Junta forces accused of burning anti-coup dissenters in Myanmar 

At least 11 people were zeroed in by the junta forces during a retaliatory raid in northwestern Myanmar on December 7. They were allegedly tortured before being burnt alive, the graphic images of their charred bodies lying in ashes have invoked fear and resentment in the region

December 11, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Residents flee a town in the Sagaing region in July. Photo: Reuters

On December 7, Myanmarese soldiers killed 11 people and burnt their bodies, media reports stated. Some of the victims were reportedly burnt alive by the soldiers following a retaliatory raid in a village in northwestern Sagaing Region. Some accounts described the 11 people as civilians while others have termed them anti-coup volunteers.

The gruesome incident took place at Done Taw in Salingyi Township during a military raid after guerrilla fighters detonated explosives in an attack against a military convoy.

Several locals blamed the soldiers of torturing the people before killing them. Graphic images of the smouldering remains of the burnt bodies lying in ash with outstretched limbs have agitated the locals and invoked widespread condemnation on social media. Activists have accused the junta of carrying out numerous such rights violations ever since taking power in February 2021. 

According to one local, “victims were taking shelter in a makeshift hut while running away from the military raiding their village. The soldiers found them, beat them up and burned them.” Similarly, another local from the Done Taw village said “the victims were running through the farm and got shot and were taken to the hut where they were burned.”

The identity of all the victims has not yet been ascertained due to the charred condition of the dead bodies. However, a list compiled by Done-based anti-coup militants said that at least 10 were part of their defense volunteers.

According to several reports, incidents of the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) burning down villages during raids against anti-coup dissenters have occurred repeatedly especially after the anti-coup rebels decided on resorting to a defensive war on September 7. 

“As of December 7 at least 1305 people are now confirmed killed by this junta coup. And a total of 7823 people are currently under detention… While 357 people have been sentenced to death (including 2 children),” the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said that to bring the conflict under control, a five-point plan should be implemented in Myanmar which calls for a “collective approach” that focuses on “peaceful dialogue, a humanitarian aid package, and close cooperation with ASEAN’s special envoy.”