Report 281 Views

Devastation in Karen State

May 31st, 2023  •  Author:   Myanmar Witness  •  3 minute read
Featured image

Airstrikes on a Monastery and mining facilities, Kyainseikgyi Township

Key Events Details

  • Location of Incident

    • Dhamma Rakkhita Monastery (ဓမ္မရက္ခိတဘုန်းကြီးကျောင်း), Mae Kasa village (မက္ကသာရွာ), Kyainseikgyi township (ကြာအင်းဆိပ်ကြီးမြို့နယ်), Karen state (ကရင်ပြည်နယ်) [15.389233, 98.381778].

    • Thabyu Lead Mine (သပြုသတ္တုမိုင်း) Blocks 5 and 6 [15.606206, 98.410007].

  • Date/Time of Incident:

    • Around 0300 hours on 6 October 2022 (monastery airstrike)

    • 16 November 2022 (mine airstrike)

    • 25 January 2023 (mine airstrike)

  • Alleged Perpetrator(s) and/or Involvement:

    • Security Administrative Council (SAC)

    • Myanmar Air Force (MAF)

    • Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)

    • People’s Defence Forces (PDF)

  • Conclusion:

    • Myanmar Witness has investigated claims related to five airstrikes in Kyainseikgyi township following clashes between KNLA and PDF joint forces and the SAC.

    • One airstrike reportedly damaged the Dhamma Rakkhita Monastery (ဓမ္မရက္ခိတဘုန်းကြီးကျောင်း) in Mae Kasa village (မက္ကသာရွာ) and another four allegedly hit the Thabyu Lead Mine (သပြုသတ္တုမိုင်း).

    • Myanmar Witness has geolocated imagery showing damage to the sites following the airstrikes on 6 October 2022, 16 November 2022 and 25 January 2023.

    • Myanmar Witness has identified user-generated content (UGC) which purports to show bomb remnants consistent with those employed by the MAF and analysed a statement made by an SAC official on 16 November which confirms that airstrikes had taken place in the state.

    • Both locations are important within the community. The Dhamma Rakkhita Monastery (ဓမ္မရက္ခိတဘုန်းကြီးကျောင်း) is a place where the local people hold Buddhist rituals, and it is a site of refuge for the people of Mae Kasa village and surrounding villages due to the ongoing conflict. The lead mine provides a source of employment and income for the townships inhabitants.

    • Khit Thit Media reported that three people working in the mines were killed during the alleged airstrike on 16 November 2023.

Executive Summary

Since September 2022, Myanmar Witness has been monitoring events in Kyainseikgyi township, which has been the site of clashes between the KNLA and Myanmar military. This report investigates claims that the Myanmar Air Force (MAF) carried out several airstrikes in the township between October 2022 and January 2023. 

On 6 October 2022, at around 0300 hours, a military fighter jet allegedly bombed Mae Kasa village (မက္ကသာရွာ), about 10 kilometres east of the Phayar Taung military post which had been captured by the KNLA a few weeks earlier. Myanmar Witness has identified and geolocated imagery which shows significant damage to a building in the Dhamma Rakkhita Monastery grounds (ဓမ္မရက္ခိတဘုန်းကြီးကျောင်း). Additionally, satellite imagery was used to verify a date window within which damage to the roof occurred. The monastery grounds had provided a site of refuge for internally displaced people (IDP). 

During November and December 2022, and January 2023, KIC News reported that the MAF carried out four air strikes on the Thabyu mining pits, about 22 kilometres north of Mae Kasa village, killing at least three civilians. Myanmar Witness has identified and geolocated images of the destruction of structures in the area, specifically related to the 16 November airstrike and the 25 January airstrikes.

On 16 November 2022, General Zaw Min Tun, the head of the State Administrative Council’s (SAC) press team, confirmed that a MAF offensive to ‘maintain the security of the region’ took place in the township. This confirms that the MAF was operating aircraft in the area and provides added weight to allegations of other airstrikes between October 2022 and January 2023.

Myanmar Witness has provided in-depth reporting on the nationwide use of airstrikes by the MAF in the Eyes on the Sky report, and will continue to monitor and investigate further incidents.

Download full report

View the original