Weekly Overview: Human Rights Situation in Mon State, Karen State and Tanintharyi Region

March 18, 2024

HURFOM, Second Week of March 2024

Over the last week, civilians once again in target areas of the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) struggled to resume their daily activities in peace. While the junta continues to present a distorted illusion of business as usual. This incorrect and profoundly misleading narrative must not fool the international community. The reality is that the situation on the ground is that innocent civilians are being deprived of their fundamental rights and freedoms and prevented from accessing safe and secure pathways to education, health care and legal assistance.

Landmines, in particular, pose a grave threat. On the morning of March 11, a woman stepped on a landmine in Zahar village, Dawei Township, and her right leg was amputated. She stepped on a landmine while picking cashew nuts at her farm, according to the witness. She was the second victim of the landmine this week. Cases of landmines are continuing to rise as the junta plants them in civilian areas, including near and around their surrounding villages, clinics, and schools. This is yet another tool of terror by the regime used to target and intimidate innocent people.

Indiscriminate firing also continues to undermine civilian safety. Between 8 and 11 March, the junta carried out at least four airstrikes. They also fired artillery weapons at the villages around the Thinkan Ninaung. Approximately eighty homes were hit by artillery weapons and destroyed by fire.

Checkpoints are increasingly becoming high-risk places for anyone passing through. Many are controlled by the junta who regularly extort, intimidate and harass travellers. Those who attempt to pass without stopping risk death. Two youths were shot dead, and one was seriously injured at the Than Bridge checkpoint of a military junta in Bilin Township, Mon State, because they did not stop their motorcycles this week.

In addition, civilians are regularly abducted and forced to be human shields or held in military detention centers without a reason. Family members reported to HURFOM that four internally displaced people (IDPs) who were captured in eastern Dawei had not been heard from for more than a week. These cases of enforced disappearances are not without worry. Many never return, leaving families devastated and without answers. 

In a separate case, on March 9, a junta military column headed towards Metta sub-town from Kyaukme Taung village arrested a woman and three young men who were fishing in a stream near Kaligyi village. Those missing are Ko Myint Myat Aung, age 18, Ko Linn Htet Kyawzwa, age 29, Ko Win Zaw Lay, age 30 and Ma Win Than, age 25.

The junta also abducts people as hostages as a part of their psychological warfare strategies. On March 2, the New Mon State Party (AD – Anti-Military Dictatorship) arrested three militia leaders. In response, the 318th Artillery Regiment based in Ah Bit village, Mudon, arrested three women who are relatives of members of NMSP (AD). Their whereabouts are unknown.

HURFOM continues to advocate for an immediate and coordinated response to the atrocities happening regularly in Burma. Fear of the people must be replaced with hopes for justice and confidence in international accountability mechanisms that recognize their pain and suffering for so many years. The military junta belongs behind bars and must be recognized as the war criminals that they are.


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