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

April 22, 2024

HURFOM, Third Week of April 2024

The traditional Burmese New Year, ‘Thingyan,’ was marked last week. For the third year since the attempted coup, the people of Burma refused to participate in any celebration, which would suggest the situation in the country is normal. In its loosening grasp on reality, the junta bought stages and set up areas to gather in urban locations, but these went largely unattended as photos showed empty streets and closed-up shops. With ongoing human rights violations rampant, the cause for celebration was diluted with a shared frustration for the lack of consequences the junta continues to evade.
The junta released thousands of prisoners nationwide during the annual New Year events. However, this remains a disingenuous gesture as HURFOM has documented debilitating conditions inside the prison. On April 17, at 1:00 PM., the military junta granted amnesty to 3,303 prisoners nationwide. As part of this amnesty, 204 inmates from various prison camps in Mon State were released to mark the first day of the New Year. The Department of Revenue ordered these releases under the military junta’s command. Only four of those pardoned in Mon State were political prisoners who were being detained under Section 505 of the Penal Code.

The breakdown of released prisoners from Mon State includes 95 men and 25 women from Kyaikmayaw Central Prison, 33 men and 11 women from Mawlamyine Prison, four men from Thaton Market Prison, eight men from Anga Bo Work Camp, three men from Zin Kyaik Work Camp, 11 men from Yin Nyein Work Camp, six men from Inn Pyoung Work Camp, and eight individuals (three men and five women) from Mu Pa Lin Stone Extraction Camp, totaling 204 individuals. Additionally, 36 foreign prisoners, including 15 Sri Lankans and 13 Indonesians, were pardoned and subsequently deported.
While the junta attempted to distort the political situation, its battalions continued to bombard civilians. In Tanintharyi Township, villagers from the Eastern Village of Maw Tone report that the Artillery Regiment No. 306 fired heavy weapons indiscriminately at their villages during the Thingyan festival period, even though no fighting was taking place. The shelling began at 6:30 PM on the eve of Thingyan, hitting several homes and gardens.
“It was lucky that none of the villagers were hurt. The shells did not hit the areas where people were present,” said a young male local from the Western Maw Tone Village.
According to villagers, on the eve of Thingyan, on the day of Thingyan itself, and the day marking the ascent of Thingyan, sounds of heavy artillery fire from Artillery Regiment No. 306 were heard daily, and the troops continued to fire towards nearby villages. The shelling typically occurs in the early mornings, afternoons, and evenings, villagers added.
Moreover, on the morning of the ascent of Thingyan, the regiment also fired heavy artillery towards Mayin Gyi Village. In addition, on the eve of Thingyan and the subsequent day, supply routes from Myeik City to Baan Lamoot Village in Tanintharyi were attacked by heavy weapons from a military convoy, according to members of the resistance group.
“They are firing to clear the paths,” said a member of the resistance based in Tanintharyi.

The situation in Tanintharyi is currently reported to be calm, with both sides engaging in a watch-and-wait stance. On the morning of the eve of Thingyan, along the road between Baan Lamoot Village and Nyaung Pin Kone Village in Tanintharyi, when revolutionary forces attacked a junta military checkpoint, an officer and two soldiers of the junta were killed.

In Tanintharyi Township this year, during the first three months alone, over 40 civilians have been injured, and no fewer than five people have died due to the impact and explosion of heavy artillery shells.


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