Foreign Minister expresses commitment to continue dialogue with Myanmar CSOs

7 September 2022: Representatives of six Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from Myanmar on Tuesday held a 90-minute-long dialogue with the Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato Saifuddin Abdullah and exchanged views on the multi-faceted crises in Myanmar. Present in the meeting were representatives from the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN), Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG), Myanmar Cultural Research Society (MCRS), Progressive Voice (PV), and Women’s League of Burma (WLB).

In his opening remarks, the Foreign Minister shared his views and the initiatives he has undertaken with respect to the current situations in Myanmar, including his recent communication to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary-General requesting an update on the steps taken by ASEAN towards resolving the crises in Myanmar in the lead up to the upcoming ASEAN Summit in Indonesia in November. Expressing his concerns regarding the worsening humanitarian situation in Myanmar, the Foreign Minister said he recognized the need to directly support local civil society organizations working on the ground outside of the junta’s control to provide life-saving humanitarian aid to the people. He reiterated his earlier public statement regarding the need for ASEAN member states to urgently decide on whether to continue working with or without the military junta regarding the provision of humanitarian aid in Myanmar.

Representatives of the civil society organizations, in turn, expressed serious concern regarding the senselessness of working with the military junta in providing humanitarian aid to the very people who are suffering and fleeing from the junta’s atrocities. They stressed that current humanitarian aid delivery efforts being made with the focus on partnering with the military junta is completely ill-advised and counterproductive. They pointed out that the military junta, as the primary source of the crisis, cannot be trusted with aid delivery.

Taking the opportunity, participants of the meeting also thanked the Foreign Minister for his leadership in speaking out on the issue of the ongoing crises in Myanmar within the ASEAN membership and beyond the region. They urged him to continue to take a leading role in reaching out to other counterparts within ASEAN in forging a cohesive and coordinated response to the crises in Myanmar. At the same time, the CSOs noted the regional dimension to the Myanmar crisis, which has implications for the well-being and protection of refugees in Myanmar’s neighboring countries, including many thousands who have sought sanctuary in Malaysia following the attempted coup of 2021.

In particular, the CSO representatives raised grave concerns regarding the recent signing of new agreements and the presenting of credentials to the illegitimate junta by some of the UN Agencies working inside Myanmar, including the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN International Children’s Emergency Fund and UN Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Foreign Minister noted these concerns with great interest. The CSO representatives emphatically reminded the Foreign Minister that such maneuvers not only embolden the junta to continue committing atrocity crimes, but also serve to legitimize an illegal junta at a time when it is desperately seeking for international recognition ahead of the UN General Assembly session, which is once again set to decide on who will represent Myanmar at the world body.

Foreign Minister Abdullah expressed his commitment to continue interacting with Myanmar civil society organizations, as well as broadening the discussion to include other interested members of ASEAN.


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Myanmar’s Forgotten War

International and local human rights groups are accusing the Tatmadaw of perpetrating war crimes across the country.

“It’s deliberately targeted at the civilian population. It’s designed to destroy livelihoods and lives that support the resistance movement,” says Salai Za Uk Ling, of the Chin Human Rights Organisation.

“If these are not war crimes, I don’t know what is.”

“The methods that they use to instill fear in the population, be it the killing of a child, sexual violence against women, getting rid of bodies, burning, destroying evidence: They knowingly commit war crimes, and these are very well documented.”

United States Eyes New Energy Sanctions on Myanmar After Execution of Activists (

Oil and gas are a critical economic lifeline for Myanmar’s military junta.

By , a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy, and , an intern at Foreign Policy.

A signboard for TotalEnergies EP Myanmar is seen past a shuttered gate in Yangon on Jan. 22, after energy giants TotalEnergies and Chevron said they would leave Myanmar following pressure from human rights groups to cut financial ties with the junta since last year's military coup.
A signboard for TotalEnergies EP Myanmar is seen past a shuttered gate in Yangon on Jan. 22, after energy giants TotalEnergies and Chevron said they would leave Myanmar following pressure from human rights groups to cut financial ties with the junta since last year’s military coup. STR/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

The Biden administration is considering sanctions targeting Myanmar’s energy sector, according to a U.S. official and aides familiar with the matter, following a crackdown on pro-democracy activists by the country’s ruling junta.

