KANCHANABURI: A total of 131 illegal migrants from Myanmar were caught near the border in Sai Yok district on Saturday morning while waiting for transport to take them to workplaces.
A patrol of soldiers from the Lat Ya Task Force, local police and officials found a large group of people hiding in a forested area in Ban Thung Chang village of tambon Sri Mongkhol at around 6am.
The group comprised 72 men and 59 women, all Myanmar nationals. Health workers were sent to check their temperatures and all were normal.
The detainees told officials that they had travelled from Dawei, Yangon, Mawlamyine, Bago and other Myanmar townships to work in Thailand. They walked along natural trails at night to enter Thai territory before hiding in the forest to await transport to other provinces.
They said they were destined for jobs in Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Kanchanaburi, Chon Buri and Prachin Buri. They were to pay between 17,000 and 20,000 baht each to job brokers upon arriving at their destinations.
All of them were handed over to Sai Yok police to be charged with illegal entry and deported.
The number of migrants crossing into Thailand from Myanmar has been rising steadily in recent weeks as the economy in their home country deteriorates, nine months after a military coup. On Thursday, 101 job seekers from Myanmar were caught after they crossed the border into Sai Yok district.
Singapore’s foreign ministry said on Saturday the move to exclude junta chief Min Aung Hlaing was a “difficult, but necessary, decision to uphold ASEAN’s credibility”.
Southeast Asian countries will invite a non-political representative from Myanmar to a regional summit this month, delivering an unprecedented snub to the military leader who led a coup against an elected civilian government in February.
The decision taken by foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at an emergency meeting on Friday night, marks a rare bold step for the consensus-driven bloc, which has traditionally favoured a policy of engagement and non-interference.
Singapore’s foreign ministry said on Saturday the move to exclude junta chief Min Aung Hlaing was a “difficult, but necessary, decision to uphold ASEAN’s credibility”.
The statement cited a lack of progress made on a roadmap to restore peace in Myanmar that the junta had agreed to with ASEAN in April.
A spokesman for Myanmar’s military government blamed “foreign intervention” for the decision.
Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun told the BBC Burmese news service that the United States and representatives of the European Union had pressured other ASEAN member states.
“The foreign interventions can also be seen here,” he said. “We learned that some envoys from some countries met with U.S. foreign affairs and received pressure from EU.”
More than 1,000 civilians have been killed by Myanmar security forces with thousands of others arrested, according to the United Nations, amid a crackdown on strikes and protests which has derailed the country’s tentative democracy and prompted international condemnation. The junta says those estimates of the death toll are exaggerated.
ASEAN’s current chair Brunei said a non-political figure from Myanmar would be invited to the Oct. 26-28 summit, after no consensus was reached for a political representative to attend.
“As there had been insufficient progress… as well as concerns over Myanmar’s commitment, in particular on establishing constructive dialogue among all concerned parties, some ASEAN Member States recommended that ASEAN give space to Myanmar to restore its internal affairs and return to normalcy,” Brunei said in a statement.
It did not mention Min Aung Hlaing or name who would be invited in his stead.
Brunei said some member states had received requests from Myanmar’s National Unity Government, formed by opponents of the junta, to attend the summit.
ASEAN has faced increasing international pressure to take a tougher stand against Myanmar, having been criticised in the past for its ineffectiveness in dealing with leaders accused of rights abuses, subverting democracy and intimidating political opponents.
A US State Department official told reporters on Friday that it was “perfectly appropriate and in fact completely justified” for ASEAN to downgrade Myanmar’s participation at the coming summit.
Singapore in its statement urged Myanmar to cooperate with ASEAN’s envoy, Brunei’s second foreign affairs minister Erywan Yusof.
Erywan has delayed a long-planned visit to the country in recent weeks and has asked to meet all parties in Myanmar, including deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained in the coup.
Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said this week Erywan would be welcome in Myanmar, but would not be allowed to meet Suu Kyi because she is charged with crimes.
Malaysia’s foreign minister said it would be up to the Myanmar junta to decide on an alternate representative to the summit.
“We never thought of removing Myanmar from ASEAN, we believe Myanmar has the same rights (as us),” foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah told reporters according to Bernama state news agency.
