Another somber six months of brutality

August 14th, 2023  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  7 minute read
Featured image

The more time given to the Myanmar military, the more innocent lives will be lost daily, and the more dire the need for humanitarian assistance.

The announcement of another six-month extension of the state of emergency – the fourth such extension since the attempted coup – followed by the granting of pardons and commutation to political prisoners are clearly the junta’s latest in increasingly desperate measures in its ongoing attempt to take over Myanmar. This is just another plot of the military to buy time by using political prisoners as a bargaining chip for its political gain. Additionally, the reshuffling of its cabinet days after the extension is yet more evidence of the failure of its coup attempt and of its increasing losses on the ground, as well as demonstrating that mutual trust, even within the junta, is fading.

Meanwhile, Myanmar people face another somber six months of even more intensifying atrocities as the murderous military accelerates its terror campaign with the aim to annihilate the democratic resistance movement. The more time given to the Myanmar military, the more innocent lives will be lost daily, and the more dire the need for humanitarian assistance. International and regional actors must disaffirm the military’s attempt to deceive the world with such manipulation and ramp up concrete actions to stop the junta’s terror campaign, support Myanmar people’s pursuit of a genuine federal democratic country, and pursue justice and accountability for its crimes.

In a calculated move following the day of the extension, the junta pardoned nearly 7,750 prisoners, as well as commuting sentences for State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and President, U Win Myint. While the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) confirmed only around 120 were political prisoners among those who received this round of amnesty, none of them deserved to be imprisoned. U Tate Naing, AAPP Secretary said, “Releasing people after forcibly arresting them arbitrarily in the first place does not signal a relaxation in repression.” This same old “amnesty” was merely just a hollow show, but ongoing atrocity crimes committed by the junta are daily realities of civilians throughout Myanmar. In addition, many thousands more political prisoners remain in Myanmar’s jails, where conditions are notoriously abysmal with rampant torture and extrajudicial killings.

Obviously, the junta has been facing a daunting array of challenges. Due to increasing international pressure of targeted sanctions and in absence of recognition for legitimacy, the junta’s diplomacy is deteriorating. In this precarious situation, the junta is trying to mitigate its failings by using hostage diplomacy as a tool for diplomatic leverage by releasing some political prisoners or reducing sentences of political figures who were arbitrarily imprisoned by them. This is the Myanmar military’s old playbook, pulling out all the stops as a last resort while seeming to follow the narrative that the international community wants to see. Such relaxation measures, opening for dialogue, and more engagement, are calculated moves ahead of the ASEAN Summit that will include a “comprehensive review of the Five-Point Consensus implementation” and the UN General Assembly taking place in September. As per the comment of Sean Turnell, former political prisoner and the economic adviser for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who was jailed for 650 days by the junta, “Real change is possible in Myanmar, but it will not come from applauding meaningless gestures, as attractive as they might be as “click-bait”.”

That the junta’s disingenuous deeds entirely contradict its constant horrendous crimes on the ground is undeniable, as the extended state of emergency signals the junta’s further attempt to ramp up its military operations in democratic resistance-administered territories such as Sagaing, Bago, Magwe, Tanintharyi Regions, and Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, and Mon States. Min Aung Hlaing’s speech in the junta-controlled media confirmed that additional operations are likely to be launched in certain areas and regions in its preparation to hold the sham election – the junta’s masterplan to “transition Myanmar to normalcy”. Just before the announcement of extension, three prominent members of a local student union, all younger than 20 years old, were tortured and killed by junta forces in Budalin Township, Sagaing Region. A statement by the NUG’s Ministry of Human Rights further reported that, as of 20 July 2023, since the attempted coup, at least 144 mass killings had been committed by the terrorist military junta, and 1,595 innocent lives were lost at the hands of these war criminals. In just the first six months of 2023, there has been a total of 48 massacres, with increasing numbers each month. This trend is a critical indicator of increasing atrocities and a somber reminder that the junta has another six months to carry out its war of terror against the Myanmar people.

The international community must no longer stand aside and wait to pick a winner while courageous people of Myanmar are losing their lives, homes, dreams and those of their loved ones and communities at large on a daily basis. They must match their actions to the aspirations and demands of the people of Myanmar rather than falling for the junta’s repeated superficial schemes with the false hope for “dialogue” and “return to normalcy”.

The people have been reiterating their calls for the complete removal of the Myanmar military from political power and the creation of a new Myanmar that is a genuine federal democracy. There are only a few answers to stop the junta’s decades-long horrendous crimes and prevent any recurrence: immediate cessation of its atrocities and holding the perpetrators to account by international law. At the upcoming Summit in September, ASEAN must absolutely refuse to allow junta representatives from attending the Summit in any and all platforms. The international community must take practical and ethical measures to stop the junta’s atrocities by seeking a UN Security Council resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.


[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

Press Statement, Junta August 1, 2023, Prisoner Release Announcement

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

၂၀၂၃ ခုနှစ် ဩဂုတ်လ ၁ ရက်နေ့ အာဏာသိမ်းစစ်အုပ်စု၏ ပြစ်ဒဏ်လျော့ပေါ့ပေးမှုနှင့်ပတ်သက်၍ ထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

Japan’s exclusion of Myanmar military junta from ASEAN and G7 justice ministers’ meetings must set precedent for future engagement

By Defend Myanmar Democracy and Progressive Voice

ဂျပန်နိုင်ငံက မြန်မာစစ်အုပ်စုအား အာဆီယံနှင့် G7 တရားရေးဝန်ကြီးများ အစည်းအဝေးများမှ ဖယ်ချန်ထားခြင်းသည် နောင်ဆက်ဆံမှုများအတွက် အစဉ်အလာအဖြစ် ချမှတ်ရမည်

By Defend Myanmar Democracy and Progressive Voice

JFM welcomes German criminal investigation into MAN links to Myanmar Navy warship after complaint

By Justice For Myanmar

Joint Statement of the Common Position of Revolutionary Organizations Fighting Together in the Spring Revolution

By National Unity Consultative Council and National Unity Government

နွေဦးတော်လှန်ရေး၌ အတူတကွလက်တွဲ တိုက်ပွဲဝင်နေကြသော တော်လှန်ရေးအဖွဲ့အစည်းများ၏ ဘုံရပ်တည်ချက်သဘောထား ပူးတွဲထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By National Unity Consultative Council and National Unity Government

Statement regarding the intensified and widespread mass killings committed by terrorist military group

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Human Rights)

အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်အုပ်စုအနေဖြင့် အစုလိုက်အပြုံလိုက် သတ်ဖြတ်မှုများကို ပိုမိုပြင်းထန်၊ ကျယ်ပြန့်စွာ ကျူးလွန်လာမှုနှင့် ပတ်သက်သည့် ထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Human Rights)

Transactions with Sanctioned Burmese Banks Must Be Wound Down by August 5, 2023

By United States Department of State



Keep a watch out for military-sponsored dialogue – Issue 115

By Burma News International and Myanmar Peace Monitor

Summary of SAC human rights violations in Karenni State and Pekhon Township (July 17-30, 2023)

By Karenni Civil Society Network

Shadow of Death: Use of civilians as human shields by the State Administration Council (SAC) in Southeast Burma since the coup

By Karen Human Rights Group

Are you talking seriously or just paying lip service? – Studies on the view of Civil War and Genocide in Burma

By Synergy – Social Harmony Organization and Burma Civil War Museum

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.”