Myanmar Junta Troops Shoot Dead Mentally Ill Man in Sagaing Region

By The Irrawaddy 12 May 2021

A mentally disabled man was shot dead by junta forces in Thamin Chan Village in Sagaing Region’s Kani Township on Tuesday night.

Around 20 soldiers shot at Ko Kyaw Myint, 36, who died after sustaining gunshot wounds to the forehead and thigh after 9 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the villagers.

A gunshot wound in Ko Kyaw Myint’s thigh. The mentally ill man was shot dead by junta troops on Tuesday night in Kani Township’s Thamin Chan Village. / CJ

More than 100 soldiers had taken up positions in Thamin Chan Village’s high school building for five days, following shootouts with civilian resistance forces last week.

A resident who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “The sound of gunfire  caused him [Ko Kyaw Myint] to become more unstable, as he is mentally ill. He cursed the soldiers and challenge them” from his home, which is next to where the soldiers were stationed.

A week earlier, Ko Kyaw Myint had been detained by police, as he was wandering around the village while every healthy male resident had gone into hiding. But he was later released due to his condition.

“His parents begged the soldiers not to shoot, as he was mentally ill,” a neighbor said, “but the soldiers ignored them and shot him, as well as into the house.” She said the victim’s family held a quick funeral for him on Wednesday morning and were preparing to leave, as they are scared to continue staying at home.

The villagers said the soldiers raided their village and arrested any young men they could find, following two shootouts with civilian defense forces near Hman Taung Hill. A monastery was destroyed and two houses in the vicinity were burned down.

“In the clashes on the hill outside the village, a captain and four privates [from the Myanmar military] were killed. Then they fired live rounds randomly at the village, including mortar rounds,” the villager said.

All the young men had fled their homes in fear of being arrested, while the women, children and elders remained in the village, which is home to some 3,000 people.

“The soldiers said they would not harm the women and told us to stay home, but there are almost no able-bodied men left in the village; they have fled and are hiding elsewhere,” said a female resident who asked not to be named.

Soldiers left the village at 3 a.m. on Wednesday. Troops then raided nearby Zee Pin Twin Village on Wednesday morning and arrested 23 villagers, according to a resident. Soldiers had already gone on the rampage in Zee Pin Twin last week.

Refusing to bow to military rule imposed after coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing seized power from the democratically elected National League for Democracy government on Feb. 1, residents of Sagaing Region’s Kani, Yinmabin, Kalay (Kale) and Tamu townships have taken up traditional homemade percussion-lock firearms to resist the soldiers.

As of Tuesday, more than 780 people had been killed by the junta forces’ brutal crackdowns on anti-regime protesters and bystanders since Feb. 1, while nearly 5,000 people had been arrested, of whom 3,859 are still in detention, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). The Irrawaddy has not been able to independently verify the death toll.

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