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Myanmar Military Condemned for Massacre, Scorched Earth Tactics

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Massacres and scorched-earth tactics in Myanmar such as razing entire villages are the latest examples of the military’s violence against both civilians and the opposition. The military has continued to crack down ever more brutally since seizing power in February, abducting young men and boys, murdering healthcare workers, and torturing prisoners.

In 2017, thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed in these massacres and burnings, as part of military policies that have long been used against minorities such as the Rohingya. The military has been accused of killing at least 35 civilians on Christmas Eve in a Karenni village in the eastern region. Many of the bodies of the men, women and children were burnt beyond recognition, a witness told the AP.

However, this time, the military is also using the same techniques against its own Buddhist Bamar majority communities. In recent months, most of the killings have taken place in the northwest, including in a Bamar heartland where the opposition has strong support.

According to AAPP, a group that monitors verified arrests and deaths in Myanmar, more than 80 people have been killed in multiple killings since August in the Sagaing region alone. On Dec. 12 and Dec. 23, five people were killed in Gaung Kwal village, and nine on Dec. 23 in Kalay township, making Sagaing the deadliest region in Myanmar.

Myanmar Military Scorching Entire Villages

In addition, the military is destroying entire villages where opposition may be present. In the northwestern town of Thantlang alone, more than 580 buildings have burned since September, according to satellite imagery the AP obtained from Maxar Technologies.

Several requests for comment from Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, did not receive a response. In a statement published three days after the Kalay township attack, the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper dismissed reports of the killings as “fake news,” accusing unidentified countries of trying to disintegrate Myanmar by inciting bloodshed.

Several months after overthrowing Aung San Suu Kyi, the Tatmadaw accused her of massive fraud in the democratic election that saw her party win in a landslide. The military and police have killed over 1,375 people and arrested over 11,200 since then, according to the AAPP.

According to a report from Human Rights Watch this month, a mass killing took place in Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon, on March 14 in the township of Hlaing Tharyar. Witnesses reported that security forces opened fire on protesters with assault rifles, killing 65 people, including bystanders.

The military has turned increasingly brutal in its tactics, while civilians have reacted in kind. Civil disobedience and protests were the starting point, but the opposition has become increasingly violent, attacking troops and government facilities.

Source: The Associated Press

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