The military says party members are not targeted, but statistics suggest otherwise.
Nearly 50 members of Myanmar’s deposed National League for Democracy (NLD), including three former members of Parliament, have been killed and more than 900 NLD lawmakers have been arrested in the 17 months since the coup, according to a group within the party that documents rights abuses under military rule.
Kyaw Htwe, spokesman for the NLD’s Human Rights Record Group, told RFA Burmese that among the 48 killed, 11 died during detention, eight died in prison, and 29 — including the former MPs — were killed “for no reason.”
“In many villages in Sagaing and Magway regions, we heard reports that [pro-junta forces] set fire to houses of not only NLD members, but also those who had supported the party,” he said of the two areas where junta troops have encountered some of the fiercest resistance to military rule by the armed opposition.
“Residents also say people are getting killed simply for being accused of being members of the party.”
Among the 48 killed, five were women, the NLD group said. Two of the victims were from Kachin state, one from Shan state, 11 from Yangon region, 14 from Mandalay region, seven from Bago region, four from Tanintharyi region, and the remaining nine from Sagaing and Magway regions and Mon state.
The eight people who died in prison included Nyan Win, a long-time member of the NLD who served as the party’s secretary.
One of the three MPs killed was Kyaw Myo Min, who represented Bilin township in the Mon State Assembly. His body was discovered on July 6 near Min Saw village in Kayin state’s Hpa-An township, not long after his arrest.
A colleague of Kyaw Myo Min, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, told RFA that the military did not even bother to inform the MP’s family of his death.
“His body was found with his hands tied behind his back and the head was separately buried in the mud by the side of the creek,” the colleague said.
“They were so inhuman. It looked like the body was not even buried properly — it seemed as if they just left it there. I think that his head was thrown into the creek and it was covered in mud and leaves during recent heavy rains.”
The other two lawmakers who died were Nyunt Shwe, a member of the Bago Region People’s Assembly and Tin Yi, of the Kyunsu Township People’s Assembly in Tanintharyi region. Nyunt Shwe died in prison of COVID-19 and Tin Yi, who was over 70 years old, died while fleeing arrest.
The 29 people killed “for no reason” included veterans, anti-junta activists and NLD party officials who died at the hands of the pro-military Thway Thauk militia, allegedly composed of ultra-nationalists and members of the military proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party.
Bo Bo Oo, vice chairman of the NLD in Yangon region’s Sanchaung township, told RFA that junta leader Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing bears full responsibility for the deaths.
“They targeted the party’s executive members, but ordinary party members and those they accused of being party members, as well as ordinary activists, were also harmed with a vengeance,” he said.
“All this happened because the leader of the military regime is a thug who encourages terror. We are hearing things [about what is happening] that we don’t want to hear. For Myanmar, it is very shameful.”
Bo Bo Oo said it is impossible for any NLD member — from the central level to the village level — to remain at home peacefully amid the current situation.
Hundreds of arrests
According to the NLD’s Human Rights Record Group, at least 920 of the party’s MPs who won seats in Myanmar’s November 2020 general election have been arrested since the coup, including the three who were killed and 109 who remain in custody.
The group’s spokesman, Kyaw Htwe, said around 20 NLD MPs have made pledges to the junta to give up politics, while the remainder of those no longer detained have “fled to safety” — mostly to Myanmar’s remote border regions — because they fear being rearrested and tortured.
Repeated attempts by RFA to contact junta Deputy Minister for Information Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun went unanswered Monday. In response to an RFA inquiry on Oct. 6, 2021, he said the military was “not targeting the NLD,” but that the party’s MPs and other members had been arrested and prosecuted because they were “linked to violence.”
Political analyst Than Soe Naing told RFA that the military wants to “wipe away the NLD party from Myanmar’s political scene forever.”
“Those responsible for the deaths must have been told that it did not matter if NLD party leaders or members died. That’s why we are hearing all these lawless, tragic stories of people being killed with no restraint,” he said.
“I think [the junta is] operating with a policy to arrest, imprison and kill NLD leaders and hardcore members so that it’d be impossible for the party to re-enter Myanmar’s political stage.”
The military seized power in a Feb. 1, 2021, coup, claiming voter fraud led to a landslide victory for the NLD in the country’s November 2020 election. The junta has yet to provide evidence of its claims and has violently suppressed nationwide protests calling for a return to civilian rule.
According to the NLD’s Human Rights Record Group, in addition to the killing and arrest of NLD members, the military has killed 2,636 people and arrested at least 9,469 anti-junta activists since the coup.