“But the junta has not cooperated, so ASEAN must be strong in defending its credibility and integrity,” he added.
The UN Country Team in Myanmar remains “deeply concerned over the humanitarian impact” of the country’s ongoing crises stemming largely from the military coup in February, the UN Spokesperson said on Tuesday.
Updating journalists at the daily media briefing in New York, Stéphane Dujarric cited humanitarians in saying that “conflict, food insecurity, natural disasters and COVID-19” have left some three million women, children and men in urgent need of life-saving assistance and protection.
“This includes one million people who were in need at the start of the year, plus an additional two million people identified as needing help after the military takeover on 1 February”, he said.
At that time, following a general election in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won by a landslide, the military seized control of the country and declared a year-long state of emergency.
As protesters took to the streets, security forces imposed curfews and other restrictions, leading to widespread alleged human rights abuses, thousands of arrests, and hundreds of deaths.
Displaced and vulnerable people
Since then, clashes between Myanmar Armed Forces, different ethnic armed organizations and people’s defense forces have left some 219,000 people newly displaced, said Mr. Dujarric.
This comes as a recent wave of COVID-19 has exacerbated the dire humanitarian situation. At the same time, floods in Rakhine and Kayin states, have left tens of thousands without water and sanitation.
“The UN once again calls on parties concerned to ensure that aid can be scaled up to reach people affected by the continued armed conflict”, said the Spokesperson.
Despite conflict and COVID, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners have been able to reach more than 33,000 people with water and sanitation supplies.
Mr. Dujarric also said that UNICEF continues to help nearly 150,000 internally displaced people and others in Kachin, Northern Shan, Rakhine and Sagaing.
Meanwhile, the agency on Monday posted a detailed account of the deteriorating situation in Mindat – located in the southern Chin state of western Myanmar – which has been under martial law since May.
According to a UN humanitarian report, Mindat is one of the worst affected places in the country, with residents there urgent need of support.
Amid continuing armed clashes and a devasting third wave of the pandemic, UNICEF told the story in a blog post of Hay Mar and her husband, who, like many others, decided to flee the violence, forced to leaving behind some of the most vulnerable – including elderly relatives, and heavily pregnant women.
“My mother-in-law could have run with us, but she said she didn’t want to. She wanted to stay in her home”, said Hay Mar.
The family fashioned makeshift shelters in the forest, which left them with little protection from the monsoon rains.
Future of uncertainty
Two weeks after Hay Mar and her family left, she began to worry about her mother-in-law.
With her three children in tow, she decided to return to the town.
Although her youngest was petrified as they re-entered, she said that he is now slowly showing signs of overcoming the trauma and is returning to the lively boy he once was.
While Hay Mar is happy to see positive changes in him, she is unsure how long this period of peace and calm will last.
Like most of the other children in Mindat, her 12 and 17-year-olds have been out of school for almost two years – first because of the pandemic and then due to the life-threatening security crisis.
“If we live in this situation, how will my children grow? I’m very worried about their future. I just want to live in peace”, she told UNICEF.
Khin, a 59-year-old rice farmer, faced a distressing choice at the height of Myanmar’s monsoon season three months ago: sell a cow, a prized asset for agricultural households, or go hungry.
She sold the animal for half its value. The proceeds went to buy food for her family and inputs for her small rice farm in the Dry Zone – a drought-prone region in the country’s centre where farmers and agricultural experts say falling income and rising costs are worsening hunger.
“We’re just eating whatever is available,” Khin told The New Humanitarian by phone.
Months after the 1 February military coup, poverty and food insecurity are soaring in Myanmar’s Dry Zone and Ayeyarwady Delta regions – the country’s agricultural heartland – sparking warnings of a hidden crisis in the making as farming households struggle out of view of most humanitarian aid plans.
Khin blames her family’s plight on political instability since the coup and a devastating third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Costs for critical inputs such as fertiliser have soared, but crop prices have fallen.
“I’m very worried because I have no idea where to go or how to survive if things worsen,” she said. “Other farmers are in the same boat.”
