Myanmar Junta Forces Again Use Civilians as Human Shields

29 October 2021

Myanmar junta forces used 19 detained civilians as human shields during a raid on a village in Pekon Township, Shan State on Wednesday, according to local civilian armed forces.

After sustaining heavy casualties in ambushes and mine attacks by civilian resistance forces, the military regime’s forces are using arrested civilians as human shields in their operations in Magwe and Sagaing regions and Chin and Kayah states.

Junta forces are also using civilian vehicles and ambulances while traveling and conducting operations against People’s Defense Forces to deter ambushes and landmine attacks.

Previously, 30 people were used as human shields by junta troops while marching in
Demoso, Hpruso and Bawlakeh in Kayah State and Pekon Township in southern Shan State in late August.

On Friday, a leaked photo went viral online showing more than a dozen civilians, blindfolded and tied together with a rope, being forced to march in front of a military column in a village in Pekon Township, Shan State.

The Karenni Nationalities Defense Force of Pekon confirmed that all the arrested people are from Shwe Pyi Aye Village, which was bombarded by military regime forces early on Wednesday morning.

The KNDF-Pekon shared a list of the detainees’ names on Friday and said some of them had yet to be released.

Junta forces shelled a civilian area in Shwe Pyi Aye Village at around 3 a.m. on Wednesday. The shelling occurred after the regime forces, who were deployed on a hill, engaged in an intense firefight with a joint force of Pekon People’s Defense Force fighters and other Karenni armed forces on Tuesday afternoon. After the clash, three civilians were also injured by random junta attacks on residential areas, according to the Pekon PDF.

Due to the junta bombardment, more than 500 residents of Shwe Pyi Aye Village had to flee into the forests.

An official of the Free Burma Rangers, an armed group assisting the fleeing villagers, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that the 19 villagers including some aged between 50 and 60, were arrested by junta soldiers while returning to their homes.

KNDF-Pekon said that military regime forces destroyed property belonging to the fleeing villagers, as well as looting houses and stealing vehicles during the raid on the village on Wednesday.

Currently, around 3,500 residents from several villages and wards of Mobye and Pekon, Shan State have fled their homes due to junta raids and artillery strikes on civilian areas following the clashes with civilian resistance forces.

On Friday morning, two people including a woman were killed and three people including a 6-year-old-boy were injured when military regime forces attacked civilian areas of Mobye using artillery shells.

On Sunday, one civilian was also killed and five others including a 3-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy were injured when the junta shelled residential areas of Mobye.

In early October, junta soldiers also used 15 detained villagers as human shields while marching through the north of Gangaw Township, Magwe Region, where many dozens of junta troops had been killed in landmine attacks by local PDFs.

While marching to locations in Chin State recently, junta forces reportedly forced civilian vehicles including private buses and passenger buses to accompany their military convoy in order to deter ambushes by the Chinland Defense Force, according to the armed group.

Junta forces also used local civilians in Mindat as human shields while raiding the mountainous town in Chin State in mid-May.

Regime forces have continued to commit atrocities including raiding and burning down villages, bombarding residential areas of towns and arbitrarily killing civilians, especially in Magwe and Sagaing regions and Chin and Kayah states.

With the exception of Rakhine State, military regime forces nationwide are facing a growing number of attacks from PDFs and ethnic armed forces.

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