Nightmare in Kachin as Airstrikes Constitute Deadliest Single Junta Attack

November 7th, 2022  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  10 minute read
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Given the likelihood of more airstrikes in the coming months, it is all the more essential that aviation fuel sanctions are urgently imposed.

The Myanmar military junta committed the deadliest atrocity since its coup attempt against Kachin concert-goers celebrating the founding of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) at a music event in Hpakant, on 23 October, killing at least 62 people in airstrikes with some estimates numbering over 80. This was not the only use of deadly air firepower in the past weeks, and more airstrikes and more deaths of innocent people will occur in the coming months. This points to the need for supporters of the Spring Revolution within the international community to go beyond failed and ineffective positions such as the ASEAN’s Five Point Consensus, and take effective action – especially the sanctioning of aviation fuel – to end the constant atrocities committed by the military junta against the people of Myanmar.

On October 23rd as around a thousand people attended a music concert 20 miles north of Hpakant, Kachin State, to celebrate the founding of the KIO 62 years ago, three Myanmar military jets dropped bombs on the crowded outdoor venue. According to the KIO, who organized the concert, at least 62 people died as a result with the likelihood of the final number being much higher, including famous Kachin singers and KIO officials, while dozens more innocent civilians were injured. Not only was it an attack on Kachin people, but an attack on the very right of Kachin people to express their national identity, despite decades of discrimination and persecution by successive Myanmar military regimes. This is reflected in the junta’s response, which viewed all those attending the concert as enemies, denying that any civilians had died. The statement of the junta’s  spokesperson, Zaw Min Tun, expressed that the killing of dozens of innocent people was a targeted military operation against KIO soldiers and PDF ‘terrorists’ at a KIO base. This, however, is simply not true. Rather, it was the deadliest single attack in Myanmar in terms of loss of life since the coup attempt and is a clear war crime according to the Geneva Conventions.

To make matters worse, after the bombing, the military stopped those injured from leaving the area to get to the town of Hpakant for emergency medical care while medical workers have been prevented from accessing the site of the atrocity due to junta checkpoints. Rescue workers have also been threatened with criminal charges, specifically Section 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act, if they provide medical treatment to those injured. A local rescue worker told Myanmar Now that around 30 more people died in the three days after the bombing by bleeding to death or infection due to shrapnel wounds. If they were allowed medical attention, more lives would have been saved, but callous orders from Naypyidaw meant that more civilians died slow, painful deaths. This is part of wider pattern, where the junta arrests and harasses medical workers as one of their tactics of war – a breach of international humanitarian law.

Yet this was not the only airstrike that has killed innocent people in recent weeks. According to the Irrawaddy, the junta has launched at least 28 airstrikes in October alone, killing 111 people and injuring at least 128. Examples include Kawkareik in Karen State, where air attacks were launched on 21 October, the sixth time that the area has experienced aerial bombing. The junta has also been using airstrikes in Sagaing, Magwe, Rakhine, and other parts of Kachin State. Furthermore, the situation will only get worse as the rainy season – typically an impediment to aerial attacks – subsides. This is coupled with escalating losses on the ground, meaning the junta is increasingly turning to such airstrikes to compensate for battlefield losses, low morale, and more sophisticated resistance from the revolutionary forces. Added to these military dynamics is a more proactive weapons purchase policy from its allies, China and Russia. The fighter jets they used were likely Russian-made Yak 130s and increasingly close military ties, including Russian pilots arriving in Naypyidaw to train Myanmar air force, personnel are foreboding signs. Additionally, the junta has also recently ordered several fighter jets from China.