The decision, which the sources said was likely and could be announced in the coming month, comes amid mounting frustration from Congress and human rights organizations that Washington isn’t doing enough to crack down on Myanmar’s military rulers. The military took power in a coup last February.

During a closed-door congressional briefing on July 27, senior lawmakers who are important allies of U.S. President Joe Biden, including Rep. Gregory Meeks, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, pressed top administration officials on why they were dragging their heels on levying sanctions against Myanmar’s energy sector, according to the official and congressional aides familiar with the matter. All officials and aides spoke on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to publicly discuss internal government deliberations.

“There are Members in Congress with genuine frustrations that the crisis is getting worse,” said a House Foreign Affairs Committee aide familiar with the matter. “Chairman [Meeks] feels strongly that the United States can be doing more to squeeze the military economically and isolate it diplomatically.”

Among the officials grilled by lawmakers was Daniel Kritenbrink, the top State Department envoy for East Asian and Pacific affairs, as well as senior officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development and Treasury Department.

While the United States and other Western allies have slapped sanctions on people and businesses in Myanmar that were involved in carrying out the military coup last year, Washington has so far left Myanmar’s energy sector—including the state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE)—effectively untouched. The European Union sanctioned MOGE in February, a year after the coup, but advocates have since called on others, including the United States and the United Kingdom, to follow suit. The energy sector is a crucial source of revenue for Myanmar’s military, which earns $1 billion a year from MOGE alone. It is also an important conduit for foreign currency reserves.

“That’s a lifeline,” Salai Za Uk Ling, the deputy executive director at Chin Human Rights Organization, a nonprofit group advocating for the rights of ethnic Chin and other minority groups in Myanmar, said of MOGE’s significance to the junta’s armed campaign.

The United States has been reluctant in recent years to sanction the country’s energy sector, the sources said, because of the undue hardships it would place on average Myanmar citizens. (One natural gas project, called Yadana, supplies Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, with half its power, for example.) They also point to the fact that neighboring countries, including Thailand, rely heavily on Myanmar for energy imports. Washington is working to carefully balance its human rights concerns regarding Myanmar with rallying support among its neighbors, including Thailand, for other regional security priorities, the sources said. The United States also wants to keep the region from falling into China’s orbit against the backdrop of mounting geopolitical competition between Washington and Beijing.

But inside the Biden administration, the sources said, a possible turning point on energy sanctions came after Myanmar’s government announced in late July that it had executed four prominent pro-democracy activists. It was the first of such formal state-sanctioned executions in decades.

Although the United States and other foreign governments quickly condemned the executions, human rights advocates and civil society activists were frustrated that Washington didn’t go further.

“How many more people need to be sacrificed for them to do something practical rather than issuing statement after statement, concerns, and condemnations?” said May Phyu, a leading human rights activist on Myanmar who is currently a fellow in the Dorothea S. Clarke Program in Feminist Jurisprudence at Cornell Law School. “We are all really tired of reading only words and statements. What people need right now is something practical, actions.”

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on the matter, instead referring Foreign Policy to recent comments from State Department spokesperson Ned Price. “All options are on the table,” Price said during a July 28 press briefing when asked whether the United States would levy new sanctions on Myanmar in the wake of the executions. “We have consistently said that as long as the junta continues to stand in the way of a return to Burma’s path to democracy, we will continue to impose costs and consequences on the junta,” he added, using the official U.S. government name for the country.

Meeks sponsored a House bill, the Burma Act, that would explicitly empower Biden to slap sanctions on Myanmar’s state-owned enterprises and top junta officials involved in the February 2021 coup. While the bill passed the House in April, it hit a wall after a proposed companion bill lost momentum in the Senate. Meeks is trying to include a version of the bill that would make U.S. sanctions on MOGE mandatory into the National Defense Authorization Act, a must-pass defense policy bill.

The proposed sanctions on MOGE, the junta’s main source of revenue, would deal an immediate blow to the junta’s ability to engage in further attacks against civilians and the armed resistance, said Salai Za Uk Ling of the Chin Human Rights Organization.

About half of Myanmar’s foreign currency revenue—around $1.5 billion annually—comes from its energy sector, according to Myanmar government data. The junta has been using jets and attack helicopters to quell civilian protests and independent defense forces, Salai Za Uk Ling said. Isolating its energy industry would effectively ground the junta’s military machine, from funds to fuel.

