By THE IRRAWADDY 1 October 2021
At least 99 more people, including a toddler and four senior citizens in their seventies, were killed by Myanmar junta forces in September. Their deaths push the number of people who have died at the hands of the military regime to 1,146 over the past eight months, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP)
Myanmar has been in political and social turmoil since the junta’s February 1 coup, as the merciless military regime continues with brutal and lethal crackdowns in its efforts to suppress the nationwide rebellion against the junta.
In September, the Myanmar military massacred civilians, including children, torched entire villages, fired randomly into homes and shelled residential areas in Kayah and Chin states and Magwe, Sagaing and Mandalay regions. The junta claims those areas were harboring People’s Defense Forces: bands of civilian resistance fighters opposing the regime.
Among those killed in September were nine children, the youngest of whom was one and half-years-old, detainees who were tortured to death, members and supporters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and three medics, according to the latest report from the AAPP, an activist group which monitors killings and arrests by the junta.
On September 20, regime troops raided Shaw Phyu Village in Natogyi Township, Mandalay Region. During the raid, junta forces shot at the home of NLD supporters, killing five family members.
Four of five were shot dead on the spot. A one and half-year-old child survived initially but died from injuries after arriving at Mandalay General Hospital, AAPP stated in their report.
In northern Shan State’s Monekoe Township, nine-year-old Mah Bon suffered serious head injuries after a junta artillery shell hit his home on September 27. The boy died the following day. His mother was also injured in the artillery strike.
Around a dozen detainees were tortured to death in September. Among them was Mandalay-based political activist and philanthropist Ko Than Htun Oo, aka Ko Min Ko Thein, a member of the NLD’s Mandalay branch. He died in police custody just a few hours after being arrested on September 25.
The 48-year-old, affectionately known as ‘Ko Fatty’ among his friends, was arrested at his home in Aungmyaythazan Township, Mandalay Region for alleged possession of weapons.
During the raid on his house, junta forces told him to get on his knees. When he said that he couldn’t kneel due to his weight, he was reportedly shot in the knee. He was arrested despite no weapons being found during the search. In the evening of the following day, his family was notified of his death. Ko Than Htun Oo’s body was not returned to the family, with regime officials claiming that they had organized funeral rites for him.
Ko Zaw Linn Htet, 30, from Pyay, Bago Region also died during an interrogation after just a few hours in junta custody. He was detained with his younger brother on the afternoon of September 6, allegedly in connection with the arrest of student union members a week before. His family was also informed of his death at night.
September also saw a surge in killings of youth activists and villagers from anti-regime strongholds where civilian resistance groups have inflicted heavy casualties on junta forces.
In Yangon, four young people were shot dead at midnight on September 25 after regime forces raided their hideout in Sanchaung Township. Two of the four activists were identified as Dr. Zin Lynn and nurse Ma Khin Khin Kywel. The following day, the wife of Dr. Zin Lynn, who is also a medical doctor, was arrested at her home. The couple have a seven-month-old baby.
On Thursday, junta spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun said at a press conference that the youths had opened fire on junta soldiers when they surrounded the hideout, killing and injuring a few of them. He claimed that the four activists were killed in a subsequent shootout with regime forces.
However, local residents and video footage uploaded by Khit Thit Media revealed that the young people were dragged from the apartment and beaten and kicked several times, before the junta forces fired shots. Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun made no mention of this at the press conference.
Teenagers were also rounded up and massacred in Myin Thar Village in Yaw in Magwe Region on September 9. In all, 18 people died in the village, including elderly citizens, and some 20 houses were burned down by junta forces.
The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar – an independent group of prominent former United Nations human rights experts – urged the United Nations Security Council in its latest statement to declare the junta a “terrorist organization” for its atrocities against its own people including public torture, executions and the taking of hostages, including children.