Myanmar Junta Increases Arson Attacks in Sagaing

By The Irrawaddy 6 December 2022

Myanmar’s regime is increasingly torching villages in Sagaing Region even where there is no fighting with resistance forces, according to rebel groups.

Since October junta troops appear to be trying to cut off support for resistance forces while avoiding confrontation, according to Ko Nway Oo, the head of the Civil Defence and Security Organization in Myaung.

“They do it to stop people from supporting us before dry-season offensives,” Ko Nway Oo told The Irrawaddy.

By August an estimated 38,434 houses have been burned down by junta forces across the country since the 2021 coup, according to Data for Myanmar, an independent research group that monitors the regime.

Sagaing has suffered the heaviest arson damage with around 20,153 houses torched by junta forces. Neighboring Magwe Region, another resistance stronghold, has lost around 5,418 properties in regime arson attacks.

In Myaung Township more than 48 houses from five villages were burned in October but an estimated 1,004 houses were torched in November as 10 whole villages were burned down, according to Ko Nway Oo. He said the junta was trying to divide people from the resistance groups.

A Tigyaing People’s Defense Force (PDF) spokesman agreed, saying troops were carrying out arson attacks in the township despite months without any clashes.

More than 400 houses in seven Tigyaing Township villages have been burned down in eight days from November 25, according to the Homalin Township Public Administration Organization, which works with the civilian National Unity Government.

Laythar village in Tigyaing Township after a regime raid on December 1. / Tigyaing Revolution

Initially, troops destroyed the houses of PDF and National League for Democracy members and their relatives.

But all houses have been targeted in the last six months, according to Ko Phoe Zay of the Salingyi Special Task Force.

Around 170 troops burned down nine villages in Salingyi Township within a week. Two women older than 80, who could not escape, were burned to death in Sar Htone village on December 1.

Troops in civilian clothes torched Yay Maine south and north villages on Monday, destroying around 70 houses, according to a villager.

“Dogs who follow Min Aung Hlaing burned down our houses. They only ruin people’s lives,” the villager said.

Around 15,000 villagers from Shan Kine, Owne Taw and 12 other villages had fled their homes by Tuesday, according to the task force.

And junta reinforcements continue to arrive in Sagaing Region by land and water, according to PDFs.