Myanmar army set 11 people on fire in retaliation

Several members of a youth group hold a flash mob rally to protest against the military government of Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing in Pabedan township in Yangon, Myanmar Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. (AP)

According to witnesses and other sources, Myanmar government troops stormed a tiny town in the country's northwestern region, collecting up villagers, bound their hands, and then burning them alive in apparent revenge for an attack on a military convoy.

A video of the attack's aftermath showed the charred bodies of 11 victims, some of whom appeared to be teens, lying in a circle amid what seemed to be the remains of a home in Done Taw hamlet in the Sagaing district.

Outrage surged on social media as gruesome photographs were published of what appeared to be the latest in a series of increasingly savage military strikes aimed at quelling rising anti-government rebellion following the army takeover in February.

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch urged the international community to ensure that commanders who issued the order are sanctioned and, more broadly, that efforts to defund the military are pushed up.

"Our contacts tell us that these were simply boys and young men who were villagers caught in the wrong place at the wrong time," Manny Maung, the group's spokesman, said.

She noted that similar occurrences occur regularly, but this one was caught on camera.

"This incident is quite audacious, and it occurred in an area designed to be discovered and seen in order to scare people," she said.

Although the photographs could not be independently verified, a narrative provided to The Associated Press by a person who claimed to have been present when they were taken substantially corresponded to descriptions of the occurrence broadcast by independent Myanmar media.

The administration has maintained that no military was stationed in the region.

The military coup against Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government was first met with nonviolent public protests. Still, violence intensified when opponents of military control took up arms in self-defense.

Myanmar's underground National Unity Government, which has established itself as the country's alternative administration in place of the military-installed government, condemned the deaths in Done Taw.

According to Dr. Sasa, the organization's spokeswoman, a roadside bomb struck a military convoy. Forces responded by bombing Done Taw and then invading the village, picking up anybody they could.

According to him, the victims ranged in age from 14 to 40.

"Sickening scenes reminiscent of the Islamic State terrorist group attested to the military's escalation of their terrorist acts," he added in a statement.

"The sheer brutality, savagery, and cruelty of these acts demonstrates a new level of depravity and demonstrates that, despite the pretense of relative détente seen in recent months, the junta never intended to deescalate their campaign of violence," said Sasa, who goes by one name.

According to the AP's witness, some 50 militaries marched into Done Taw village at approximately 11 a.m. Tuesday, detaining anyone who did not run.

"They arrested 11 innocent villagers," the witness explained. He identified himself as a farmer and an activist and requested anonymity for his safety.

He said that the men apprehended were not members of the locally constituted People's Defense Force, which occasionally conflicts with the army. He claimed the detainees' wrists were tied behind their backs and set on fire.

He did not attempt to justify the soldiers' assault.

Other witnesses reported in Myanmar media stated that the dead were members of a defense force. However, the AP spoke with a witness who identified them as a less formally structured local protection group.

Recently, combat has erupted in Sagaing and other northern territories, where the army has used a more significant degree of force against the resistance than in metropolitan areas.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric voiced grave worry at reports of "horrific killings of 11 people" and denounced such violence, noting that "credible reports indicate that five children were among those killed."

Dujarric reminded Myanmar's military authorities of their international legal responsibility to safeguard the safety and protection of civilians and pressing for accountability for those involved for "this heinous act."

He reaffirmed the United Nations' condemnation of Myanmar's security forces' atrocities and emphasized the importance of a coordinated international response. As of Wednesday, he added, security personnel have killed over 1,300 unarmed persons, including more than 75 children, with lethal force or while in their custody since the military took over on Feb. 1.

The allegations come on the heels of Suu Kyi's conviction on Monday on counts of inciting and violating coronavirus restrictions and her subsequent reduction to four years in prison. The court's decision was widely criticized as another attempt by military rulers to reverse recent democratic accomplishments.

The United Nations Security Council expressed "deep concern" in New York on Wednesday over Suu Kyi's sentencing, as well as that of ousted President Win Myint and others, and renewed previous calls for the release of all those arbitrarily jailed.

"The Security Council members reaffirmed their commitment to Myanmar's democratic transition and emphasized the importance of preserving democratic institutions and processes, abstaining from violence, pursuing constructive dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the will and interests of the Myanmar people, fully respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, and upholding the rule of law," a council statement stated.

Publish : 2021-12-09 14:37:00

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