By THE IRRAWADDY 27 September 2021
Recent days have seen a surge in killings of civilians—particularly members and vocal supporters of the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD), as well as villagers living in anti-regime resistance strongholds—by junta forces.
The fatalities reported over the past three days include Mandalay-based political activist and philanthropist Ko Than Htun Oo, a.k.a Ko Min Ko Thein, a member of NLD’s Mandalay branch. He died in police custody within a few hours of being arrested on Saturday.
The 48-year-old, affectionately known as “Ko Fatty” among his friends, was arrested at his home in Aungmyaytharzan Township of Mandalay Region for alleged possession of weapons.
During the raid on his home, junta forces told him to get on his knees. When he said 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. On Sunday evening, his family was notified of his death. The body was not returned to the family and regime officials said they organized funeral rites themselves.
Ko Ye Yint, another NLD member in Mandalay, was also killed in detention on Friday. The 30-year-old was shot dead after being accusing of trying to flee the police station. Junta forces detained him after accusing him of setting off a bomb explosion in Sein Pan ward, near his residence. Locals rejected the junta’s accusation against their neighbor, however.
U Pauk Gyi, a vocal supporter of the NLD in Mandalay, was also found dead on Friday morning, on an embankment in Sein Pan, Maharaungmyay Township. His body bore a gunshot wound to the head and stab wounds to the neck, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) stated in their most recent report.
The AAPP said U Pauk Gyi was arrested and taken away by junta soldiers and members of a Pyu Saw Htee, a militia group trained and armed by the junta, at midnight last Thursday following a report by one of the junta’s informers.
Youth activists and villagers from strongholds of anti-regime resistance groups who have inflicted heavy casualties on junta forces were also among the recent fatalities.
Activist Ko Sithu Kaung Myat, 24, from Bago City in Bago Region, was shot in the head, stomach and hands when junta forces arrested him at home on Thursday. He died on Friday while receiving medical treatment at Bago General Hospital, the AAPP stated in its report.
Following his death, police sealed the house where he and his mother lived, so that no one could enter, the AAPP added.
In Yangon, four youths were reportedly shot dead in Sanchaung Township, Yangon Region, at around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday. Propaganda published by military supporters portrayed the incident as a shootout between civilian guerrilla fighters and junta forces on the Myaynigone flyover. The propaganda accounts also stated there were casualties among the junta forces.
However, according to accounts of locals and video footage recorded by a civilian, there was no shootout in the area and the youths were dragged down from their apartment, beaten and kicked several times and shot. The Irrawaddy couldn’t independently verify the number of fatalities.
In Kayah State’s Demoso Township, which has seen intense clashes between junta forces and local civilian resistance fighters who took up arms against the junta, a 70-year-old man wearing a T-shirt with the UN emblem on it was shot dead on Sunday.
On Monday, the hearse carrying his body hit a mine reportedly planted by regime troops.
A score of civilians were also killed over the weekend in Sagaing Region, which has seen numerous junta raids in response to determined civilian resistance.
Heavy troops raided Tharsi Village of Sagaing’s Kalay Township on Sunday and shot and killed striking police officer Ko Zaw Myo Htut and villager Ko Than Htike Aung.
The People’s Defense Force-Kalay announced that the group attacked the troops with an allied group on their way back from Tharsi. During the clash, three junta troops were killed.
Sagaing Region’s local community pages reported that around four villagers including a woman in her 60s were killed in Nabutaw Village, Yinmabin Township on Sunday.
On Monday, junta soldiers also surrounded Monyway and Kyaymon villages in Monywa and arrested several villagers. At least two were reportedly shot dead by the time of publication of this article. Locals said the death toll could grow as the junta soldiers violently beat the detainees.
Since the coup, the junta has killed at least 1,125 civilians including youth activists, protesters, children, politicians and NLD members and supporters, and arrested more than 8,400 people, according to data compiled by the AAPP.