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

August 21, 2023

HURFOM | August Week Three

In Southeastern Burma, the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM), the impunity of the military junta is evident in the number of cases documented daily. Across the last two and a half years, ongoing, widespread attacks against civilians have occurred. Rather than engage meaningfully with civil society organizations and take accountability pathways which hold the junta responsible, UN affiliates and others have corresponded with the military. Most recently, the United Nations Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, met with the terrorist-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing.

In a statement issued by HURFOM this week, we called upon international actors to act with integrity by working with local actors and human rights defenders instead of the Burma Army. To do the opposite is to act without principled action or respect for the thousands of lives destroyed by the military junta who have repeatedly blocked aid access and attacked first responders, as was the case on August 13 when U Zaw Min Oo, a social worker aged 40, living in westward, was arrested at his home by the military junta, including the Special Branch forces. The arrested victim works at the Chit Kyi Yay charity group.

Further, the Commanders of the junta have repeatedly issued orders that threaten civilian safety. The situation is worsening in Mon State, Karen State, and the Tanintharyi region, where HURFOM fieldworkers report daily abuses. Indiscriminate firing displaces families and significantly undermines their survival and access to education and work. 

On August 14, 2023, the military junta troops that entered the area of the Karen National Union (KNU) Brigade No.1 Administrative Areas in Thaton District, Mon State, shot and killed a civilian District and forcibly took valuable materials from 36 houses owned by the villagers. More than 100 troops then committed human rights violations after entering the villages in Thaton district from July 25 to August 6.

On July 26, the military junta troops on patrol shot and killed Saw Dawlar, who was returning to Shwe Yaung Pya village on a motorcycle. We have compiled a list of human rights violations by the military junta that entered the villages. The worst thing is to shoot civilians and raid public houses. They took all the belongings and destroyed the homes. Their column retreated on August 6,” said KNU Thaton district information officer.

Money was stolen from three houses owned by the villagers in Khalauk Inn village. Phones and food were also seized, as well as livestock. According to a statement from the Thaton district, Brigade 1 of KNU, at least ten Ma Yan Gon village civilian houses were damaged due to artillery weapons fired by the military junta troops during the patrol.

“No one has dared to return to the village. They are afraid of being confronted by the patrolling soldiers of the Burma Army. Some have moved to villages close to the city. Most villagers are fleeing to safe places,” said a Shwe Yaung Pya village resident.

When the military junta troops entered Thaton township, nearly 5,000 residents of ten villages, such as Shwe Yaung Pya, Ma Yan Gon, including Khalauk Inn, were forced to evacuate and could not return to their homes. Due to the rapid increase in the price of essential goods and difficulty purchasing food as the fleeing residents have no work, there is an urgent need for humanitarian aid, including food, according to authorities in Thaton district.

During these extremely difficult times, the international community must stand with local people and locally-led organizations, who are the most effective responders to the many needs arising. The world must not look away from the situation in Burma, which is why engagement must prioritize those working for meaningful democracy in the country. 


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