Myanmar’s junta kills 4 villagers following mass arrest

Nineteen were released with injuries indicative of torture, residents said.
By RFA Burmese
2024.05.28
Myanmar’s junta kills  4 villagers following mass arrest A resident of Ywar Thit village in Pale township, Sagaing region who was arrested by troops and junta-backed Pyu Saw Htee members on May 27, 2024. One villager told RFA the woman was interrogated and tortured.
Ko Nay Min

Junta troops and members of an affiliated militia killed four civilians in central Myanmar shortly after they and 19 other people were rounded up in a sweep as troops hunted for insurgents battling to end military rule, residents told Radio Free Asia on Tuesday.

The villagers were detained and taken away for questioning in the Sagaing region’s Pale township as they headed to nearby farms on Friday. 

The group of men and women, mostly residents of Ywar Thit village, were taken to In Ma Htee village about 3 km (2 miles) away and tortured, said one Pale resident, who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals. Witnesses reported that four of the detainees were killed. 

The villager identified one of the dead as Tun Naing from In Ma Htee, who was in his thirties.

“He had been on the run for a long time because he did not want to join the Pyu Saw Htee,” the villager said, referring to a pro-junta militia made up of supporters of the military, Buddhist nationalists, and army veterans that is frequently accused of terrorizing villages. 

“But now, he’s been arrested and killed. Those who were freed also had injuries from the beatings and are now being treated.”

Nineteen people were released on Monday, he added. He identified the other dead men as Thint Zaw Oo, 25, Tun Naing Linn, 24, and Kyaw Khaing, who was in his fifties. The bodies had not been returned to their families, he said.

RFA phoned the Sagaing region’s junta spokesperson, Nyunt Win Aung, for more information on why villagers were arrested but he did not return the call by the time of publication.

The military has faced unprecedented opposition in Myanmar’s central heartlands, which are dominated by members of the majority Burman community, since seizing power from an elected government in early 2021.

While ethnic minority groups have battled for autonomy in border hills for decades, central areas like Sagaing had been peaceful until the coup triggered outrage and an insurgency waged by pro-democracy activists in league with the ethnic minority rebels. 

Junta troops have cracked down harshly on communities in response to the uprising, aiming to root out supporters of the activists’ People’s Defense Forces.

According to a tally compiled by the independent media outlet Burma News International and its Myanmar Peace Monitor, junta forces have killed 1,446 civilians in the past two years in massacres, which the group defines as five or more people killed at the same time.

Thousands of people were killed when the security forces crushed mass protests against the 2021 coup and thousands have been killed in fighting across the country since then.

The Sagaing region has faced more attacks by the military than any other region or state, the monitoring group said in a statement on Monday.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan and Mike Firn. 

 

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