Son of Slain Villager Recalls Myanmar Junta Massacre in Sagaing
By The Irrawaddy 24 June 2022
When nearly 200 regime soldiers left Mon Taing Pin Village in Sagaing Region on May 12, Ko Thurein found his father, brother-in-law and eight other relatives who had been missing for two days.
But all ten of his family members were dead, slaughtered by junta forces along with 19 other villagers during a May 10-11 raid on the village in Ye-U Township.
Residents found 29 charred bodies in burned-out houses, as well as discovering the corpses of two resistance fighters outside the village, after the troops left. Some residents said the resistance fighters were killed while preparing explosives.
“I will be holding a grudge [against the regime] until the world ends,” said the twentysomething Ko Thurein, as he recalled losing his father U Aung Htoo, 50, and nine other relatives.
Military regime troops arrived in Mon Taing Pin on May 10, opening fire as they marched into the village.
“When we saw soldiers advancing into our village, we were all forced to flee,” said Ko Thurein.
However, around 100 villagers including women were trapped in the village monastery and were captured by the regime soldiers.
Junta troops selected male villagers under the age of 60 to be killed, tying their hands behind their backs, while releasing the women detainees and eight men aged over 60, said Ko Thurein.
“All the men under 60 were slain as the soldiers thought they could be helping local People’s Defense Forces or be members of armed resistance groups,” added Ko Thurein, citing the accounts of freed detainees.
Ko Thurein said the 29 villagers were split into small groups, killed and their bodies were burned by the soldiers before they left the village on May 11. Junta troops also torched over two dozen houses in the village.
Evidence of the regime’s massacre in Mon Taing Pin came to light on June 18 when Radio Free Asia and other media outlets published images and a video retrieved from the cell phone of a junta soldier who took part in the atrocity.
The photos show around thirty male villagers detained in the grounds of a monastery with their hands tied behind their backs.
Another photo shows five of the detainees, all blindfolded with their hands tied, lying on blood-stained ground in front of a group of regime troops. All five of the victims appear to have been shot or to have had their throats cut, according to the image. However, it is not clear if they are from the group detained at the Mon Taing Pin monastery.
The soldier who owned the phone is seen in the video bragging with two other soldiers about how many people they have killed and how they slaughtered them.
Another soldier in the video claims to have killed 26 people, slitting the throats of many of his victims.
“I killed a man who I caught,” said the soldier in the video. “I buried him after chopping him into three pieces as the battalion commander ordered me to do.”
The name of the source in this story has been changed for his safety.