UCA News
Contribute

Military massacres almost 80 in Myanmar’s west

Arakan alliance wants Myanmar expelled from UN and ASEAN
This May 21, 2024, photo shows a woman walking past her temporary house following fighting between Myanmar's military and the Arakan Army ethnic minority armed group in a village in Minbya Township in western Rakhine State.

This May 21, 2024, photo shows a woman walking past her temporary house following fighting between Myanmar's military and the Arakan Army ethnic minority armed group in a village in Minbya Township in western Rakhine State.  (Photo: AFP)

Published: June 10, 2024 05:12 AM GMT
Updated: June 10, 2024 05:23 AM GMT

Up to 80 people were massacred after they were subjected to ‘horrific and insidious’ torture in far west Myanmar by drunken soldiers, which anti-regime forces say were deployed by the military, prompting calls for the country’s expulsion from the United Nations and ASEAN.

Rumors of the massacre near Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, had initially surfaced about a week ago and were confirmed by independent media after the exiled National Unity Government (NUG) came out in support of claims made by the Arakan Army (AA).

Much of the global community is yet to respond to the killings but a group of 203 Arakanese communities and alliances are demanding “effective action” be taken against the junta.

A group statement labeled the killings as “crimes against humanity and genocide, including inhuman mass killings of more than 70 civilians, destroying some bodies and gang-raping and killing of women” while calling for war crimes investigations and help for the surviving families.

"The global Arakanese communities along with alliances demand that the UN and ASEAN should expel Myanmar, which is run by the junta forces and it continues violating international laws and the UN charter," they said.

Independent sources aligned with the NUG also confirmed the massacre, telling UCA News that soldiers with a “brutal reputation” had been deployed to the region and that “the nature of what has happened was horrific and insidious, even by the standards of this revolution.”

"Marauding troops targeted those with AA tattoos"

An NUG statement said more than 170 soldiers, from the Sittwe-based Regional Operation command’s column, Pakokku-based Division (101) column and selected troops of other battalions, entered and blocked Byai Phyu village in Sittwe on the morning of May 29.

“The entire village including men, women and infants, was summoned to come out to the streets and a total of 51 people, including 48 men and 3 women between the ages of 15 and 70, were violently tortured and killed,” it said.

Soldiers also burned down homes and robbed villagers of gold, cash, mobile phones, motorcycles and “brutally tortured the men, sexually assaulted some women, and murdered a total of 51 villagers.”

By June 1, the killings had spread to the villages of Minkin Taw Ywar Thit and Minkin Taw Ywar Haung. The death toll has since risen to at least 76 amid graphic reports of violence over more than two days.

These included villagers, aged between 15 and 70, forced to drink their urine, many were blindfolded, beaten and shot. Marauding troops targeted those with AA tattoos. The tattoos were skinned with a knife and doused with burning petrol. Others have disappeared.

“There was no strategic reason for this extreme brutality. It is a typical junta strategy — to terrorize the local population, an act to serve as a warning to others,” Paul Greening, an independent analyst based in Mae Sot on the Thai-Myanmar border, said.

"Some troops came from previous fighting in northern Shan [state] and wanted revenge"

The AA is one of about 20 ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) battling the junta alongside the NUG’s Peoples Defence Force (PDF) which has recorded unprecedented victories in a three-year civil war that erupted after the military ousted an elected government.

AA soldiers have secured control of most of Rakhine state and observers said the atrocities — allegedly led by the military’s battle-hardened 101 column — signaled the frustrations within a military in retreat and its inability to stem its losses around the country.

“It also seems to be revenge. That is a common reaction by the junta when they are losing. Apparently, some troops came from previous fighting in northern Shan [state] and wanted revenge,” Greening added. Shan state fell to anti-regime forces in January.

The NUG has been on a diplomatic offensive of late, sending envoys to Japan, Australia and New Zealand, which has been touted as a potential location for a war crimes tribunal, in the wake of its battlefield successes.

“The National Unity Government is striving its best to protect the entire public from the targeted attacks and killings,” it said, adding it would work with relevant organizations to claim justice for all affected victims.

“We strongly condemn the brutal killing of civilians and vow to bring all those involved, whether directly or indirectly, in ongoing war crimes, massacres and crimes against humanity committed by the terrorist Military Council, to justice, as soon as possible.”

At least four massacres were reported last year, which the NUG said was designed by the military to ignite a religious conflict. It has asked the International Criminal Court to expand current investigations to cover all of Myanmar’s territory.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
comment

Share your comments

1 Comments on this Story
JOHN MASCARENHAS
MYANMAR IS A FAILED STATE. IT IS RUN BY THE MILITARY WHO TOPPLED THE DEMOCRATIC GOVT, SO THAT IT COULD CONTROL THE PROFITS FROM DRUG TRADE. THE PEOPLE OF MYANMAR HAVE BEEN SUFFERING UNDER THE MILITARY FOR SO MANY YEARS BUT THE WORLD WAS FOCUSED ON UKRAINE...AS THEY ARE WHITE PEOPLE! SHAMEFULLY, CHINA SUPPORTS THE CRIMINAL MILITARY OF MYANMAR WITH WEAPONS AND MONIES TO KILL THEIR OPPOSITION AND THE PEOPLE OF MYANMAR.THE ASEAN COUNTRIES ARE SHAMEFULLY DOING NOTHING TO PRESSURISE THE MILITARY OR TO STOP THE INTERNAL WARS IN MYANMAR.THE INDIAN GOVT ALSO SUPPORTS THE CRIMINAL MYANMAR MILITARY BECAUSE MANY BURMESE HAVE RELATIVES IN INDIA AND INDIA DOES WANT TO PROTECT THEM OR PERMIT CROSSING OVER FOR SAFETY.
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia