More Than 9,000 Civilians Flee Myanmar Junta Raids

By The Irrawaddy 24 May 2022

More than 9,000 civilians displaced by junta raids in Shwebo and Wetlet townships in Sagaing Region need relief aid, according to residents.

Around 100 junta troops started raiding villages on May 16 and 27 villages have been abandoned.

“Junta troops torched houses in around 25 villages in eastern Shwebo and Wetlet, starting with Ma Kauk. Those displaced by raids and arson attacks need food and clothes,” said a Sagaing resident, who is helping displaced people.

A Magyi Thone Pin villager said: “We are hiding in the forest and have to feed ourselves from what we can find. We fled in fear and could only bring some rice and oil. It has been a week and we dare not go back to our village. It is difficult.”

A Thit Seint Gyi villager said: “Junta troops entered our village on May 16 and residents from five surrounding villages also fled. It has been a week. We have never faced this before and we could not bring anything.”

Around 20 villages were subjected to junta arson attacks and around 1,200 houses were feared torched. Pro-junta Pyu Saw Htee militias also joined junta soldiers in torching houses. Resistance groups claimed that junta troops doused houses with petrol to make sure they burned.

Displaced people from Shwebo. / CJ

“When they entered villages, they threatened to torch the entire village if we resisted them. Our weapons are inferior and we are outnumbered. So we avoid confronting them and can only help civilians escape,” said Bo Mar Yar of a resistance group.

Bo Sane from a resistance group in Shwebo said: “We can only help civilians escape. As we can’t go back to villages to take food, we have to share what we have. Villagers dare not return as junta troops have been repeatedly torching houses in villages.”

The regime has been raiding villages even though there have barely been clashes between junta troops and resistance forces along the Ayeyarwady River in Shwebo and Wetlet townships, said residents. Farmers have not been able to plant during the growing season, which started with the monsoon.

A burning village in Shwebo. / CJ

A Let Kaung Kya villager said: “We are facing many difficulties in the forest as it is the rainy season. We haven’t been able to grow crops. We have left our cattle and they might be starving and suffering from the weather.”

Bo Sane claimed that junta troops stole valuables from the villages and carried them away by boat.

“People are sad and angry that they have lost their ancestral homes. Even the children hate them now. All the people are filled with deep resentment,” said Bo Mar Yar.

Junta troops are deployed in Thit Seint and have detained numerous villagers.

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