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

December 11, 2023

HURFOM, First Week of December 2023

Human Rights Day was commemorated on 10 December 2023 with the theme of Consolidating and Sustaining Human Rights Culture into the Future. The Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) has launched a report responding to the theme, “Culture in the Crosshairs: How the Junta is Systematically Targeting Human Rights Culture with Military Impunity.” Our report analyzes the current human rights situation in Southeastern Burma and how quickly it is deteriorating, particularly in Mon State, Karen State, and the Tanintharyi region. Viewed through a cultural lens, the report also exposes how the junta is targeting the culture of local people when they force them from their homes and destroy their sacred places of worship.

Despite all of the horrors that the people have gone through in Burma, their resilience and sense of community remain strong, and their spirits are unbroken. HURFOM fieldworkers are actively responding to the plight of communities on the ground who desperately need urgent relief, including medicine and food. The most vulnerable, notably women and children, are in a fragile situation where their overall well-being is at risk. HURFOM has repeatedly joined our communities in calling for local voices and solutions to be amplified as the junta’s horrendous atrocity crimes continue to be perpetrated with impunity.

Most local villagers from the villages on the west side of Yebyu Township, where the military junta often launches its operations, moved to other areas because they did not dare to stay in their villages. The military junta entered the west bank of Yebyu twice in October 2023, and those troops burned 29 houses in five villages and shot seven residents dead. After the incidents, more people moved to the Na Buu Lal area on the west bank and the towns around it: “We’re always listening to the news. Many people have moved, but it has increased obviously,” said a man living there. Last month, in November, most of the Pa Ra Dud, Muu Duu, Ba War village, and Ba War coastal villages fled mainly to Dawei.

Meanwhile, the persecution of activists continues. A young man, 28-year-old Karen Saw Saung Hnin Htoo Phaw, was arrested at the front entrance checkpoint of Dawei City on July 25, 2023. The military junta court sentenced him to ten years in prison after he was detained for more than four months. His family has received hardly any information about his case. A friend of Saw Saung Hnin Htoo Phaw said that he was charged with Section 52(a) and 50(j) of the Anti-Terrorism Act for the information found on his mobile phone. This is yet another area of control that the junta has tried to exert over the people.

Saw Saung Hnin Htoo Phaw holds a degree in computer technology from Dawei Computer University and works as a gardener with his parents, according to Kyauk Mee Laung village residents. Following the attempted coup, two people were jailed by the military under the Anti-Terrorism Act in Ka Lain Aung Town, Yebyu Dawei.

There are around 400 political prisoners in Dawei Prison, and most of them are those who have been charged with anti-terrorism offences and those who have been sentenced.

In addition to arrests, the destruction of properties is ongoing. At least eight local people were arrested, including four houses and shops that were sealed off in Thanbyuzayat. After a man was charged with a gun in the Aung Zay Ya extension ward, the military came and captured at least eight wealthy local people from the city on 30 November. Four houses and shops were sealed off in Thanbyuzayat, Mon State.

Then, on the morning of December 1, at least six owners of gold shops and grocery shops in Thanbyuzayat were arrested again: “We think that the military abducted people to extort money. Their family didn’t say anything.”


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