Following nefarious genocide committed on innocent Rohingyas, Myanmar junta troops have started fresher genocide targeting civilians in the Sagaing region. According to media reports, junta troops have torched hundreds of houses during three-day raid in the country’s northern part, as Myanmar’s oppressive military struggles to crush resistance to its inhuman rule.
The Sagaing region has seen fierce fighting and bloody reprisals since the coup last year, with local “People’s Defence Force” (PDF) members clashing regularly with junta troops. Sagaing militias comprise mostly Christians. According to analysts, the informal militia has surprised Myanmar’s junta forces with its extreme effectiveness, and the military has on numerous occasions were compelled to launch air strikes to support its on-ground troops.
Satellite images show troops torching hundreds of houses in the village of Kinn, Upper Kinn and Ke Taung over three days last week.
According to media reports, villagers in Kinn were compelled to flee as soldiers approached and began shooting into the air.
An eye witness told British daily The Guardian, “The next morning we saw smoke rising from our village before they left.
“Over 200 houses were burned down … my house was totally burned down, only the concrete foundation is left”.
Drone footage purporting to show the aftermath showed columns of smoke rising into the sky from the villages, set along a roughly 8km (five-mile) stretch of the Chindwin river.
A health clinic seen in the video matched the geolocation of one in Ke Taung village.
Digital verification reporters with Agence France-Presse confirmed the footage had not appeared online before last week but could not independently verify reports from the region.
Soldiers “raided and destroyed our houses”, said Ke Taung villager Aye Tin, who requested to use a pseudonym.
“And they also burned motor boats that we use for transport and for carrying food for our village, including my boat.
“My life is ruined, as I have lost my home … and I [have] nothing left to do for a living”.
Satellite images from Nasa showed fires in locations that matched Ke Taung and Kinn villages last week.
The junta has previously rebuffed claims its troops have torched houses, accusing “terrorist” PDF fighters of starting the fires.
In a speech on Tuesday, the junta chief, Min Aung Hlaing, said “efforts were made to minimize the casualties as much as possible in performing the counterattacks to terror acts”.
“Now, the country is in tranquility”, he said, according to state media.
Meanwhile, Myanmar’s junta has said it will execute a former lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party and a prominent democracy activist, both of whom were convicted of terrorism, in the country’s first judicial executions since 1990.
Four people, including the former MP Phyo Zeya Thaw and the democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy, “will be hanged according to prison procedures”, Zaw Min Tun told AFP.
The junta has sentenced dozens of anti-coup activists to death as part of its crackdown on dissent after seizing power last year, but Myanmar has not carried out an execution for decades.
Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy who was arrested in November, was sentenced to death in January for offences under anti-terrorism laws.
Ko Jimmy received the same sentence from the military tribunal.
“They continued the legal process of appealing and sending a request letter for the amendment of the sentence,” said Zaw Min Tun, a spokesperson for the junta. “But the court rejected their appeal and request. There is no other step after that”.
A spokesperson for Amnesty International called on the junta to “immediately drop such plans and for the international community to step up its efforts to intervene”.
Phil Robertson, a deputy director at Human Rights Watch, said the junta’s decision to “move towards executing two prominent political leaders will be like pouring gasoline on the fire of popular anti-military resistance in the country. Such a move will also lead to global condemnation and cement the junta’s reputation as among the worst of the worst human rights abusers in Asia”.
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