At least 35 civilians burned alive by Burmese army on Christmas Eve
Myanmar’s ruling military burned alive at least 35 internally displaced people, including elders, women and children, in a village in eastern Kayah State on Christmas Eve, according to human rights groups.
The Karenni Human Rights Group said it discovered the victims’ bodies on Saturday, the day after the massacre near the Mo So village of Hpruso town.
“We were so shocked at seeing that all the dead bodies were different sizes, including children, women and old people,” a commander from the Karenni National Defense Force, one of the largest of several civilian militias opposing the junta that led to a Feb. 1 coup, told Reuters.
“I went to see this morning. I saw dead bodies that had been burned, and also the clothes of children and women spread around,” a local villager was quoted as saying.
The international aid group Save the Children said two of its staffers were missing in that massacre, adding that it was suspending operations in that region in Myanmar, previously known as Burma, NPR reported.
The military, also known as Tatmadaw, admitted it shot and killed an unspecified number of “terrorists with weapons” from the KNDF in the village, adding that the people were in seven vehicles and did not stop for the military, Reuters added.
The presence of the Buddhist nationalist military makes civilians and militias in conflict-ridden states nervous. The military has been accused of damaging places of worship and civilians’ homes, raping girls and women, abducting civilians to be used for forced labor and executing civilians.
Myanmar’s ethnic minorities, including Christians, live in the various conflict zones across the country’s borders with Thailand, China and India. Hundreds of thousands of civilians, many of them Christians, have been displaced due to the escalation of conflicts in the zones since the military coup on the 1st of February.
Militias in those areas have been supporting pro-democracy protesters since the coup, which has led to the use of heavy weapons by the Myanmar army. Thousands of civilians in the conflict zones have sought shelter in churches when their villages are under attack.