UN Human Rights Chief calls Burma a ‘never-ending nightmare’; Military to defer conscription for students

UN Human Rights Chief calls Burma a ‘never-ending nightmare’ 

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk called Burma’s crisis a “never-ending nightmare” as 4,603 civilians, including 659 women and 490 children, have been killed since the 2021 military coup. But he admits the actual death toll may be higher.

“Three years of military rule have inflicted – and continue to inflict – unbearable levels of suffering and cruelty on people in Myanmar. Three years of military operations designed to repress, terrify, dehumanize and destroy,” he said. 

Türk called for the immediate cessation of violence against civilians, the release of all political prisoners and urged the international community to “refocus its energy on preventing atrocities in the country.”

Regime says military to defer conscription for students

The Chair of the Naypyidaw Council, Than Thun Oo, said that students, civil servants, caretakers of elderly parents, and those under medical treatment will be temporarily deferred from military conscription, regime media reported. 

He claimed that the media has spread “fabricated news and misinformation” amidst reports that the Burma Army plans to provide military training to university students in cities across the country. 

The military regime announced on Feb. 10 that it would enforce its 2010 conscription law, which requires men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 to serve for at least two years. Regime spokesperson Zaw Min Tun later said that the military has no immediate plans to enlist women. 

Chinese nationals suspected of online fraud repatriated

The second batch of Chinese nationals arrested in Myawaddy Township, Karen State, were repatriated to China via Thailand on March 1. The handover of 368 Chinese from Burma to Thailand took place at the Burma-Thailand Friendship Bridge No. 2 in Mae Sot. 

The first group of 150 Chinese were deported from Burma and repatriated on Feb. 29. The total number of 518 Chinese deported were accused of entering Burma illegally and engaging in online fraud activities. They were repatriated to China without facing any criminal charges in Burma.

The Karen State Border Guard Force (BGF) stated that it has arrested a total of 997 foreigners, including 92 Thai nationals, and have been deporting them in batches since Friday.

Weekly Cartoon: The tiny dictator and his generals force Burma’s youth into Thailand to avoid forced conscription.

News by Region

ARAKAN—The Arakan Army (AA) claimed that an artillery shell fired at Myoma market in Sittwe killed 12 people and injured 81. It blamed the attack on the Burma Navy. “This incident signifies the ruthless perpetration of war crimes by the terrorist SAC which intentionally fired artillery shells into the crowded marketplace while there was no active fighting in Sittwe and its outskirts,” the AA stated. 

It vowed to hold the military accountable for the attack. The National Unity Government (NUG) condemned the shelling in a statement on Friday. The military blamed the incident on the AA.

The AA released footage showing detained Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 378 Headquarters Commander Major Thein Htike Soe, Captain Akar Myint, and District Police Commander Lieutenant Colonel Khin Maung Soe admitting to the murder of journalist Myat Thu Tun, and singer Kyaw Zan Wei on Feb. 29. 

The two victims were reportedly executed on Jan. 23 at Light Infantry Battalion 378 in Mrauk-U. Myat Thu Tun was arrested by the military in September 2022. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called for an investigation into his death. 

TANINTHARYI—Approximately 70 political prisoners were among the 150 transferred from Myeik to Kawthaung Prison on Feb. 28. An unknown number of political prisoners were among the 300 transferred on Feb. 14.

“Prison departments typically transfer inmates seven to 10 times annually, causing significant distress for both prisoners and their families, ” stated Thaik Tun Oo, a member of Political Prisoners Network Myanmar (PPNM).  

The People’s Defense Force (PDF) claimed that it killed five soldiers and seized weapons from a military base and an inspection post in Dawei on Feb. 28. It stated that it had arrested a deputy rector and two professors during a raid at Dawei Technology University. 

“They are serving the Burma Army and activating military education when many students and young people are against it. We are detaining them but assuring them we will not harm them,” said a PDF spokesperson. An unnamed source close to Dawei Technology University said that only 100 out of 950 enrolled students have been studying this academic year. 

YANGON—Four people were killed and one was injured in Hlaingtharyar and Insein townships on March 1. “Two young men, who were riding a bicycle near a traffic light, were killed by a bomb. Shortly after the incident, the army arrived and discovered another bomb in the vicinity,” a Hlaingtharyar resident told DVB. Two others were killed by a bomb in Insein Township.

DVB News