At least 68 civilians have been killed and over 2,100 houses in 64 villages torched by the Myanmar military and pro-junta Pyu Saw Htee militia in Sagaing Region’s Taze Township since last year’s coup, according to local People’s Defense Forces (PDF).
Regime troops belonging to Division 33 and Pyu Saw Htee groups raided and torched more than 20 villages in the north of Taze in September alone, said Taze PDF.
Pyu Saw Htee militia have a strong presence in Kantbalu, Kyunhla and Taze townships in Sagaing Region. Taze has been hit hardest by the junta’s arson attacks in Sagaing, and more than 10,000 people made homeless by them have yet to receive any humanitarian assistance from the international community and are in urgent need of emergency relief supplies, added Taze PDF.
Five of the villages torched by regime forces were completely burned to the ground. Two Buddhist monasteries and a rural healthcare center were also razed. Ka Baung Kya Village was torched at least 12 times, while Chaungzon Village was torched at least seven times, according to Taze News, a group documenting junta atrocities in the township.
One resident of Ka Baung Kya Village said: “My house was burned to ashes. I don’t have any supplies of rice or even any plates and bowls now. We had to flee frequently because junta troops often came to our village. We don’t want to see them because they arrest anyone on sight and torch houses once they enter the village. My village is almost ruined.”
Some 200 junta troops guided by Pyu Saw Htee militia started raiding villages in the north of Taze on September 16. They reportedly killed two civilians and 12 resistance fighters and looted numerous houses during the raids.
A member of Taze PDF said: “They torch villages to instill fear in people. But it has only fueled their desire for vengeance. Now young people are only eager to fight back. They are determined to fight until the revolution succeeds. It is fair to say that the revolution has reached the next level. Revolutionary spirit can’t be burned to ashes.”
Displaced people need shelter, food, medicine and other emergency relief supplies, said an official from Taze Support Organization.
“As it is rainy season now, they need proper shelter even if it is temporary. The assistance they are receiving locally is not enough. If they don’t receive supplies soon, they are going to go hungry,” said the official.
Many villages were torched for no apparent reason as there were no clashes taking place near them. Over 20,000 people from 35 villages displaced by junta raids and arson attacks still can’t return to their homes. Internet access in Taze Township was cut off by the military regime over eight months ago.
A Taze resident said: “I am lost for words watching them [junta forces] torching and destroying our ancestral homeland and we can do nothing about it. We don’t know where we can live and our livelihoods have been completely destroyed.”