Save the Children Confirms Two Workers Killed in Massacre by Myanmar Junta

By The Irrawaddy 29 December 2021

The international humanitarian aid group Save the Children confirmed two members of its staff were among the 35 victims, including at least one child, who were killed and burned by the Myanmar military in Kayah State’s Hpruso Township on Christmas Eve.

The charity said the two male staff members aged 32 and 28 were both new fathers who were passionate about educating children.

The former, who had a 10-month-old son, worked at Save the Children for two years training teachers. The latter, with a three-month-old daughter, joined the charity six years ago.

The men were on their way back to their office after working on a humanitarian response in a nearby community when they were caught up in the attack.

“The military forced people from their cars, arrested some, killed many and burnt the bodies,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday.

The massacre happened after an hourlong battle between junta troops and the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF), an alliance of armed resistance groups fighting the regime in Kayah State. Junta soldiers detained villagers near Moso and killed and burned them along with seven vehicles and five motorbikes.

Inger Ashing, chief executive of Save the Children, said, “This news is absolutely horrifying. Violence against innocent civilians including aid workers is intolerable, and this senseless attack is a breach of International Humanitarian Law. We are shaken by the violence carried out against civilians and our staff, who are dedicated humanitarians, supporting millions of children in need across Myanmar.”

The charity said investigations into the nature of the incident are continuing.

It highlighted that the massacre in Kayah State last week was not an isolated event. “The people of Myanmar continue to be targeted with increasing violence and these events demand an immediate response,” the statement reads.

Save The Children said the UN Security Council “must convene as soon as possible to set out the steps they will take to hold those responsible to account.”

It urged UN member states to impose an arms embargo and take steps to limit the regime’s ability to conduct air strikes, as were seen in recent days in Karen State and Sagaing Region. Following the massacre, a joint statement from 59 civil society organizations called on the international community to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court and to impose an arms embargo on the “terrorist” junta.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said following the incident he was horrified by the reports of massacred civilians.

He called for a thorough and transparent investigation into the massacre to bring the perpetrators to justice, saying attacks against civilians are prohibited under international humanitarian law.

Including the killing and burning of civilians and those killed in air raids, the junta as of Tuesday had killed 1,380 people and detained 11,248 others since the Feb. 1 coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a group monitoring the regime’s atrocities.

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