Ruthless Junta Targeting Civilians in Defiance of International Law

September 12th, 2021  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  8 minute read
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“These inhumane acts of violence are indicative of the Myanmar military’s entrenched pattern of behavior, one that places no respect on human life and attacks civilians in the full enjoyment of the impunity they are guaranteed in this criminal organization.”

It has been over seven months since the Myanmar military launched an attempted coup d’etat to overthrow the legitimately elected government on 1 February, 2021, and it would have been unfathomable then to contemplate the scale of human suffering that would befall the people of Myanmar in the months to come. The military junta has stopped at nothing to terrorize the people, including continuing its decades-long civil war in ethnic regions and attacks on ethnic communities. In recent weeks, tensions have been at breaking point, as the junta ramps up militarization near villages and provokes and attacks ethnic armed organizations in Kachin, Chin, Mon, Karen and Karenni States, deliberately targeting and attacking civilians in breach of humanitarian and human rights law.

On 19 August in Karen State, the Myanmar military captured and assaulted three women, forced them to carry equipment and used them as human shields until they reached Kyaw Hta Loh River – an act forbidden under international law. In a separate incident on 1 September, Kawkareik township, the Myanmar military again captured a woman and used her as a human shield. In a joint statement, Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) and Karen Women’s Organization (KWO) stressed the particular risks to women in militarized ethnic areas, including being subjected to forced labor, used as human shields, tortured and subjected to sexual and gender-based violence. These acts committed by the military junta against women are well catalogued by ethnic organizations, through decades of grievous human rights violations by the Myanmar military. Both groups are calling for “accountability without impunity” and “urge [for] the protection of all civilians in the country and for the UN to act swiftly and with conviction to intervene in the declining state of human rights in Burma/Myanmar.”

The Myanmar military continues to terrorize ethnic peoples, aimed at spreading fear and demoralizing them into submission. Tragically in Thea Ein Village, Mon State, military junta soldiers shot and killed Ei Thwe Moe and her unborn child, and severely injured her husband Puu Day after returning from fishing. Ei Thwe Moe is survived by a 4-year-old daughter and her husband. These inhumane acts of violence are indicative of the Myanmar military’s entrenched pattern of behavior, one that places no respect on human life and attacks civilians in the full enjoyment of the impunity they are guaranteed in this criminal organization. This has been the status quo for decades, and the perpetrators of these crimes must be held criminally accountable under international law.

In Kachin State, the ruthless Infantry Battalion 58 stationed near Waingmaw Township, continues to kill civilians, inexplicably and indiscriminately. Last week, Lon Bang Hkaw Zung was murdered while walking past military personnel in Waingmaw township. His death is the latest in a long line of civilians killed near Waingmaw by the same Battalion, including a woman shot while on her motorbike after buying groceries and another woman killed when her house was shelled, both in August. Meanwhile, in central parts of Myanmar, the junta burned and destroyed supplies donated to villagers in Kin Ma village, Magway Region. In June, Kin Ma was savagely cleared out, looted and 200 houses burned to the ground by the military, resulting in people being burned to death. Many lost everything in the blaze, and are subsisting on donations and aid to rebuild their lives. What remains of the village was also recently raided on 29 August by the junta, who set fire to Nyunt Wai – burning him to death. Perpetrators of all these crimes must be met with punitive actions by the international community, such as deeper cuts to the military junta’s access to weapons and funds, and an end to military impunity.

It is encouraging to see the UK, US and EU continue to increase sanctions against the Myanmar military leadership and military-owned and affiliated businesses. The UK recently announced further sanctions against military crony and chairman of Htoo Group of Companies, U Tay Za, a funder of the Rohingya genocide and involved in arms dealing on behalf of the military. These continued efforts are commendable and form the building blocks for a concerted restriction on funds and arms flowing to the military junta, yet more coordinated actions must be taken. It is imperative that the UN Security Council must impose a global arms embargo and tougher targeted sanctions on the military leadership and its owned, affiliated and controlled businesses, including state-owned Enterprises that are currently under the military junta’s control, which subsist partly of gems, jade, oil and gas and other lucrative extractive industries. The international community must also heed the calls of local civil society organizations, like KHRG, KWO and others to address justice and accountability by referring Myanmar’s situation to the ICC or establishing an ad hoc tribunal. Collectively, the international community must rally behind the people of Myanmar. They must take a clear stand in solidarity with protesters within the Spring Revolution and recognize the National Unity Government to fulfil the peoples’ desire for a genuine federal democracy, a democracy that uproots military tyranny once and for all, and breaks the cycle of impunity.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

(NUG) အစိုးရလူ့အခွင့်အရေးဆိုင်ရာ ဝန်ကြီးဌာန၏ အကြံပေး ဦးအောင်ကျော်မိုးအား ဘင်္ဂလားဒေရှ့်နိုင်ငံရောက် ရိုဟင်ဂျာဒုက္ခသည်စခန်းများရှိ အရပ်ဖက်အဖွဲ့အစည်းများမှ ကြိုဆိုထောက်ခံကြောင်း သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By 17 Rohingya Civil Society Organizations