“It shouldn’t have taken the four activists to be executed for the international community to get a wake-up call,” Salai Za Uk Ling said. Since Feb. 1, 2021, the junta has killed 2,145 individuals during its widespread crackdown on pro-democracy protests, according to the Thailand- and Myanmar-based human rights organization Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).

Two international energy giants, U.S.-based Chevron and France-based TotalEnergies, announced this year that they were withdrawing from operations in Myanmar that supported MOGE’s oil and gas projects in response to the deteriorating human rights situation.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to meet with regional leaders during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, this week. There, Blinken will discuss with ASEAN foreign ministers the situation in Myanmar, as well as other pressing regional issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, economic cooperation, climate change, and the global response to Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to a State Department press release.

Myanmar will not attend the summit, an ASEAN spokesperson said on Monday. Its military rulers declined an invitation by the regional bloc to send a non-junta representative, according to the spokesperson.

Instead, the junta is hosting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is traveling this week to Myanmar, where he will meet with the junta-appointed foreign minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

Russia, as a major supplier of weapons, is one of the only nations with leverage over the historically isolated, domestically oriented junta. From 2017 to 2021, Russia accounted for more than a quarter of Myanmar’s total weapons imports, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. That number has soared as Myanmar has looked to decrease its dependency on Beijing.

“[Junta leader] Min Aung Hlaing looks to Russia as an alternative to China,” said Hunter Marston, a researcher at Australian National University with a focus on Southeast Asian affairs. The Myanmar military, in general, sees China as a national security threat, and Russia plays an important role in lessening its dependence on Beijing, Marston said. Plus, Russia is a desirable partner as Myanmar experiences severe lack of funds.

The Central Bank of Myanmar issued a statement ordering local companies and banks to suspend the repayment of foreign loans, Myanmar Now reported in July. The statement is a sign that foreign reserves—which the junta uses to purchase arms—are dwindling, said a Thailand-based Burmese independent analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity. Blanket sanctions, including sanctions on MOGE, would further bleed the junta’s wallet.

“Many Myanmar people are saying that our country will become the next Sri Lanka,” said the independent analyst, referring to Sri Lanka’s recent political turmoil and near economic collapse. “But Myanmar people—they don’t care. Because their main motive is to remove the military from power.”

While the sanctions targeting Myanmar’s energy sector would be the most sweeping yet, secondary sanctions are still important, experts say. For example, U.S. officials and experts say many regime enablers are based in Singapore, which has an expansive banking system that indirectly supports funding the junta, Marston said. A next step some U.S. lawmakers are pushing for is that the administration increase its monitoring of Singapore-based financial institutions that may have ties to Myanmar’s junta.

Myanmar activists vow to fight back following executions

Rights groups and civil society members in Myanmar have vowed to keep up their fight against the military authorities following the execution of four pro-democracy activists.

Young demonstrators shout slogans during an anti-coup protest in Yangon on July 25, 2022Myanmar activists say the executions will strengthen their resolve to fight the military regime

Myanmar’s military executed four democracy activists on Monday under a counterterrorism law and the penal code. The executed activists included Kyaw Min Yu and former lawmaker and hip-hop artist Phyo Zeya Thaw, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

Thaw was a lawmaker from ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi‘s National League for Democracy (NLD) party. The other two executed men were Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw. They were convicted of killing a woman they allegedly believed was an informer for the military.

International rights groups as well as the United Nations have unequivocally condemned the executions.

Myanmar authorities have engaged in a brutal crackdown to quash protests against last year’s military coup. The Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group said that 2,100 people have been killed by security forces since the coup in February 2021.

Opponents of the military authorities told DW they will resist the authoritarian rule with even more vigor following the executions.

No turning back

“There has been a wave of anger, sorrow and revulsion at the junta following the executions. These feelings have led to the strengthening of public resolve to continue the revolution,” Khin Zaw Win, director of Tampadipa Institute in Yangon, told DW.

Win, who was also a prisoner of conscience in Myanmar for “seditious writings,” said the executions marked a point of no return for the Southeast Asian country.

“With the executions, a new common ground has been established and this would help forge coordinated efforts. There can no longer be a case of sitting on the fence,” he added.

