51st Human Rights Council Reports

Special Report on Myanmar


September 24th, 2022: Special Report on Myanmar

Main Report -

The President opened the Human rights dialogue with the special rapporteur about human rights in Myanmar.

Nicholas Koumjian, Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, said crimes in Myanmar had intensified. The people of Myanmar continued to suffer because of the lack of accountability for those who believed they answered to no law. There was increasing evidence of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Women and children were at particular risk in conflicts, yet experience showed that crimes against them were typically under-reported and under-prosecuted. The Mechanism was united in its efforts to break the cycle of impunity and to ensure that those responsible for crimes would face justice.

In the discussion on Myanmar, some speakers welcomed the report and strongly condemned the human rights abuses and violations in Myanmar. Reports on systematic and sexual-based violence and crimes affecting children were appalling. The human rights situation in Myanmar had deteriorated, in particular for those who were part of religious or ethnic minorities. The military should end the attacks on civilians and allow the population to express its human rights, including the right to freedom of expression. Other speakers pointed out that political mandates did not foster an environment of protection and promotion of human rights. Political dialogue was the only way to resolve the situation in the country.

Special Rapporteur -

He welcomed the opportunity to provide the council with this oral update on the human rights situation in Myanmar, further to Human Rights Council resolution 49/23.Since the last update to this Council in June, the people of Myanmar have been caught in a rapid downward spiral, with growing suffering, fear, and insecurity. Urgent action is needed to reverse this catastrophic situation and to restore peace, democracy, and sustainable development. The Myanmar military's offensives throughout the country are designed not only to target its opponents but also to punish any communities it deems to be supporting them.

Military tactics increasingly involve indiscriminate attacks and weaponry. The growing use of air power and artillery during the monsoon season is significantly impacting civilians and

residential areas. In Magway and Sagaing regions as well as Kachin, Shan, Kayah, and Kayin states, residential buildings – as many as 30,000 - schools and other civilian infrastructure have been burnt to the ground during military ground operations.

In an emblematic incident documented by OHCHR, on 11 August military forces attacked an armed group presence in Yin Paung Taing village in Sagaing region with jets and helicopters, and then raided the village. Over 100 villagers were arrested, alleged to have been used as human shields and porters by the military. After three days of intense fighting, villagers, including women and children, were found dead, and 20 of those arrested are still missing. In another airstrike in Let Yet Kone village in Sagaing on 16 September the military targeted a school and a nearby monastery killing at least six children and injuring many others, including teachers. Eyewitnesses reported that 11 wounded people, including nine children and two teachers, were taken away and remain missing.

Since February 2021, at least 2.316 people (including at least 188 children) have been killed. Widespread fear and insecurity among the civilian population has forced over 1 million individuals (of whom, 45,500 into neighboring countries) to leave their homes and now live in precarious conditions without access to food, medical assistance, and other basic services. The humanitarian crisis now brings fears of starvation, with the military largely denying humanitarian access, including recent orders to halt humanitarian operations in northern and central Rakhine State.

Over 15,607 people have been arrested with some 12,464 remaining in detention. The death toll of people in custody is steadily rising. At least 273 persons have died in formal detention settings, such as prisons, detention and interrogation centers, and police stations as well as at least 266 reported deaths following raids and arrests in villages, at least 40 of whom were reportedly killed with headshots.

Family members reported seeing signs of physical abuse, ill-treatment, or suspected torture, despite being informed that the death was a result of natural causes. There are 111 reported cases of people being burned, either alive or after being executed, in what appears to be a tactic of summary executions and attempts to destroy evidence of crimes.

Myanmar's military-controlled judicial system has also been weaponized to execute opponents. The military executed four individuals, including a former member of Parliament and a democracy activist, following a secretive military court trial, in violation of fair trial standards and rule of law principles. These executions, which are the first in about thirty years, represent an important indicator of the regression of human rights in Myanmar and the military's complete disregard for international law.

OHCHR has also documented that the military has arrested and charged at least 10 lawyers who were defending people charged with spurious, politically motivated offences.

