17 bodies recovered after Burmese army said to rape, behead, and kill in several villages

Streaming HUBMarch 7, 2023

Soldiers ransacked, raped, beheaded and killed at least 17 people in several villages in Myanmar, residents said, critics of the ruling army say, after the military seized power two years ago. From a series of war crimes.

The bodies of 17 people were recovered last week in the villages of Nyaung Yin and Tar Taing in central Myanmar’s Sagaing region, according to members of the anti-government resistance and a resident who lost his wife. He said the victims were detained by the military and in some cases tortured before being killed.

Myanmar has witnessed nationwide peaceful protests since the military seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021, which security forces suppressed with lethal force. The violence sparked widespread armed resistance, which has since been characterized by some UN experts as a civil war.

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The army has been carrying out major offensives in the countryside, including burning villages and driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. It has faced some of its toughest resistance in Sagaing, the historic heartland of Myanmar.

Local leaders of the pro-democracy People’s Defense Forces and independent Myanmar media said the soldiers involved in last week’s attacks were among a group of more than 90 who were brought to the area on 23 February by five helicopters.

He said the bodies of 14 people, including three women, were found on Thursday on a small island in a river in Nyaung Yin. Three more male victims were found in Tar Ting, including two members of the local resistance. He said that the body of one of the two was cut into pieces and his head was cut off.

Neighboring villages are about 28 miles west of the major city of Mandalay.

Men stand over a funeral pyre in Tar Taing village as they prepare to cremate the bodies of those found dead in Burma, March 2, 2023.

Men stand over a funeral pyre in Tar Taing village as they prepare to cremate the bodies of those found dead in Burma, March 2, 2023. (via UGC AP)

Tar Ting resident Mo Kyaw, 42, narrowly escaped the attack, but said his 39-year-old wife Pan Thawal and 18-year-old nephew were among those killed. Contacted by phone, he said on Friday he was among 70 villagers who were shot in the air by soldiers at midnight last Wednesday as they were escorting their captives from their homes to a local Buddhist monastery. Were.

Mo Kyaw said that the soldiers stole beer and other items from his aunt’s small shop, and as they beat him, he fled for his life, narrowly escaping two soldiers who shot at him.

He said that his wife and other villagers were tortured at the monastery and then taken away from the village, apparently as hostages against any attack. He said his wife and two other women were beaten, raped and shot on Thursday by soldiers, who also took his wife’s earrings, with their two sons aged 9 and 11 being released after the soldiers left. Done.

Mo Kyaw did not say how he learned the details about his wife’s treatment.

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Myanmar’s underground National Unity Government – the main opposition to military rule that calls itself the country’s legitimate government – said in an online news conference on Monday that the soldiers were from the 99th Light Infantry Division based in the Mandalay region.

A leader of the Sagaing resistance group called the Demon King Defense Force said his group attacked better-armed government troops on Wednesday in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue detained villagers.

When they went to the small island where soldiers had taken about 20 villagers on Thursday morning, they found 14 bodies in three places, said the resistance leader, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation by the military. Said.

While acknowledging that he had not witnessed the murders, he said that he also believed that the women had been raped.

According to independent Myanmar media, in an earlier incident apparently involving the same army unit, two boys aged 12 and 13 were captured by government troops on 26 February with the assistance of the People’s Defense Force and taken to their camps. was forced to show the locations of Photos of their bodies found in the village of Kan Daw, about 7 miles northwest of Tar Ting, were circulated on social media.

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A separate group called the Sadang Lightning People’s Defense Force has said that two of its older teenage members were also killed and beheaded in fighting in Can Dao on the same day.

The military government has not responded to the allegations. In the past, it has denied documented abuses and said casualties occurred during fighting against armed anti-government guerrillas. Pro-military government online media have made the same claim regarding recent events in Sagaing or suggested that they were the result of factionalism within the resistance.

Myanmar’s military has long been accused of serious human rights violations, particularly in the western state of Rakhine. International courts are considering whether it perpetrated genocide there in a brutal 2017 counter-insurgency campaign that caused more than 700,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya minority to flee to neighboring Bangladesh for safety.

Last week, Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, accused the ruling generals of pursuing “a scorched earth policy in an attempt to crush the opposition”.

His agency said reliable sources have confirmed at least 2,940 civilian deaths and 17,572 arrests by the military and its allies since the 2021 takeover.

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