William San, a student leader, agrees with this view. “We will fight till the end. This is undoubtedly tragic but these executions will strengthen our resolve.”

First execution in decades causes outrage in Myanmar: Journalist Tin Tin Nyo

Armed resistance

Myanmar is currently in the grip of a nationwide conflict between the military junta led by General Min Aung Hlaing and his opponents, including ethnic armed groups, civilian militias known as the People’s Defense Forces (PDF), and the National Unity Government (NUG) that was set up by opponents of the military administration last April.

Since seizing power, the government has carried out several brutal military operations in the country. At the same time, the pro-democracy movement has transformed into a quasi-military force.

Many protesters have taken up arms to defend the civilian population from the regime, and opposition activists have formed the Campaign for Civil Disobedience (CDM) that has been organizing strikes and mass protests across the country.

Over a million people have been displaced internally due to the military actions, according to UN observers.

“More people will now organize themselves. The resistance will grow, and if the junta thought this [executions] was going to instil fear, it is terribly mistaken. Their misadventure will prove costly,” Salai Za Uk Ling of the Chin Human Rights Organization told DW.

A rights group representing the Christian Chin population, Ling, who has advocated for human rights and democracy in Myanmar for nearly three decades, said the memories of the fallen heroes of the “Spring Revolution” would not go in vain.

“We’ll fight and we’ll win,” he said.

Dim hope for a peaceful resolution

Another member of the United League of Arakan (ULA) said the miliary regime has increased its use of terror by killing, torturing and raping civilians in the past 18 months.

“Radio Free Asia recently published images and videos showing junta soldiers bragging about how they murdered civilians in cold blood and looted peoples’ properties,” a senior ULA leader told DW on condition of anonymity.

Myanmr activists Kyaw Min Yu and Phyo Zeya Thaw, who were among the four democracy activists executed by the militaryAmong the executed men were democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu and former NLD lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw

Myanmar’s mountainous ethnic regions have faced similar assaults in the past. Some of these ethnic fighters are now training the PDF in its battle against the military.

“Now there will be an increased integration with ethnic resistance organizations and we will mount a fierce resistance. We cannot afford the country to slip into a hopeless situation,” the ULA leader added.

According to the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M), an independent group of international experts working to support the struggle for human rights and justice in Myanmar, the junta has incarcerated at least 11,759 political prisoners without access to legal representation, and many have been sentenced to death since the coup.

There have been several reports of systematic torture in military detention centers.

“What makes these executions revolting is the military’s blatant attempt to gain judicial legitimacy despite the fact that the military court is a sham and a mockery of justice,” Chris Sidoti of SAC-M told DW.

Others like Isaac Khen from the NUG say the military is not ready to solve the country’s problems peacefully.

“This [the executions] is an eye-opener for those who believe the military leaders can be approached and that political solutions to the conflict can be found,” he said.

Edited by: Shamil Shams

Myanmar activists vow to fight back following executions | Asia | An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 26.07.2022

‘We are not afraid’: anti-junta groups rail against Myanmar executions | Myanmar | The Guardian

‘We are not afraid’: anti-junta groups rail against Myanmar executions

State killings provoke horror and fear of wider crackdown on determined protest movement

Protesters in Yangon on Monday.
Protesters in Yangon on Monday. Photograph: Lu Nge Khit/Reuters
 in Bangkok, Maung Moe and 

It was the recent execution of four prisoners that drove people to revive the protest regardless. Phyo Zeya Thaw, a rapper and former lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, and the prominent democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, known as Jimmy, were among those killed. They had been sentenced under anti-terror laws in January.

The people of Myanmar are already well aware of the junta’s brutality, said Salai Za Uk Ling, deputy executive director of the Chin Human Rights Organization, which has documented atrocities, including the burning of homes and massacre of civilians, since the coup. Yet the brazenness of the executions was shocking, he added. “In such a public display of brutality, I don’t know what justification they would give,” he said, adding that it illustrated how the junta did not seem to care about its international reputation.

Thet Swe Win, a 36-year-old human rights activist and an executive director of Synergy, an organisation which strives to foster social harmony in Myanmar, said he feared that there may now be a spate of executions. Dozens more prisoners have been sentenced to death.

“This is similar to the first bullet that they shot at Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing,” he said, referring to the first protester killed by the military after the coup last year. “Then they killed many protesters during the crackdown.”

More than 2,100 people have been killed by the junta and 11,759 remain in detention, according to the advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) Burma, which monitors arrests and killings.

Ei Ei Moe, 33, is a member of Generation Wave, a movement co-founded by Phyo Zeya Thaw, whom she knew personally. She said he had always wanted the people to stay united.

Observers say the executions are a further attempt to crush opposition that has remained defiant even in the face of crackdowns that the UN rights office has said may amount to war crimes.

Activists say they are undeterred, however. “This generation won’t be scared. If they killed one Zeya Thaw, there will be countless numbers of Zeya Thaw,” said Ei Ei Moe.

Masked protesters in Yangon.
Demonstrations against the junta have to be brief so that protesters can avoid capture.
Photograph: Lu Nge Khit/Reuters

Activist Ella Chris described Kyaw Min Yu, who rose to prominence as a student leader during the 1988 uprising against the previous military regime, as “an idol for the younger pro-democracy generation”. Before the coup, Ella Chris was an avid cyclist posting fitness videos on social media in between her work on gender equality and land rights. Like many involved in anti-coup protests, she was forced to flee her home. “But we are not afraid,” she said.

Myanmar’s military junta, which seized power in a coup in February 2021, has struggled to maintain control of the country. It faces both peaceful protest movements and a resistance backed by several armed ethnic groups.

Some of these powerful ethnic groups condemned the executions, among them the Arakan Army and a representative of the Kachin Independence Army, which both called the killings a “foolish” act that damaged the prospect of negotiations. In eastern Myanmar, the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force vowed to retaliate against the “war crime”.

While many have been driven to join armed resistance groups that use whatever weapons they can source to fight against the junta, others continue to find ways to hold peaceful demonstrations.

In urban areas, these are flash mobs that last just a few minutes but which must be impeccably planned months in advance, with preparations made for the possibility of someone being detained, said Thinzar Shunlei Yi, a prominent anti-coup activist. “Do we have enough safe houses to relocate, do we have enough information to shut down our Facebook accounts and immediately cut all communication? Because once one person gets arrested then every one of us has to relocate.”

Activists continue even though they know they risking their lives, she added. “Not just our own lives, but it could also cost our own families’ lives, our friends’ lives,” she said. Even a critical comment on Facebook is risky.

Sut Seng Htoi, an activist in Kachin, northern Myanmar, questioned the international response given that the junta declared it would carry out the executions.

“I wonder why they didn’t take any action,” she said. “It’s made me even more distrustful of the international community and UN,” echoing the feelings of many who feel the international community has failed Myanmar.

Thet Swe Win, said the international community “must take tangible actions rather than issuing statements on wasted paper”. He added: “We don’t forget and we don’t forgive. We will keep fighting, even if no one helps us.”

Burned churches: Myanmar’s junta accused of abuses against the Christian minority (

Burned churches: Myanmar’s junta accused of abuses against the Christian minority

St Matthew's Church, southwest of Demoso, in flames, on 15 June 2022. The township has been the scene of numerous clashes between the Myanmar army and the Karenni resistance.
St Matthew’s Church, southwest of Demoso, in flames, on 15 June 2022. The township has been the scene of numerous clashes between the Myanmar army and the Karenni resistance. © FBR

Since coming to power in a 2021 coup, the Mynamar military junta has been accused of abuses against the Christian minority, which represents 6% of the country’s population. Local NGOs have condemned the destruction of Christian places of worship.

>> Read on The Observers: How rebel fighters are using 3D-printed arms to fight the Myanmar junta

Images circulating on social networks show churches with smoke-blackened or destroyed walls, debris on the ground, and damaged bibles and other religious symbols.

Photos of Churches with Damaged Walls in Kayah State, June 2021
Photos taken at the United Pentecostal Church in Tlangzar village, Falam township, on 5 May. According to the Chin Human Rights Organization, the NGO that sent us the photos, Burmese junta soldiers burned the church's pastor's quarters and has vandalized the Baptist church three since the coup.
Photos taken at the United Pentecostal Church in Tlangzar village, Falam township, on 5 May. According to the Chin Human Rights Organization, the NGO that sent us the photos, Burmese junta soldiers burned the church’s pastor’s quarters and has vandalized the Baptist church three since the coup. © CHRO

Geolocation here

St Matthew's Church, southwest of Demoso, in flames, 15 June 2022. The town has experienced numerous clashes between the Myanmar army and the Karenni resistance.
St Matthew’s Church, southwest of Demoso, in flames, 15 June 2022. The town has experienced numerous clashes between the Myanmar army and the Karenni resistance. © FBR

The church was in perfect condition in 2018, as this geolocation on google maps shows.

Near the town of Demoso, in Kayah State, all that remains of St Matthew’s Church is a burned-out facade, after the Myanmar army raided it on 15 June 2022. David Eubank, a former Texas soldier and fervent Christian who founded the humanitarian aid association “Free Burma Rangers“, was in Demoso when the clashes between the army and resistance fighters broke out. He told us: “The army was shooting at us, it was hard to see anything. I heard several ‘booms’ and then the church caught fire. Before they left, they [the military] left several anti-personnel mines around the church. A 16-year-old Burmese boy stepped on them, luckily we were able to save him.”

L’église de Saint-Matthieu , le 15 juin 2022. On peut voir les rebelles karenni en tenue militaire .

The St Matthew’s churchgoers live in the jungle, like many Karenni villagers (ethnic group in Kayah State), and pray every Sunday in a makeshift church-school made of leaves and plastic.

>> Read on The Observers:

>> À LIRE SUR LES OBSERVATEURS: Residents of Myanmar’s Kayah State flee to jungle to escape military junta

Several churches have been destroyed in Kayah State villages, where the army has been conducting regular air strikes and ground operations in an attempt to quell resistance from Karenni rebels. David Eubanks told us about several attacks on Christian churches that he and his teams have witnessed.

Impact left after an air strike near Sungdula Church, Demoso Township, Kayah State in March 2022, according to Free Burma Rangers. Photo taken on 27 June by Free Burma Rangers
Impact left after an air strike near Sungdula Church, Demoso Township, Kayah State in March 2022, according to Free Burma Rangers. Photo taken on 27 June by Free Burma Rangers © FBR

David Eubanks filme l’intérieur d’une église dans le village de Sung dula, commune de Demoso (État de Kayah), détruite selon lui par des frappes aériennes de la junte militaire le 8 mars 2022. Selon lui et la presse locale (pro résistance), l’attaque serait survenue alors qu’il n’y avait pas de combats. Une information que nous n’avons pas été en mesure de confirmer de source indépendante.
David Eubanks filme l’intérieur d’une église dans le village de Sung dula, commune de Demoso (État de Kayah), détruite selon lui par des frappes aériennes de la junte militaire le 8 mars 2022. Selon lui et la presse locale (pro résistance), l’attaque serait survenue alors qu’il n’y avait pas de combats. Une information que nous n’avons pas été en mesure de confirmer de source indépendante. © FBR

The state of Chin, located on the Indian border in the west of the country, has also been the scene of clashes between the army and resistance movements. More than 80 percent of the state is Christian.

“The church I went to as a child has been destroyed”

Salai Za Uk Ling is Deputy Executive Director the Chin State Human Rights Organisation (CHRO). He is a Baptist Christian m and along with his team, Salai Za Uk Ling documents abuses committed by the country’s army. They have counted more than 50 church attacks since February 2021 in Chin State, which range from aerial bombardments to ransacking by ground troops.

In churches, the army destroys everything and takes away valuables, including offerings and collection money. This destruction of churches usually occurs when the army moves in convoy through villages.

I was born and raised in Thantlang and the whole town has been attacked more than 30 times, since September 2021. The church I went to as a child was destroyed. The army maintains a presence there and it is dangerous to go back.

Dans la ville de Thantlang, ouest de l’État de Chin, onze églises ont été prises pour cible par la junte selon la Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).

In September 2021, the pastor of a Baptist church in Thantlang was shot by the army while trying to save his burning church after a bombing. His phone book was cut off and his wedding ring stolen, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).

L’armée birmane aurait mis le feu à une église baptiste de la ville de Thantlang, dans l’après-midi du 9 juin 2022, selon la Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO)
L’armée birmane aurait mis le feu à une église baptiste de la ville de Thantlang, dans l’après-midi du 9 juin 2022, selon la Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) © CHRO

Géolocalisation ici

Salai Za Uk Ling added:

[In Chin State], the junta is targeting churches, hospitals and schools… We know from testimonies of former army personnel that the military is instructed to ‘clear anything that might be in their way’. Much of the fighting between the junta and the resistance is taking place where Christian ethnic groups live (Chin, Karen and Kayah states), so many churches and infrastructures have been affected.

