“I was 4 years old when my mom took me to meet my dad for the first time. I thought we were traveling to a park or a playground, but then we arrived outside Insein prison in Rangoon” writes Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, Burma Campaign UK’s Campaigns Officer, in CNN Opinion.
“Since then, he has been in and out of prison for continuing to protest military rule and advocating for human rights … The same day the [February 1] coup began, the military came for my father, who had most recently been released from prison in 2012.
“Though I do not know when my father will be released from prison this time, or when I will be able to go home safely, I will continue to speak out against the military and amplify the voices of people in Burma who have been oppressed by the brutal military regime.”
Despite several major accounting bodies around the world pulling out of the upcoming ASEAN Federation of Accountants’ conference in protest at the inclusion of the Myanmar junta’s auditor general as a keynote speaker, two UK accounting bodies say they will still attend. They are the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
“ACCA and ICAEW are deluded if they think participating in a conference with a representative of a military regime which committed genocide is acceptable,” Burma Campaign UK’s director, Mark Farmaner, told Myanmar Now. “These organisations have a low public profile but now face their public reputation being associated with a military which rapes children.”
Government violence against the Christian minority in Myanmar is intensifying, reports the Catholic Herald.
More than 18,300 people have been displaced in the attacks on the Christian-majority Chin State, which has been at the forefront of some of the strongest resistance to the military junta following the coup of February 1.
Human Rights Watch and Burma Campaign UK are among more than 500 civil rights organisations who are calling on the UN Security Council to ‘act now to end the Myanmar junta’s campaign of terror’.
Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the UN, said that he had held “productive” talks with Min Aung Hlaing, the general who led the February coup, on a recent visit to discuss humanitarian aid. Rights activists said he gave the junta an air of legitimacy.
Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, was critical of Mr. Richardson for not securing the release of other prisoners apart from a former employee of his nonprofit group. Mark Farmaner said on Twitter that the trip had given Min Aung Hlaing “the money shot he waited 9 months for. Will he get Danny Fenster [an American journalist] in return? What about the other 7,000 political prisoners?”
The United Nations security council is facing new calls to act against the Myanmar junta after soldiers burnt scores of homes, churches and charitable institutions in a brutal campaign against resistance fighters.
The Times reports that more than 500 civil rights organisations, including Burma Campaign UK, have signed a letter to the security council urging an international arms embargo against Myanmar as fears grow of a new offensive against anti-junta forces in Chin State, in the far northwest.
“As the offensives escalate in Chin State, the security council must act. It must convene an urgent meeting on the escalating attacks and the overall deepening political, human rights and humanitarian crisis”, says the letter.
Myanmar’s military has been accused of torching and occupying churches and killing and detaining pastors in its latest brutal offensive in Chin state on the northwest border with India, reports the Telegraph. Fears rise that the military is building up to a major assault on the majority Christian state.
“The situation in North-Western Burma today has some echoes of the situation in Rakhine State in 2017 before the military offensive against the Rohingya,” said Anna Roberts, executive director of Burma Campaign UK.
The Myanmar regime will not be invited to attend the upcoming G7-ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in person, the UK has said. The UK is serving as the G7’s host nation this year, reports the Irrawaddy.
Anna Roberts, executive director of Burma Campaign UK, said not being invited to the G7 ASEAN summit in the UK was another blow to the efforts of the Myanmar military to gain international legitimacy following the coup. “We urge them not to allow the military to take part via video link either. The military have no legitimacy as the representative of Burma [Myanmar] and should have no place at international diplomatic meetings.”
Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor is set to pull out of Burma over demands it run software that would allow the army to eavesdrop on private communications. The Lebanese investment firm M1 will likely step in to fill the gap, reports the Telegraph.
Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, called on Telenor to “stick it out and refuse to implement” what the Junta is demanding. “People are genuinely afraid for their safety, and there are people who are saying that if M1 do take over from Telenor they will have to leave the country.”
Rights groups have criticised M1’s history for running mobile networks under authoritarian regimes including Syria and Sudan where state surveillance is routine.
The European Parliament passed a Resolution on 7 October calling for further action by the EU to target the Myanmar junta, reports Mizzima.
Under the previous military dictatorship sanctions were not applied strategically, but rather as a kind of slap on the wrist every few years in response to atrocities, according to Burma Campaign UK. It had appeared that the European Union and others were applying a more strategic approach this time, but it is now almost four months since the last round of EU sanctions targeting members of the military and revenue going to the military.
The M1 Group, a holding company owned by Lebanon’s prime minister and his brother, has come under fire from human rights activists for buying the Norwegian telecom firm Telenor’s Myanmar operation.
The military regime had reportedly tried to force Telenor to provide user data including addresses and call history, and to implement intercept software that would allow authorities to monitor and spy on its users.
Burma Campaign UK Director Mark Farmaner warned that handing over user privacy could result in further crackdowns on dissidents and journalists struggling against the military coup.
“The military are trying to identify anybody who is resisting their rule, to find out who they are, who their contacts are. We’ve seen more than 7,000 arrests since the coup in February,” he told L’Orient Today. “If data is handed over, we’ll see more arrests and more killings.”