 May with an accusation of having a link with the local people's defence force. A spokesperson of the Bago Region people's defence force said the couple were shot nine days after their arrest and Ma Thet Thet Oo was rapped before she was killed, the source said. Ref: Mizzima

24 May- The junta troops based in Inndaw Township in Sagaing Region are committing sexual exploitation of women in their bases. One incident reported by a local resistance team said the soldiers from no 77 Light Infantry Division were involved in sexual abuse of a woman in their base in Nantha village situated about 8 miles west of Indiaw. He said the troops based in the village for the past two months. He said women were also asked to serve alcohol and soldiers sexually abused women when they were drunk. He said their victims also include pregnant women. BHRN

Oppression of the political prisoners

30 May- Three political prisoners were beaten to death in Kyeiksakaw prison in Deik U Township in Bago Region, a reliable source said. He said three unknown prisoners were killed during an attack by a prison guard on a group of 24 political prisoners held in the jail. He said the incident took place in late May adding that those who survived the attack are severely injured. The source said the prison authorities accused them of having connections with the groups fighting the junta. He said those who survived the attack were not given food and were held under solitary confinement for the past six days. Ref: Khit Thit Media

Violation of Freedom of expression

Arrest of Journalists

26 May- A court in Yangon has sentenced a senior journalist of Myanmar Press Photo Agency to 10 years imprisonment on a terrorism charge. The Thingangyun District court found Ma Mhu Yadanar Moh Moh Tun guilty under section 5 j of the counter-terrorism law. She is already serving a three-year sentence imposed on her last December under a criminal defamation charge. More than 50 journalists are currently jailed since the military coup in February 2021. Ref: RFA

Arrest of CDMs

24 May- A group of 5 health workers including a doctor and four nurses were arrested in Hakha Township in Chin State on 21 May, a local source said. He said they were working in a private hospital after leaving their government jobs after the military coup in February 2021, in protest of the military takeover removing an elected civilian government. Ref: RFA

Extra Judicial Punishment

Arbitrary arrests and imprisonment

8 May- A family of five including physically-disabled children were arrested in Meiktila in Mandalay Region, a local source said. He said the family of U Saw Par Balu, who is a composer, was arrested on unknown charges. The source said the two young daughters of U Saw Par Balu are with speaking and listening challenges. Ref: Mizzima


9 May- A group of 30 civilians were arrested by the junta’s troops in Yephyu Township in Tanintharyi Region on 8 May. They were arrested by a battalion of regime forces, who entered the region without any ongoing conflict. The reason for the arrest of the civilians was unknown but it is expected that they will be used as human shields, a local source said. He said they are currently held in a monastery in Khamaung Chaung village, Yephyu. BHRN

18 May- The junta’s troops arrested more than 50 civilians in a village in Shwe Bo Township in Sagaing Region. They were arrested during a raid by the junta troops on Kanthar Kone village in which homes were also burned down. The civilians were arrested to be used as human shields in fighting against the people's defence forces. Most of those arrested are Muslims and included at least four children and 30 women, a source who declined to be named told the Burma Human Rights Network. BHRN

19 May- A prominent anti-junta activist Wai Moe Naing was sentenced to an additional 20 years imprisonment under a treason charge. The leading committee on anti-junta protest in Moneywa Township said with the latest sentence the total years of imprisonment imposed on Wai Moe Naing has reached 54 years. The junta-appointed court earlier found Wai Moe Naing guilty of six deformation charges and he received a total of 12 years under these charges. He is also facing a murder charge which is yet to be finalised. Wai Moe Naing is being punished for his anti-junta activities. BHRN

Extra Judicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances

1 May- The Ministry of Women, Youths and Children Affairs of the National Unity Government (NUG) said nearly 400 children were killed due to attacks by the military regime since the coup in 2021. The ministry said most of the children were killed while they were under arrest by the regime troops as well as due to the explosion of landmines and shelling on civilian targets by the regime forces. The ministry said this year April become the month where the highest numbers of children were killed. It said 55 children were killed in April in a series of air raids on civilian targets. Ref: RFA


5 May- A senior leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) was killed while he was being interrogated by the regime forces. Ko Myint Htun, 48, an Executive Committee Member of Paungte Township NLD office was arrested from his home in Ingyi village in Paungte. He was killed while interrogated at a police station. The family was informed of Ko Myint Htun death only three days after his killing. His body was buried by his former captors on 4 May. BHRN   


11 May- The mutilated bodies of two unknown men in their mid-30s were found in Ngan Zun Township in Mandalay Region on 10 May. The identities of the two men were still not known. One local source said one of the decades could be a member of a local resistance force.  Ref: Irrawaddy


12 May- 18 civilians including 7 children were burned to death in a mass killing committed by the regime forces in a village in Htantabin Township in Bago Region on 10 May. A local source said they were attacked on suspicion of supporting the people's defence forces fighting the regime. BHRN 


