Burma

Merciless Murders: Over 150 Children Killed by Myanmar Junta in 2022

By Yuzana 27 December 2022

Thida Win, the mother of two children, bursts into tears whenever she hears the sound of classes being held at the school 150 meters from her house.

The 37-year-old mother lives in Let Yet Kone, a village in Depayin township, Sagaing Region. Let Yat Kone is famous as the site of a regime airstrike on September 16 that killed seven children and injured several others. Thida Win’s son, seven-year-old Phone Tay Za, was one of the children brutally killed by a junta Mi-35 military helicopter that day while learning at the school.

“I miss my son. He was so clever and too close to me,” Thida Win told The Irrawaddy through her tears.

She blames herself for being unable to protect her child even though their home is close to the school he was attending with around 350 students, including her 16-year-old daughter, on the day of the attack. Thida Win witnessed the regime’s massacre at the school and was also the first parent to arrive at the scene. She found her child lying in a pool of blood and was able to talk with him before he died.

“I always regret that I didn’t arrive at the school in time. If I had run to the school during the attack, I could probably have protected my son,” Thida Win said, her voice cracking and trembling with emotion.

Child victims in Myanmar

Phone Tayza, 7; Su Yati Hlaing, 7; Zin Nwe Phyo, 9.

Thida Win is among many parents who have lost children to the regime’s brutal attacks on civilians around the country since the military coup on Feb. 1 last year. Junta forces have been indiscriminately attacking not only resistance areas but also towns and villages, schools and religious buildings. Last year, 90 children were killed by regime troops, according to the civilian National Unity Government (NUG)’s Ministry of Women, Youths and Children Affairs. Children have been shot dead in their homes. This year, the rate of killing has surged 68 percent with at least 152 children murdered by Myanmar’s military, according to the NUG.

Children around the country have been killed by regime artillery, airstrikes, drone attacks and land mines. Furthermore, the regime continues to arrest, torture and kill minors.

According to data collected by The Irrawaddy, artillery attacks account for the greatest number of children killed by junta forces. The resistance stronghold Sagaing Region has seen the highest number of children murdered, followed by Rakhine State and Kayah State where the military is engaged in fierce fighting with ethnic armed forces.

Of the 56 children murdered in eight hotspots – Sagaing, Magway and Tanintharyi regions and Kayah, Karen, Chin, Kachin and Rakhine states – 28 were killed by heavy weapons, 10 by aerial attacks and nine were tortured and killed after being arrested. The age of victims ranges from as young as 6 months old to 17 years old.

Aung Pyae Sone, 6, was killed in August after regime fighter jets bombed his village on the border of Kantbalu and Kyunhla in Sagaing Region.

A four-year-old in Nyaung Karyar, Myaung Township died on the spot after the regime dropped drone bombs on the village in December.

Kids killed by regime artillery

Zwe Naing Win, 7; Aung Myint Myat, 5; unknown; Ngwe Paing, 16; unknown.

Sixteen-year-old Ngwe Paing was among six children killed by a regime artillery attack in Jitchaung village, Maung Taw Township, Rakhine State on November 16. The children were with a crowd attending a child’s naming ceremony in Jitchaung Village when troops at a base in Maungdaw Township launched the unprovoked attack.

Ngwe Paing and his two younger brothers, Ngwe Aung, 9, and six-year-old Min Aung were participating in the naming rite for a 6-month-old girl, Saung Wai.

About 50 residents, including the children, had gathered for the ceremony when the regime shell exploded on the house.

Six of the children and seven adults were killed. Among the 20 injured were 11 children aged from five to 15.

Ngwe Paing’s elder brother, Ye Lat Naing, said he was burning with anger that regime troops had attacked his siblings with heavy weapons, killing one and injuring the others.

The 18-year-old said his three brothers went to the naming ceremony because they wanted to eat meat curry.

Ngwe Paing, a Grade 8 student, was a clever and helpful child with a fondness for beef curry.

“We can’t always cook meat at home. So he asked if he could attend the naming ceremony as he wanted to eat meat,” Ye Lat Naing explained.

The shell landed just as guests at the ceremony took their plates to eat lunch.

“My brother Ngwe Paing couldn’t even eat a grain of rice,” Ye Lat Naing recalled, weeping.

“I feel so sorry not just for my siblings but also all the people around the country who are being killed for whatever reason,” he said in a low voice.

As of December, a total of 2,662 people had been killed and 16,600 people arrested by the military regime since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a rights group.

In June, the UN Special Rapporteur said at least 382 children had been killed or maimed, more than 1,400 arbitrarily arrested and 142 tortured in the year and a half since the coup.

In September, Zwe Naing Win,7, died when regime artillery targeted his village of Moe Sis in Shweku, Kachin State. A 5-year-old girl in Demoso Township, Kayah State was killed in November when a regime shell hit a nursery where internally displaced people were sheltering.

In the final week of this year, Thon Wadi Kyaw,7, was killed when regime artillery targeted her village of Kot Pyin in Kyautkyi in Bago Region.

Children shot dead

Aung Wai Yan, 14; Khant Khant Nyein,13

Myanmar regime troops have been arresting and shooting children across the country. Aung Wai Yan, 13, was killed and his 12-year-old sister Yoon Pyae Thazin injured when regime troops opened fire at them as they rode their motorcycle in Longlone Township, Tanintharyi Region in November. Khant Khant Nyein, 13, was shot dead by regime troops who raided his Magyiokke village in Sagaing’s Khin-U Township.

This brutal inhumanity has left people like Thida Win, the mother of the seven-year-old killed by MI-35 attack on Lat Yet Kone school, bitter and angry with the military. She said regime troops have been killing civilians and torching villages in Sagaing. In December, an arson attack by regime troops destroyed around 200 homes in Let Yet Kone.

“Please give us the guns and bullets. We won’t flee. We will shoot them back,” Ma Thida Win told The Irrawaddy.

She also questioned whether the international community was aware of the actions of the Myanmar military, which is killing the elderly and children in indiscriminate attacks.

“If you don’t want to believe the words of others, please believe the words of mothers who have lost their children,” she said.

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