Over 4,500 Homes Torched by Myanmar Junta Forces Since Coup

By The Irrawaddy 17 February 2022

Myanmar junta forces have burned down at least 4,571 civilian homes nationwide since last year’s coup, with Sagaing Region suffering the heaviest damage, according to independent research group Data for Myanmar.

Junta forces have increasingly carried out indiscriminate attacks on civilians, especially in the regions where resistance groups are most active, including air and artillery strikes, arbitrary killings, massacres, burning people alive, using civilians as human shields, and looting and burning houses.

Data for Myanmar said in its latest report that approximately 2,567 buildings in Sagaing Region were torched by regime forces from February 1, 2021 to February 14, 2022, as well as 976 buildings in Chin State, 626 buildings in Magwe Region, 310 in Kayah State, and dozens of others in Mandalay Region, southern Shan State, Tanintharyi Region, Bago Region and Kayin State.

The research group compiled data from media reports, local rights groups and refugee organizations. However, Data for Myanmar didn’t include information that has yet to be verified, so the actual number of houses burned down may be higher than the reported figures.

Multiple sources in areas that are resistance strongholds told The Irrawaddy that military regime forces had torched houses and destroyed property during their raids.

A villager from Kabaung Kya Village in Sagaing Region’s Taze Township said that regime forces have been torching houses almost every day in his village, which has been targeted with arson attacks over a dozen times in the past few months. Tens of thousands of Taze residents have fled the junta’s aggressive raids.

“My house was burned down. My pigs and cows died in the fire. I have nothing left. I fled with only the clothes I was wearing,” said another villager from Sagaing’s Pale Township on February 3.

During the attack in which the villager’s house was reduced to ashes, junta forces torched almost 250 houses in the village. Regime soldiers accused the villagers of helping local resistance groups, despite the fact that there had been no attacks by People’s Defense Forces in the area.

Locals from four townships in Sagaing which have suffered the heaviest damage and losses from regime arson attacks took to the streets in the first week of February to protest against the attacks. They displayed a banner stating: “Only the village can be burned down, not the spirit.”

Several villages in Sagaing Region have also continued to stage daily anti-coup protests, despite the regime’s brutal crackdowns and raids.

Junta arson attacks on villages began at the end of May 2021, according to Data for Myanmar’s report. The attacks have escalated recently, with this month seeing the highest number of civilian houses burned down by the junta.

As of Wednesday, junta forces have also killed 1,557 civilians and detained over 12,000 people since the coup.

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