Myanmar law students report for JURIST on challenges to the rule of law in their country under the military junta that overthrew the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021. Here, one of our Correspondents look back on recent developments including the junta’s decision to institute widespread power cuts across the country, the burning of many rural villages in junta military raids and a NUG investigation into alleged crimes committed by PDF forces loyal to the NUG. The text has only been slightly modified to respect the author’s voice.
I hope that amidst all the media coverage and appropriate concerns about Ukraine and Afghanistan these days, it is not forgotten that Myanmar is still suffering from the military coup that started here on February 1, 2021. It’s been over a year since that day, but it feels like we’ve traveled back in time to a dark past 10-15 years ago. It’s not just a metaphor. On the contrary, it is the “reality” of living in Myanmar now.
To expand on this with an illustration, one day while surfing my Facebook newsfeed, I saw an online shopper advertise an old metal clothes iron for sale. You may have never seen this before, or have already forgotten what an iron looks like, so I am including a photo of an iron with this report.
In fact, I had also forgotten what an iron looks like, because 13 years ago was the last time I saw my mother ironing our school uniforms with this iron.
Ten years ago we had very limited access to electricity and these metal irons were more in demand than electronic irons.
Ten years ago, we used charcoal as a source of energy to cook everyday meals, because if we waited for the electricity to start cooking, everyone might have to eat breakfast in the evening. .
Ten years ago, all the kids in my neighborhood would yell “yay” every time the lights went up at 8 p.m. and they could finally turn on the TV.
This description of “Ten years ago in Myanmar” applies exactly to “What it’s like to live in Myanmar in 2022”. Our phone and internet bills skyrocketed to double the normal amount. Electricity bills are extremely high, but 6 hours is the maximum amount of time people in Myanmar can access electricity on a daily basis. If you run a business that requires electronic devices, you will soon be out of business. You can name any basic human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but most people in Myanmar cannot afford all these human rights in their daily life, we have to therefore qualify them as “luxury”.
From the very beginning of the coup, we said we couldn’t let history repeat itself. It’s not just about who has taken full authority to run this country. It is also about the suffocating days that have been inflicted on the people of Myanmar. All aspects of our lives, such as standard of living, physical health, mental health, daily income and expenses, education and job opportunities have been and are being directly and indirectly restricted by the military junta. As the days pass, we have less space to breathe.
It’s not just what happens in a law student’s household that makes JURIST aware. This is happening in every household residing in Myanmar RIGHT NOW.
Burn civilian houses
This has been reported in previous Myanmar news. Some might wonder if such cases happen again and again, as we hear of at least 5 such cases in a week. The answer is yes.” Yes, the military junta in Myanmar uses the technique of burning villages to torture unarmed civilians, to seize civilian property, to pressure local People’s Defense Force fighters who hide nearby, especially in rural areas.Here are the names of the villages where the junta burned down houses in the last 3 months of 2022.
- Pallin Village, Monywa Township, Sagaing
- Parami Village, Naung Gyi Ai, Ayadaw, Sagaing
- Ywa Thit Village in Kanbalu Township, Sagaing
- Banbwe Village, Yinmarpin Township
- Sehtanthaw Village, Yinmarpin Township
- Kwan Taw Village, Mauk Palin Village Trail, Paungbyin Township
- Htan Zin Village, Yinmarpin
- Nat Chaung Village, Nat Myaunh Village in Kale, Sagaing
- Taung Kone Village, Wetlet Township
- Marakan Village, Depayin Township
- Village of Tamot
- Lepin Village, Paung Te Township, Bago
- Village of Shwe hlae, canton of Chaung U, Rhône-Alpes
- Village of Thapyay Aye, canton of Pale, Rhône-Alpes
- Dookthe Village
- Hnaw Yoe Village, Pale Township
- Pauk Pan Phyu Village, Yinmarpin
- Taungkone village
- Yetohkan Village, Wetlet Township, Shwebo
- The village of Letpantaw
- Hniarlawnthar village
- Kyun Lae Village, Khin U Township
- Chaung Ma Village, Yinmarpin
- Maupin, ShweBo
- Myaing Township, Magway
- Than Taw Kung Village, Ayadaw Township
- Chaung Yoe Village
- Village of Sein Sar, canton of Taze
As a result, there were many death reports (you can refer to the list on Data for Myanmar) and hundreds of villagers became homeless as they had to flee their homes. The military junta burns houses for various purposes. Junta soldiers attack villages, use villagers as human shields to locate local PDFs, and loot livestock and other civilian property before setting them on fire.
Not only houses but also civilian property such as cars were burned in Myawaddy and Kawkareik to disrupt the transport of food and other goods across the country. Residents of Myanmar are urged not to use highways due to ongoing clashes between military juntas and anti-coup forces. The junta shows no mercy to anyone living in Myanmar. Putting yourself in the shoes of the owners of those burnt houses for a second is unbearably difficult. There are no words to fully describe the misery in the hearts of these people.
NUG Department of Justice Investigating Alleged PDF Crimes
The Ministry of Justice of the national unity “shadow” government (civilian government) is investigating the NUG’s Ministry of Military Affairs. The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Military Affairs have formed a commission to investigate charges against some PDF soldiers in Sagaing Division for the arbitrary killing of innocent civilians that occurred in November 2021.
The Ministry of Justice reported that there were attempts to cover up these incidents and General Than Mani, a PDF leader in the region, confessed that such incidents could have happened due to the actions of some other members of the PDF and he said he would take responsibility if they were found guilty by the ministry.
At the beginning of this incident, the NUG proved that the NUG itself would not accept any type of war crime in times of conflict and the NUG promised to improve the education of all leaders and comrades of the PDF on the war crimes, the code of conduct for combatants and relevant international rules and regulations.