BBC investigation reveals military's involvement in mass killings in Myanmar

Note : this is a google translation and can have a lot of mistakes

Rebecca Henchke and Kelvin Brown
BBC - World Service
December 20 2021

Myanmar's military carried out a series of mass killings of civilians in July, killing at least 40 men, according to a BBC investigation.

Witnesses and survivors said the soldiers, some of whom were as young as 17, arrested the villagers before separating the men and killing them.

It appears that video footage and photos from the incidents show that most of the dead were tortured first and then buried in shallow graves.

The killings occurred in four separate incidents in the town of Kani, an opposition stronghold in central Myanmar's Sagaing district.

The military has faced resistance from civilians since it seized control of the country in a February coup and ousted the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The BBC spoke with 11 witnesses in Kani and compared their accounts to mobile phone screenshots and photos collected by Myanmar Witness, a British-based NGO that investigates human rights abuses in the country.

The largest killing occurred in Yin village, where at least 14 men were tortured or beaten to death and their bodies dumped in a ravine.

Witnesses in Yin, whose names have been withheld for their protection, told the BBC that the men were tied with ropes and beaten before being killed.

"We couldn't stand to watch them, so we kept our heads down while we were crying," said a woman whose brother, nephew and brother-in-law were killed.

"We begged them not to. They didn't care. They asked the women, are their husbands among them? If they are, then do your last rites."

A man who managed to escape the killing said that soldiers abused the men for hours before they died.

"They were handcuffed, beaten with stones and rifle butts and tortured all day long," the survivor explained.

"Some of the soldiers looked young, maybe 17 or 18, but some of them were very old. There was also a woman with them."

In the nearby village of Zi Bin Doyin, in late July, 12 mutilated bodies were found buried in shallow mass graves, including a small body, possibly of a child, and that of a disabled person.

The body of a man in his 60s was found tied to a peach tree nearby. The footage of his body, seen by the BBC, showed clear signs of torture. His family said his son and grandson ran away when the army entered the village, but he stayed, believing his age would protect him from harm.

The killings appeared to be collective punishment for attacks on the army by civilian militias in the area, who are demanding the restoration of democracy. Fighting between the army and local branches of the Popular Defense Forces, a name for civilian militias, intensified in the area in the months leading up to the massacres, including clashes near Zee Ben Doyen.

comment on the video,

What are the charges brought by the military against Aung San Suu Kyi?

It is clear from visual evidence and testimonies collected by the BBC that men have been specifically targeted, in line with a pattern observed across Myanmar in recent months of male villagers facing collective punishment due to clashes between the People's Defense Forces and the military.

The families of the dead insisted that the men were not involved in the attacks on the army. A woman who lost her brother in the Yin village massacre said she appealed to the soldiers and told them that her brother "couldn't even use a slingshot".

She said a soldier replied, "Don't say anything, we're tired, we'll kill you."

Foreign journalists have been banned from reporting in Myanmar since the coup, and most non-state media outlets have been shut down, making coverage on the ground impossible.

The BBC presented the allegations raised in this story to Myanmar's Deputy Information Minister and Army Spokesman, General Zaw Min Tun. He did not deny that the soldiers carried out mass killings.

"It can happen," he said. "When they treat us as enemies, we have the right to defend ourselves."

The United Nations is currently investigating alleged human rights abuses by the Myanmar military.


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