Extreme Brutality continues as UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly Meets

September 30th, 2021  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  8 minute read
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“The international community must redouble its efforts to restore democracy and prevent wider conflict before it is too late,”

Michelle Bachlet, High Commissioner for Human Rights

As the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) meets for its 48th session in Geneva and the UN General Assembly is convened for its 76th session in New York this month, the human rights catastrophe in Myanmar has reached its peak due to the junta’s inhumane violence. Furthermore, in areas of the country that have seen some of the worst atrocities, a return to internet blackouts are cutting people off from vital information as the brutality reaches unimaginable levels.

Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews warned how “the crisis in Myanmar has become even graver.” The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet described what is happening as “a human rights catastrophe that shows no signs of abating.” Details of the situation on the ground were also provided by civil society actors. Chairperson of Progressive Voice, Khin Ohmar detailed the violence and cruelty in an Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. She highlighted how the junta “continues to escalate and expand military offensives in Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni and Mon States and in Magway and Sagaing Regions, deliberately and indiscriminately targeting civilians. It is blocking and destroying aid, attacking aid workers, setting villages on fire, looting, destroying properties, conducting mass killings and using people as human shields and forced labourers.” At a side event during the HRC, Dr. Troy of the Myanmar Doctors for Human Rights told of doctors, many of whom are at the forefront of the Civil Disobedience Movement, being targeted by the junta for treating injured protesters. Meanwhile a reported agreement between Russia, China and the US for Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun not to speak at the UNGA, while the decision on credentials is postponed meant that Myanmar did not have a voice in New York. However, at the ‘Ministerial Meeting on the Responsibility to Protect: R2P and the Role of Women and Girls in Atrocity Prevention,’ a side event of the UNGA co-hosted by the governments of Costa Rica, Croatia and Denmark and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Rohingya activist, Wai Wai Nu was able to reflect on the Myanmar military’s “decades-long impunity” that allowed it to stage the attempted coup and “terrorise the whole nation.”

Thus as the human rights situation in Myanmar is being discussed at the UN, the brutality is reaching its peak. Recent examples of the junta’s brutality includes the murder of an ethnic Chin pastor, whose finger was cut off as junta troops stole his wedding ring. In a village in Kungyangon Township, Yangon region, junta troops forced all men under the age of 60, totaling 82 men, to lie in the road in stress positions while they repeatedly tortured them. One died of his injuries. In Natogyi Township, Mandalay Region, four members of the same family were killed after junta soldiers randomly opened fire from their station at a local school. The village of Kyikone, in Taze Township, Sagaing Region, was torched for the second time in two days as soldiers try to find the alleged killers of a policewoman’s relative. Nearly a third of the village’s 100 households were burned and most of the population had to flee.

To make matters worse, the junta has now cut the internet in 22 townships in Magway Region and Chin and Kachin States. These areas have seen particularly defiant resistance to junta rule, as grassroots resistance organizations have been effective in fighting back in Chin and Magway, while the Kachin Independence Organization has continued its historic revolution for self-determination in Kachin. The use of collective punishment, described as “depraved” by Special Rapporteur, Tom Andrews, has long been a tactic of the Myanmar military in its wars against ethnic communities for decades. The internet blackout is another form of this, but also serves to block information getting out of these areas where some of the worst atrocities have taken place. Such atrocities include the massacres of villagers in Gangaw Township, Magway, in which at least 24 people were killed earlier in September. The reintroduction of internet bans is reminiscent of the early days of the attempted coup, where the internet was cut each night as soldiers terrorized urban neighbourhoods through the night. Yet, as has been shown time and time again during the people’s Spring Revolution in Myanmar, the people remain resolute. A member of the Yaw Defence Force which operates in the Magway area told Myanmar Now, “The military cut the internet because they can’t win. It is their usual tactic and won’t have much impact on the revolutionary forces. We will continue what we are supposed to be doing, regardless.”

The UNHRC provides a platform for international actors to learn more about the situation and take on recommendations from the UN mandate holders such as the High Commissioner and Special Rapporteur as well as from Myanmar civil society. As the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachlet stated, “The international community must redouble its efforts to restore democracy and prevent wider conflict before it is too late,” while Special Rapporteur, Tom Andrews made strong calls for targeted economic sanctions, and a “comprehensive embargo on weapons and dual-use technology”. They can do this by supporting the Myanmar People’s Spring Revolution, by applying utmost pressure on the military junta through targeted sanctions, backing efforts at seeking international accountability and justice such as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, as well as providing humanitarian aid through Myanmar civil society and community-based organizations, including cross-border provisions. The UNHRC may not have power to stop Myanmar’s ruthless junta, but the spotlight it shines on the situation should compel international actors to take firmer, coordinated action that has been sorely lacking since 1st February.