The coup has upended lives across the country, exacerbated its numerous conflicts, and sent the economy into free fall. The Asian Development Bank recently predicted Myanmar’s GDP would shrink by 18.4 percent this year. The currency lost 60 percent of its value in September, Reuters reported, putting even more pressure on food and fuel prices.
The economic crash is worsening food insecurity across the country. However, the Dry Zone and Delta regions are traditionally off the aid radar, mainly because they are not in border conflict zones where humanitarian needs have typically been the most pressing.
Yet poverty is rapidly rising. The percentage of Delta households considered “extremely poor” rose from 18 percent last year to 30 percent in July, according to the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). A recent paper predicts that 60 percent of Myanmar’s “newly poor households” in the coming months will be in the Dry Zone and Delta.
“Aid agencies are still mostly working in more remote conflict-affected areas, albeit with some shift to urban populations obviously made poorer by COVID and the political situation,” said Derek Headey, a senior research fellow at the institute.
“But there is a lot of new poverty in the Delta and Dry Zone too, and these are major agricultural production centres and large population areas. So we’re very concerned there’s an emerging crisis in these zones that’s going under the radar.”
In interviews with The New Humanitarian, nearly a dozen Myanmar Delta or Dry Zone farmers, or aid staff who work in these areas, said that families were dipping into savings and selling long-term assets to make ends meet.
Some farmers said they’re not sure how they will continue to feed themselves over the long term. Many are taking on greater debt, while cutting back on food.
“Rising input prices and falling output crop prices [are] a double whammy that is squeezing farmers tighter and tighter,” said a Myanmar development worker who has spoken to hundreds of farmers since the coup.
Myanmar farmers and aid workers who spoke to The New Humanitarian requested that their full names not be used for fear of the military.
Under the radar
The Dry Zone and Delta regions are crucial for Myanmar’s overall food security, accounting for more than 80 percent of Myanmar’s cropped area, according to IFPRI. The two areas together account for about a third of Myanmar’s population.
But in the coup’s aftermath, more farming families are joining the ranks of the newly poor.
Aung, 45, who grows rice, maize, and pulses in the fertile Ayeyarwady Delta in the country’s south, said farmers are squeezed because traditional sources of credit – such as seed and fertiliser companies and banks – are not available.
“We can’t get loans or borrow money, which means you have to sell what you have. So we have to be very frugal,” he said. “Everything is more difficult this year.”
Kyaw, a 49-year-old farmer in Sagaing Region, part of the Dry Zone, said he has resorted to pawning and selling his wife’s jewellery to buy food for his family of eight.
“We’ve been surviving by farming and working as hired labour, but it’s not enough,” he said. “We’re now using up leftover rice from the previous years, and our savings and gold.”
Others have it worse, he added: “In some homes, they no longer have old stocks of rice left. We are trying to help each other.”
Analysts say there is an urgent need to expand food assistance to rural families in the Dry Zone and Delta.
“To overlook the food-insecure rural households in the Delta and Dry Zones would be to overlook almost half the food-insecure rural households in Myanmar,” said Duncan Boughton, a professor of agricultural, food, and resource economics at Michigan State University who was also part of the team behind the IFPRI paper.
Stephen Anderson, Myanmar country director for the World Food Programme, said the UN agency is trying to find out more about the situation in these major farming regions.
“We would be ready to step in in those instances where we see acute food insecurity developing. If there are needs, we’re ready to consider them,” he said.
The February coup has already pushed humanitarian groups to expand food aid, though the military junta continues to impose heavy restrictions. A UN-backed response plan, revised in July, tripled the number of people targeted for food security assistance – including expanding food distribution to urban areas of Yangon, Myanmar’s main commercial centre.
As in many aid operations, however, donor funding has fallen short.
“We’ve received more funding now than we had in all of last year, it’s just that the needs are outstripping the available funding,” Anderson said.
Violence and the coronavirus
Humanitarian needs are growing in areas that have typically been spared the brunt of Myanmar’s conflicts, but post-coup violence is still escalating.
In some areas, there are regular clashes between the junta’s troops and local resistance forces who have teamed up with ethnic armed groups that have been fighting for autonomy for decades. Bombings and targeted assassinations in major towns and cities are becoming more common.
