Among 7 States and 7 Regions in Myanmar, it is probably assumed that Mon State is most forgotten by international non-profit and humanitarian organizations. Almost every new international organization pay their attention to other states such as Rakhine, Kachin and Kayah while there are same tragic political and socio-economic issues in Mon State which requires humanitarian assistances and disaster relief services. Even now, both the COVID 19 pandemic and political crisis are toughening the lives and properties of Mon civilians, with the addition of natural disaster happened in July, 2021. This article wholly aims to request international humanitarian aids and funding opportunities for Mon communities and advocate international organizations to concentrate on Mon State as well.
The Covid-19 Pandemic hardens the lives of Mon People in Mon State
When the third wave of COVID 19 commenced in June, 2021, enormous number of people got infected by COVID 19 and lots of lives have been being taken away which can be a result of almost all the people in 10 townships in Mon State participating in groups and crowds in protest movements against the military coup since February.
According to Ministry of Health by State Administration Council (SAC) issued on 10th September, there are 13,033 confirmed Covid-19 cases, and 1,165 death cases in Mon State; but local humanitarian and health organizations on the ground affirm that the statistical data reported by the SAC must be multiplied by 3 which means there are uncountless number of death cases by Covid-19 in Mon State. Death cases rise highly in comparison with first and second waves of the pandemic.
Most death cases are owing to very limited availability of oxygen and also restrictions over the production of medical grade oxygen and its distribution. Mon people have to rely on the charity or emergency rescue teams for oxygen since the State Public Hospitals are not running due to Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). Besides oxygen issues, there are also insufficiency in medical supplies for Mon civilians since the border trade is under a tight watch and security, resulting that there is a major need for surgical masks, face-shields, medical gloves and medicines for both healthcare workers and covid patients. These problems are leading to the rising number of death cases every day in Mon State.
Distribution of Local Charity andOrganizations in Mawlamyine (RHRFM)
According to local media “Than Lwin Times” and “Lagon Eain”, free covid-19 vaccines received from foreign countries like India, Russia and China are not being distributed to any Regions and States. No ethnic state or region including Mon State are obtaining any quotas in vaccine distributions. It may be said that only 2% of the whole population in Myanmar who are from military-related backgrounds and elite classes are vaccinated.
Moreover, National Enlightenment Institute reports that local humanitarian, charity and health community organizations are lacking fundings and human capital. Since the military coup, local organizations have not been receiving sufficient fundings from local donors and have been coping with limited resources to help the communities. Then since local organizations and the volunteers and healthcare workers are being threatened and even arrested particularly at night, Mon youths dare not assist as volunteers, resulting that there is an urgent need for human capital to handle Covid-19 cases. This makes it harder to control the spread of Covid-19.
February Coup Tragedizes Mon Youths and People
Since the February Coup, politicians, activists, students and the public in Mon State has been being responded by the junta’s security forces by means of killings, torture, arbitrary detention, arrests, and any violent activities conducted.
There are totally confirmed 1080 death cases committed by the Military Government around the country which include over 50 deaths, 6+ sentence cases, 431+ arrests and 68+ issued warrant cases in Mon State. One most unacceptable case was in the last week of August and there documented arbitrary arrest of a 27-year-old pregnant woman, Ma Ei The Moe in Ka-Dike village, Paung Township, Mon State and then she died of being beaten and tortured later that day. No particular reason for her death was issued.
Leaders of protest movements, members of Students’ Union and politicians are under unsafe conditions and have to be very aware of the military informers, especially at the night time because the security forces always hunt down and enter into houses together with their informers at night and arrest the people. Youths lose many opportunities in their education, health, sports and career developments.
Everyday lives of Mon people within the State are under vicious threat. People have their phones checked by the soldiers and police, and then are arrested or beaten brutally or have to pay a random amount between 5,000 and 500,000 Myanmar kyats if any information of photos or videos related to Spring Revolution are caught. In February even, the first month of military coup, the security forces attempted to commit a genocide of a large group of Mawlamyine university students and protesters in front of the Mawlamyine University.
It is undeniable that the military coup has brought only tragic consequences for Mon public but best opportunities for the military and its affiliated people and communities. In order to end the authoritarian regime at all, both local attempts and international support play crucial which is why this article is being written.
Mon Lives at Risk due to Floods
Floods in Mottama, Mon State,Myanmar, June 2018. Photo: Red Cross Society Myanmar
Even though Mon State are already wrestling with a deadly third wave of Covid-19 and health crisis intended by the Military Government, floods happened in the third week of July and gave more problems for Mon people to survive.
According to Myanmar Red Cross Society, in Mon State, 19,840 people were evacuated/affected and 10,770 pre-emptively evacuated into 8 evacuation centres. Some areas were not even reachable due to floods and many lives were lost. Flooding affected many areas of Chaungzon, Thaton and Mawlamyine severely.
In Mon State, Mawlamyine, Ye, Kyaikmaraw and Chaungzon Townships were almost under water and the nearby rising Salween River (Than Lwin River) limited people’s transportation so it was troublesome for transport of medical supplies for Covid-19 patients from one place to another. The rain did not stop for three consecutive days, motor bikes and cars were totally useless and the roads were fully flooded. The people dwelling in Mon State, both Mon ethnicity and other ethnicities, are in real need of humanitarian assistance.
Requesting for International Assistance for Mon State
Hence, the international humanitarian organizations and non-profit agencies should be also well aware of these aforementioned tragic calamities in Mon State. Mon State has been losing proper attention and humanitarian assistance from international organizations such as UNDP, WHO, UNHCR, and EU unlike other States in Myanmar which is why, I as a Mon writer are writing this article to advocate the international communities.
I, on behalf of Mon ethnicities, humbly request humanitarian aid and funding opportunities for both Mon civilians and local organizations in order to increase the rate of survivability and to operate service projects effectively. Our Mon people have been feeling left out and lacking sense of belonging to so-called global citizenship.
To conclude, there are several people and areas in Mon State affected by the third wave of Covid-19, the February Coup and recent floods which require urgent rehabilitation. Unless these are lessened or solved completely, Mon people will have been dwelling in poverty and under-development for years in the future.
I believe, the article might have given you the reasons why Mon State deserves international attention like the rest areas of Myanmar. Mon State will still be forbidden and forgotten again if you think the problems are just normal or not more severe or should not be prioritized in comparison with other ethnic states, even after all these specific presentations about current real situations in Mon State.