After a military coup in February 2021 and a brutal crackdown on protests, the human rights situation in Myanmar rapidly deteriorated. Thousands of people were arbitrarily detained and by 2022 more than 1,000 opposition politicians, political activists, human rights defenders and others were convicted in unfair trials.
Fighting escalated between armed groups and the Myanmar military, which relies on its air force to carry out strikes with fighter jets and attack helicopters. 2023 was the worst year so far for air strikes, including one particularly deadly strike on April 11 when military aircraft bombed a gathering of people at the opening of a local administrative office in Pa Zyi Gyi. At least 100 civilians killed including 35 children. Other strikes have destroyed homes, schools, medical facilities, and places of worship. Camps for internally displaced people (IDP) have also been hit, with 28 people killed and at least 57 injured in an attack on an IDP camp in Mung Lai Hkye village on October 9.
“As we are IDPs [internally displaced people], we have to live on other people’s land… We did not have a place to dig a bomb shelter. We had to hide in the concrete water drain on the side of the road. We sat there and kept on shouting for help… On that night, I even thought that I would die.”
Survivor of the 9 October 9, 2023 attack that hit the Mung Lai Hkyet displacement camp
These deadly airstrikes continue in 2024. On January 7, an airstrike killed 17 people including 9 children as people gathered for church in Kanan village. Amnesty International has called for these strikes to be investigated as war crimes.
The situation in Myanmar rarely makes media headlines. We cannot let the people of Myanmar be forgotten. 2024 cannot be an even bloodier year.
What you can do
Amnesty International is campaigning to cut off the supplies that are literally fueling the Myanmar military’s air strikes: jet fuel imports. While some countries including Canada have taken action to cut off fuel supplies, Myanmar’s military is using new tactics to get around sanctions.
During the month of February, we want to raise awareness of what’s happening in Myanmar through a solidarity action involving paper airplanes – a simple yet powerful symbol. Here’s what to do:
- Create a paper airplane. Different styles and colours are welcome (See how to videos and graphics below).
- Take a picture of your hand holding or launching the paper airplane.
- Post the picture on social media including the phrase: “Halt the assault on the people of Myanmar. Stop jet fuel to end air strikes.” You can also write that on the paper airplane itself.
Who to tag: @ASEAN
ASEAN is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – Amnesty has repeatedly called on ASEAN to address its failing approach to the crisis in Myanmar following the military coup.
Hashtags to use:
You can also promote the action on social media with these graphics and a link to this blog:
Never made paper airplane?
Here’s a couple how to videos for the basic and the more adventurous:
Read more about human rights in Myanmar
In February 2024, Amnesty documented military air strikes that killed 17 civilians and called for them to be investigated as war crimes.
New research released by Amnesty in January 2024 found that Myanmar’s military was still importing fuel for deadly air strikes despite sanctions. One year earlier, Canada and the UK took steps to cut off supplies from their countries. Other countries including the USA, Switzerland and the EU later also took action.
Amnesty International documented an air strike on an internally displaced persons camp in Kachin State October 9, 2023, which killed at least 28 civilians, including children.
A November 2022 report, Deadly Cargo: Exposing the Supply Chain that Fuels War Crimes in Myanmar, called for a suspension of the supply of aviation fuel to prevent the military from carrying out further unlawful air strikes.
An August 2022 report, 15 days felt like 15 years: Torture in detention since the Myanmar coup, documented torture and other ill-treatment when Myanmar’s military interrogated and detained individuals suspected of being involved in protests.
Amnesty International’s May 2022 report, ‘Bullets rained from the sky’: War crimes and displacement in eastern Myanmar, found Myanmar’s military had subjected civilians to collective punishment via widespread aerial and ground attacks, arbitrary detentions, torture, extrajudicial executions and the systematic looting and burning of villages.
Questions? Want to get more involved?
For more information on our work on Myanmar, please contact Hilary Homes, Crisis and Tactical Campaigner, at the national office: firstname.lastname@example.org.