Kyaw, the 49-year-old farmer, said soldiers have been raiding many villages in his part of Sagaing, looking for residents suspected of being members of the local resistance forces.
“I can’t even explain how cruel they are,” he said. “Whenever they come, they just arrest whoever they see. So now everyone flees when they come.”
COVID-19 is adding to the farmers’ woes. Positivity rates have dropped from 37 percent in late July to 6 percent in mid-October, but the virus continues to spread. Healthcare delivery has been severely constrained since the coup; only about 15 percent of the population have received a COVID-19 vaccine dose – well below rates in most other countries in the region.
Labourers are falling ill, said Yin, an office worker from a farming family in southern Mandalay Region, which forms part of the Dry Zone.
“A lot of people said they came down with the flu but the illness sounds very similar to COVID-19 because people were losing their sense of smell,” she said.
“In our villages, planting is still being done by hand, so it was really difficult for farmers to hire people, and it means you cannot finish preparing the land or planting in time,” she added.
The rising food insecurity and poverty in the Delta and Dry Zone could have far-reaching repercussions in Myanmar, which has a largely rural population and relies heavily on the agricultural sector, said the development worker.
Poverty and food are immediate worries. But the farmers struggling today also need help to adapt to longer-term threats exacerbated by climate change – more volatile floods and drought, erratic rains, and more risks from pests and crop diseases.
“That critical support and focus on the environment has fallen off the radar,” the development worker said.
“I would ask aid agencies to not abandon Myanmar at this time, even though it might be tempting since it is such a difficult operating environment,” she added.
Mr. President: There are many consequences of COVID-19 that have changed the existing landscape due to the cumulative effects of personal behavior. For example, the decline in the use of automobiles has been to the benefit of the environment. A landmark study published by Nature in May 2020 confirmed a 17 percent drop in daily CO2 emissions but with the expectation that the number will bounce back as human activity returns to normal.
Yet there is hope. We are all creatures of habit and having tried teleconferences, we are less likely to take the trouble to hop on a plane for a personal meeting, wasting time and effort. Such is also the belief of aircraft operators. Add to this the convenience of shopping from home and having the stuff delivered to your door and one can guess what is happening.
In short, the need for passenger planes has diminished while cargo operators face increased demand. Fewer passenger planes also means a reduction in belly cargo capacity worsening the situation. All of which has led to a new business with new jobs — converting passenger aircraft for cargo use. It is not as simple as it might seem, and not just a matter of removing seats, for all unnecessary items must be removed for cargo use. They take up cargo weight and if not removed waste fuel.
After the seats and interior fittings have been removed, the cabin floor has to be strengthened. The side windows are plugged and smoothed out. A cargo door is cut out and the existing emergency doors are deactivated and sealed. Also a new crew entry door has to be cut-out and installed.
A new in-cabin cargo barrier with a sliding access door is put in, allowing best use of cargo and cockpit space and a merged carrier and crew space. A new crew lavatory together with replacement water and waste systems replace the old, which supplied the original passenger area and are no longer needed.
The cockpit gets upgrades which include a simplified air distribution system and revised hydraulics. At the end of it all, we have a cargo jet. If the airlines are converting their planes, then they must believe not all the travelers will be returning after the covid crisis recedes.
Airline losses have been extraordinary. Figures sourced from the World Bank and the International Civil Aviation Organization reveal air carriers lost $370 billion in revenues. This includes $120 billion in the Asia-Pacific region, $100 billion in Europe and $88 billion in North America.
For many of the airlines, it is now a new business model transforming its fleet for cargo demand and launching new cargo routes. The latter also requires obtaining regulatory approvals.
A promising development for the future is sustainable aviation fuel (SAP). Developed by the Air France KLM Martinair consortium it reduces CO2 emissions, and cleaner air transport contributes to lessening global warming.
It is a good start since airplanes are major transportation culprits increasing air pollution and radiative forcing. The latter being the heat reflected back to earth when it is greater than the heat radiated from the earth. All of which should incline the environmentally conscious to avoid airplane travel — buses and trains pollute less and might be a preferred alternative for domestic travel.
