Burma

Over 28,000 Homes Torched by Myanmar Junta Forces Since Coup

By The Irrawaddy 29 August 2022

Myanmar junta forces have burned down 28,434 houses in 645 locations since last year’s coup, with Sagaing Region suffering the heaviest damage, according to the independent research group Data For Myanmar. 

Military regime troops have committed arson attacks in 11 states and regions, with Sagaing and Magwe regions and Chin State bearing the brunt of the junta’s campaign against civilians. 

From February 1, 2021 to August 25, 2022, some 20,153 houses in Sagaing Region were torched by junta forces. Magwe Region saw 5,418 properties burned down, while 1,474 houses in Chin State were destroyed. Another 1,400-odd homes were torched elsewhere in the country.

Despite the United Nation’s (UN) Special Envoy Noeleen Heyzer calling on coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing on August 17 to cease air and artillery strikes on civilian targets and the torching of homes, regime soldiers have conducted arson attacks and airstrikes on more than 20 villages in Sagaing and Magwe in the last nine days. 

Over a dozen civilians have been killed, while an estimated 50,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, according to local residents and People’s Defense Forces. 

Data For Myanmar said that regime forces escalated their arson attacks in Sagaing in April, May and June of this year, torching over 12,000 houses. 27 out of 34 townships in Sagaing reported junta arson attacks.

Magwe Region also saw an escalation in regime arson attacks in August losing 1,300 houses, added Data For Myanmar. 

The research group said that it used reports from the media, rights groups and refugee organizations to calculate the number of homes destroyed. However, the actual number of houses burned down may be higher than the reported figures, as many regime arson attacks have yet to be verified. 

Junta forces have increased their arson attacks and airstrikes against civilian targets since September last year, when the civilian National Unity Government declared war against the regime. 

In mid-August, the UN Special Envoy also called on the junta leader to end all forms of violence, to show full respect for human rights and the rule of law, and to allow full and safe humanitarian access to those in need. 

But the Myanmar military has continued to commit atrocities including burning people alive, the arbitrary torture and killings of civilians, extrajudicial killings of resistance detainees, using civilian detainees as human shields, artillery and airstrikes on residential areas, looting and burning houses and acts of sexual violence. 

Some 2,249 people have been killed by the regime up to August 26, while 15,239 people including elected government leaders have been arrested or detained, said the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a group that monitors arrests and deaths by junta forces. 

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