Given the likelihood of more airstrikes in the coming months, it is all the more essential that aviation fuel sanctions are urgently imposed. A recent report published by Amnesty International with research conducted by Myanmar activist group, Justice For Myanmar, reveals exactly who is providing this aviation fuel. The main foreign company involved with the handling, storage and distribution of aviation fuel from 2015 until just last month, has been Puma Energy. Other foreign firms providing aviation fuel include Russia’s Rosneft, the Singapore Petroleum Company which is owned by PetroChina, Chevron Singapore, and Thai Oil, while ExxonMobil is also linked to a shipment. A lack of a coordinated and effective response from the international community has dismayed those in Myanmar who are fighting for a democratic federal union where the military is banished from politics. This latest investigation by Justice For Myanmar and published by Amnesty International should rightfully shame those companies who are making a profit out of the deaths of Myanmar people. Yet it will take stronger action from host governments to ban the sales of aviation fuel to stop the greed of such unscrupulous corporations.

Thousands have died and over a million displaced since the violent coup attempt, and there is no end in sight to the violence of the military junta. Rather than relying on the meaningless ASEAN Five Point Consensus, which ASEAN Foreign Ministers confirmed they will continue to ”strengthen” and which others in the international community are hiding behind, more action over empty rhetoric is needed. This includes sanctions on aviation fuel, an international arms embargo, and more coordinated efforts to target the junta’s revenue streams. These calls will be repeated until something is done. Tragically, more atrocities that result in the deaths of innocent people at the hands of a murderous junta that will stop at nothing to seize power are inevitable. However, the Myanmar people are not waiting idly by to be saved, and are fighting with everything in a revolution that will continue until the end of the military tyranny, or in the words of the Myanmar revolutionary song, “until the end of the world.” That world, however, would become brighter if the military couldn’t access the fuel or resources to rain down indiscriminate attacks from the sky.


[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

457 CSOs call on ASEAN to move beyond the Five-Point Consensus, exclude junta representation from all ASEAN meetings and mechanisms and work with Myanmar’s civilian actors to end the crisis

By 457 Civil Society Organizations

Open letter from civil society organizations concerning ASEAN’s approach to the ongoing political, human rights and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar

By 505 Civil Society Organizations

Statement regarding Myanmar junta’s deliberate bombing on civilians gathering site in Kachin State

By All Kachin Students’ Federation, Anti Junta Mass Movement Committee, Blood Money Campaign, General Strike Committee, General Strike Committee of Nationalities, Kachin National Youth Network, Kachin State Civilian Movement and Women’s League of Burma

Myanmar: Deadly air strikes in Kachin State appear to fit pattern of unlawful attacks

By Amnesty International

Junta Airstrike on Hpa Kant Music Concert is an Atrocity

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

Junta’s Bombing of Concert Demands Harsh Response

By Burma Human Rights Network

Thailand: Implement Anti-Torture Legislation, End Forced Returns of Refugees

By Fortify Rights

“The junta wiped us out again”: Socio-economic impacts post-coup in Southeastern Burma

By Human Rights Foundation of Monland

Myanmar Junta Airstrike Apparent Laws-of-War Violation

By Human Rights Watch

JFM calls on Israel’s Attorney General to take urgent action following application for criminal investigation into Myanmar arms sales

By Justice For Myanmar

Statement condemning the Hpakant Massacre

By Kachin Alliance

Statement on the Air Strike Against a Peaceful Event in Hpakan Township, Kachin State, Killing Over 100 People and Injuring Many More

By Kachin National Organization

(၆၂) နှစ် မြောက် ကချင်လွတ်လပ်ရေးအဖွဲ့ KIO နေ့ အထိမ်းအမှတ် အကြိုပွဲတော်အား အာဏာသိမ်း စစ်ကောင်စီ၏ လေကြောင်း တိုက်ခိုက်မှုကြောင့် အပြစ်မဲ့ အရပ်သားပြည်သူလူထုများ၊ အနုပညာရှင်များ သေဆုံးခဲ့ရမှုအပေါ် ကေအဲန်ယူ – ကရင် အမျိုးသားအစည်းအရုံး၏ သဘောထား ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေငြာချက်

By Karen National Union

(၆၂) နှစ်ပြည့် KIO နေ့ အထိမ်းအမှတ်ပွဲအား မြန်မာစစ်ကောင်စီမှ ဗုံးကြဲတိုက်ခိုက်ပြီး အရပ်သားပြည်သူအမြောက်အများ သေဆုံးခဲ့ရမှုအပေါ် ကရင်နီအမျိုးသားတိုးတက်ရေးပါတီ KNPP ၏ သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By Karenni National Progressive Party