Striking teachers dismiss a plan to reopen schools as an attempt to normalise military rule, and vow to continue their resistance to the junta
The military council is reportedly planning to reopen primary, middle and high schools as early as November despite continued threats of Covid-19 and ongoing teacher strikes and student boycotts in accordance with the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) aimed at toppling the junta.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, most schools were already closed at the time of Myanmar’s February 1 military coup. The junta attempted to reopen them nationwide on June 1, the start of Myanmar’s academic year, but more than half of the country’s 400,000 teachers were on strike and just 10 percent of the estimated 9 million students nationwide opted to enrol. More than 100 striking teachers have also been charged under the Penal Code’s Section 505a for incitement, according to the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation.
Those schools that did reopen in June were later closed again on July 9 when the third wave of the pandemic hit the country.
However, a photo of a military council notice in Ayeyarwady Region’s Yegyi Township has recently gone viral online instructing the township education officer to prepare the schools to reopen in November.
While an official date for reopening has not been announced, the junta’s information team alluded on Wednesday that such an event was approaching but had been obstructed by anti-coup entities.
They accused “political extremist members and supporters” of the National League for Democracy, the National Unity Government and the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw of committing arson in schools, inciting violence, and threatening education staff into joining the CDM “while officials made preparations for the reopening of schools.”
A spokesperson from the strike committee of a union for basic education staff—and a striking teacher himself—said his group is against any move by the military to reopen schools, and dismiss it as an attempt by the generals to normalise military administration.
As the people’s resistance war against the military and the “revolutionary momentum” continues to gain strength, he said that neither he nor his colleagues could break away from the movement.
“It is just impossible for us to become non-CDM [staff] again because we have stayed strong even under their rigorous oppression. In this current situation, we don’t care if they reopen schools—we will continue our resistance,” he said.
Presumably in connection with the reopening of schools, the military council also declared on its newspaper on Wednesday that it was launching a nationwide Covid-19 vaccination program through October 25 for students over the age of 12 using the Chinese-manufactured Sinovac. However, they provided details only for how those vaccines would be administered in the capital, Naypyitaw.
Education staff across the country confirmed to Myanmar Now that they had been told the same announcement by local junta authorities that school would open following the vaccination scheme.
Vaccination rates are low among adults, with rates unknown except for statistics released by the junta’s health department on Tuesday suggesting that just 4.2 million of Myanmar’s more than 50 million people have received two doses of any jab.
Khant Lu Aung, the father of a high school student from Mandalay who would be eligible for re-enrolment and vaccination, said he did not send his son back to school after the military seized power and would continue to keep him out of the junta’s education system.
“Under a dictatorship, I am not interested in whether the schools open or close. Even if they are really going to reopen, I won’t let my kid go there. Under their rule, whether it is healthcare or education, nothing is reliable,” Khant Lu Aung told Myanmar Now.
Nilar Win, a primary school teacher taking part in the CDM who chose not to reveal her location for security reasons, told Myanmar Now she was concerned about the safety of possibly bringing students back to school next month, given the health crisis and the ongoing instability in the country.
“It is very questionable that they are reopening schools for the children’s well-being,” she said, adding that the junta has even talked to teachers about “squeezing two school years into one” to make up for learning time lost during the pandemic.
Teaching modules are typically divided into 36 weeks of lessons, she explained, adding that no information had been shared with teachers about the upcoming curriculum.
Khant Lu Aung told Myanmar Now that he had prepared for his child to study some academic subjects online during the current school year but that he did not have a long-term plan for their education amid the unrest.
Myanmar Now tried to contact executive director of the junta’s education department Ko Lay Win to comment on the planned reopening of schools, but the calls went unanswered.
Nestled in the rocky lap of Vanzang Hill, Tlanglo was a tranquil village in Myanmar’s chin state until the country’s military regime perceived it as a potential threat.
The village became a target as it is located on the road to Htantalan town, the headquarters of the Chin National Front (CNF), an insurgent group that has been waging war against the military regime.
In April this year, barely two months after it staged a bloodless coup, the army ordered people of Tlanglo and four other neighbouring villages not to venture out. A night curfew was also imposed in these villages.
It was then that Suihleipari (14) and his family and a group of other Tlanglo villagers decided to sneak to India, moving westward through mountainous jungle tracks.
