A man died after he and 81 others were publicly tortured by soldiers in a village in Yangon Region’s Kungyangon Township last week, two residents and two ousted lawmakers have told Myanmar Now.
Junta troops arrived in Ingalone at around 9pm on September 13 and told everyone under the age of 60 to leave their houses. They then began asking people about the recent killing in the village of an alleged military informant named San Win.
“They checked the lists of family members and segregated all of us into female and male, then let the women go and started asking the men about who killed San Win,” said one villager who was tortured.
“Because none of us killed him or knew who killed him, we just said we didn’t know anything about the matter, and that’s when they started beating us,” he added.
The beatings began at around midnight in front of the local monastery. Soldiers forced the men to lie face down on the tarmac road as they beat them with bamboo sticks, plastic pipes and lengths of rope.
“They also made us get on all fours inside the water drain nearby and look for fish. We couldn’t find any as there were no fish there,” the man said.
The men were forced to hold a plank position with their hands tied in front of their faces as they were hit, and then made to turn around and kneel on all fours, he added. “They hit us so many times that we lost count.”
One of the victims, 40-year-old Than Myo Htike, died on Friday after suffering a brain hemorrhage, residents said. Than Myo Htike was sent to Yangon General Hospital after being turned away from the hospital in Kungyangon, locals said. Myanmar Now could not reach either hospital for comment.
Soldiers also beat and terrorised people in the neighbouring village of Ka Thit Kone, said an MP from the township who was ousted by the February coup and asked not to be named
“We will come back again if the assassin who killed the informant doesn’t turn himself in. This is the military regime. We can kill if we want to,” the soldiers told the villagers there, according to the MP’s account.
Soldiers also raided the villages of Man Ka Leik and Taung Kone. Two days after the Ingalone incident, troops forced villagers in Man Ka Leik out of their homes, though no one was tortured, according to a villager and the MP.
Another villager who was tortured in Ingalone said that he had bruises all over his body and that every male in the village between the ages of 18 and 50 was tortured that night.
Both of the victims requested anonymity out of fear that the soldiers would return to torture them again. Several others who were tortured were too scared to speak to the media about their experiences.
Alleged torture leader
Faced with widespread violent resistance to its rule from guerilla groups across the country, the junta’s forces have routinely responded to attacks with acts of collective punishment against civilians.
The victims in Ingalone said their torturers included soldiers, police officers and personnel in plain clothes.
The soldiers were from the 70th Infantry Battalion of Yangon Regional Military Command, according to Soe Thura Tun, the energy minister of the underground National Unity Government, who was elected as the National League for Democracy’s MP in Kungyangon last year.
The unit that tortured the villagers was led by Major Soe Moe Pyae, he added. Military representatives did not answer calls seeking comment.
A Yangon-based guerilla group called the United Democratic Force has claimed responsibility for the killing of San Win. The alleged informant was “slashed once across his torso and stabbed twice in his stomach,” the group’s information officer told Myanmar Now last week.
The group also said it destroyed two phone towers owned by the military-controlled Mytel telecoms company on September 8.
The villages that were targeted in the wake of the attacks are made up mostly of ethnically Karen residents. Ingalone and Man Ka Leik are known locally as places where people turned out in greater numbers than elsewhere to vote against the military’s constitution during a rigged 2008 referendum.
On Friday, another alleged military informant was killed in Kungyangon. Mya Soe was shot three times while travelling to Pyi Taw Thar village, according to the unnamed MP.
Source: Myanmar Now