Saturday, May 21

Burma: Junta troops burn hundreds of homes

Photo released on February 5, 2022 by Chin Twin Chit Thu shows houses burned down by security troops, in Sagaing area, Myanmar Handout

Hundreds of homes were recently burned down by security troops in northwestern Burma, witnesses told AFP, confirming local media reports.

The army notably carried out raids on January 31 in several villages in the Sagaing region, one of the strongholds of the anti-junta resistance, according to these sources.

Images obtained by AFP showed the remains of dozens of charred houses.

In the village of Bin, security forces “fired artillery and gunfire” and then set fire to around 200 houses, a resident told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“We couldn’t take anything with us. We only took some warm clothes and then we fled.”

In the nearby village of Inn Ma Hte, the army burned some 600 houses after regime supporters were attacked by anti-junta resistance fighters, according to a rebel fighter on condition of anonymity.

Local media also reported that hundreds of houses had been destroyed in the two villages.

On Thursday, state television aired a report accusing opponents of the regime, dubbed “terrorists”, of setting the fires.

Burma has plunged into violence since the coup that overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi a year ago and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced.

Citizen militias backed by rebellious ethnic factions have taken up arms against the regime.

The generals are waging a bloody crackdown on their opponents, with more than 1,500 civilians killed and nearly 9,000 currently in custody, according to a local watchdog group.

UN investigators highlight potential “war crimes and crimes against humanity”, citing “credible allegations” of torture, sexual violence and extrajudicial executions.

The Sagaing region has become the scene of violent clashes between the military and their opponents in recent weeks.

In December, the United States condemned the massacre in this region of 11 villagers, killed before being burned by the security forces, indicating that it had “credible information” on these abuses.

On Wednesday, the UN Security Council adopted a unanimous statement calling for “an immediate cessation of all forms of violence” in Burma.

Washington, London and Ottawa have announced new targeted sanctions against the regime.

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