After about 50 kilometres of trekking they reached Farkawn village in Mizoram on the India-Myanmar border.
“The day we left the village, I thought it was the end of my dream of becoming a teacher. I never thought I would ever get a chance to study again,” Suihleipari said.
Four months after his escape from Myanmar, Suihleipari was posing for a photo decked up in school uniform, seeking to rebuild his life in a different country.
Admitted on humanitarian grounds
Suihleipari is among the 340 students from Myanmar who have been enrolled in various schools in Tuipuiral area of Champhai district where physical classes have resumed recently.
In other districts, where classes are still being conducted online, refugee children from Myanmar are taking classes with their Mizo counterparts through mobile phones from their relief camps set up across bordering districts.
Their headcount is yet to be done.
The enrolment followed the Mizoram government’s August 31 directive to all district education officers and sub-divisional education officers to admit Myanmarese children in local schools.
Mizoram education minister Lalchhandama Ralte said the decision was taken “purely on humanitarian grounds” in accordance with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act.
“Children aged between 6 and 14 years belonging to disadvantaged communities have the right to be admitted to school in a class appropriate to his or her age for completing elementary education,” says the education department’s circular sent to district officials.
“I like my new school. I am enjoying my lessons. Teachers here are very good. I would like to thank the Mizoram government for allowing us to attend schools,” Suihleipari said.
He got admission in Class 9 in Government Thanchhuma High School in Farkawn village.
PC Zirthanpuia, a teacher of the school, said that all the Myanmarese students, including Suihleipari, are “very determined to fully utilise the opportunity” they got to study again.
The refugee students are also provided books and uniform from the government, the teacher said.
Of the 340 students accommodated in different schools in 21 villages in Champhai district, 194 are enrolled in the primary section, 118 in the middle schools and 14 in the high schools. Besides 14 children are studying in the pre-primary section.
Refugees flow in
Zirthanpuia said the number of refugee students might go up in the bordering district as there has been a fresh influx from across the border following recent reports of escalation of violence in Myanmar.
Already over 20,000 refugees, including chief minister of Chin state Salai Lian Luai and over a dozen legislators, have taken shelter in bordering districts of Hnahthial, Champhai, Lunglei and Lawngtlai and other parts of Mizoram since the military junta dislodged the democratically elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.
It is difficult to ascertain the exact number as many refugees are left unrecorded as they are living with their families on this part of the border, said state planning board vice chairman H Rammawi, who is closely dealing with the refugee problem.
Lalnunpuia Changthu, a resident of Cherhlun village in Lunglei district, said there has been a fresh spurt in influx of refugees since September 10.
He said many villagers from Myanmar even came in small boats crossing Tiau river.
The Young Mizo Association (YMA) and local villagers are now constructing additional relief camps for the new entrants, Changthu said.
Myanmar is witnessing a renewed spurt in violence since the National Unity Government (NUG) and the People’s Defence Forces (PDFs) called for an armed resistance to the military regime in early September.
The NUG is a shadow underground government formed by a group of elected lawmakers and members of parliament ousted in the coup. The PDFs were formed by common people as resistance groups to defend the junta’s offensives against civilians.
Many ethnic insurgent groups such as the CNF have allied with the NUG to “topple” the military regime.
The CNF’s armed wing, the Chin National Army (CNA), and the volunteers of the Chinland Defence Force (CDF) formed by civilians overran a military outpost at Chin state’s Thantlang near Myanmar’s border with India, killing 12 junta soldiers, on September 10, according to media reports in Myanmar.
Nearly all the 8,000 residents of the mountaintop town of Thantlang in Chin State have fled after junta forces retaliated with vengeance, randomly opening fire on the residential area using heavy weapons and explosives, burning down several houses, reported Burmese website, the Irrawaddy.
The clash triggered a fresh influx of refugees from Myanmar to Mizoram, prompting the state chief minister Zoramthanga to prod the Centre to provide humanitarian assistance to Myanmar nationals.
