Myanmarese rights organization reports over 1,000 deaths since February coup

The Assistance Association of Political Prisoners also said 7,338 people, including political leaders, activists, students and unionists, have been arrested. As many as 5,730 people remain under detention across the country

August 24, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Anti-junta protesters in Myanmar. Photo: Matthew Tostevin

Ever since the military toppled the civilian government in Myanmar in February, at least 1,006 civilians have been allegedly killed by the junta forces, the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP) reported on Wednesday, August 18. The rights group documented seven more killings recently in the Minkin, Shwebo, Sagaing and Pauk townships.

AAPP is a rights organization that advocates for the release of political prisoners and an end to killings by Myanmar’s military. A total of 7,338 people, including political leaders, activists, students and unionists, have been arrested following the February coup in Myanmar.

As many as 5,730 people remain under detention across the country, according to the association. Among them, 255 have been sentenced. “Of them, 26 have been sentenced to death, 1,984 are evading arrest warrants, 118 people have been sentenced in absentia. In total 65 sentenced to death, in person and in absentia,” AAPP noted.

The figures have been categorically rejected by the military led by Min Aung Hlaing. The military spokesperson called these numbers “distorted and exaggerated,” which don’t include the deaths of security persons.

As per AAPP, on the evening of August 17, a civilian, Zaw Myo Myint, was killed by the junta forces from close range at a port in Minkin town in Sagaing region. There are also allegations of junta troops torturing him before death, the rights body said.

Another civilian, Zin Mar Win, who hailed from Min Sar village in Minkin, died from a heart attack on the spot after hearing the gun shots from a close distance.

On August 16, the junta troops raided the Kyauk Khel Tat village in Minkin and arrested three villagers. The bodies of three civilians were later fished from the Chindwin river.

Earlier, on August 13, a civilian, Hla Myint Oo, from Thapyay Yay village in Magway region’s Pauk township was killed by government forces. The soldiers reportedly first opened fire on him and then set a bomb on an old motorbike in front of his shop.

On August 12, junta troops raided the villages of Paline, Gonetan and Kanthar in Sagaing region’s Shwebo township. They reportedly arrested and shot dead a resident from Gonetan. This incident took place at a school in Paline where they had set up a camp, AAPP noted.

The majority of these killings have targeted anti-military activists. More than 40 people have reportedly been shot in the head. AAPP secretary-general Teik Naing said that “Several of the deceased died in interrogation centers and prisons following their arrest.”

The junta continues to unleash a wave of repression against protesters who have repeatedly hit the streets condemning the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi and demanding an end to military rule.

The military has justified the coup on the pretext of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, claiming that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won the landslide victory by fraudulent means.

The United Nations has noted that over 230,000 people have been driven out of their homes in the aftermath of the coup. “As long as the military is in power, they will continue to kill youth, doctors and teachers, men, women and children,” AAPP joint secretary Ko Bo Gyi said, adding that “The military is not only killing our lives but the country’s future and democratic hopes.”