စစ်ကျွန်ပညာရေးယန္တရား၏ စာမေးပွဲအောင်စာရင်း ထုတ်ပြန်ခြင်းနှင့်ပက်သက်၍ သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By 36 Myanmar University Students’ Unions

Enforced Disappearances by the Military Junta

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

Position Statement on KNU Minister Shwe Maung’s Letter of 24 August 2021

By Australian Karen Organisation

ကလေးတက္ကသိုလ်အတွင်းတပ်စွဲထားတဲ့ စကစတပ်နဲ့ CDM မလုပ်တဲ့ပညာရေးဝန်ထမ်း ၁၂၆ ဦးကို လိုအပ်သလိုအရေးယူပေးဖို့ ကလေး တကသအဖွဲ့က PDF (Kalay), CDF နဲ့ ကလေးအခြေစိုက်ပြည်သူ့ကာကွယ်ရေးတပ်များ

By Kalay University Students’ Union

လက်ရှိနိုင်ငံရေး၊ စစ်ရေးလှုပ်ရှားမှုအပေါ် KNU Concerned Group ၏ သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ချက်။

By KNU Concerned Group

The Karen Women’s Organization and the Karen Human Rights Group Condemn the Burmese Junta’s Use of Women as Human Shields

By Karen Women’s Organization and Karen Human Rights Group

KNDF ၏ တိုက်ပွဲသတင်းထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက် (၂၀၂၁ ခုနှစ်၊ စက်တင်ဘာလ (၃) ရက်နေ့။)

By Karenni Nationalities Defense Force

ဥပဒေအထောက်အကူပြုကွန်ရက်၏ထောက်ခံတင်ပြချက် ကုလသမဂ္ဂ နှင့် နိုင်ငံတကာ က NUG အား မြန်မာနိင်ငံ၏ တရားဝင်အစိုးရအနေဖြင့် အသိအမှတ်ပြုသင့်သည့် အခြေအနေများနှင့် လိုအပ်ချက်များ

By Legal Aid Network

Covid -19 ကမ္ဘာ့ကပ်ရောဂါ ဆိုးရွားစွာခံစားနေကြရသော ပြည်သူလူထုများအား စစ်ဘေးဒဏ်ကိုပါ နောက်ထပ်မခံစားကြစေရန် ညီနောင်မဟာမိတ် (၃) ဖွဲ့၏ တိုက်တွန်းနှိုးဆော်သည့် သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and Arakan Army

National Unity Government Announcement (9/2021) – Announcement on Military Offensive of State Administrative Council in Ethnic Areas

By National Unity Government of Myanmar

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ အလုပ်သမားဝန်ကြီးဌာန အမိန့်အမှတ် (၂/၂၀၂၁)

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Labour)

Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment Announcement 10/2021 – Publication of a list of Illegal Investments and a Special Directive demanding their immediate and unconditional suspension

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment)

Statement on International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Human Rights)

H.E. DR. SaSa’s Address to Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, the Parliament of Australia on the Deepening COVID, Humanitarian and Political Triple-Crisis in Myanmar

By National Unity Government (Ministry of International Cooperation)

H.E. DR. SaSa’s Address to New Zealand Parliamentarians on the Deepening Triple-Crisis of Covid, Humanitarian and Political Instability in Myanmar

By National Unity Government (Ministry of International Cooperation)

ပြည်ထောင်စုသမ္မတမြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော် အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ ပညာရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန ကြေညာချက်အမှတ်(၂၈/၂၀၂၁) – အသိအမှတ်ပြုကြောင်းကြေညာခြင်း

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Education)

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ၊သယံဇာတနှင့်သဘာဝပတ်ဝန်းကျင်ထိန်းသိမ်းရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက် (၁၄/၂၀၂၁)

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation)

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ တရားရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန အမိန့်ကြေညာစာအမှတ် ၄/၂၀၂၁ – အထက်တန်းရှေ့နေများ လိုင်စင်သက်တမ်းတိုးရန် ကိစ္စ။

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Justice)

Chinland Defense Force Zotung ၏ ကြေညာချက်အမှတ် (၆/၂၀၂၁)

By Chinland Defense Force – Zotung

Chinland Defense Force-Lautu ၏ အသိပေးထုတ်ပြန်ချက် – ကြေညာချက်အမှတ် (၅/၂၀၂၁)

By Chinland Defense Force – Lautu

National Press Club Announces 2021 Aubuchon Press Freedom Award Honorees

By The National Press Club

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announces new Myanmar sanctions

By United Kingdom (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office)

The Women’s League of Burma reinforces our condemnation of the junta’s illegal and unjust seizure of power and urges international community to act

By Women’s League of Burma



Consolidated Rohingya Genocide Report June 2021, “They did it becuase we are Muslim.”

By Asian Dignity Initiative

Briefing paper: The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in Myanmar

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”