Myanmar Troops Kill 24 People in Magway Village Attacks

Myanmar Troops Kill 24 People in Magway Village Attacks
The body of a Myin-thar villager killed by Myanmar junta military forces is carried away, Sept. 10, 2021

Myanmar military forces killed at least 24 civilians in three villages in the country’s central Magway region this month, including eight who were taken alive as prisoners, according to sources in the region, with rights groups calling the killings war crimes.

According to family members and resistance fighters, those killed in the attacks on Myin-thar, Mway Le, and Yay Shin villages in Gangaw township on September 9 and 10 included elderly men in their 70s and high school students under the age of 18.

Gyo Byu, a member of the local People’s Defense Force unit formed to fight government troops after the Feb. 1 military coup that deposed the elected government, said the elderly men were found tied to chairs and shot in the head, while the young men were shot dead after being apprehended.

Gyo Byu stated that he assisted in burying the bodies after they were discovered.

One resident of Myin-thar, where 19 people were killed on September 9, said her 15-year-old brother and other high school students were among those killed.

“My brother was only 16 at the time. He had just finished eighth grade, “the woman said, adding that some of the other young boys killed had just graduated from tenth grade, with some passing their classes with honors.

“The kids formed a local security force after hearing that soldiers set fire to houses when they leave a village.”

“It was raining heavily when the armed clash occurred, and their Tumee hunting rifles didn’t fire, which is why our young heroes had to give up their lives,” she explained, referring to the antique rifles now used by villagers desperate to defend themselves against government forces.

“We can’t even flee in peace because we can’t go back to recover their bodies. “When the mothers return, they will be unable to locate their sons, “she explained.

Ten of those killed in Myin-thar on September 9 were discovered in a group in a nearby field, according to one villager, who spoke to RFA on the condition of anonymity for security reasons, as did other villagers.

According to the source, “At least 11 houses were set on fire that day, and 19 people were killed, some of them during the initial shelling in the attack,” according to the source. “Ten bodies were later discovered in a cluster in the sesame fields. The remainder died close to their homes.”

“Witnesses said that two or three of these died right away, and that when the rest returned to get them, they were apprehended by soldiers, and it appears they were then shot at close range. “It was extremely gruesome,” he said.

Three more people from Myin-thar and Mway Le villages were killed that day, and two residents of Yay Shin village were killed on Sept. 10, bringing the total number of civilians killed during the two days of attacks to 24.

According to sources, Myanmar troops have been raiding villages in the Magway region on a regular basis since the beginning of September, destroying homes and arresting and killing villagers. Young people are frequently accused of being dissidents or members of the People’s Defense Force, and are sometimes tortured and killed while being interrogated.

Residents claim that elderly villagers are also targeted.

This week, calls seeking comment from Myanmar military spokesman Zaw Min Tun went unanswered.

The killings of civilians reported in Magway should be considered war crimes, according to Aung Myo Min, Minister for Human Rights in the shadow National Unity Government (NUG) formed to oppose military rule.

According to Aung Myo Min, “any crime against civilians is a crime under the law and a violation of human rights.” “These people were not killed as a result of fighting or fleeing. They were tortured and murdered, and some of them were shot in the head.”

Another victim was discovered dead after his genitals were mutilated, he claimed.

“These were not war casualties, but deliberate atrocities—which are unacceptable anywhere and for anyone.”

The bodies of Myin-thar villagers killed by Myanmar junta military forces are shown on Sept. 10, 2021. Photo: Citizen Journalist

According to Kyee Myint, a veteran Myanmar lawyer, the killing of civilians and captives taken in battle by Myanmar forces in Magway and other parts of the country should be reported to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

“War prisoners should not be killed,” he said.

“These incidents are occurring now because opposition groups are only saying big words and are unable to provide any assistance—material or financial—or to protect the young people who are taking up arms on their behalf,” he explained.

According to Brad Adams, Asia director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, Myanmar’s People’s Defense Forces are not organized armies. “As a result, we do not consider these [killings] to be war crimes. Instead, we regard them as violations of human rights.”

“Some people appear to believe that committing a war crime is worse than committing an extrajudicial killing. It’s not any worse; it’s just a term that people are familiar with,” he explained.

However, war crimes occur in situations of armed conflict, according to Matthew Smith of the rights organization Fortify Rights.

“[These] allegations of torture or murder are consistent with what we’ve documented in the military crackdown since February 1, as well as the military’s longstanding behavior in areas of armed conflict for many, many years.”

“It is the military’s continued impunity that allows these types of atrocities to continue,” he explained.

According to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), in the seven months since the Feb. 1 coup, security forces have killed 1,108 civilians and arrested at least 6,591—many during crackdowns on anti-junta protests.


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