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July - December 2023 Situation Update of Burma/Myanmar

The junta continued to commit violent war crimes across Burma/ Myanmar in the second half of 2023. Brazen aerial bombings, indiscriminate shelling and the burning of villages has resulted in significant loss of life and an ever-increasing number of IDPs. As of the 29 December 2023, the junta’s war crimes and crimes against humanity have caused 4275 fatalities, 708 of them women. According to the Burmese Women’s Union, at least fifty-six women and girls were killed and 43 arbitrarily detained by the junta between July and September in 2023.

Since the start of the coup until July 2023, the junta carried out 144 massacres. Not included in this count was the massacre carried out on the village of Mung Lai Hkyet in Kachin State on October 9 2023, home to 100 IDP families. At least 29 people were killed, including 10 women and 10 girls, and more than 60 injured by the assault of artillery fire and aerial strikes. On November 15, the junta bombed a house operating as a school in the hilltop village of Wai Luu in Chin State. The bombing killing eight children and three adults. Both of these attacks fit the legal criteria for war crimes. Junta troops launched airstrikes and dropped bombs in Kachin State, Shan State, and Bago Region from October 22 to 31 and arbitrarily arrested over 50 civilians and used them as human shields. On October 27, in Tabayin Township in Sagaing Region, the junta burnt and killed 5 civilians.

On October 27, the Three Brotherhood Alliance – a coalition of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Arakan Army launched Operation 1027, an offensive on junta outposts, police stations and strategic towns in Northern Shan State on the country’s northeastern border with China.

Operation 1027 is the most sophisticated coordinated attack against the junta by EROs, and has grown in size and strength, triggering attacks by opposition forces across the country. Karenni (Kayah) resistance forces launched an offensive on November 11, capturing at least 40 junta camps in Loikaw and Demoso townships and in neighboring Pekon Township in Shan State, calling it Operation 1111. At the time of writing, the Three Brotherhood Alliance has captured twenty-three towns and more than 400 junta military bases and outposts across Chin, Rakhine and Northern Shan State.

The fighting has come at a significant cost to civilians, displacing more than 600,000 people, including 100,000 in Shan State. As of 15 December, the UN reports the violence since 27 October has killed at least 378 civilians, injured 505 more, and displaced more than 660,000 people, adding to the nearly two million people already displaced across the country.

Widespread sexual violence perpetrated by the junta continues to occur across the country, a violent tactic used by the junta against ethnic minority women for many decades. On July 30, two women in Suan Long village, Kutkai township, were gang-raped in separate incidents by the junta’s troops from LIB 569. On August 26 in Wetlet Township, Sagaing Region, a pregnant woman in her 20s called Shwe Mann Thu was raped repeatedly before being killed.

Conflict related sexual violence is the most silenced and least condemned crime, and it is ethnic women and girls who are predominately targeted. Gendered authoritarian oppression occupies not just the physical spaces but virtual too. Pro junta men are targeting women activists online, using sexist language and publishing their personal information, including their location. Many women activists who have been targeted have been subjected to arbitrary arrest by the junta.

Gendered authoritarian oppression runs deep within Burma/ Myanmar, across political and ethnic lines. According to a recent report by Burmese Women Union, resistance forces are also committing sexual and other forms of violence against women. In April, eight members of a security force operating under the NUG were arrested and charged for gang raping a woman in custody. In the Magway Region, two women were tied up and canned 30 times for sneering while members of the people’s authority and Pa Ka Pha (people’s defense team) addressed a meeting on July 19.