BURMA/MYANMAR: Myanmar Situation Update (17 to 23 May 2021)

A Statement from ANFREL forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

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The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) released the final comprehensive report of its international election observation mission to the 2020 Myanmar general elections and said “it is its informed opinion that the results of the 2020 general elections were, by and large, representative of the will of the people of Myanmar”. It also said despite the raging COVID-19 pandemic, 27.5 million people voted thanks to the hard work of polling staff and election or health officials, their voices cannot be silenced. ANFREL has identified the election postponement, disenfranchisement of the Rohingya community and the other ethnic minorities, legal framework outlined by the 2008 military drafted constitution as the shortcomings of the election that has to improve in future elections. International and local media reported the findings, and diplomatic missions of Canada, US, UK, New Zealand, Switzerland to Myanmar also quoted ANFREL in their social media accounts with its full report.

The junta-appointed Union Election Commission (UEC) called for a meeting with the political parties on 21 May in Nay Pyi Taw and 59 political parties joined. The popular parties like National League for Democracy (NLD), Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, Arakan National Party, Democratic Party for New Society did not attend the meeting while a representative of the People’s Party, known as a pro- democracy party attended. The party faced mass resignation over the decision that seven out of 20 central executive committee members resigned, including co-founder Ye Naing Aung. At the meeting, the junta- appointed election commission chair Thein Soe said they will dissolve the NLD due to “electoral fraud” and the regime will prosecute NLD leaders as “traitors”.

The protests continued in different parts of Myanmar despite the crackdown by the junta. Tension between the junta forces and the civilian resistance fighters increased during the week that the situation in Mindat, Chin State further escalated after junta forces entered Mindat. The junta has blocked road access to the town and cut off its water supply, making life very difficult for those who stayed behind. Local media also reported the locals fled to the nearest forest due to the attacks on Mindat town and they desperately needed emergency support for food and medicine.

The clashes between the junta forces and the civil resistance fighters also emerged in several places in Kayah state such as Loikaw, Hpasawng, Demoso, and Bawlake townships. Media reported that emergency support on food, shelter and medicine were needed in IDPs camps of Kayah.

Kachin Independent Army (KIA) forces also clashers with the Myanmar military forces over the week in Kachin state, Sagaing region and Shan state. Continued fighting with KNU forces and military has also left many to flee to Thailand. The civil society organizations based in Thailand and Thai-Myanmar border urged the Thai government to delay the repatriation of Myanmar refugees and allow war refugees and displaced persons at the Thailand-Myanmar border by the Salween to have access to humanitarian aid. According to Indian government officials, more than 15,000 had sought refuge since the Feb. 1 coup. A local official of the Union Election Commission (UEC) in Magway Region was also tortured to death by junta troops.

According to the information compiled by ANFREL, at least 57 bomb blasts happened across Myanmar in the past week. It was reported that at least 11 people died including a nine-year-old boy, and at least 40 were injured.

International Crisis Group reported that Myanmar’s junta is seeking to limit access to the internet to an internal network of only “whitelisted” sites to quash opposition. Reports said that military and intelligence agencies are conducting some tracing of SIM cards and interception of calls.

United Nations General Assembly vote on 18 May on a draft resolution calling for “an immediate suspension of the direct and indirect supply, sale or transfer of all weapons and munitions” to Myanmar has been postponed. The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated 16 individuals and one entity connected to Burma’s military regime including adult children of previously designated senior Burmese military officials and the UK extended its sanctions to Myanmar Gems Enterprise, a distributor of jade and other precious stones.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), as of 23 May, 818 people were killed by the junta. 4,296 people are currently under detention and 95 are sentenced. 1,822 warrants have been issued. 20 were sentenced to death and 14 to three years imprisonment.

Download the Full Statement Here

The views shared in this statement do not necessarily reflect that of the AHRC.