According to a in-depth investigation, the Myanmar military carried out a series of mass executions of civilians in July, murdering at least 40 males.
According to eyewitnesses and survivors, soldiers as young as 17 collected up villages before separating and executing the males. The majority of those slain, according to video and photographs from the incidents, were tortured first and then buried in shallow graves.
The deaths occurred in four different events in Kani Township, a hotbed of the opposition in Sagaing District, central Myanmar, in July.
The deaths are likely to be retaliation for attacks by militia groups demanding a democratic return following a military coup in February. The military government’s spokesperson did not reject the claims.
Since seizing control of the nation, commonly known as Burma, and deposing a democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the military has met opposition from civilians.
Reporters met with 11 witnesses in Kani and matched their testimonies to film and photos acquired by Myanmar Witness, a UK-based NGO that probes human rights violations in Myanmar.
At least 14 men were tortured or beaten to death and their remains dumped in a wooded gully near Yin hamlet, the greatest massacre.
The guys were tied up with ropes and beaten before being slain, according to witnesses in Yin whose names have been changed to protect their identity.
“We couldn’t bear it, so we buried our heads in our hands and cried,” one lady, whose brother, nephew, and brother-in-law were slain, said.
“We pleaded with them not to do so. They didn’t seem to mind. ‘Are your husbands among them?’ they inquired of the ladies. If they are, do your final rituals.'”
Soldiers subjected the guys to horrific treatment for hours before they died, according to a man who managed to flee the killings.
“They were tied up all day, beaten with stones and rifle butts, and tormented,” the survivor added.
“Some of the troops appeared to be in their early teens or early twenties, but others appeared to be in their late fifties or early sixties. They were also accompanied by a lady.”
In late July, 12 mangled remains were discovered buried in shallow mass graves in adjacent Zee Bin Dwin hamlet, including a young body, probably a toddler, and the body of a crippled person. Some of the bodies had been disfigured.
A guy in his sixties was discovered dead, hanged to a plum tree nearby. News organizations studied footage of his body, which revealed evident evidence of torture. When the soldiers approached the hamlet, his son and granddaughter escaped, but he stayed, assuming that his age would shield him from danger.
The executions looked to be a collective retribution for civilian militia groups in the region attacking the military in the sake of restoring democracy. In the months leading up to the mass executions, fighting between the military and local branches of the People’s Defence Force – a collective designation for civilian militia groups – had risen in the area, including skirmishes near Zee Bin Dwin.
The visual evidence and testimonies show that men were intentionally targeted, which fits with a trend of male villagers undergoing collective punishment for skirmishes between the People’s Defence Forces and the military that has been documented across Myanmar in recent months.
Families of those deceased stated that their loved ones were not involved in any military strikes. A lady who lost her brother in the Yin village slaughter told the troops that her brother “couldn’t even operate a catapult.”
According to her, a soldier said, “Don’t utter a single word. We’re exhausted. We’re going to murder you.”
Since the coup, foreign journalists have been prohibited from reporting in Myanmar, and most non-state media outlets have been shut down, making on-the-ground reporting virtually difficult.
Reporters approached Myanmar’s Deputy Minister for Information and Military Spokesperson, General Zaw Min Tun, with the claims stated in this report. He did not dispute that soldiers were responsible for the massacres.
“It’s possible,” he remarked. “We have the right to defend ourselves when they regard us like enemies.”
The United Nations is presently examining allegations of Myanmar military human rights violations.