A military is supposed to look after their people, but Burma’s military has been given a license to massacre by the international community. We should not think they can deal with the generals.
The youngest killed was around one years old. Shot in the head and stomach on 12 August. She died instantly when junta soldiers fired at three young men trying to get home in Myingyan City. They kill without remorse.
Mya Maung is the oldest, he was 90-year-old when along with his 87-year-old wife, Kyee Hmiye, soldiers murdered them. The elderly couple were sheltering on 15 June, when the junta raided Kingma village in Magwe, set fire to houses, killed cattle, and indiscriminately shot residents.
Government workers who courageously refuse to follow the junta and join the Civil Disobedience Movement, like Tun Tat Aung, the 24-year-old forest ranger, are tortured to death. He died of brain damage on 18 March in Sagaing Region, in Burma’s northwest.
In Burma since the coup anyone can be arbitrarily detained, tortured and killed. 43 were murdered this way in Kani Township last month. Near Zee Pin Dwin village, a local was found hanging from a tree, others were buried in a pit. It is clear they are trying to slaughter civilians into submission. The Bago massacre on April 9 was another. Pro-democracy protestors armed with defensive shields were massacred in a military-style operation using artillery and RPG’s. Youths hunted house-to-house, dead bodies taken away and disappeared in the early morning assault. 52 of those dead bodies are still unidentified, the families left in despair.
But these are not isolated cases, it is part of a pattern happening across the country like the military has always done. A brutalised armed forces commanded by corrupt generals driven by greed. As of this week, August 18, they’ve murdered over 1,000 civilians peacefully protesting an illegitimate and despised military coup. The killings civil society groups monitor are personal.
This junta will continue to deny its crimes against humanity, and this is why AAPP and our staff of former political prisoners are monitoring and remembering every single death
My organisation, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, set out to document the detentions of activists and politicians on 1 February, because we knew if the coup was not reversed there would be murderous consequences.
We knew this because the same military as today massacred thousands of civilians in the 1988 uprising, many more went missing without a trace. Ethnic nationalities have experienced rape, murder, and displacement every single year. Each time the military will deny the claims of those killed.
This junta will continue to deny its crimes against humanity, and this is why AAPP and our staff of former political prisoners are monitoring and remembering every single death. For documenting the fatalities, the junta announced AAPP as an illegal organisation and threatened “severe action” against us. Because if people did not know the fallen heroes’ names, their sacrifices would be forgotten.
AAPP has collected as much photos and evidence as we can, most of those on the lists are identified with names. But the junta is taking dead bodies and making them disappear specifically so the international community cannot know how many are dying.
In some cases, we are directly communicating with the family members. Activists and journalists contact us because of our position, whilst we clarify information with other sources including human rights organisations and news outlets. We have many networks across the country doing a lot to help Burma’s cause.
It might seem like the killings have slowed down since the early months of the terror campaign. But this is not the case. Now, as before, the junta’s policy is to torture and kill in more remote regions where they think documentation is difficult. The junta regards civilians as the enemy.
They kill and torture to create a climate of fear. On August 10, at least five youths jumped to their death from an apartment’s third story in Botahtaung district of Yangon rather than be captured, tortured, and disappeared by the junta.
According to AAPP documentation, a total of 87 individuals have been tortured to death, three of them were 19-year-olds such as Tin Tun Aung, who had his head bashed against a wall. Then there’s Aye Ko, a 40-year-old father of three who was burned alive on 27 March in Mandalay. He was standing lookout for his community, trying to protect his family. Junta soldiers shot and dragged his injured body onto a pile of burning tires. Local witnesses knew Aye Ko was still alive. So did the junta.
What did these 1,000 innocents do, did they deserve to be killed? The 62 children killed would have voted for only for the second time in their lives. They dreamed of a better future, but now entire generations will be impoverished. Just as the junta wanted.
If the National Unity Government does not take its rightful seat at the General Assembly, a message will be sent to the junta to continue however they like
Ultimately, the junta kills because they think they can get away with it. The unfolding humanitarian crisis must not be isolated from the junta’s determined violation of human rights at every corner. They do not care about human life.
The September credential challenge at the UN General Assembly, in which it will be assessed who is best placed to represent Myanmar as its legitimate government, is an opportunity to condemn these killings. If the National Unity Government does not take its rightful seat at the General Assembly, a message will be sent to the junta to continue however they like.
The campaign of terror will not end at this tragic milestone. It will only end when the military in Burma is dismantled.
Bo Kyi is joint-secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Bo Kyi was a political prisoner from 1989 and spent most of the next decade in prison, before escaping Burma and co-founding AAPP.