တိုက်လေယာဉ်များအသုံးပြု၍ အရပ်သားပြည်သူများအား ဗုံးကြဲတိုက်ခိုက်ခြင်းအပေါ် ကရင်နီပြည်နယ်အတိုင်ပင်ခံကောင်စီ ၏ ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By Karenni State Consultative Council

Statement Condemning the Aerial Bombardment by the Military Council Causing Many Civilian Casualties, Blatantly Violating International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law

By Legal Aid Network

Statement of the Chair of the Special ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting 27 October 2022, ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta

By Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia

ASEAN Chairman’s Statement on the Recent Escalation of Violence in Myanmar

By Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia

ASEAN Special Ministerial Meeting on Myanmar in Jakarta, Indonesia, 27 October 2022

By Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia

စစ်ကောင်စီတပ်၏ လေကြောင်းတိုက်ခိုက်မှုနှင့် ပတ်သက်ပြီး ညီနောင်မဟာမိတ်သုံးဖွဲ့၏ ဝမ်းနည်းကြောင်းသဝဏ်လွှာ

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

(၆၂) နှစ်မြောက်၊ ကချင်လွတ်မြောက်ရေးအဖွဲ့ ဖွဲ့စည်းတည်ထောင်ခြင်းနေ့ အကြို တေးဂီတ ဖျော်ဖြေပွဲကို အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်အုပ်စုက လေကြောင်းမှ ဗုံးကြဲ တိုက်ခိုက်မှုနှင့် ပတ်သက်၍ ပြင်းထန်စွာ ကန့်ကွက်ရှုတ်ချကြောင်း ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By National Unity Consultative Council

ကချင်လွတ်လပ်ရေးတပ်မတော် (KIA) တပ်မဟာ (၉) အနန့်ပါ၌ ဖြစ်ပွားသော စစ်ကောင်စီ၏ စစ်ရာဇဝတ်မှု ကျူးလွန်မှုအပေါ် တရားရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန၏ ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Justice)

The attack in Kachin State must prompt UN Security Council’s urgent action against Myanmar military junta

By Progressive Voice, Kachin Women’s Association Thailand and Women’s League of Burma

SAC-M Response to Deadly Junta Airstrike in Kachin State

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

Myanmar Crisis Taking Huge Toll on People, Military Using Disproportionate Force, Burning Civilian Structures, Third Committee Hears Today

By United Nations General Assembly

UNHCR deplores continued deportation of Myanmar asylum-seekers from Malaysia

By United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Statement by the United Nations in Myanmar on reported airstrikes in Hpakant, Kachin State

By United Nations Myanmar

Statement by Women’s League of Burma and Burma Campaign UK

By Women’s League of Burma and Burma Campaign UK



Burma/Myanmar: The challenges Indonesia will inherit as ASEAN chair

By ALTSEAN-Burma and The Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence

အလုံးစုံပျက်သုဉ်းခြင်း – စစ်အုပ်စုတို့၏ အာဏာသိမ်းကြံစည်မှုနောက်ပိုင်း မြန်မာနိုင်ငံအရှေ့တောင်ပိုင်းတွင် ဖြစ်ပွါးခဲ့သည့် လူမှုစီးပွားထိခိုက်နစ်နာမှုများ

By Human Rights Foundation of Monland

Border based Karen community groups lead aid response to post-coup humanitarian crisis in Kawthoolei

By Karen Peace Support Network

Single Event Investigation: Airstrikes on residential areas in Lay Kay Kaw

By Myanmar Witness

Bulletin: Message from the head of the Mechanism – Issue 7

By Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar

More Than 7,700 Clashes Broke Out Nationwide

By Institute for Strategy and Policy – Myanmar

Myanmar: Violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief since the coup d’état in Myanmar

By International Commission of Jurists

WFP Myanmar Situation Report (September 2022)

By World Food Programme

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.”