On 24 December 2021, Christmas Eve, the army massacred 35 people in a Christian village in Kayah State.

The junta spokesman said that places of worship were not targeted, except during raids, when it had information that “terrorists” (rebels) were hiding inside. Our observer, as well as many other witnesses, have disputed this statement.

When the military arrives in a village, they use churches as a base, because they know that Christians from the resistance forces will not attack them in the church.

Analysts from Myanmar Witness, a project that documents human rights abuses in the country, told the Observers that it is difficult to know whether the churches are being targeted by the Myanmar military on purpose, or whether they are collateral damage from clashes with resistance movements.

“Anything that is not Buddhist can be considered suspicious”

Salai Za Uk Ling has been documenting human rights abuses in Chin State for 27 years, and according to him, this kind of discrimination is nothing new.

Discrimination on the basis of Christian identity has always been a problem for the Chin [and other Christian ethnicities], as has the destruction of Christian buildings. This is a way for them [the army] to physically destroy Christianity. The junta already removed several large crosses from hilltops in the past (the junta was already in power before Aung San Suu Kyi’s party came to power in democratic elections in 2015: Editor’s note). Several religious buildings were also destroyed under previous regimes.

Anything that is not Buddhist can be viewed as suspicious. The Buddhist majority has always been valued, there is a very nationalistic view of religion.


The various ethnic and religious minorities in Myanmar have long been discriminated against by successive Buddhist regimes. Foremost among these is the Rohingya Muslim minority, made stateless by a 1982 law and considered one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Since the military coup, the army has also been accused of occupying and burning mosques.

In June, Pope Francis and Myanmar’s Christian religious leaders called on the junta to stop attacking religious buildings.

The Myanmar army is predominantly Buddhist, and has pledged to protect Buddhism, which for our Observers may explain why they have no qualms about attacking churches. The army has also been accused of destroying around 100 Buddhist monasteries.

Photos of a Monastery Destroyed by the Army, according to the Karenni Resistance

1,900 civilians have been murdered by junta soldiers since February 2021, according to a statement by UN Human Rights Council High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, in which she referred to “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” perpetrated by Myanmar’s military.

Now, around 2 million square feet have burned, according to The Post’s analysis of available imagery. That represents roughly 30 percent of Thantlang, or about 600 of the town’s 2,000 buildings. Almost all of the town’s shops and businesses were destroyed, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization.

How Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, targeted civilians by burning Chin State villages – Washington Post

(VOA) BANGKOK — Rights groups say Myanmar’s junta is tightening its chokehold on humanitarian aid flows to thousands of families driven from their homes by fighting since a Feb. 1 coup, deliberately starving civilians of lifesaving supplies to try to crush a growing armed resistance.

The United Nations says fighting between the military and a patchwork of old and new armed groups is pushing more families out of towns and villages every month, with more than 284,000 people displaced by the post-coup violence as of early December.

Most of them are in Myanmar’s rugged and remote northwest and southeast, where armed resistance from ethnic minority armies and so-called people’s defense forces has been fiercest.

Local and international charities and aid groups are trying to reach families with food and medicine to stave off a wave of disease and starvation. But rights groups say soldiers and police are making it increasingly difficult by blocking routes, seizing and destroying supplies and arresting aid workers.

“What we’re seeing right now is the military, in its efforts to cut off supplies going to the ethnic armed forces and the people’s defense forces that they are in conflict with right now, they are also cutting off vital supplies to the people. And these are the ordinary things, the basic necessities,” Emerlynne Gil, deputy regional research director for Amnesty International, told VOA.

Amnesty released a brief report on the aid restrictions Friday, drawing on interviews with displaced families and local aid workers and volunteers.

In its own update on the humanitarian situation in Myanmar last week, the U.N. said delayed and denied travel approvals from authorities and increased scrutiny of aid supplies and staff were “hindering operations and prolonging suffering.”

Other local and international rights groups corroborated the trend.

“A lot of these areas where the junta has increased its presence are facing an increased militarization, so more checkpoints, which means that aid workers and other local responders in those areas are facing more harassment. Aid workers are being arrested and detained, aid convoys are being turned back, supplies are being confiscated,” said Shayna Bauchner, Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch.

“For the most part, all of these were tools that were certainly used pre-coup,” she added. “But they’ve sort of been … turned up to a new level both since the coup and then also more in recent months.”

Rights groups say that in blocking the aid the Myanmar military is drawing on its notorious “four cuts” playbook for denying armed rebel groups access to food, funds, intelligence and new recruits by cutting off surrounding communities that might sympathize with and support them.

Bauchner said that makes civilians not only collateral damage but deliberate targets.

“Whether they [junta leaders] use the term four cuts or not, this is obviously an effort to essentially punish civilians. I think it’s a very clear measure of the junta’s hostility toward the people of Myanmar, this way that it’s weaponizing lifesaving aid,” she said.

Some of the heaviest fighting has been taking place in the western states of Chin and Sagaing, along Myanmar’s border with India. The U.N. says clashes there have displaced more than 80,000 people since the coup.

Salai Za Uk Ling, deputy director of the Chin Human Rights Organization, said security forces have all but cut off parts of Chin state over the past few months, making aid deliveries from inside Myanmar practically impossible.

He said authorities have allowed the U.N. to ship aid to a few main towns but have refused to let staff travel into the surrounding hills, where they need to go to reach the families that have fled their homes. Local charities pleading with authorities for access to the families have had no luck, he added, and those trying to reach them with aid by skirting checkpoints have been arrested when caught or have gone missing.

“This is intended to obviously starve the people and incapacitate the communities so that … they won’t be able to support the resistance,” Salai Za Uk Ling said. “They are trying to impose a blanket policy affecting all the inhabitants of the area.”

Desperate to help, his team has in the past few weeks started reaching displaced families sheltering near the Indian border with rice, lentils and cooking oil the only way they can — by smuggling them in from India.

But he said their efforts were “just a drop in the ocean” and that some of those displaced by the fighting have already died because they could not risk a trip to the nearest hospital or clinic and because security forces won’t let food and medicine get to them.

“In terms of medical care, there’s no hospitals or anything that they can access, so many elderly people have died,” he said, “People died unnecessarily and from various kinds of treatable disease.”

Gil, of Amnesty International, warned that the death toll will rise if the junta’s stranglehold on aid does not let up.

“More and more people will die, not just because of hunger, but also because of the inability to access vital services, reproductive health care, really just the basics, the things that people who are outside Myanmar would take for granted,” she said.

A spokesperson for the junta could not be reached for comment.

Myanmar Junta Blocking Aid to Families Displaced by Post-Coup Fighting, Rights Groups Say (

Aizawl: Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Monday said that his government would continue to make efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Myanmar nationals who fled their country following a military coup and took refuge in the north-eastern state.

During his interaction with leaders of Myanmar nationals, Mr Zoramthanga gave an assurance that his government will try its best to assist them.

The chief minister said that his government has taken up massive efforts and will continue to do so in the future to help those Myanmar nationals.

Mr Zoramthanga said that he had also urged the Centre several times to provide political asylum to the Myanmar nationals.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi, Mr Zoramthanga had urged them to provide assistance to the people of the neighbouring country.

Mr Zoramthanga had earlier said that the Centre assured the Mizoram government that it will take measures to ensure that the state government can continue to provide assistance to the Myanmar nationals.

“Though the Centre is very willing on its side, it can’t directly help the Myanmar refugees because India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol,” Mr Zoramthanga had told reporters earlier.

Thousands of Myanmar nationals are currently taking shelter in different parts of Mizoram.

While many live in relief camps or temporary shelters set up by villagers, others are accommodated by their relatives and some live in rented houses.

Most of the Myanmar nationals are from Chin state, who share ethnic ties with the Mizos.

Apart from the government, the NGOs, villagers and individuals provide food and shelter to the Myanmar nationals.

Mizoram shares a 510-km-long international boundary with Myanmar.

The north-eastern state is already home to thousands of Chin communities of Myanmar, who migrated to the state since the late 1980s fleeing the military junta in the neighbouring country.

Mizoram To Continue To Provide Humanitarian Aid To Myanmar Refugees (

To protect and promote human rights and democratic principles