Soldiers use civilians as ‘human shields’ during raids on villages in Magway Region

November 20th, 2021  •  Author:   Human Shields (Yesagyo Township)  •  3 minute read
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An anti-dictatorship protest in Yesagyo Township on April 6 (CJ)

Some of those captured have since been released, but troops told locals they would kill the others if they heard gunfire near their villages 

By Myanmar Now

Junta soldiers used 13 civilians including a teenaged boy as human shields during raids on villages in the Magway Region Township of Yesagyo on Wednesday, according to residents.

The troops, who were from Light Infantry Division (LID) 101, raided at least 11 villages in the township, which sits at the confluence of Chindwin and Irrawaddy rivers in central Myanmar.

Several locals told Myanmar Now the soldiers were hunting for  members of the People’s Defence Force (PDF). The civilians they detained also included two women and 10 men.

About 60 LID 101 soldiers based in Pakokku, 47km from Yesagyo, occupied the villages of Min Ywar and Ngatayaw on Monday and another 60 joined them the next day before Wednesday’s raids began, the Yesagyo PDF said.

Citing eyewitnesses, a leader from the Yesagyo PDF, said that 10 of the 13 people used as human shields were taken from the village of Hlaykhoke.

“We were informed that soldiers tied the hands of those ten locals behind their backs and asked them to walk in front of them,” he said.

About 3,000 residents from Yesagyo reportedly fled the raids, according to a Hlaykhoke villager who is among those displaced.

Five of the 13 detained, two women and three middle-aged men, were released around 8pm on Wednesday, said the Hlaykhoke local and a resident of Ngatayaw village.

The other eight, including a 15-year-old boy, remain in detention, they added.

“One of the two women released said soldiers let them go but told them that they would kill all the remaining captives immediately if they hear the sound of gunfire near the village,” said the Hlaykhoke villager.

“They just wanted to inform us that they had been released and told us to flee to avoid being arrested,” he said.

On Thursday morning, soldiers entered the village of Ngatayaw and ransacked houses belonging to members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, said the Ngatayaw local.

The raids came four days after a coalition of local defence forces attacked a police outpost in Pakan Nge, 20km south of Yesagyo, and seized two motorcycles and two rifles before setting the outpost on fire.

Locals said that junta forces told them they would not stop their attacks until they found the weapons that the PDF members seized from the outpost.

The Yesagyo PDF on Monday released a video of locals clapping for PDF fighters returning  from the attack in Pakan Nge.

Lin Yone, the leader of a group involved in the attack called the Phoenix Guerrilla Force, said that the raid on the villages on Wednesday was likely fuelled by the video footage.

“I think the military was checking around the villages in Yesagyo due to this video file in which the people are welcoming us without any fear,” said Lin Yone.

Pakan Nge is on the western side of the Chindwin River and the villages raided by the junta forces on Wednesday are located on the eastern side of the waterway.

In August, the military carried out clearance operations in several of Magway’s townships, including Yesagyo, Myaing, Gangaw and Pauk, to quell armed resistance to its rule.

Resistance fighters in the region have launched numerou  attacks on junta troops in recent months.

Burmese version.

Original Post: Myanmar Now