[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

HRC48 Oral Statement on Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar

By Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development

အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်ကောင်စီတပ်သားများ စီးနင်းလာသော ကားများအား ချောင်းဦးPDFမှ မိုင်းဆွဲ၍ သုတ်သင်ရှင်းလင်းခြင်း

By Chaung U People’s Defence Force

Chinland Defense Force Matupi ၏ သတင်းထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By Chinland Defense Force – Matupi

ချင်းပြည်နယ်၊ ဟားခါးမြို့နှင့် ထန်တလန်မြို့အတွင်း အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်ကောင်စီ၏ လူမဆန်သည့်လုပ်ရပ်များအပေါ် သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By Chin National Organization

Baptist Pastor Shot Dead Amid Continued Attacks by the Military

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

CAIR Welcomes U.S. Court Decision Ordering Facebook to Release Anti-Rohingya Content Records

Council on American-Islamic Relations

Oral Statement for the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

By International Federation for Human Rights

ထန်ထလန်မြို့နယ်အတွင်း စစ်ကောင်စီတပ်၏ အကြမ်းဖက်လုပ်ရပ်များအပေါ် သဘောထား ထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By Institute of Chin Affairs

Justice For Myanmar Responds to Emerging Towns & Cities Independent Review

By Justice For Myanmar

The Statement of Kachin Baptist Convention

By Kachin Baptist Convention

Karen Human Rights Group Commemorates International Day of Peace 2021

By Karen Human Rights Group

KNDF ၏ တိုက်ပွဲအခြေအနေထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာခြင်း (၂၀၂၁ ခုနှစ်၊ စက်တင်ဘာလ (၂၅) ရက်နေ့။)

By Karenni Nationalities Defense Force

KNDF ၏ တိုက်ပွဲအခြေအနေထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာခြင်း (၂၀၂၁ ခုနှစ်၊ စက်တင်ဘာလ (၂၄) ရက်နေ့။)

By Karenni Nationalities Defense Force

တိုက်ပွဲအခြေအနေထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာခြင်း (၂၀၂၁ ခုနှစ်၊ စက်တင်ဘာလ (၂၀) ရက်နေ့။)

By Karenni Nationalities Defense Force

ကရင်နီပြည်သူ့ကာကွယ်ရေးတပ်ဖွဲ့ တပ်သားကျဆုံးမှုထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By Karenni People Defense Force

Plea to Armed Groups to Avoid Harming Civilians Including Children

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Human Rights)

National Unity Government – Weekly Press Release (16/2021)

By National Unity Government

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ – ကြေညာချက်အမှတ် (၁၀/၂၀၂၁)

By National Unity Government

Update on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar Statement by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

By Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

ပူတာအိုခရိုင် ပြည်သူ့ကာကွယ်ရေးတပ်ဖွဲ့ ၏ ခံယူချက်နှင့် သဘောထားတင်ပြချက်

By People Defense Force – Putao

ပြည်သူ့ကာကွယ်ရေးတပ်ဖွဲ့ SSPDF (ရှမ်းပြည်တောင်ပိုင်း) မှ အများပြည်သူများသို့ သတင်းထုတ်ပြန်အသိပေးခြင်း – (အမှတ် ၁၁/၂၀၂၁)

By People Defense Force – Southern Shan State

စစ်ကိုင်းပြည်သူ့ကာကွယ်ရေးတပ်ဖွဲ့ ၏ ကြေညာချက်

By Sagaing People Defence Force

ရရာလက်နက်ဖြင့် အာဏာသိမ်းစစ်တပ်အား တိုက်ထုတ်ရန် တောင်ရိုးအမျိုးသားကာကွယ်ရေးတပ်ဖွဲ့(TNDF) ဖွဲ့စည်း

By Taungyoe National Defense Force

Myanmar: UN Expert Says Current International Efforts Failing, Calls for “Change of Course”

By UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar

Myanmar: UN Report Calls for Urgent Action to End Human Rights Catastrophe

By United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights



Government Response to the Committee’s Fourth Report: The UK Government’s Response to the Myanmar Crisis

House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, United Kingdom

IOM Bangladesh Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis Response – Monthly Situation Report (August 2021)

By International Organization for Migration

Myanmar Emergency Update (as of 16 September 2021)

By United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

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.”