Mizoram’s lone Lok Sabha member C Lalrosanga and OSD to chief minister Rosangzuala met Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Intelligence Bureau (IB) director Arvind Kumar in New Delhi on September 22 to apprise them of the “humanitarian crisis” and sought aids for the refugees, according to a Mizoram government communiqué.
Urgent action needed: UN
Since the coup, more than 1,120 people have been killed, a UN human rights report said on Thursday (September 23). The report said military authorities have also arrested over 8,000 people, and at least 120 have reportedly died in custody.
Urgent action is needed to prevent the situation in Myanmar from escalating into a “full-blown conflict”, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned in her report presented at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“The murder of a Baptist minister and bombing of homes in Thantlang, Chin State are the latest examples of the living hell being delivered daily by junta forces against the people of Myanmar. The world needs to pay closer attention. More importantly, the world needs to act,” said UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews in a tweet.
Earlier a Human Rights Watch report said: “The junta has arbitrarily detained thousands of protesters, activists, journalists, lawyers, doctors and nurses. Many have been tortured, while all risk falling ill with COVID-19 in the country’s squalid and already overcrowded prisons.”
“The junta has shut down hospitals and targeted medical professionals, leading to a collapse of the health system as COVID-19 surges across the country. They have arrested journalists reporting on the crackdown, closed independent media and effectively shut down the internet and phone service after almost daily images appeared showing soldiers and police firing into peaceful crowds,” the report added.
Global leaders and international organisations need to play a more active role to compel Myanmar to make arrangements for the Rohingyas to return
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has called on the international community including the UK to take concrete actions for creation of a conducive environment in Myanmar for sustainable return of Rohingyas to their homeland in Rakhine State.
Lord Ahmad, the British State Minister for Foreign Affairs for South Asia, United Nations and the Commonwealth met the Foreign Minister at the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh in New York recently and discussed various issues including the Rohingya crisis.
In the meeting, the issue of climate change was also discussed.
Foreign Minister Momen suggested that Bangladesh as the President of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and the UK as the President of COP26 might jointly hold an event on the sidelines of COP26 in Glasgow.
Foreign Minister Momen also apprised Lord Ahmad of the steps taken by Bangladesh in the area of mitigation and adaptation.
He suggested that the private sector of the UK could invest in different environment-friendly projects in Bangladesh, including in electrification of the conventional railway.
Lord Ahmad appreciated the proactive leadership role of Bangladesh in the area of climate change.
According to Kyodo News, a number of teachers and others engaged in education have joined the so-called civil disobedience movement to boycott work, as a protest against the junta.
Myanmar’s military government announced it will reopen public schools on June 1 but many teachers and students opposed to the coup might refuse to return. According to Kyodo News, a number of teachers and others engaged in education have joined the so-called civil disobedience movement to boycott work, as a protest against the junta. But the junta called on them to return to work and prepare for the reopening of the schools as it announced the restart on April 30. The junta also said it will dismiss those who do not follow the call, maintaining its hard-line stance against protesters since the coup. On February 1, the Myanmar military overthrew the civilian government and declared a year-long state of emergency. The coup triggered mass protests and was met by deadly violence. At a press conference in the capital Naypyitaw, junta spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun said it will reopen public elementary schools, junior high schools and high schools on June 1, adding it has resumed classes of public graduate schools and the final year of public universities on May 5. “It is a sad thing that some instigators and extremist political activists are campaigning for the students not to go back to the schools and are trying to stop reopening of the schools,” Zaw Min Tun said. The academic year in Myanmar starts on June 1. But public schools in the country have been closed for more than a year since the ousted government led by detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi had decided not to open the schools in June last year as the country saw a surge in the coronavirus infections, Kyodo News reported. It further reported that, while the junta plans to reopen public schools amid efforts at normalizing the country, some 10,000 teachers and others engaged in education, which account for 60 percent of the total, are refusing to go back, according to teachers’ unions in the country. One teacher said he does not mind losing his job by boycotting work from June 1. “I will keep on joining the civil disobedience movement until we win against the junta,” said teacher. A female junior high school student expressed anger toward the junta, saying, “How can we go to school under the military government that has killed hundreds of people and continued firing (at protesters)?” The junta’s security forces have killed 788 people as of Saturday since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights group monitoring the situation in Myanmar.