Junta soldiers massacred at least 28 people in resistance stronghold of Kani this month, say residents

July 30th, 2021  •  Author:   Murdered by junta forces (Kani Township)  •  4 minute read
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Some of the bodies were buried together in a shallow grave in the forest west of Zee Pin Twin village (Supplied)  

Many of the victims’ bodies showed clear signs they were tortured in captivity

By Myanmar Now

(Content warning: This article contains images of dead bodies that viewers may find disturbing.)

Junta soldiers in the resistance stronghold of Kani Township in Sagaing have massacred at least 28 people this month, and locals fear there are more bodies yet to be uncovered.

Seven of the confirmed killings were discovered in a forest west of the village of Zee Pin Twin on Thursday. The body of a captured resistance fighter was also brought back to the village on Thursday after being found in the surrounding area on Tuesday evening.

All of the victims were male and wounds on their bodies indicated they had been mercilessly tortured before their deaths.

Another five bodies were found in the area later on Thursday, said a Kani-based activist, referencing local witnesses, though he was unable to offer further details.

Soldiers have captured dozens in Kani in recent weeks, both civilians and fighters from the Monywa People’s Defence Force (MPDF). Myanmar Now spoke to a total of nine people who either found bodies in Kani this month or heard accounts from those who did.

The bodies found around Zee Pin Twin were so badly mutilated that villagers have only been able to identify two of them, the activist said.

“We still don’t know if the bodies belong to the people who were captured as most of them were completely disfigured to the point that we couldn’t determine who they were or where they were from,” he said.

The funeral of a PDF member found dead in the forest on Tuesday evening (Supplied)  

The victims from the first group found on Thursday were two elderly people, one person with a disability, four people aged between 18 and 30 and one person of an unknown age, witnesses said.

A video of the exhumation showed one of the men had his eye gouged out and his hands tied. Locals said they feared more bodies were buried nearby but were scared to search for them because they believed there were landmines in the area.

The MPDF said a group of its fighters were ambushed near Zee Pin Twin on Tuesday and forced to retreat. Six fighters were killed or went missing in that attack, the group’s spokesperson said.

“Only one died during the battle and the rest got shot in their limbs which incapacitated them,” he said. “We have some photos suggesting that they were caught and shot to death at close-range. It can be assumed that the military shot all of our injured comrades.”

The military is still patrolling around the woods near Zee Pin Twin village, the locals said.

On July 11 and 12 Kani locals discovered the bodies of 15 men after soldiers detained a group of residents from the villages of Yin, Kone Thar and Palu Zawa.

“The first two bodies we found had their faces slashed with knives,” said one of the locals. “We found some with their limbs broken and some with their necks slit. Some were nearly decapitated and some had their limbs mutilated. We can assume that they slit the victims’ faces with knives as they interrogated them.”

Photos and videos showed the victims had been stripped naked or half naked. Some were blindfolded with their own clothes and some tied to each other.

The deceased included a father and his two sons, as well as three brothers and one of their nephews, locals said. Most were aged between 30 and 50, and one was 60 years old.

Bodies of the victims of the massacre in Yin village, seen on July 12 (Supplied)  

Kani Township’s residents have offered some of the fiercest and most tenacious resistance to the junta that seized power in a coup in February.

Last week, soldiers rode boats along the Chindwin river, coming on land intermittently to terrorise people living along the riverbank. They destroyed several houses and injured three civilians, including a pregnant woman.

Around 10,000 civilians from five different village tracts have fled their homes as a result of military attacks in Kani in recent weeks, according to local social aid groups who wished to remain unnamed. Myanmar Now has been unable to independently confirm the figure.

Original Post: Myanmar Now