13 May-Two girls were killed in an attack by the junta troops on a gathering of civilians in Yinmarbin Township in Sagaing Region. Two girls aged 12 and 16 were killed in an attack on a sermon ceremony in Mai Zai Taw Pyin village in Yinmarbin, the other five including a toddler were seriously injured in the attack. The attacks come as about 50 strong junta troops and members of its affiliate organisation Pyu Saw Htee raided the village. BHRN  

21 May- A youth died in Dawei Township in Tanintharyi Region while he was under arrest by the junta troops. Ko Kyaw Thu Ya, 30, was arrested when he was coming back from work on 15 May. He died after he was beaten up during the interrogation, a spokesperson of a local defence group Tanintharyi sub-region command said. The junta refused to hand over his dead body to the family. Ko Kyaw Thu Ya was a Muslim and according to an Islamic tradition, the dead need to be buried within 24 hours after death. BHRN

23 May- The junta conducted nearly 1500 airstrikes on civilian targets since it came to power in a military coup in February 2021, a local think tank said. Nyan Linn Thit Research group said more than 600 civilians were killed in these attacks. They include the attack on Pazigyi village in Sagaing Region’s Kanbalu Township in April this year in which more than 170 civilians were killed. Ref: Khit Thit Media

25 May- The junta troops killed six elderly civilians in a raid on a village in Ahyartaw Township in Sagaing Region on 24 May. They also burned down the entire Taung Mhwa village in the raid. A local source said those who were killed were aged between 60 and 80. BHRN

25 May- A 70-year-old school teacher died during an interrogation by junta’s troops in Taungthar Township in Mandalay Region on 23 May. U Thaung Yee, 70, who was involved in the protest against the coup has died after he voluntarily gave himself to the police on the promise of the junta not to take any action against those who voluntarily gave themselves in. A local source said the body of U Thaung Yee was not returned to his family. The family was just informed that his family was cremated. Ref: Mizzima

 26 May- The junta troops shot dead five youths in South Dagon Satellite town in Yangon on 24 May. The junta accused them of being members of the people defence force (PDF), Yangon Khit Thit newspaper reported. The killing comes as the junta in recent weeks stepped up attacks in Yangon on youths with the accusation of having a connection with the PDF groups. Ref: Khit Thit Media

28 May-Eight civilians including a 16-year-old child were shot dead by the junta troops at an interrogation camp in Kawthaung Township in Tanintharyi Region on 22 May, a source close to the family of the dead civilians said. The deceased were among 20 civilians recently arrested by the junta in Kawthaung with the accusation of having links with the people's defence forces. BHRN

6.6 Violence Attacks by Pro-junta Thugs

5 May- Members of the junta-affiliated Pyu Saw Htee militant group burned down a village in Myine Township in Mawe Region on 5 May. A local source said 15 homes as well as two cowpens and four plantations of sandlewood were destroyed in the attack. BHRN 


6 May- A relative of a senior member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and her daughter were killed by members of a junta-affiliated militant group Pyu Saw Htee in Mingaldon Township in Yangon on 7 May. Daw Kyu Kyun Naing, sister of U Win Naing, a member of the Central Executive Committee (NLD) U Win Naing and her 11-year-old daughter Ma Chit Tha Mee were killed in the attack. The mother and daughter duo were killed by members of Pyu Saw Htee, a local source said. He said they were killed as Pyu Saw Htee could not arrest U Win Naing. Ref: Khit Thit Media 


11 May- The junta and its affiliate group SNA are conscripting civilians in Banmauk Township in Sagaing Region, Yangon Khit Thit media reported quoting a member of Bamuk Revolution- BR, a local defence force. It said the residents of the villages situated in the western parts of Bhamauk Township are forced to send one conscript from each of 10 households. A local source said the junta has recently provided 500 arms to SNA and they are terrorising local communities. The source said SNA has taken a group of conscripts on trucks on 9 May. Ref: Khit Thit Media

26 May- The junta is asking one of its affiliate groups Pyu Saw Htee to conscript civilians in Kalay Township in Sagaing Region, a local source said. He said the junta is spearheading the formation of a militia group under the command of Pyu Saw Htee. In a recent incident, a group of junta troops came to Sakhan Gyi village in Kalay and threatened the villagers to join the militia group in a public meeting. The villagers who refused to join the meeting were threatened that their homes will be burned down. And those who agreed to join the militia group were offered freedom of travel in the region. Also promised that Pyu Saw Htee will provide security for the village as they did for nearby Indaing Lay Kaung Teik Sei U villages. The villagers were also offered agricultural loans and other subsidies if they agreed to join the militia. Ref: Mizzima

Background on the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)

Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) is based in London, operates across Burma/Myanmar and works for human rights, minority rights and religious freedom in Burma. BHRN has played a crucial role in advocating for human rights and religious freedom with politicians and world leaders.

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Kyaw Win, Executive Director

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