June 30, 2022

“I saw burnt corpses, clothes of women and children”

Thirty-five burnt corpses, including those of women and children, were found on the floors of burned-out vehicles in a village in Kayah State, eastern Burma. Photos documenting this massacre, which occurred on December 24, have just been released by the entourage of a local armed militia, fighting against the military junta in power since the coup d’état of 1is February 2021. These opponents accuse the Burmese army of being responsible for the killing. The latter confirms the incident, but claims that the bodies were those of “Terrorists”, no civilians.

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Most of the victims of this carnage, about which the UN was moved on Sunday, December 26, would be Karenni civilians, the main ethnic group of this state where several minorities live together. In any case, this is what fighters from the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF), an organization bringing together different local armed groups, have been at war for months against the regime of General Min Aung Hlaing, author of the putsch. The statements of officials of the NGO Save the Children – of which two members are among the victims -, as well as the testimony of a local peasant, give weight to the allegations of the insurgents.

According to different sources of information, which overlap, the killing took place after fighting between regime soldiers and KNDF fighters for an hour, near a village located in the canton of Hpruso, a majority area. Christian – religion of most of the Karenni. The insurgents claim that the soldiers of the Tatmadaw (Burmese armed forces) then arrested people from the village of Moso, before binding their hands and cramming them into half a dozen vehicles which they then set on fire, burning. alive the tortured. Four members of the Border Guards, pro-regime units with an ethnic component close to the rebel groups, had previously begged the soldiers to spare the civilians, without success: they were shot in the head, support fighters from the KNDF.

An investigation requested by the UN

The Tatmadaw has another version: if we are to believe reports in official Burmese media, regular army soldiers have allegedly killed a number of “Armed terrorists” in this same village of Moso. The latter were in the half-dozen vehicles found on fire, vans that refused to stop at a checkpoint, forcing the soldiers to open fire. On the contrary, the Karenni insurgents assert that none of their combatants was among the 35 killed, but that they were indeed civilians.

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