24 August 2023
The Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) is calling on international actors to act with integrity by working with local actors and human rights defenders instead of the Burma Army.
The call came following the recent meeting between the United Nations Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, and the junta leader Min Aung Hlaing.
HURFOM believes that this was just another example of how since the coup UN affiliates and others have dealt with the Myanmar military rather than engaging meaningfully with civil society organisations and take accountability pathways that hold the junta responsible for their atrocities.
To work with the Burma Army whilst not work working with local actors and human rights defenders is to act without principles or respect for the thousands of lives destroyed by the military junta who have repeatedly blocked aid access and attacked first responders, say HURFOM.
An example of this was when U Zaw Min Oo, a 40-year-old social worker working for the Chit Kyi Yay charity group, was arrested at his home by the military junta, and Special Branch forces, on 13 August.
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 14 August 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 and forcibly took valuable materials from 36 houses owned by villagers.
More than 100 troops then committed human rights violations in Thaton District after entering the villages there between 25 July and 6 August.
On 26 July junta troops on patrol shot and killed Saw Dawlar, who was returning to Shwe Yaung Pya Village in Thaton Township 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 their belongings and destroyed their homes. Their column retreated on 6 August,” said the KNU Thaton District Information Officer.
Money was stolen from three villager’s houses in Khalauk Inn Village, Thaton Township. Phones and food were also seized, as well as livestock. According to a statement from Thaton District, Brigade 1 of the KNU, at least ten houses in Ma Yan Gon Village, Thaton Township, were damaged due to artillery weapons fired by junta troops whilst on 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.
HURFOM believes that during these extremely difficult times, the international community must stand with local people and locally-led organisations, 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.