UN Warning About Alarming Scale of Violence by Myanmar’s Junta Forces

Despite the Myanmar army's denials, survivors and witnesses recently told VOA that during raids on their villages, soldiers used “systematic tactical force” to suppress resistance from villagers, including burning down houses, torture, rape, and mass killings.

According to witnesses, Tar Taing village in Sagaing township was raided by junta troops in early March, leaving 17 local people dead, all brutally tortured and killed. Pro-junta media outlets described the victims, who were shot in the back of the head, as “terrorists.”

Over the next 10 days, nearly 30 more civilians were killed in Nanneint village in the Pin Laung region of Shan State. Photos and a video taken of the incident, provided by the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) and verified by VOA, showed at least 21 bodies piled up around the Nanneint Monastery in Nanneint.

Disturbing pictures show mutilated corpses with severed limbs and heads placed in morbid arrangements on the ground. The junta immediately claimed that local fighters killed the villagers.

In a briefing to the United Nations General Assembly on the Myanmar situation on Thursday, Special Envoy Noeleen Heyzer said that since extending its state of emergency on Feb. 1, the junta has increased the use of force with more aerial bombing, burning of civilian homes and other “grave human rights violations to maintain its grip on power.”

According to the envoy, martial law has been imposed in 47 townships, and the regime has begun arming citizens deemed loyal to the regime.

The United States imposed its latest round of sanctions on the junta on Friday to help address its atrocities. The sanctions target the supply of jet fuel to the military and its allies in the Southeast Asian country, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement that identified two people and six entities connected to the junta.

According to the Treasury' statement, those sanctioned are accused of enabling continuing atrocities, including through the import, storage and distribution of jet fuel to the military.

Raid on Tar Taing

Tar Taing is a small fishing village in the Sagaing region of central Myanmar, with a population of about 400 people. Survivors of the massacre there told VOA, "When the army surrounds a village, it has a tactical plan; it does not go in as a group. Soldiers surround the village in columns, spread out, and each column has an assignment. There is a column that arrests people, a column that enters houses and searches for things, and a column that tortures and kills people."

According to Associated Press sources, soldiers in Myanmar rampaged through several villages, raping, beheading and killing in this area. Villagers familiar with the junta’s tactics describe the column sent to do the killing as “the demon column.”

Maung Zaw from Tar Taing village, whose 43-year-old wife Ma Swe Swe Oo was raped and killed by the soldiers in the “demon column,” told VOA by phone on Saturday that he saw his wife’s dead body, “with my own eyes. Her inner bodice was falling out of its hooks, I could see scratches on her nipples … there was male semen all over her body and in her vagina."

“I felt devastated and heartbroken. My wife was killed. I am thinking about how me and my children will survive without her,” Maung Zaw said.

“We found bodies with mutilated legs, and smashed hands; evidence that they were brutally tortured before being killed. The victims were finally shot in the head or the mouth. It is all documented, and verified by doctors on site,” Bedu noted.

A day before the mass killing in the monastery, Bedu said, “fighting had broken out in Nanneint Village on March 10 between the military and combined forces of local resistance armed groups.”

That fighting resulted in the military shelling and launching airstrikes directly at the village, prompting many of the civilians to take refuge in the monastery where they were found and killed. Other villagers “left for safer places,” Bedu said.

Responsibility for mass killings

In a response to VOA by phone on March 12, General Zaw Min Tun, a spokesperson for the junta, confirmed there was a massacre at Nanneint Monastery but said it was an act between competing armed groups and that the military, known as the “Tadmadaw,” was not involved.

He claimed that military and armed civilian groups cooperating in the area were only providing “security and law enforcement.”

"These KNDF groups, the terrorist groups, have been more active in the Pao area. … We have seen some deaths there. The issue is between them, but they blame the Tatmadaw.”

In a Zoom interview, National Unity Government Human Rights Minister Aung Myo Min told VOA that in the two years since the military coup there have been at least 64 civilian massacres of five people or more carried out by the junta. According to Min, mass killing is “a pattern by the junta attacking its own civilians.”

He added, “The killings are a war crime committed by the military.”

The NUG has called for an expansion of the International Criminal Court investigations into human rights abuses in Myanmar to include not only the treatment of the Rohingya, but also the killing of ethnic resistance groups all over Myanmar.

Source: Voice of America