Since February 2021, civic space has been decimated. The military's announced plans to create a register and impose a new tax on mobile phones will increase the risk of surveillance, further imperilling human rights defenders, journalists and members of the pro-democracy movement. It will also increase the cost of accessing the internet for ordinary people and further restrict freedom of expression and access to information. Just days ago, the military also announced that expressions of solidarity on social media to the National Unity Government and Peoples' Defense Force, including by posting a "like" or an emoji, risked up to 10 years' imprisonment.

Nicholas Koumjian -


The relative stability experienced in Rakhine State since the start of the coup has proved very short lived. My office has received reports of killings, injuries, arbitrary detention and mass displacement of civilians resulting from clashes between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army in several townships of Rakhine and Chin State and along the border, with reported cases of shelling into Bangladesh.

Minority communities especially Rohingya and Kaman Muslims are particularly vulnerable, with the military imposing new restrictions on delivery of humanitarian aid and essential goods in large areas of Rakhine.

Last month marked the fifth anniversary of the military's 2017 campaign of violence against the Rohingya, involving the killing of thousands and pushing over 740,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh. During the former High Commissioner's visit to the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar last month, Rohingya refugees shared their hopes of being able to return home when the conditions permit. However, conditions for safe, dignified and sustainable returns are not yet evident. The international community should support Bangladesh in providing protection, education and livelihood opportunities for the refugees, while continuing to pursue international accountability efforts.

Despite widespread international condemnation, Myanmar is yet to address the root causes of Rohingya persecution. Rohingya are deprived of citizenship rights and civil documentation, limiting their freedom of movement, and access to health and education services. They face daily extortion by camp authorities, village administrators, police, and military.

Most Rohingya in Rakhine live in desperate poverty, driving them, at high risk, to flee Myanmar, often paying large sums of money to human traffickers. United Nations figures indicate that informal attempts to leave and arrests for travelling without authorization doubled in 2022 compared to the previous year. Rohingya are often deprived of adequate legal representation and coerced into accepting guilt in order to avoid longer sentences.

Mr. President, The cycle of violations must end. Unfortunately, diplomatic efforts have so far yielded limited results. I hope the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Myanmar's

recent visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh can build momentum. ASEAN must also reinvigorate its efforts to bring humanitarian support and promote a resolution to the crisis, in consultation with the people's representatives, and with support from regional powers. I reiterate calls to the military to cease violence, including by imposing a moratorium on executions, to free all political prisoners, to ensure access to humanitarian aid and return Myanmar to democracy based on respect for human rights and the rule of law. I also urge this Council to consider strengthening OHCHR's existing documentation mandate in order to enhance monitoring of the situation and support accountability efforts, including the work of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar."

Concluding Remarks

NICHOLAS KOUMJIAN, Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, said that under international law, the lack of due process could amount to an international crime. The Mechanism was interested in gathering evidence on the fairness of legal proceedings. No response had been received from the authorities in Myanmar. A key challenge was reaching those who had evidence, and achieving this required cooperation from States in the region. The Mechanism had conducted voluntary interactions, and needed the support of States to operate on territories hosting witnesses of human rights abuses. The Mechanism did not have the resources to provide all of the psychosocial and medical support that victims and witnesses needed, and requested the support of States in this regard. The Mechanism was committed to providing judges of a case dealing with genocide with the best evidence. The time that the Mechanism had to share evidence with courts was limited, and so it was redoubling efforts to collect evidence within the required timeframe.

The session urges the international community to step up efforts to support the people of Myanmar and to ensure the military's financial isolation in a coordinated fashion. Appropriate sanctions should be implemented in consultation with civil society and the democratic movement, including trade unions and the National Unity Government, to calibrate their impact.

Myanmar's military authorities are clearly prioritizing its military campaigns over the welfare of the population and economic recovery, the report said. In comparison with the previous annual Government budget, the military authorities' 2022/23 budget increased defence spending, while reducing allocations to education, health, and social welfare.

Poverty in Myanmar has increased at least two-fold and the public health system has effectively broken down since the coup, and more than half of all school-age children have not had access to education for two academic years, the report said. It also reported that some States and companies continue business relationships with military-owned enterprises in a number of sectors.

All businesses active in Myanmar or sourcing from the country should take steps to ensure they do not economically benefit the military, including by conducting ongoing and transparent heightened human rights due diligence

Author: Kriti Dutta

Uploaded: September 24 2022 (Originally on CD4Peace Archive Site)


SR on Myanmar


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace