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

January 30, 2023

Fourth Week of January 2023

HURFOM: As the first month of the year 2023 comes to an end, the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) has continued to document the military junta’s impunity. This is evident in the widespread crimes which are routinely perpetrated against civilians. There is no reliable rule of law in Burma which would hold the soldiers behind the attacks to account. Villagers across Southeastern Burma are uncertain about their futures because they are surrounded by mass instability. The impacts of relentless civil war have led to a severe economic climate that has destroyed employment opportunities. Families forced to flee live in remote areas with their lives at risk daily as the junta increases their presence. Food, medicine, and shelter remain urgent for those living through crises on multiple fronts.

The conflict has driven people to the Thai border desperately for safety. On January 23, at 10 PM, in Three Pagodas Pass, residents fled to Thailand because combat had resumed. About eighty households left for Thailand during the reporting period. The majority have some documents or residence and work permits on the Thai side.  An hour and a half later, four government offices, including the General Administration Department office, were set on fire, according to HURFOM reporters. Fighting has continued to intensify, leaving locals worried about the junta’s use of airstrikes to suppress the joint armed forces.

“I’m terrified that the junta will use their airplanes to fire at us. If they use the jets, we will all be targets and in great danger. There’s nowhere to run. In our lifetimes, we have been forced to flee many times,” said a 50-year-old resident.

According to ground reports, about 400 families in Kyone Dow, Kanni, Thayettaw and Kaw Kyaik villages, Kawkareik, Karen State,  have been forced to flee to safer areas due to the indiscriminate firing of the junta’s heavy weapons into the villages. Many residents said the situation was intolerable as the Light Infantry Battalion 545 and 546 armed forces fired heavy weapons into their villages.

“Artillery shells dropped near my residence three times, and there was no time to collect anything. My husband managed to move the children. We started running away. It’s challenging because we left all the food and things in my village. Meanwhile, the monastery is helping. In the long run, if we can’t go home, it will be difficult to survive and live.” a 37-year-old mother of three children said of the tense situation.

There are 800 houses in Tharataw Village. A total of 4,000 people live there. A network fieldwork team explained that it is difficult to collect a needs assessment because everyone is fleeing. 

The military junta continues to target opposition forces. The people have overwhelmingly rejected the failed coup and remain active in their calls for the military to be dismantled. In response, the Burma Army has not hesitated to silence its critics violently.  At least five local civilians have been arbitrarily abducted by the secret police and military forces in the last five days in Thayet Chaung Township Dawei, according to families and friends of the detainees. On January 20, 2023, police stopped a minibus with fourteen passengers and abducted the driver, Ko Su Kan Nge, age 35, by accusing him of being associated with the local armed groups:

“The driver and the minibus owner were interrogated and arrested on the road to Dawei. The troops questioned the passengers and let them go later. It seems like they are targeting supporters of the Civil Disobedience Movement with informers and tracking them,” said a local.

Arbitrary killings remain a source of fear for many as the junta indiscriminately attacks civilians. A 60-year-old resident of Pala, who has been missing since January 12, was shot, and killed in Pala Township, Myeik District, southern Tanintharyi Region. U Loon Khin had been missing since the evening of January 12. His family said he left for a job and never returned. Approximately eight people, including U Loon Khin, were shot dead in Pala Town in the last 12 months. No one has received justice.


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